English professor at Fairfield University and author Dr. Nels Pearson spoke at the downtown bookstore about his new book, Irish Cosmopolitanism, on February 12.
Pearson explained the premise of his book to a crowd of both students and adults. With the help of PowerPoint, Pearson took the audience through his main ideas. He gave brief biographies of the three authors his book is about (James Joyce, Elizabeth Bowen, and Samuel Beckett) and discussed how their works evoked the essence of becoming truly Irish, which involves traveling within and beyond Ireland.
Cosmopolitanism is the idea that all people are citizens of one world. Pearson defines it as an “allegiance to universal humanity above national affiliation.” This idea shines through the works of Joyce, Bowen, and Beckett in that their Irish main characters discover their identity outside of Ireland.
“The coast is a significant symbol in both the book and on the cover,” Pearson explained. “It is a site of departure and an in between zone where you have both Irishness and the world overlapping.”
Irish Cosmopolitanism is Pearson’s first solo authored book. He has always been interested in the three authors the book focuses on, and he has been fascinated by the debates over cosmopolitanism for many years.
“Gradually the intersection between these interests naturally evolved into a book,” he explained.
Pearson has been working with literature ever since he decided to be an English major his sophomore year of college.
“The further I got into my studies, the more it was clear to me that I enjoyed the research and critical thinking required to produce scholarly writing about literature.”
It is for this reason that Pearson decided to become an English professor, so that he could teach about literature on a college level and “research and produce scholarship in the form of articles in academic journals and other forums.” This, he explained, is an important part of being a professor.
Pearson finds that the students in his Irish literature classes find the subject of his book very valuable.
“In my classes we often discuss the sometimes complex relationship between national and international identity and experience in modern Irish writing, and those are some of the richest discussions.”
Sarah Markham, a senior who attended the talk, wished that she went to more author talks in the past because of how much she enjoyed this one.
“I liked it a lot and thought it was really interesting,” she mused.
After the PowerPoint, Pearson read some excerpts from his book and took questions from the audience.
As he quoted from James Joyce, his voice slipped naturally into an Irish accent and filled with emotion. It is evident that Pearson is extremely passionate about this subject, and this passion shone through in his writing as well.
Pearson is currently working on a new book on the role of water in Irish, English, and Scottish literature.
As a final comment, Pearson wanted to thank his students for giving him inspiration.
He eloquently stated, “Thanks to all my students for giving me the primary reason for pursuing knowledge in my field.”