Call for papers

In the summer of 2023, the city of Cluj-Napoca will be the gorgeous backdrop to the 7th International Flann O’Brien Conference. Picking up the thread from Boston, Dublin, Salzburg, Prague, Rome, and Vienna, the conference marks a moment of unprecedented energy and variety in the critical conversation on Brian O’Nolan.

Since the first, centenary Vienna conference in 2011, this critical conversation has expanded and diversified, turning to the archive, to recontextualizing and rehistoricizing approaches, addressing the aesthetic, political and ethical dimensions of O’Nolan’s/Flann’s/Myles’ experimental texts, as well as their interfaces with questions of agency and authorship, technology and the material world, cultural memory, medicine and epidemiology. During the last decade numerous landmark volumes were added to the corpus available to O’Nolan’s readers—from the short fiction (edited by Neil Murphy and Keith Hopper), to the plays and teleplays (edited by Daniel Keith Jernigan), and, more recently, the Collected Letters (edited by Maebh Long). Reflecting the rapid growth of Flann O’Brien studies, The Parish Review, the first scholarly journal dedicated to this writer’s work, has published articles and special issues on a wide range of topics, including archival studies of O’Nolan’s library, the textual and publishing history of O’Nolan’s journalism, the writer’s fraught relationship with the civil service, as well as O’Nolan’s afterlives in translation, adaptation, and the culture industry. In line with its open-access policy, the journal is hosted by the Open Library of Humanities.

The conference title, ‘Strange Atmospheres,’ foregrounds a concept that sits uneasily on the semantic boundary between environment, embodied space, and mood. Often bending to the fantastic, the uncanny, the fake and unconvincing, O’Brien’s style is itself characterised by a constant apprehension of the ways in which the atmospheric and the literary fertilise each other. The symposium will provide the occasion to reflect more fully on these aspects of his work.

The conference organisers invite proposals for 20 minute presentations on any topic relevant to the symposium theme. Special consideration will be given to the following topics in Flann O’Brien studies:
  • Reflections on atmosphere as setting and atmosphere as mood
  • Pathetic fallacy and the correspondences between space, place and feeling 
  • Ecocritical approaches
  • Radio transmissions and wireless communication
  • Ideas of extended agency and extended subjectivity
  • Politicised environments
  • Localised and universal spaces
  • Gothic spaces, horror and the uncanny 
  • Life without borders
  • Apocalyptic overtones
  • Ghost cities
  • Social, professional and urban spaces
  • Literary discourse and the weather
  • Modernist environments and ecological thought
  • Non-humans and posthumans in O’Nolan’s fiction

Please send abstracts and a short bionote to the organisers at by January 31st, 2023. Proposals will be read and evaluated by February 15th, 2023.  Selected talks will be published in a special issue of The Parish Review: Journal of Flann O’Brien Studies (open-access at the Open Library of Humanities).


  You can find the conference programme here.

  Download the Book of Abstracts

Social programme

Trip to Sibiu

One of the oldest cities in Transylvania, already in the 16th century Sibiu (German Hermannstadt; in Saxon dialect, Härmeschtat) became the region’s most important trading centre, seat of the governors of Transylvania from the late 17th century. Elected European Capital of Culture in 2007, this Gothic and Baroque jewel located at the feet of the Făgăraș Mountains, the highest mountain range of the Carpathians, has for centuries been an important cultural and intellectual hub in the life of Transylvania’s German and Romanian communities.
The trip to Sibiu will start with a visit to ASTRA, a picturesque open-air museum of folkloric traditions located in the Dumbrava forest just outside the city, to be followed by a walk in the old town and a visit to the Brukenthal Museum (optional), as well as a mid-afternoon lunch & drinks downtown. Information at

Meet the Speakers

Prof. Joseph Brooker
Birkbeck College, University of London

Prof. Joseph Brooker is Professor of Modern Literature at Birkbeck, University of London. He is the author of Joyce’s Critics: Transitions in Reading and Culture (Wisconsin University Press, 2004), Flann O’Brien (Northcote House, 2005), Literature of the 1980s: After the Watershed (Edinburgh University Press, 2010), and Jonathan Lethem and the Galaxy of Writing (Bloomsbury, 2020). He has edited and co-edited special issues of the journals New FormationsJournal of Law and SocietyTextual Practice, and Critical Quarterly. He has organised numerous events with contemporary authors and multiple conferences on James Joyce, and has participated in Birkbeck’s annual Flann O’Brien events and its new Flann podcast. He has written the Introduction to the new edition of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, forthcoming from Penguin Books, and co-produced the jigsaw puzzle The World of James Joyce and other Irish Writers (2022).

Prof. Flore Coulouma
Université Paris Nanterre

Prof. Flore Coulouma is an associate professor in English at Paris Nanterre University. She co-edited the 2019 special issue on Nature, Environment and Environmentalism in Ireland in Études Irlandaises, was the co-organiser of the 2021 annual SOFEIR conference at Paris Nanterre, and has published several papers on ecocriticism and Irish literature/culture. Her book Diglossia and the Linguistic Turn: Flann O’Brien’s Philosophy of Language (Dalkey Archive Press, 2015) addresses linguistic colonialism in Flann O’Brien’s work. As of June 2021, she holds a Master’s degree in international and comparative criminal law. She currently researches criminal and environmental justice and their representation in contemporary Irish and Native-American literature.

Dr. Paul Fagan
Maynooth University

Dr. Paul Fagan is an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at Maynooth University. Paul is a co-founder of the International Flann O’Brien Society and currently serves on the International James Joyce Foundation Board of Trustees. He is a founding general editor of The Parish Review: Journal of Flann O’Brien Studies and Production Archives, both published by the Open Library of Humanities. Paul is the co-editor of Irish Modernisms: Gaps, Conjectures, Possibilities (Bloomsbury, 2021) and Stage Irish: Performance, Identity, Cultural Circulation (Irish Studies in Europe, 2021) as well as four well-received edited volumes on Flann O’Brien from Cork University Press: Flann O’Brien Contesting Legacies (listed in The Irish Times top 10 non-fiction books of 2014), Flann O’Brien: Problems with Authority (2017), Flann O’Brien: Gallows Humour (#2 on the Hot Press top 10 Irish non-fiction books of 2020) and Flann O’Brien: Acting Out (2022). Paul is currently finalising a monograph on Irish Literary Hoaxes and developing research projects on ‘Representations of Nonhuman Skin in Modernist Writing’ and ‘Celibacy in Irish Women’s Writing, 1860s-1950s’.

Dr. Heather Laird
University College Cork

Dr. Heather Laird is a Lecturer in English at University College Cork, Ireland. She is a postcolonial scholar whose research interests include theories and practices of resistance, particularly as they relate to land usage; the intersection between class and gender; links between law and
literature; and Irish culture since the early nineteenth century. Her publications include
Subversive Law in Ireland, 1879-1920 (2005) and Commemoration (2018). She is an Editor of
Síreacht: Longings for Another Ireland, a series of short topical texts which critique received wisdom and explore the potential of ideas commonly dismissed as utopian. She has considerable experience of communicating her research outside the university, in the form of public lectures, interviews on local and national radio, RTÉ Brainstorm articles and television appearances.


Dr. Ruben Borg, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Dr. Erika Mihálycsa, Babeş-Bolyai University

Dr. Rareș Moldovan, Babeş-Bolyai University

Dr. Petronia Petrar, Babeş-Bolyai University

The Faculty of Letters offers instruction in a wide and diverse range of areas; its students can even specialize in such languages and literatures as Portuguese, Korean, or (uniquely in Romania) Norwegian and Finnish. Currently the Department of English Language and Literature runs MA programs in British Cultural Studies, Irish Studies and Linguistics. The MA in Irish Studies is one of the oldest in Central Europe, having started in 1999; approximately one third of the Department’s staff also specializes in Irish Studies, and Flann O’Brien’s novels have featured on the syllabus (and in undergraduate courses) since the 1990s.

The Faculty of Letters has its seat in a famously strict former Catholic girls’ school. The good nuns who saw to the girls’ education would no doubt have given our staff six on each hand and rump for offering students such smut to read as American Psycho, Girl, Woman, Other, or Ulysses. According to some, when evening descends, their spirits, embodied in the stucco owls of the façade, hover around the building in a dark and vengeful mood.

Babeș-Bolyai University is the most prestigious educational institution in Transylvania and one of the premier universities in Romania. In terms of student numbers and the diversity of specializations offered, it is the largest and most complex university in the country. It is also unique in Romania for its multicultural character, offering study programs in Romanian, Hungarian, English and German.

The university’s history dates back to 1567, when Transylvania’s first academy of studies was founded by Prince John Sigismund, and the establishment, by Prince Stephen Báthory, of a Jesuit college in the city in 1581. Rather than washing the dirty linen of that respectable order, however, the city’s burghers spent a good part of the following centuries founding and abolishing rival colleges of Calvinist, Unitarian and Catholic denomination, all of which preserved intact the kindly seeds of knowledge among the ancient if somewhat cold walls. The current institution was founded in 1919, after the union of Transylvania with Romania, and since 1959, when it merged with the city’s Hungarian-language university, it has functioned as a dual-language university. The university is named after two prominent scientists: Victor Babeș, one of the founders of microbiology and distinguished practitioner of mollycule theory, and nineteenth-century mathematician János Bolyai, who gave a decisive kick to Euclidean geometry, with implications hard to overstate for the oeuvre of De Selby.


We are grateful for the support of the Irish Embassy and the attendance of His Excellency, Ambassador McGarry at the Conference.


The conference will take place at the Faculty of Letters.

You can find nearby accommodation at or

Or consult the list below (mostly within walking distance of the Faculty of Letters):

Upon request, we can book a limited number of rooms at the University Hotel (not very far from the Faculty of Letters, close to very convenient public transport and offering better fees).