An Aspiring Archivist in Dublin: TEXT/SOUND/PERFORMANCE Conference

By Megan Butchart

For three days at the end of April 2019 I had the unique privilege of attending and presenting at the international conference TEXT/SOUND/PERFORMANCE: Making in Canadian Space in Dublin, Ireland. The conference was hosted by the 2018-19 Craig Dobbin Professor of Canadian Studies, Dr. Gregory Betts, and held at the University College Dublin. Over the course of the conference I attended many thoughtful and inspiring panels, round-tables, performances, masterclass workshops, and keynotes, and had the opportunity to meet many Irish, Canadian, and Indigenous students, scholars, and artists.

University College Dublin. Description: university sign in Irish Gaelic and English languages.

At the conference I co-presented a paper titled “Canadian Poetry Off the Page in the Undergraduate Classroom” with Dr. Karis Shearer and fellow undergraduate Amy Thiessen of UBC Okanagan. We were joined on the panel “Sound Pedagogies” by SpokenWeb collaborators Dr. Jason Wiens and MA English student Leah van Dyk of the University of Calgary. Together we explored methods of engaging with the literary sound archive in undergraduate and graduate contexts.

L-R: Leah van Dyk, Jason Wiens, Megan Butchart, Amy Thiessen, Karis Shearer at their panel presentation. Photo: Mathieu Aubin

One highlight from the conference was a masterclass workshop on digitization and archival practices chaired by Associate Professor of English at UCD, Dr. Lucy Collins. Over the course of the three masterclass sessions, I learned about the valuable work being conducted in Ireland and Canada, through such projects as the Irish Poetry Reading Archive, the Irish Folklore Collection, the Museum of Literature Ireland, and SpokenWeb, to preserve and make publicly accessible archival collections important to literary and cultural heritage.

In addition to the exciting research being presented in the various panels and roundtables, the conference also offered evening events to attend. The first evening featured an inspiring series of keynote speeches and performances by D’bi.Young Anitafrika, the Sila Singers, Christian Bök, and Barry O’Halpin, Lina Andonovska, and Matthew Jacobson. Another event on the final day of the conference was a poetry reading held in the Reading Room of the National Library of Ireland featuring seven Griffin Poetry Prize winners.

National Library of Ireland. Description: reading desks and two-tone green domed ceiling of the library filled with people attending a poetry reading. Photo: Megan Butchart

While in Dublin I also found time to explore the various galleries and cathedrals in the city. Some of the highlights of these explorations included seeing the Book of Kells and the Long Room at Trinity College, and visiting the National Gallery of Ireland, the National Museum of Ireland, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The Long Library. Description: Vaulted ceiling of the Long Library, with bookshelves and marble busts. Photo: Megan Butchart


Looking down into a large gallery of portraits.


St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Description: View from outside of the cathedral on an overcast day. Photo: Megan Butchart

At the conference I was both introduced to many fascinating new ideas, perspectives, and projects and afforded the invaluable opportunity to engage with a diverse group of students and scholars, and I am deeply grateful to have had this incredible experience.

Amy and Megan at Kennedy’s Pub, Dublin. Photo: Karis Shearer


By Megan Butchart (BA English candidate)