A generic stack of books on a desk

Local high school students turn back time to celebrate Bloomsday at UOW

Local high school students turn back time to celebrate Bloomsday at UOW

Aspiring authors and HSC candidates immerse themselves in the life of James Joyce

Visitors to Building 29 at the University of Wollongong (UOW) will be transported back to the Edwardian era this Friday (16 June) when Year 12 students from Bulli High School and St Mary Star of the Sea College descend on campus to celebrate Bloomsday.

Wearing their best Edwardian-style attire, students will immerse themselves in activities focusing on the unique voice and vernacular of Irish author, James Joyce.

Bloomsday is an annual celebration, held worldwide on 16 June, of the life and works of Joyce.

Bloomsday: Ulysses by the sea is an excursion designed for HSC English Advanced/Extension candidates and aspiring young authors. The event is the brainchild of Bulli High School teacher Mr David Strange.

“The goal of this excursion is to educate students in the skills necessary to write high-level interior monologue pieces for the Module C unit, ‘The Craft of Writing’,” Mr Strange said.

“Reading Ulysses is a challenge even to an experienced English teacher. It’s the Everest of novels but so thrilling to reach the summit.

“For the dedicated high school student Ulysses brings alive a world far richer than Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. It’s a rich compression of literary styles and attitudes and Irish superstitions that are deeply flawed and overwhelmingly human.”

The Bloomsday excursion at UOW will also double as a fun celebration of Joyce’s Dublin period setting in 1906, complete with activities to bring Ulysses’ characters of Molly Bloom, Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom to life.

Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, Dr Joshua Lobb, will be leading the students through Ulysses on the day, in collaboration with Dr Lauren Weber from the School of Education.

“It’s a complex novel and we’ve worked hard to create games that allow students to get their hands dirty with the text,” Dr Lobb said.

“Students will also participate in a creative writing workshop to produce their own stream-of-consciousness writing.

“It’s going to be a fantastic event allowing students to learn and embrace Joyce’s creativity at the same time.”

The Bloomsday excursion will include activities focused on Joyce’s unique voice and vernacular; a creative writing workshop; the opportunity for students to perform their work to an audience; best costume and best oral reading performance prizes; and an opportunity for students to enter their work into a writing competition to be judged by a panel of Australian authors.

“I was keen to embrace UOW as the home of a Bloomsday that centred on the magic of Joyce’s prose rather than the magic of a schooner. Anyone can hold a beer and read aloud Stephen Dedalus. But it takes real experts to bring alive the voice and scheme of the world’s greatest novel,” Mr Strange said.

“We see this opening festival as small scale but nonetheless a pilot which might take off in future years to include a range of Illawarra schools. We are searching for young writers of talent and have the Australian writer Malcolm Knox on hand to assist our talent-spotting. We are already connected with journalists, authors and of course, UOW academics to help identify the next Illawarra talent who can seize their potential and tell our local stories.”