Book coversBook covers

Distinguished University Professor Emeritus

Department of English and Writing Studies

Western University


Brief Biography

Michael Groden was born in Buffalo in 1947 and graduated from Dartmouth College (B.A., 1969) and Princeton University (M.A., 1972, Ph.D., 1975). He moved to Canada in 1975 to teach at the University of Western Ontario (now known as Western University) and was Distinguished University Professor in the Department of English and Writing Studies there until he retired in 2014. He is the author of a new memoir about spending a life with Joyce's Ulysses, The Necessary Fiction: Life With James Joyce's "Ulysses," which was published in Fall 2019 by Edward Everett Root Ltd. Earlier, he wrote "Ulysses" in Progress ...

Biggest Recent Event

                    Necessary Fiction cover

I'm very happy to be able to announce that The Necessary Fiction: Life with James Joyce's "Ulysses," my memoir about spending an adult lifetime with Joyce's novel, has been published by Edward Everett Root (Brighton, UK). More information is available on the publisher's website. The book can be purchased from Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, Amazon in other countries, Barnes & Noble (US), Angus & Robertson (Australia), etc.

Toronto filmmaker Godfrey Jordan has made a wonderful eight-minute video about The Necessary Fiction. Watch it below or on Vimeo.

Michael Groden: "THE NECESSARY FICTION Life with James Joyce's Ulysses" from Godfrey Jordan on Vimeo.

Recent Events

"Reading James Joyce's Ulysses." In March 2020, as in many years since 2000, I taught this four-session class at the 92nd Street Y's Unterberg Poetry Center. The current class schedule is available here. The first session took place in person at the 92nd Street Y, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, the other three met via teleconferencing and Zoom videoconferencing.

Book-launch events for The Necessary Fiction took place in Dublin on November 28, 2019; Toronto on December 15, 2019; and Buffalo at the James Joyce Collection in the University at Buffalo's Poetry Collection on February 2, 2020. A launch event at the James Joyce Society in New York that was scheduled for March 26, 2020 had to be canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

At "Joyce Without Borders: The 2019 North American James Joyce Conference," which took place from June 12 to 16, 2019 in Mexico City, William Brockman and I delivered a joint presentation, "Reading Joyce Again Through New Letters," about the Unpublished Joyce Letters project that we are co-editing along with Kevin Dettmar and Robert Spoo. I also co-led two "Ulysses Reading Group" sessions with Austin Briggs.

At "The Art of James Joyce," the 26th International James Joyce Symposium in Antwerp, Belgium in June 2018, I co-led two "Ulysses Reading Group" sessions with Austin Briggs.

The alumni association of the high school in suburban Buffalo that I attended - Kenmore East High School - selected me for inclusion in the Kenmore East Hall of Distinction. The induction ceremony took place in the school auditorium on May 12, 2018.

On May 7, 2018 I gave an invited talk called “Why Read a Book Like James Joyce’s Ulysses?” to the Arts and Letters Club in Toronto.

On August 2, 2017 I gave a talk called "Joyce's Expanding Epistolary Novel" in Zurich, Switzerland at the Zurich James Joyce Foundation's "Postscrapt" Workshop.

I was involved in five different ways at "Diasporic Joyce: The 2017 North American James Joyce Conference," which was held in Toronto from June 21 to 24, 2017. I gave a talk at a panel that I shared with William Brockman called "Joyce's Unpublished Letters: A Progress Report." I co-led two "Ulysses Reading Group" sessions with Austin Briggs. I was the respondent to the papers presented on a panel called "Jimtimacies: At Home with Joyce," and I chaired a session called "The Transnational Genetics of Ulysses."

On March 6 and again on May 11, 2017 I was interviewed on WNYC radio's Leonard Lopate Show about Ulysses as part of the Leonard Lopate Book Club. The March 6 interview can be streamed or downloaded here and the May 11 interview, which also featured novelist Colum McCann, here. To stream either one, use the "Listen" button. To download an MP3 file, click the three dots to the right of "+Queue" and follow the instructions.

Ulysses in Toronto: Over five mornings in July 2016 (July 18-22) I led a seminar called "'Who's he when he's at home?': James Joyce's Ulysses" for Classical Pursuits and its Toronto Pursuits program. In July 2015 (July 20-24) I led a similar seminar called "'You Can Do It!': James Joyce's Ulysses." I wrote a blog piece called "Feeling at Home with Ulysses" in conjunction with the 2016 seminar and one called "Ulysses Can Change Your Life" in conjunction with the 2015 seminar. A video from the 2015 Toronto Pursuits events is available on YouTube.

"The Joyce of Music." In February 2016, I taught a three-session class called "The Joyce of Music" at the 92nd Street Y's Unterberg Poetry Center. We read and discussed Joyce's poetry and selections from his prose works that feature songs and other types of music. The class schedule is available here.

"Reading Finnegans Wake": In February and March 2015, I taught a four-session class called "Reading Finnegans Wake" at the 92nd Street Y's Unterberg Poetry Center in New York City. We read and discussed about 100 pages from Joyce's forbidding but fascinating last book. The class schedule is available here.

My first book, "Ulysses" in Progress (Princeton University Press, 1977), was returned to print in paperback in 2014 in the Princeton Legacy Library series.

I retired from teaching in the Department of English and Writing Studies at Western University on July 1, 2014 and am now Distinguished University Professor Emeritus there.

On May 22, 2014 at a retirement party in Toronto sponsored by Western Alumni, I gave a short talk called "The Necessary Fiction: A Life with Ulysses – or Why Ulysses Matters to Me"

On April 10, 2014 at a retirement colloquium at Western University, I gave a short talk called "Drafts of a Novel, Drafts of a Life: Looking Back."

On May 6, 2013, I gave a talk called "'Me. And me now': Writing About a Life with Ulysses" at the James Joyce Centre in Dublin. 

On April 19, 2013, I delivered a public lecture, "Ulysses: The Necessary Fiction," as part of the Modernist Versions Project's "Year of Ulysses." The talk was presented by the Modernist Versions Project and the University of Toronto's Modernist Reading and Research Group. You can watch a video of the talk here (click on the link to my talk at the right) or here.

More recent events ...

Recent Articles and Reviews

An article I wrote about Joyce's letters, "'Please, Mr. Postman’: Joyce's Expanding Epistolary Novel," has been published in Joyce's Non-Fiction Writings: Outside His Jurisfiction, edited by Katherine Ebury and James Alexander Fraser (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), pp. 31-53.

I reviewed Luca Crispi's Joyce’s Creative Process and the Construction of Characters in “Ulysses”: Becoming the Blooms (2015) in the James Joyce Quarterly, volume 53, numbers 1-2 (Fall 2015-Winter 2016) [published Fall 2017], pages 131-35.

I reviewed Robert Spoo's Without Copyrights: Piracy, Publishing, and the Public Domain (2013) in the James Joyce Quarterly, volume 51, number 1 (Fall 2013) [published Winter 2016], pages 179-83.

A talk I delivered at the Dublin James Joyce Centre has been published as “‘Me. And me now’: Writing About a Life with Ulysses” in a special double issue of the Dublin James Joyce Journal, numbers 6/7 (2013-14) [published May 2015], pages 132-47.

I reviewed Kevin Birmingham's The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s “Ulysses” (2014) in the James Joyce Quarterly, volume 50, number 3 (Spring 2013) [published Spring 2015], pp. 843-48.

My essay "A Book With Two Mollys," about Ulysses, Molly Bloom, and Molly Peacock, has been published in the online journal Partisan. It is available here.

My article "Writing Ulysses" has been published in The Cambridge Companion to "Ulysses," edited by Sean Latham (Cambridge University Press, 2014), pp. 3-18.

The first article on Ulysses that I published, "'Cyclops' in Progress, 1919" (originally published in James Joyce Quarterly 12:1-2 (Fall 1974-Winter 1975), has been reprinted in a special “JJQ 50 Years” issue of the James Joyce Quarterly, volume 50, numbers 1-2 (Fall 2012-Winter 2013) [published Fall 2014], pp. 119-65.

Books in the 2010s

Contemporary Literary and Cultural Theory: The Johns Hopkins Guide. Co-editor with Martin Kreiswirth and Imre Szeman. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, October 2012.

Praharfeast: James Joyce in Prague. Co-editor with David Vichnar and David Spurr. Prague: Litteraria Pragensia, June 2012.

"Ulysses" in Focus: Genetic, Textual, and Personal Views. Florida James Joyce Series. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2010. Released in paperback in April 2012. Reviews of "Ulysses in Focus"

Honors in the 2000s

In recent years I have received four major honors plus a less serious one:

On Bloomsday (June 16), 2004 I was awarded an honorary D.Litt. degree by University College Dublin (the university Joyce attended), along with Roddy Doyle, Jennifer Johnston, Harold Pinter, and Fritz Senn - photos.

In 2006 I was named a Distinguished University Professor at Western University. The award was presented at a ceremony and public lecture on November 24, 2006 - photos.

In 2007 I was elected a Fellow of The Royal Society of Canada (also called RSC: The Academies). The induction ceremony took place on November 17, 2007 in Edmonton, Alberta - photo.

In 2011 I was awarded the Hellmuth Prize for Achievement in Research, Western University's most prestigious award for research.

In a lighter vein, as part of the 21st International James Joyce Symposium, which took place in Tours, France in June 2008, I was one of five symposium attendees who became Chevaliers de l’Ordre de la Chantepleure. The induction ceremony took place as part of a wine-tasting ceremony at the Cave des Producteurs de Vouvray on June 18, 2008 - photos.

Maintained by: Michael Groden
Last updated: April 20, 2020