Series explores John Quinn's influence on modern art, literature

Series explores John Quinn's influence on modern art, literature

John Quinn grew to international fame as a lawyer and collector of literature and art. At the time of his death in 1924, Quinn had amassed the largest collection of modern art in the world, counting writers and artists like James Joyce, William Butler Yeats and Pablo Picasso among his friends. He alone purchased more than 50 of Picasso's paintings.

John Quinn was born in Tiffin.

‘Berg English professor Dr. Barry Devine is a scholar of Irish literature, who specializes in studying the works of author James Joyce, and in particular Joyce’s novel, Ulysses. For that novel, Quinn was Joyce’s lawyer.

“Quinn was friends with Joyce and lots of other Irish writers,” Barry says. “The more I studied, the more I kept seeing his name pop up.”

Barry knew a great deal about Quinn, based on his years of research. And then, in 2017, he moved to Tiffin to begin teaching at Heidelberg.

Do you see where we’re going with this?

One day, Barry made the Tiffin connection when he saw in Wikipedia that Quinn was originally from Tiffin. That prompted more research: Where was he born? Does he still have family ties here? It turns out that Quinn’s family moved a few miles up the road to Fostoria when he was a boy. To this day, there remains a building in Fostoria’s downtown built by his father. 

Quinn was famous for providing legal advice and services to many modernist authors, including the aforementioned Joyce, T.S. Eliot and William Butler Yeats. 

A new series – a partnership between the Tiffin-Seneca Public Library and the Heidelberg English Department – will shed light on Quinn and “help the local community understand him and his relationship with authors,” Barry says.

St. Patrick’s Day launch for Irish icon

March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day – is the perfect day for the launch of The John Quinn Lecture Series, which will celebrate his Irish legacy and explore his involvement and influence on modern art and literature in the early 20th century. 

The first presentation, James Joyce and Dubliners, will be held virtually beginning at 6:30 p.m. It will be a celebration of Quinn’s Irish legacy and Joyce, his most famous client. 

Each lecture will focus on a writer or artist from Quinn’s extensive collection or from his personal relationships.

There will be two lectures per year, once in the fall semester, and once each spring. We will occasionally host a special summer lecture as well. The events will be recorded and made available to the public on a soon-to-be-created YouTube channel dedicated to the lecture series. Admission is always free, but pre-registration is required.

The second lecture this summer will feature Quinn’s connection to T.S. Eliot. Date TBD.

Barry will serve as the host for the series, and will invite guest experts from all over the world to lead the discussions and answer questions.

For the initial presentation, the series is pleased to welcome Dr. Ellen Scheible of Bridgewater State University. She is a specialist in Irish literature and is co-editor of the book, Rethinking Joyce’s Dubliners.

Check out the short stories in Joyce’s collection, Dubliners, and join the conversation on Wednesday. Registration is required.

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