The Bram Stoker Club, now on its 7th session, is a subcommittee of The Phil devoted to student paper readings, named after one of the Phil’s most illustrious presidents. It was set up by a group of ordinary members of the society, and continues to be managed entirely by ordinary members – or “extraordinaries”, as we prefer to call them. The club’s original aim was to revive the paper-reading aspect of The Phil that had somewhat fallen by the wayside when the society’s focus shifted towards competitive debating. Since its inception the club has gone from strength to strength, getting more and more paper submissions each year.
Every week they hold a student paper reading in the conversation room of the GMB. These events take place at lunchtime and enjoy a fun, casual atmosphere – students curl up on the couches and are treated to free tea, coffee and biscuits during the paper reading. One of the best aspects of Bram is the sheer variety of papers that are submitted. In Michaelmas term of this year, they’ve seen papers on artificial intelligence, nightclubs and the history of bottled water, to name but a few. They welcome submissions on any topic that students are interested in, which is why the papers are always well-researched and delivered with passion and enthusiasm.
Bram’s committee is made up of three extraordinary members of the Phil – one chair and two ordinary committee members.
In recent years, Bram has expanded its activities beyond paper readings. Two years ago, the committee welcomed Neil Harbisson, the world’s first officially recognised cyborg. He read a paper to the club about the antenna implanted in his skull that allows him to hear colour and experience colours that are outside the spectrum normally visible to humans. Harbisson was also presented with the Honorary Patronage of the Phil at this event.
They have also recently expanded into the field of panel discussions. Liam Hunt, the chair of Bram’s 5th session, held the inaugural Bram panel on the topic of homelessness. Orla Delaney, the chair of Bram’s 7th session, continued this new tradition, holding an extremely successful panel entitled “Radical Movements for Choice in Ireland”. This was an all-female panel of pro-choice campaigners that included well-known activists such as Tara Flynn and Anna Cosgrave.
During the 4th Session, the club welcomed three living descendants of its namesake Bram Stoker. Noel Dobbs, Robin MacCaw and Dacre Stoker met with members of the club and society at large. Each presented papers on the history of Bram Stoker and legacy of Dracula within their family. Also in attendance was distant relative and Senator David Norris. Finally the Stoker family presented the club with portrait of Bram Stoker by Dublin artist Damian Byrne, and a plaque specifying the connection between the society and their ancestor, which hangs proudly in the room that bears his name. During the 7th Session, the Bram subcommittee attended the TSD’s World Dracula Congress, which took place in Trinity, helping to maintain a strong relationship with the Stoker family.
Social events are an important part of the Bram calendar. They hold an annual Christmas party in the final week of term, during which a student reads an appropriately-themed paper and all the attendees enjoy mulled wine and mince pies. They also celebrate the end of the session with a garden party. This usually takes place in the rose garden on campus, where they provide Pimm’s and picnic food for the club’s regular attendees to enjoy.
At the Phil’s AGM in April they present the Gold Medal for Composition, which is awarded to the student whose paper was deemed the best of the year by the committee. They also compile a number of our best papers into a journal, The Bram Stoker Club Review, which is unveiled and distributed to members at the end-of-year garden party.