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‘Kicking Bishop Brennan Up the Arse’

Negotiating Texts and Contexts in Contemporary Irish Studies

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Eugene O'Brien

This collection of essays reconsiders aspects of Irish studies through the medium of literary and cultural theory. The author looks at the negotiations between texts and their contexts and then analyses how the writer both reflects and transforms aspects of his or her cultural milieu. The essays examine literary texts by W. B. Yeats, Seamus Heaney, James Joyce and Sean Ó’Faoláin; media texts such as Father Ted, American Beauty and a series of Guinness advertisements; as well as cultural and political contexts such as globalisation, religion, the Provisional IRA and media treatment of murders in Ireland. The author also looks at aspects of the postcolonial and feminist paradigms and makes use of a theoretical matrix based on the work of Jacques Derrida and Jacques Lacan.
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Breaking the Mould

Literary Representations of Irish Catholicism

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Edited by Eamon Maher and Eugene O'Brien

Catholicism has played a central role in Irish society for centuries. It is sometimes perceived in a negative light, being associated with repression, antiquated morality and a warped view of sexuality. However, there are also the positive aspects that Catholicism brought to bear on Irish culture, such as the beauty of its rituals, education and health care, or concern for the poor and the underprivileged. Whatever their experience of Catholicism, writers of a certain generation could not escape its impact on their lives, an impact which is pervasive in the literature they produced.
This study, containing twelve chapters written by a range of distinguished literary experts and emerging scholars, explores in a systematic manner the cross-fertilisation between Catholicism and Irish/Irish-American literature written in English. The figures addressed in the book include James Joyce, Maud Gonne, Constance Markievicz, Kate O’Brien, Edwin O’Connor, Brian Moore, John McGahern, Seamus Heaney, Paul Durcan, Vincent Carroll and Brian Friel. This book will serve to underline the complex relationship between creative writers and the once all-powerful religious Establishment.
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Eamon Maher, Grace Neville and Eugene O'Brien

French writers and intellectuals were to the forefront when it came to theorizing the concepts of modernity and postmodernity, and thus such a theme was considered appropriate for this, the second volume in the Studies in Franco-Irish Relations series. The postmodern Irish socio-cultural paradigm is interrogated through the lens of French thought. What is equally interesting is that Irish contexts can also help shed light on the French situation as the processes of secularisation and multicultural diversity, part of the French experience since the 1950s, begin to take root in a society that has become one of the most globalised in the Western world. The interchange and dialogue between the two cultures throws up a panoply of insights that have the capacity to be enriching for both societies.
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Yann Bévant, Eamon Maher, Grace Neville and Eugene O'Brien

When one considers issues that are crucial to the evolution of French and Irish culture and behaviour, it is doubtful if there is anything more pertinent than globalisation and secularisation. Clearly, the experience of these concepts in both countries varies greatly: for example, while the French demonstrate a certain ‘méfiance’ – even ‘mépris’ – towards the globalistion project, which they associate with Hollywood, Microsoft, McDonalds and very little that is positive, the Irish, particularly during the Celtic Tiger years, were enthused by the possibilities it offered in terms of material gain and liberation from the excessive control of the Roman Catholic Church. In relation to the latter, many commentators argue that globalisation brought a more secular mindset to Ireland in recent decades, whereas in France the term ‘laïcité’ is strongly identified with the Republican ideology that dates back to the French Revolution. Clearly, therefore, the theme is a revealing one.
Cet ouvrage, qui contient des articles rédigés en anglais et en français, est composé des Actes du 4e Colloque franco-irlandais qui a eu lieu à l’université Rennes 2 en mai 2008 sous l’égide du NCFIS.