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Reimagining Irish Studies for the Twenty-First Century


Edited By Eamon Maher and Eugene O'Brien

This landmark collection marks the publication of the 100th book in the Reimagining Ireland series. It attempts to provide a «forward look» (as opposed to what Frank O’Connor once referred to as the « backward look») at what Irish Studies might look like in the third millennium. With a Foreword by Declan Kiberd, it also contains essays by several other leading Irish Studies experts on (among other areas) literature and critical theory, sport, the Irish language, food and beverage studies, cinema, women’s writing, Brexit, religion, Northern Ireland, the legacy of the Great Famine, Ireland in the French imagination, archival research, musicology, and Irish Studies in North America. The book is a tribute to Irish Studies’ foundational commitment to revealing and renewing Irishness within and beyond the national space.

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Foreword: Future Perfect



This will have been a happy day

– Samuel Beckett

There was a time – within the living memory of some contributors to this excellent volume – when there was no such thing as Irish Studies. If you wanted to buy a novel by Kate O’Brien or Ben Kiely, you sought them out in the general fiction section of a good bookshop. If you wished to read about Parnell, you would as like as not find the desired book on shelves headed ‘biography’ or ‘history’.

All that changed with the foundation in the 1960s of special chairs devoted to Anglo-Irish Literature or Irish History and Political Science. Slowly, other sub-categories emerged: anthropology, sociology, geography and musicology. Some disciplines are still nascent: for years, certain people denied that there was a distinctive Irish cuisine, and, though you can hardly cross a major city now without passing an Irish pub, it will be some time yet before the texts produced by Alison Armstrong, Darina Allen, Máirtín Mac Con Iomaire or Rhona Kenneally generate a clearly themed range of Irish restaurants, not to mention a set of university examination papers interrogating the provenance and meaning of Irish food.

I am – like the contributors to all hundred volumes of this fine series – speaking solely of curricular university study. However, there is a deeper sense in which many of us were practising Irish Studies from the moment we entered primary school; there were times...

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