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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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Introduction: – Reimagining Irish Studies for the Twenty-First Century



To mark the milestone 100th book in Reimagining Ireland, Peter Lang commissioned a special volume offering both a retrospective on what has been achieved to date in the series, and an outline of future possibilities. Clearly, Irish Studies is a discipline that has blossomed over the past number of decades. This flowering was assisted greatly by the emergence in the 1960s and 1970s of ‘area studies’, or area-based programmes, which emphasised that knowledge of the literature, culture, history and diversity that shape and mould various specialisms should be an essential ingredient of university courses. Hence, French Studies, Peace Studies, Women’s Studies, European Studies, and Postcolonial Studies, to cite but a few examples, all came to the fore and proposed a broader menu for exploration than had heretofore been the norm. In one of the first attempts to define this new phenomenon in 1988, the editors of Irish Studies: A General Introduction noted a ‘quickening of interest in Irish Studies as an integrated, multi-disciplinary programme of learning’ from the 1960s onwards, particularly in the United States.1

The term ‘Irish Studies’ covers a multitude: literature (in Irish and Hiberno-English), the postcolonial experience (only valid for the twenty six counties that currently constitute the Republic of Ireland), the Irish diaspora, religion, politics, sociology. As the editors of the collection mentioned above remarked: ‘The nature of Irish Studies remains a subject of debate and its limits are fluid rather than fixed’.2 Taking the ‘fluid’ rather ←1 | 2→than...

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