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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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1 Applying a Food Studies Perspective to Irish Studies



Food studies and Irish Studies stem from the same ‘studies’ phenomena and share many similarities in their journeys from the margins to becoming established academic disciplines. A common feature of the new academic studies movement, whether French, gender, post-colonial, cinematic, African, Irish or food is their interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary nature. They become more than any one discipline and scholars within these new fields continuously investigate from various angles, often adopting ‘self-reflexivity’ as an approach.1 Stereotypical postcolonial notions of the drunken2 or ‘stage Irishman’, or food’s association with the quotidian domestic, and therefore, feminine, led some academics up until relatively recently to dismiss either as worthy of any form of serious study.3 However, with the advent of the cultural turn in the 1970s, whether you were interested in medicine, literature, poverty or religion, each could be studied by applying either an Irish or a food lens. Moreover, recent research has argued that a food studies lens could be insightful to the field of Irish Studies and that a ←19 | 20→‘gastrocritical’4 reading of canonical writers such as Seamus Heaney5 or Maria Edgeworth6 might prove revelatory.

This chapter will compare the journey by Irish Studies and food studies to becoming established disciplines, discussing the key figures, journals, courses, conferences and encyclopaedias associated with both. It will identify early outliers of food themes within the Irish Studies canon in addition to traditional sources, track the growth of food studies in Ireland, particularly in...

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