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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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5 Drinking Spaces in Strange Places: New Directions in Irish Beverage Research



The quotidian task of consuming beverage is something that appears remarkably simple and is part of normal activity for those of us lucky enough to live in a bountiful society. Like food, it is a necessary sustenance without which the human body cannot survive. And yet, down through the centuries the drinks we consume and the way in which we consume them have become cultural signifiers that can tell us much about who we are. Many research areas have their origins in the more practical and applied aspects of life and food studies is perhaps the most pertinent example of this. Despite recently becoming a field of study in its own right, it still struggles at times to be considered worthy of serious academic endeavour. Warren Belasco suggests that:

Even now, with the rising interest in food studies, a serious analysis of family dinner rituals, cookbooks, or the appeal of fast food may still evoke surprise and even scorn. ‘Do professors really study that?’ your friends and family ask. ‘If you’re going to go around telling your colleagues you are a philosopher of food’, philosopher Lisa Heldke writes, ‘you better be prepared to develop a thick skin – and start a wisecrack collection’.1

As an important subset of food studies, beverage scholars have also been developing their own distinct research field; and this chapter posits that recent forays into beverage studies have the potential to play an important role in an Irish...

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