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Festschrift for Tadhg Foley


Edited By Maureen O'Connor

This Festschrift for Professor Tadhg Foley of the National University of Ireland, Galway, who retired in 2009, gathers together international contributors in the fields of poetry, politics and academia to honour this great man’s life and work. Professor Foley has not only been central in the development of Irish Studies and Colonial/Postcolonial Studies in Ireland and in the United States, but he has also enjoyed a long career as convivial host in his thatched cottage in Salthill, Galway. He remains one of the most popular and beloved figures in Irish academia. Among the eminent scholars included in the volume are Terry Eagleton, Robert Young, Penny Boumelha, David Lloyd, Luke Gibbons, Joep Leerssen and Maud Ellmann. The book is further enriched by poets Bernard O’Donoghue, Louis de Paor, Rita Ann Higgins, Michael D. Higgins and Tom Duddy. This collection is a rare and distinctive gathering of true and resonant voices, offering a unique portrait of late twentieth-century Irish literary and academic culture and its interplay with the United States.


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Nomadic Figures: The ‘Rhetorical Excess’ of Irishness in Political Economy David Lloyd 41


Nomadic Figures: The ‘Rhetorical Excess’ of Irishness in Political Economy1 David Lloyd In their masterful and indispensable study of political economy and its transformation in colonial Ireland, Thomas Boylan and Timothy Foley have documented English efforts throughout the nineteenth century to disseminate political economic doctrine as part of a project that was at once economic and political or governmental. Central to this project was the dissemination of popular political economic tracts such as that writ- ten by the Archbishop of Dublin, Robert Whateley, which sought to use the supposed science of economics to justify the reigning social order. But the drive was not merely to school the Irish: it was to produce a new kind of subject, ‘to change what was perceived as Irish “character”, to substitute ordered, rational discourse … for rhetorical excess, thereby promoting affection for England and the Established Church’.2 The characteristics of this new political economic subject can be fairly succinctly summarized. Critical was the capacity for sustained productive labour that the Irish were held to so singularly lack. This capacity turned on the emergence of the rationally self-interested individual whose choices and desires invisibly regulate both production and consumption. Such an individual is founded in the ethical virtues of autonomy and consistency: ‘he’ is not swayed by affect or by outside influences, but ‘gives the law to himself ’ and becomes, 1 For an earlier and very different version of this essay, see my ‘Mobile Figures’ Vectors: a Journal of Culture and Technology in a Dynamic...

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