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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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The World, the Music, and the Critic: Some Thoughts on Said’s Musical Transgressions Helen O’Shea 153


The World, the Music, and the Critic: Some Thoughts on Said’s Musical Transgressions Helen O’Shea The analysis of colonial discourse has focused on literary and visual texts, overlooking music’s role in enacting and resisting imperial power. In Musical Elaborations, Edward Said writes of music’s transgressive faculty: its ability to cross over into other domains, to ‘attach itself to, and become a part of, social formations, to vary its articulations and rhetoric’.1 In tracing a well-known song as it is co-opted by nationalists, emigrants, the imperial army, and the popular music industry, I propose to illustrate Said’s proposition that musical practice may be ‘contrapuntal’: may embody and enact both imperial power and resistance to it. As an air and its variants move from the Irish countryside to its urban centres and the imperial hub of London and back again and as it is performed by street musicians, Irish nationalists, homesick emigrants, and all who identify with a romantic notion of Ireland, it illustrates some of the many ways in which musical meanings transmutate across time and space. The World Underpinning Said’s critical work is the concept of the worldliness of lit- erary texts, which ‘even in their most rarefied form are always enmeshed in circumstance, time, place, and society’.2 A cultural text is not a repre- 1 Edward Said, Musical Elaborations (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), 70. Further references to this edition will be cited in the text. 2 Edward Said, The World, the Text, and the Critic (Cambridge, MA:...

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