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Affecting Irishness

Negotiating Cultural Identity Within and Beyond the Nation


Edited By James P. Byrne, Padraig Kirwan and Michael O'Sullivan

This collection of new essays addresses a key debate in Irish studies. While it is important that new research endeavours to accommodate the new and powerful manifestations of Irishness that are evident today in our globalised economy, these considerations are often overlooked. The writers in this book seek to reconcile the established critical perspectives of Irish studies with a forward-looking critical momentum that incorporates the realities of globalisation and economic migration.
The book initiates this vital discussion by bringing together a series of provocative and thoughtful essays, from both renowned and rising international scholars, on the vicissitudes of cultural identity in a post-modern, post-colonial and post-national Ireland. By including work by leading scholars in the fields of film studies, migration and Diaspora studies, travel literature and gender studies, this collection offers a thorough twenty-first-century interrogation of Irishness and provides a timely fusion of international perspectives on Irish cultural identity.


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Introduction 1


1 Theorising Irish Studies Raphaël Ingelbien’s essay ‘Irish Studies, the Postcolonial Paradigm and the Comparative Mandate’ cuts to the heart of important issues facing the institution of Irish studies. Ingelbien argues that the emergence of the institution of Irish studies over recent decades, in line with the emergence of the discourse of postcolonialism, owes much to the demise of the disci- pline of comparative literature and to the relative stability of the discipline of English. He examines the inherent strengths and weaknesses of Irish studies as a discipline. A strict adherence to the postcolonial paradigm has lead to a situation where, for Ingelbien, ‘the postcolonial paradigm as a whole has positively discouraged the idea that Ireland could be exam- ined in its relation to continental Europe’. If Irish studies can find its way towards developing a ‘self-reflexive grasp of its institutional history’ then, for Ingelbien, it may very well avoid the consequences of being too depend- ent on the postcolonial paradigm. Oona Frawley’s essay ‘“Who’s he when he’s at home?”: Spenser and Irishness’ also interrogates received notions of the canon of Irish studies, but from a very different perspective. In arguing that Edmund Spenser is, on the one hand, ‘firmly situated in Ireland by virtue of much employed phrases like “Spenser’s Castle” and “Spenser’s Ireland”’ and on the other, is ‘utterly absent from Irishness, as he is not considered an Irish writer’, Frawley makes a novel inspection of the constitution of the canon of Irish writing. Frawley questions...

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