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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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‘Who’s he when he’s at home?’ Spenser and Irishness on a Frawley 43


‘Who’s he when he’s at home?’ Spenser and Irishness Oona Frawley Despite appearing so firmly situated in Ireland by virtue of much employed phrases like ‘Spenser’s Castle’ and ‘Spenser’s Ireland’, Edmund Spenser is, on another level, utterly absent from Irishness, as he is not considered an Irish writer. This rejection of Spenser as Irish, considered alongside the type of language used to describe Spenser in Ireland, seems to mirror the difficul- ties that accompany ‘Spenser’ as a figure or icon in an Irish context, and belies what is a complex issue of cultural memory: how, in a postcolonial culture, do we remember a great poet, also a colonial servant? North of Cork, one encounters a white sign rimmed with black whose tapering arrow indicates laconically ‘Spenser’s Castle’. This simply worded sign points to the ruins of a castle formerly known as ‘Kilcolman’, a space inhabited by Spenser for much of his nearly two decades in Ireland at the end of the sixteenth century, a space where he is reputed to have written the bulk of the heroically bulky Faerie Queene. When this signpost points us towards ‘Spenser’s Castle’, it also points to a narrative of Spenser and Ireland that admits Spenser some ground in Ireland, a literal territory, but rejects Spenser as Irish. This raises questions for me about whether post- colonial debates on national and hybrid identities have gone far enough in considering the reorganisation of identity that so often occurs in colo- nial situations – have these debates...

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