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Authority and Wisdom in the New Ireland

Studies in Literature and Culture


Edited By Carmen Zamorano Llena and Billy Gray

Since the end of the nineteenth century, Ireland has witnessed a profound reconfiguration of its cultural, political, constitutional and religious identities, resulting in an unparalleled questioning of the dominant discourses and narratives that have seemingly defined the nation. The essays in this collection examine the ways in which established Irish socio-cultural structures of authority and their constructs of collective identity have been challenged within literary and cultural discourses of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Every challenge to the purported wisdom of these authority structures adds a new facet to the complexity of Irish national identity and contributes to the continuous evolution of the ‘New Ireland’, a phrase often used to signify the momentous transformations of the country in times of change.
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Bent Sørensen - Sean-nós, sean-nua … sean-nós nua? Constructions of Authority, Tradition and Innovation in Popular Irish Music


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Sean-nós, sean-nua … sean-nós nua? Constructions of Authority, Tradition and Innovation in Popular Irish Music

This essay examines the dynamics between old and new ways in Irish music, with specific attention to constructions of tradition vis-à-vis innovation, interpreted through the concept of authority, understood as who has the agency to carry out an authoritative interpretation and performance. For the purpose of this analysis Pierre Bourdieu’s notions of fields of cultural production, cultural capital, and gatekeeping and consecration are employed. Bourdieu’s categories are cross-pollinated with the idea of the ‘glocal’ as an integrative strategy to integrate tradition and innovation; Irish music providing the tradition, and global influences on performance practices providing the innovative aspects.

Irish music is of course a vast area to engage with, especially as the global interest in both traditional Irish music and Irish rock has exploded over the last half century, starting with the folk revival of the 1960s and culminating with the global success of rock bands such as U2 in the 1990s. In this piece, the research interest is therefore limited to a small number of artists and their interventions into a very specific portion of the Irish music tradition, namely the traditional unaccompanied song in Gaelic nowadays known as sean-nós, or the old style. While there is still considerable local interest in the practice of this genre, it is not the most commercially viable type of music in an...

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