New Directions in Celtic Studies

New Directions in Celtic Studies

New Directions in Celtic Studies

New Directions in Celtic Studies

Excerpt

What is Celtic Studies?

One might expect that the largest international academic Celtic Studies conference in the world would provide a significant overview of the current research and preoccupations in the field. Indeed, the programme for the 1995 Tenth International Celtic Congress (held in Edinburgh) revealed a great deal about the present state of Celtic Studies. The majority of the presented papers were about the Irish or Welsh languages and their literatures, normally with a strong historical emphasis, investigating such subjects as infixed pronouns in early Irish nature poetry and various aspects of medieval Welsh or Irish hagiographies (Black et al., 1999). Other themes presented at the Congress were medieval law, archaeology, comparative Indo-European linguistics, and prehistory. Moreover, the programme was overwhelmingly medieval in focus, with only the occasional foray into modern literature or sociolinguistics. Interestingly, in the over 200 papers that were presented during the course of the conference, there were few concerning politics, contemporary religion, popular culture, economics or anthropology. Why?

'Who are the Celts?' is a question that has been asked time and again and at the end of the 1990s it is an issue at the centre of a heated debate. Although there have been a variety of definitions, often situated in language or material culture, none seems to provide an adequate description of the variety of 'Celtic' phenomena that are flourishing at the close of the twentieth century. The programme of the International Celtic Congress of 1995 indicated that scholars within Celtic Studies are somewhat reticent to address these complex, varying and meaningful subjects.

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