Representing Ireland: Gender, Class, Nationality

Representing Ireland: Gender, Class, Nationality

Representing Ireland: Gender, Class, Nationality

Representing Ireland: Gender, Class, Nationality

Synopsis

"From demographics to politics to very private memory making, this volume covers the 'grounds' of Irishness as no other I have seen. Considering the variety of topics and the different interests among the contributors, it is remarkable that (the book) is so consistently accessible, jargon-free, and graceful". -- Mary Lowe-Evans, University of West Florida

"A wide-ranging and important collection of essays on the intersections of social class, gender, national identity, and aesthetics in Irish literature and culture. It is a timely and significant contribution to Irish studies". -- Jonathan Allison, University of Kentucky

In one of the first books to bring contemporary critical theory to bear on Irish studies, contributors -- eminent Irish and American scholars -- provide insightful and timely essays on Ireland's changing identity by looking at representations of Ireland in history, film, literature, and political science.

Contributors explore the role of language in identity construction, modern efforts to reconstruct Irish identity after the Great Famine, and the impact of gender and class on nationality Ultimately, the Ireland that emerges from these theoretical, multidisciplinary snapshots is complex, diverse, and largely unmapped. Long defined by others, it is also an Ireland ready and eager to define itself.

Excerpt

In ten essays and an interview, Irish and American writers explore issues surrounding the representation of Ireland in terms of gender, class, and nationality. Central to all three sections of this collection is the role that identity plays in representation. The term "identity," however, is misleading when one speaks of the identity of the Irish or the Irish nationality or the categories of a specific gender or class. By speaking instead of Irish "identities" and "identities" of, for instance, working-class Irish women and men, we inscribe the possibility for multiple ways of understanding Irishness. Whether these identities are in the process of being constructed, as in the essays and interview in part I of this book; reconstructed, as in part II; or have their strands of gender, class, and nationality interwoven, as in part III, identities are theorized to be dynamic rather than fixed. We often hear someone exclaiming about an image of Ireland, "Isn't that the very essence of Ireland," or responding to a narrative about an Irish person with the comment, "Isn't that just like the Irish." Rather than accept the exclamation at face value, a more helpful response is to ask what assumptions lie behind the person's statement.

The idea for this book as well as most of the essays in it grew out of papers presented at two meetings of the American Conference for Irish Studies--the 1994 Southern Region ACIS meeting held at West Virginia University, Morgantown, and the 1994 National ACIS meeting held at Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska. I had been conference organizer for the first of these, and, searching for an organizing theme, had selected "Representing Ireland: Gender, Class, Ethnicity." The papers I heard dealt with material so significant that I thought they should be available for an audience beyond that of the conference participants. Six weeks later, as I listened to papers at the National ACIS meeting, I had the same reaction. It occurred to me that if the Omaha papers were added to those I'd heard . . .

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