BAIS: Issues with Irish Studies

Caroline MagennisMMUd

Chair: Caroline Magennis/Claire Lynch

A panel organised by the British Association for Irish Studies to discuss new critical approaches to Irish writing.

Histories Galore: Remapping Irish Literary Studies in the Age of Platform Publishing (Tom Walker)

Ussher Lecturer, Trinity College Dublin

This paper will reflect on how Irish literary studies has recently seen the publication of several large-scale collections of essays that collectively constitute a significant (and sometimes controversial) remapping of the field. Variously pitched as handbooks, histories and companions, these include: The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Poetry (2012); The Cambridge Companion to Irish Modernism (2014); The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Theatre (2016); A History Of Modern Irish Women’s Literature (2018); A History of Irish Working-Class Writing (2018); A History of Irish Autobiography (2018); The Cambridge Companion to Irish Poets (2018); A History of Irish Modernism (2019). Further volumes also in the pipeline are: ‘The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Fiction’; ‘A History of Irish Women's Poetry’; and the six-volume ‘Irish Literature in Transition’ series. Such an unprecedented glut of multi-authored literary histories and critical overviews demands critical examination not only of the contents of these volumes, but also as regards the wider intellectual, institutional, commercial and digital imperatives shaping their production.

Telling the story of the home during the Troubles (Eli Davies)

PhD Candidate, Ulster

This paper will consider the radical potential of inserting domestic space into memories and narratives about the Troubles in the north of Ireland. As Briony Reid argues, homes in the region “have been made full participants in the public world in ways specific to the province's history and politics.” (Reid, 2007, 943) Homes were sites of invasion and violence and continue to be, in Reid’s words “the carriers of political symbols” in the commemorative landscape. I will highlight the ways that male-dominated public narratives about the Troubles have worked to erase the significance of what went on inside the home, the emotional and physical work, frequently performed by women and argue that literature, with its stress on the specificity of individual, private lives, is ideally placed to describe this experience. Working at the intersections of literary studies, memory studies and psychology, my paper will use extracts from both literary texts and the real life accounts of women about their memories of the home and examine the relationship between the two.

(Border) Crossings and/or Crosscurrents: Rethinking Critical Paradigms for Irish-Scottish Studies (Stefanie Lehner)

Lecturer, QUB

Northern Ireland has always been a nodal-point for multiple Irish-Scottish crossings. First articulated in 1987, Edna Longley pointedly captured these crosscurrents with the Denkbild of an open-ended ‘cultural corridor’. Coined during the peak of the North’s political conflict, Longley’s notion resonates in the devolutionary post-conflict and Brexit eras: negatively, in the prospect of a hard border returning to isolate Northern Ireland from the Republic or an Irish Sea border isolating it from Great Britain; positively, in that Northern Ireland’s receptivity to Europeanness (evinced in the region’s majority vote to remain in the EU) mirrors similar sentiments along the ‘Celtic fringe’ in the Republic and Scotland. This paper reconsiders the resonances, benefits and pitfalls of such critical paradigm for thinking about past, present and future Irish-Scottish inter-relations through the lens of Northern Irish literature and culture.

‘A certain swaggering vulgarity’: The Irish cultural revival and the London music hall (Richard Kirkland)

Professor, KCL

This paper will discuss the activities of London Irish music hall performers in the British capital during the period of the Irish revival (for my purposes, roughly 1880-1910). It will describe how performers created from the residues of an Irish diasporic musical culture a style of interactive, frequently confrontational, cockney performance that spoke directly to urban audiences. These entertainments did not exist in cultural isolation; the Irish songs of the music hall had a habit of reflecting back the forms and preoccupations of Irish nationalist and revivalist texts in often crazy, excessive, and multiple forms. In this way Irish London’s two major cultural activities at this time formed an unlikely relationship of call and response.


LEARNED SOCIETIES STRAND: British Association for Irish Studies

Sat 3:45 pm - 5:00 pm