Literary Review: “The Cambridge Companion to Modern Irish Culture”.

The Cambridge Guide to Modern Irish Culture. Edited by Joe Cleary and Claire Connolly.


The companion states:

it provides an authoritative introduction to the historical, social and stylistic complexities of modern Irish culture. Readers will be introduced to Irish studies in its widest sense and helped to find their way through the cultural and theoretical debates  that inform our understanding of modern Ireland.

The companion, published in 2004, is divided into two parts, the first focuses on essays regarding cultural politics, for example, ‘Irish feminism’, or ‘Religion, identity, state, and society’, and the second part focuses on essays on cultural practices and cultural forms, for example, ‘Irish sport’, ‘Poetry in Ireland’, or ‘Folk culture’.

The contributors are acknowledged experts, for example Siobhan Kilfeather, Luke Gibbons, and kevin Whelan to name a few. The companion does exactly what it says on the tin, if you want an authoritative starting point, for example, on the topic of Irish migration and diaspora this companion delivers. Mary J. Hickman in her introduction outlines the uniqueness of Irish migration in terms of sheer numbers, details the key destinations and explains how migration and diaspora are closely interlinked. Then approaches used to define diaspora, the traditional paradigm and the post-modern version and varying concepts are detailed. The analyses builds, looking into how diaspora, race, ethnicity and the nation-state are constituted. A fascinating analyses of how Irish diaspora developed in the United States and Britain follows, with insights and explanations highlighting the differences. The final section looks at diasporan identities and contemporary multiculturalisms. Each essay/chapter includes detailed notes and further reading recommendations.

I find this companion invaluable in giving brief, succinct, but with sufficient detail of an aspect of either Irish cultural political topics or cultural practices and forms. They give a historical overview, outline key events, highlight the significant theories, arguments and points of difference. The essays are an invaluable starting point for an student wanting to get an overview  and being  pointed in the right direction.

Highly recommended.

Works cited.

Cleary, Joe, and Claire Connolly, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Modern Irish Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Print.

The Cambridge Companion to Modern Irish Culture. Digital Image. Yahoo. n.d. Web. 26th Jan. 2017.


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