Marginal Irish Modernisms

Lead Research Organisation: Liverpool John Moores University
Department Name: Sch of Humanities and Social Science

Abstract

This project will undertake a re-examination of Irish cultural and political experience during a key period of the country's modern history - between 1879 (the commencement of the Land War) and 1939 (Eire's adoption of neutrality in World War II, and the 'end' of Modernism with the publication of Joyce's 'Finnegans Wake'). Progressing from an acknowledgement of the assumptions that have underpinned conventional models of Irish Modernism, our principal aims are:

1) to reconfigure the existing critical landscape as it is currently contested across disciplines in humanities (e.g. literature and history), the arts (e.g. fine art and music) and social sciences (e.g. sociology and politics);
2) to establish a longer-term, multi-disciplinary analysis of Irish cultural experience since the early twentieth century;
3) to disseminate our findings as widely as possible, and in ways that affect public perception of Irish cultural identity.

The project is multidisciplinary in scope, drawing on current debates in a range of fields including English, History, Politics and Cultural Studies.

Contemporary opinion regards Ireland as having a unique relationship with modernity in general, and with cultural Modernism in particular. In this account, the country produced some of the principal voices of Anglophone Modernism (e.g. Yeats, Joyce, Beckett). After seven hundred years of colonisation (the story goes) Ireland was a fractured country, its culture alienated to the point of trauma. Irish society in the nineteenth century was thus already 'Modernist' - already predisposed (through its politically and economically dependent status, as well as through the experience of profoundly traumatic events such as the Great Famine of the 1840s) to the processes of alienation and decentring that would in time come to constitute the cornerstones of the international Modernist movement.

This model has largely determined the trajectory of debates on subsequent Irish history. It is as a response to Modernist dislocation and fragmentation that all future developments (independence, emigration, war, scandal, etc.) come into focus.

Whilst compelling, this account does not do justice to the richness or the complexity of Irish Modernism during the fervent decades after 1879. Many figures of potential importance (e.g. 'minor' writers such as Alice Milligan) as well as many ideas of potential relevance (e.g. anarchism) are routinely relegated to the margins of debate.

By promoting discussion between scholars from different disciplines, Marginal Irish Modernisms will improve our understanding of how a range of ideas, practices, texts and events from a crucial period in Irish history might be considered from the perspective of Modernism, and how such a consideration might in turn enable contemporary scholars to re-interpret Modernism itself.

This aim will be accomplished primarily through a series of interdisciplinary networking events involving academics with research interests in Ireland during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Key international figures will feature in each event and the attendance of new researchers and research students will be encouraged and supported. Events will be held in international locations (London, Dublin, Liverpool). It is anticipated that once established, the project will continue into new fora, including a monograph series and a dedicated journal.

This major intervention in the academic field will be matched by a determination to create opportunities for wide public dissemination of research. The project will engage a range of stakeholders to advance their understanding of a key period in the formative development of Ireland and Irish identity, and to challenge ideas which have held sway for too long. Such an intervention will in turn contribute to the re-imagination of subsequent Irish history, and to the re-orientation of its current status.

Planned Impact

By increasing the visibility of marginalised authors, texts and practices, the Marginal Irish Modernisms Network will benefit a wide range of non-academic stake-holders, especially those with an interest in culture in general, and Irish culture in particular.

Potential audiences include the general reading public, library users, reading groups, Irish cultural societies and special interest groups. Through a dedicated website and public activities, these audiences will benefit from raised awareness of previously overlooked or underrated texts and authors, thus increasing their understanding of the general development of cultural / political relations across the Atlantic Archipelago and beyond. This will also help to stimulate a sense of cultural identity for Irish communities in the areas close to each of the network events.

This latter point pertains especially to expatriate, multi-generational Irish audiences throughout the UK. Such communities have traditionally been regarded as removed from the well-spring of 'authentic' Irish culture. Insofar as Modernism is characterised by a focus on experiences of alienation and displacement, the Marginal Irish Modernisms Network will place the experience of emigration at the heart of this project, both in terms of its cultural representation and in terms of its social / political history.

Over the past two years the Principal Investigator has worked with the 'Irish Itinerary' - administered by the European Federation of Associations and Centres of Irish Studies (EFACIS), and funded by Culture Ireland - to expand Irish cultural activities across the continent (including Belgium, France, Holland, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Scotland and Sweden). He has been commissioned for a further two tours in 2015 and 2016, covering venues in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Hungary. These presentations will be for a mixed audience of academics and members of the public. This is one of the ways in which an appreciation of the need for an initiative along the lines of this Network has developed.

Beyond Europe, the Co-investigator has worked extensively at a number of US institutions (e.g. Universities of California and Texas), while the Principal Investigator has worked with Irish cultural groups throughout the UK (e.g. the London Irish Women's Centre and the Irish World Heritage Centre).

The Network will impact upon the Irish cultural sector by enhancing public knowledge of marginalised cultural activities and raising awareness of the breadth and diversity of Irish culture in general. Beneficiaries include publishers (e.g. Penguin Ireland), festival organisers (e.g. regional Irish festivals such as London, Liverpool and Manchester), and cultural agents such as Arts Council Ireland, Culture Ireland (a major contributor to the funding of Irish culture worldwide), museums and libraries (e.g. Liverpool Central Library, the Long Room at Trinity College, Dublin).

Increasing awareness of marginalised literature will increase engagement with Irish culture through the consumption of novels, poetry and plays, attendance at festivals, workshops, film screenings, and public lectures. Key changes arising from the network will be indicated by an increase in interest in specific authors or texts, increased attendance at cultural events, and a concomitant increase in discussion of authors and texts in popular media. This will be described further in the pathways to impact statement.

Communities local to each of the network events will benefit from public activities designed to raise awareness of the marginalised genre as a whole, or specific authors or texts within that genre. Films of these events will be uploaded to the website, enabling access for non-local viewers. For non-Irish communities, this will enable a deeper understanding of international Irish heritage, presenting new interpretations and stimulating debate around existing beliefs relating to Irish literature.

Publications

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Donghaile D (2018) Remapping Irish modernism in Irish Studies Review

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Ó Donghaile D (2018) Modernism, class and colonialism in Robert Noonan's in Irish Studies Review

 
Title James Joyce Settings 
Description Original musical settings of poems by the Irish writer James Joyce. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact Concerts based on this work have been performed at the Cheltenham Poetry Festival (May 2016), the National Italian Poetry Festival (Sassari, Sardinia), and The Write Event (Liverpool Central Library, March 2017). 
 
Title Nora & Jim 
Description A one-act, two-actor play based on an episode in the lives of the Irish writer James Joyce and his partner Nora Barnacle. This play has been performed at events in Liverpool, Waterford and Edinburgh. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact This play has been seen nearly 1,000 people, and will reach many more during a ten-date run at the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival in August 2017. 
 
Title Settings of poems by W.B. Yeats 
Description An album of song settings based on the work of the Irish poet W.B. Yeats, commissioned by a poetry festival in Sassari, Sardinia. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact Having performed at the national Italian Poetry Festival in Sassari, Sardinia, on two previous occasions, I have been commissioned to write and perform a concert of songs based on settings of selected poems by the Irish writer W.B. Yeats. 
 
Title The Dead Spit of Kelly 
Description A one-act, one-actor play by the Irish writer Flann O'Brien. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact 'The Dead Spit of Kelly' is one of three performances by the Liverpool Irish Literary Theatre (LILT) at the International Flann O'Brien Conference to be held in Salzburg in July 2017. It is part of the Network's mission to renegotiate the scope and impact of Irish modernism. 
 
Title The Glittering Gate 
Description A one-act play (1914) by the Irish writer Lord Dunsany. This was performed as part of the fringe events at the Marginal Irish Modernism conference held at Liverpool John Moores University in September 2016. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact This play is one of three performances by the Liverpool Irish Literary Theatre (LILT) at the International Flann O'Brien Conference to be held in Salzburg in July 2017. It is part of the Network's mission to renegotiate the scope and impact of Irish modernism. 
 
Title Thirst 
Description A one-act, four-actor play by Flann O'Brien. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact 'Thirst' is one of three performances by the Liverpool Irish Literary Theatre (LILT) at the International Flann O'Brien Conference to be held in Salzburg in July 2017. It is part of the Network's mission to renegotiate the scope and impact of Irish modernism. 
 
Description Modernism was an important element of the twentieth-century Irish cultural landscape, one that continues to exercise an influence on current trends and perspectives in a range of spheres (social, governmental, educational, and cultural). The phenomenon has been imperfectly understood, however, and research is needed to reformulate modernism's impact and scope, so that the full depth and scope of its continuing influence can be calculated. One of the key proposed outcomes for the original project was a special edition of a leading journal in the field in which key findings from the various academic and public engagement events would be gathered and presented as a statement of progress. That special edition is now complete and with the editors and is due for publication in November 2018.
Exploitation Route The various activities associated with the Network - symposia, conference papers, special journal edition, edited collection, as well as theatrical, musical and cinematic performances - may all inspire researchers and members of the public to reconsider established narratives of modern Irish life. A second round of activities - 'Expanding Irish Modernisms' - will build on these achievements, and will continue to inquire into the lineaments of the modern Irish social, political and cultural experience; as it does so it will garner new engagements, and thus continue to expand the influence and the remit of the original network. * This application to commence this second phase (incorporating a range of new partners and activities) is now complete and ready for submission.
Sectors Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description This research is oriented towards long-term adjustments in the public and professional perception of modern Irish identity worldwide. The work undertaken as part of the 'Marginal Irish Modernisms' network has been incorporated in different ways and to different degress into the social and cultural programmes of the Liverpool Irish Festival and the Hammersmith London-Irish Cultural Centre. The material has also influenced (to an imponderable degree) the audiences (1000 +) who have attended the various academic, cinematic, theatrical and musical events that have been run as part of the initial project. The activities emerging from and related to the project have continued to evolve during the period since the termination of the original award; the collaborators are currently formulating a second application, and have planned a number of academic and public engagement events contingent upon that application.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Creative Economy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description Dublin Public Engagement Day 
Organisation National Museum of Ireland
Country Ireland 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Planning, organisation, recruitment and advertising of a range of public engagement events at the National gallery of Ireland.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of venue; private tour of selected archives.
Impact None.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Dublin Symposium 
Organisation Trinity College Dublin
Country Ireland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Organisation and planning; recruitment of delegates and welcome.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of venue.
Impact None
Start Year 2015
 
Description Events at Liverpool Irish Festival 
Organisation Liverpool Irish Festival
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Organisation and delivery of five items related to the Marginal Irish Modernisms Research network as part of the Liverpool Irish Festival, October 2015: These were: A public event at Liverpool Central Library; a public lecture at LJMU; a concert at the Bluecoat Arts centre, Liverpool; a film screening; a play performance.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of venues, advertising.
Impact None.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Hammersmith Public Engagement Day 
Organisation Irish Cultural Centre Hammersmith
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Selection of items for the public engagement day, introduction of material and items.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of venue.
Impact None
Start Year 2015
 
Description London Symposium 
Organisation St Mary's University, Twickenham
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution A one-day symposium at St Mary's University College, Strawberry Hill, Friday 6 November 2015. Principal and co-investigator organised and spoke at event.
Collaborator Contribution Provision of venue, tea and coffee, lunch.
Impact None
Start Year 2015
 
Description Marginal Irish Modernisms 
Organisation St Mary's University, Twickenham
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Liaison for organisation of International Research Symposium
Collaborator Contribution Hosting of International research Symposium
Impact Academic and social events focused on the central concerns of the Research network.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Film Premiere 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As part of the 'Marginal Irish Modernisms' strand at the Liverpool Irish Festival (October 2015), the Liverpool Irish Literary Theatre premiered a film version of their performance of a play entitled 'The Brother' by the Irish writer Flann O'Brien.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Music Performance 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As part of the 'Marginal Irish Modernisms' strand at the Liverpool Irish Festival (October 2015) I performed a concert of settings of poems by James Joyce at the Bluecoat Arts Centre in Liverpool before an audience of approximately 100 people.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIvmkZGz2Hk
 
Description Public Engagement Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Supporters
Results and Impact As part of a symposium organised at St Mary's University, Twickenham, personnel involved with the Marginal Irish Modernisms project organised a day of public engagement events at the Hammersmith Irish Centre. Events included a public talk by Professor Alan Tetley on his new translation of 'Cre na Cille', and the screening of two rare films by Irish directors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Public Engagement Day, Dublin 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As part of a symposium at Trinity College, Dublin, personnel from the marginal Irish Modernisms project organised a public engagement day at Irish National Gallery. This involved a series of talk on Irish art and architecture, and a guided tour of some of the gallery's rare archives.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Public Lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact As part of the 'Marginal Irish Modernisms' strand at the Liverpool Irish Festival (October 2015), Dr Keith Hopper delivered a public lecture entitled 'Experimenting with Time: J.W. Dunne and Irish Modernism' at Liverpool John Moores University.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Shelf Lives: Public Talks at Liverpool Central Library 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As part of the 'Marginal Irish Modernisms' strand at the Liverpool Irish Festival (October 2015), three leading academics introduced rare books of Irish interest from the shelves of Liverpool Central Library.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Theatre Performance 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact As part of the fringe activities offered at the Marginal Irish Modernisms conference held in Liverpool John Moores University in September 2016, the Liverpool-Irish Literary Theatre staged a performance of Gerry Smyth's 'Nora & Jim', a play about the life and work of James Joyce and his partner Nora Barnacle.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Theatrical Performance 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact As part of the 'Marginal Irish Modernisms' strand at the Liverpool Irish Festival (October 2015), the Liverpool-Irish Literary Theatre (LILT) performed 'Nora & Jim' a play by Gerry Smyth about the life of Nora Barnacle, the life-long partner of famous Irish writer James Joyce.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://lilttheatre.wixsite.com/home