CFP: [Victorian] Representations of the intellectual in Ireland

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Etudes Irlandaises-French Journal of Irish Studies
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French Journal of Irish Studies (PEER REVIEW)
Autumn 2009 issue Special issue

Representations of the intellectual in Ireland
Editors: Prof. Carle Bonafous-Murat & Prof. Maurice Goldring


English version
The editorial board of Etudes irlandaises, a peer-reviewed journal, is
seeking contributions for a special issue on “representations of the
intellectual in Ireland”, co-edited by Pr. Carle Bonafous-Murat and Pr.
Maurice Goldring, to be published next Fall.
Despite Liam O’Dowd’s ground-breaking study, On Intellectuals and
Intellectual Life in Ireland: International, Comparative and Historical
Context (1996), intellectuals are still considered by many to be absent
figures from public debate or recent academic research. Some even argue
that the “intellectuel” is a sociological category more or less specific
to France, and that its transposition into the field of Irish studies
raises issues which have to be addressed seriously, including the vexed
question of how to translate the word properly.
        Accordingly, one might begin to wonder if the supposed
invisibility of intellectuals in Ireland is not yet another example of
the “absence theory” discussed by Stephan Collini in his 2006 book,
Absent Minds – Intellectuals in Britain, about the place of intellectuals
in the English-speaking world as compared with their role in the rest of
        However, when dealing more specifically with Ireland, where the
divide between the private and the public spheres does not seem as marked
as in many other European societies, one might also wish to discuss the
appositeness of a notion such as that of the intellectual. Irish writers,
for instance, do not always occupy that position of exteriority which
seems to characterize European intellectuals at large, and are more
easily regarded as mediators of public opinion. In that respect, some of
the most prominent figures of the Irish literary world since the 18th
century might be used as exemplary cases reflecting some of the
assumptions that this issue of Etudes irlandaises wishes to examine –
Swift and his alleged role as mouthpiece of the Irish people in The
Drapier’s Letters, or Yeats orchestrating a press campaign of great
magnitude during the Hugh Lane affair. More recently, Seamus Heaney’s
ambivalent response to those who, in the 1970s, wanted him to take sides
unquestioningly, might be reevaluated through the prism of irony, an oft-
used weapon of intellectuals under duress.
        In France, as elsewhere in Europe, it has become fashionable to
herald the death, or the decline, of the intellectual. In Ireland
instead, the intellectual does not seem to have a beginning and an end –
rather he reappears at regular intervals, like a Phoenix rising from its
ashes in times of crisis. The specific role played by intellectuals in
the building of the Nation-state, that is in the 1910s and 1920s, is a
case in point here. However, such periodisation may sometimes lead to
clear-cut oppositions, which some of the essays in this issue might
attempt to call into question: seen in this light, the often-stressed
intellectual sterility of the de Valera years (1930-1960), only
illuminated by isolated acts of resistance such as Seán Ó Faoláin’s
launching of The Bell, might provide a specific field of research and
        These attempts at rethinking historical oppositions should not,
however, preclude more general essays about the (re)definition of the
figure of the intellectual in Ireland. For instance, in the wake of
Jeanyves Guérin’s recently published book on Fiction et engagement
politique – la représentation du parti et du militant dans le roman et le
théâtre au XXe siècle (2008), adjacent notions, such as those of the
committed artist or the militant, and more ideologically-charged concepts
(e.g. the intelligentsia) might be explored in a specifically Irish
context. One might also wish to trace the influence on major literary
writers of the 20th century of some movements of ideas which have so far
attracted little scholarly attention – for instance the subdued treatment
of freethinking and free thought in the works of James Joyce and Samuel
Beckett. This would entail the necessity to delineate as accurately as
possible the frontier between intellectual life and religious thought in
Ireland. If, as Bourdieu argued, the sphere of the intellectual is by
definition self-contained and autonomous from the religious sphere, to
what extent is this opposition transferable to Ireland?

Topics may include but are not limited to:
- intellectuals and their role in times of historical crisis;
- intellectuals and nationalism in Ireland;
- the various usages, including possible translations, of the word
in French, English or Irish;
- the function of Irish periodicals in the definition and
representation of the intellectual;
- strategies of commitment or disengagement on the part of artists
and writers;
- the degree of autonomy of the intellectual sphere in relation to
the religious sphere;

Submissions, not exceeding 7000 words (including footnotes and
bibliography) must be sent by 31 May 2009 to:

Professor Carle Bonafous-Murat
Université Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3
Institut du Monde Anglophone

Scientific project of the review :
Etudes Irlandaises is a peer-reviewed journal publishing articles in
English and French which explore all aspects of Irish literature,
history, culture and arts from ancient times to the present. Etudes
Irlandaises publishes twice a year on a wide range of interdisciplinary
subjects including: poetry / fiction / drama / film / music / politics /
economy / social studies, etc.
General issues published in Spring alternate with special issues in
Autumn .
Etudes Irlandaises is aimed at scholars, postgraduate students,
institutions specializing in Irish studies as well as people who have an
informed interest in the subject. Each number has a comprehensive section
devoted to recently published material on Ireland.

For more information on style-sheet requirements:


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