Ireland in Comparison

full name / name of organization: 
American Conference of Irish Studies

CFP: Ireland in Comparison
A Panel at ACIS Chicago, April 10-13, 2013

Even as Comparative Literature struggles to make sense of itself as a discipline, Irish Studies seems increasingly open to comparative approaches to Irish literature, culture, and history. Recent years have seen an increase in critical work on Ireland's similarities to places as varied as Taiwan, Mexico, and Poland. Research has been conducted on the relationship between Celticism and Orientalism, or on Ireland's position within a transatlantic economy, or as part of an agrarian periphery of Europe. This comparative work takes a number of different forms; positioning Ireland in relation to broader global trends, or in parallel to places and cultures both near and far. It examines explicit moments of contact, shared influences, or similar trajectories. This broadening of geographical scope reflects the influence of globalization, but also an escape from the more narrow comparisons between Ireland and England, opening the field to more trans-national approaches, and emerging discourses on cosmopolitanism and border crossing. This expansive inter-disciplinary approach supports critical inquiries by scholars seeking to illuminate cross-cultural connections in a global community, while being careful to avoid submerging the historical specificity of the local. It embraces diverse fields that offer models to clarify these connections, such as literary theory, border studies, world systems theory, topography, or economic criticism, and aspires to present work that contributes to and enhances established academic frameworks. But are there also drawbacks to this approach? What kinds of problems do scholars encounter in these endeavors?

This panel seeks to explore the art of comparison in Irish Studies, reflecting on the kinds of questions such work investigates, what the similarities (and differences) between Ireland and other places can teach us, and both the advantages and potential weaknesses of such approaches. We welcome papers addressing any aspect of this topic. Please send abstracts of 250-300 words to and by October 15, 2012.