CFP: The Construction of Irish-American Identity (3/17/06; 6/22/06-6/23/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Terrie L. McCoy
contact email: 


The Construction of Irish-American Identity
Drew University
June 22-23, 2006
Submission Deadline for Proposals: MARCH 17, 2006
“It’s not that the Irish are cynical. It’s rather that they have a wonderful lack of respect for everything and everybody.” Brendan Behan
“To be Irish is to know that in the end, the world will break your heart.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan
In the study of Irish-American identity, a common question must be, "How do you define Irish?" This question is especially visible around Saint Patrick's Day, when diverse people wear green, display pictures of leprechauns and shamrocks, drink green beer, and the like. Is this what it means to be Irish? Many in Ireland look at this with puzzlement and wonder where it all came from. Much of what we assume to be Irish is instead peculiarly American phenomena. It is often said that the Irish only became Irish once they reached America, where county and parish distinctions were meaningless to their fellow citizens. This conference explores the development of a distinctly Irish-American identity, focusing on the key events and forces that helped construct an Irish-American world view. These can include (but are not limited to) the evolution of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, ethnic organizations like the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and the role of the Catholic Church, as well!
  as major events such as the Great Famine, the Civil War and the growth of Irish American political power. One goal is to understand how being Irish-American came to be defined as Catholic, Democratic and urban with a distinctive belief system, when half of all Irish-Americans have Protestant ancestry and many live in small towns and cities throughout America. We would also like to explore what the future may hold for Irish America.


Dr. William B. Rogers
Associate Dean
Caspersen School of Graduate Studies
Drew University
Madison, NJ 07940

Terrie McCoy-Pieper
Director of Special Programs
Caspersen School of Graduate Studies
Drew University

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Received on Sat Jan 14 2006 - 09:46:34 EST