Representations of Irishness in the 21st Century: Boundaries Between Past & Present

deadline for submissions: 
June 10, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
PAMLA - Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association
contact email: 

AbstractThis panel explores representations of Irishness in the 21st Century. From the Belfast Agreement and the “end” of the Northern Ireland Troubles to the Republic’s referenda on divorce, abortion, and marriage equality, the past 25 years present a dynamic and changing society on the island. Recalling Clare Connolly’s introduction to Ireland and Postcolonial Theory, in which she writes of instability of the “boundaries between past and present [...] memory and history, national and international,” this panel examines Irishness in relation to shifting global, political, and cultural contexts as they manifest in texts from the present and recent past in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. How this energetic transformation is reflected in poetry, prose, and drama forms the basis of our panel.


In their introduction to Post-Ireland?: Essays on Contemporary Irish Poetry, Jefferson Holdridge and Brian Ó Conchubhair elaborate on the question mark in their title as “the question of disappearance of a certain version of Ireland, that the old definitions may no longer apply, and implies with the question mark that perhaps Ireland can never be left behind because, as a colonial entity, the formulation of its identity has always been linked to its possible dissolution or absorption” (9). This question of identity remains central in contemporary Ireland, where old stereotypes of insularity and sectarianism exist in tension with the last 25 years that saw the boom and bust of the Celtic Tiger and popular reforms that overturned constitutional bans on divorce, gay marriage, and abortion laws in the Republic. In Northern Ireland, the 1998 historic peace agreement that “ended” the Troubles may be juxtaposed with the contemporary political turbulence of Brexit. No longer, however, simply British colonial outposts, the two Irelands today are centers of global trade, tourism, and cultural export, which makes them sites for global networks of immigration and investment. However, as Emilie Pine observes, “We are obsessed with the past, and we are haunted by trauma” (5). In the space between this propulsion forward and the ongoing processes of trauma and recovery, artists are in a position to reimagine Irishness in and for the challenges of the 21st century. This panel seeks proposals that speak to emergent ideas of Irishness in contemporary texts.

Possible topics include:

Future Irelands

Immigration and Ireland

Postmodern Ireland

Emerging Voices (women, LGBTQ, immigrant, etc.)

Contemporary Ireland on Stage

Transnational Irishness

Ireland and the Anthropocene

21st Century Irish Poetics

Irish Haunting

Conference Details

Thursday, November 14, 2019 to Sunday, November 17, 2019Wyndham San Diego Bayside1355 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101