Post-Crash Irish Literature and Culture: Its Emergence and Influence

Date: 27-28 May 2016

Venue: The Hong Kong Institute of Education/The Chinese University of Hong Kong

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Keynote Speaker:

Dr. Anne Mulhall, University College Dublin

Dr. Eugene O’Brien, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick

Guest Poet: Trevor Joyce


In a 2003 Irish Times article, written at the height of the Irish economic boom and concerning the new trend for international publishers to set up shop in Ireland, editor Alison Walsh remarked upon a wider sense of expectation in the publishing world: “There is no great literary movement happening. […] There’s a feeling in the industry that we are waiting to see what happens next.” Few would have anticipated then that such a movement would come from the wreckage of that economic boom. Following a period of prosperity, in 2008 Ireland entered recession, the first country in the Eurozone to do so. Popular unrest and anger followed. In the years since, Irish culture has been coming to terms with that economic downturn. Within literary and artistic domains, the crash has given rise to a range of new voices, and has served to re-shape old ones. Continuities with older periods of Irish cultural resurgence and emergence are central to this new flourishing. Perhaps the idea of “emergence” can itself capture this incipient wave in all its complexity. Emergence describes a process whereby qualitatively new configurations arise from more basic constituent parts. Irish cultural production of the last decade offers one intriguing case study for such a phenomenon, drawing its significance from a shared experience of boom and bust which has prompted multiple forms of aesthetic departure in unforeseen directions. We believe that such developments call for examination. How has new Irish writing been spurred on or bruised by recent historical events? If certain cultural products have not registered these changes, what allows them to remain cloistered? While Ireland is something of a poster girl for economic recovery, how have new forms of expression (both in English and Irish) dealt with the social and cultural anger and angst that accompanies this “recovery”? How have these new works figured a new Ireland, or presented an alternative to the public narrative? And if the idea of a “new Ireland” implies a misplaced unity, where can the cracks be found in this picture? After all, this literary and cultural movement, if we can use such a term, is transnational in nature; these writers and artists are part of an expanding diasporic community and their work resonates with communities experiencing similar transformations.

This conference seeks to explore the parameters of post-crash Irish literature and culture—temporally, geographically and stylistically—from its origins to its influences. We are particularly interested in papers which address the question of emergence, and which take a transnational or comparative approach to the Irish situation.

Conference Organizers:
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
The Hong Kong Institute of Education
Hong Kong Shue Yan University

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