Reversing the hostile colonial stereotype of the Irish as the Hottentots of Europe, Irish writers, politicians, and popular artists have created analogies between their own situation and that of other oppressed peoples. Cullingford assesses the political costs and benefits of these analogies, and considers the representation of Ireland's own internal others: women, gay men, travellers, and abused children. Juxtaposing modern Irish literature with contemporary Irish and American popular culture, Cullingford illuminates the connections between gender, sexuality, and national identity. Through the work of Boucicault, Shaw, Friel, Jordan and McGuinness, she explores representations of Englishness and of homosocial bonding to suggest that Ireland's obsession with England may be read in terms of desire as well as rejection. She then examines the creation of an imaginative postcolonial geography that identifies the Irish with Carthaginians, Jews, Blacks and Native Americans rather than with the English. Central to this discussion are Irish writers from Edgeworth to Doyle, American Westerns, and contemporary Irish filmmakers.
The book's concluding section remains focussed on gender and national identity while considering the impact of globalisation on Irish culture. Cullingford analyses the representation of eminent male nationalist poets and politicians - Yeats, Heaney, and de Valera - through the lenses of an international popular culture represented by singer Sinead O'Connor and Jordan's blockbuster movie Michael Collins.
Elizabeth Butler Cullingford is Jane and Rowland Blumberg Centennial Professor of English Literature and University Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. She was awarded the prestigious 2001 Robert Rhodes Prize for Books on Literature by the American Conference for Irish Studies.