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Title: The Migration of Ideas: Irish America and the Irish Cultural Renaissance, 1891-1916
Author: Powell, James
ISNI:       0000 0000 5093 9391
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2007
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The period from 1891 until 1916 has long been neglected in the historiography of the Irish in the United States, with scholarly attention focussing overwhelmingly instead on circumstances and developments earlier in the nineteenth century. The two works that have emphasised the importance of this epoch to the Irish-American experience (Meagher, Shannon) provide useful grounding, but still do not represent a complete analysis. Further research is particularly needed in order to fully illuminate and understand the complex changes that were taking place within Irish-American ethnic consciousness and nationalism during this formative period. To this end, the relevance of the existing hypotheses of Irish-American diaspora, ethnic, gender, generational, labour, racial and regional studies to that era thus needs to be evaluated in an innovative, synthetic study. I hope that my conclusions will ultimately contribute to greater understanding within all these fields. Central to my thesis is an analysis of the role of the emigrant community's conceptual links with their old country in determining identity and nationalist sentiment. In the secondary literature of these two fields there has been an almost universal failure thus far to fully investigate the intricacies and ramifications of this evolving psychological relationship, irrespective of the temporal sphere prospected. For the 1891 to 1916 era some scrutiny has been given to connections between the American Irish and Ireland, but this relationship has been conceived of only as being political in nature (Carroll, Ward). While such studies are a useful foundation, without a corollary exploration of the hitherto ignored cultural bonds benveen the Irish in America and Ireland our knowledge and understanding of the zeitgeist remains incomplete. The analysis of this cultural affinity is critical to the research undertaken here because the generation from 1891 to 1916 witnessed the flourishing in Ireland of a renaissance during which definitions of Irish culture, identity and nationality were consciously interrogated and modified globally. Consequently, such catechism had the potential to have a pivotal impact upon the permanence of the relationship between Irish-Americans and Ireland, as well as alter how emigrants related to their 'host' countries; these possibilities have yet to be addressed in the historiography.. I investigate these themes through a chronological, comparative study of the various circumstances surrounding the organisation and execution of the lecture-tours by Irish cultural nationalists in the United States in this watershed era, with a specific interest in the visits of the Abbey Theatre, Douglas Hyde, Lady Gregory, Padraic Pearse and W. B. Yeats. Not only is such an approach unprecedented but its scope also allows for the collation of a wide range of archival material, such as contemporary newspapers, personal correspondence, records of Irish-American societies, that are held in Ireland and across the United States. From these sources, I begin my investigation with the exposition of the reciprocal attitudes of the Irish in the United States towards Ireland and cultural emissaries from it prior to the tours, in order to establish and evaluate just how receptive both would have been to new ideas once they met.' I then assay Irish- American reactions to and influence upon the Irish cultural ambassadors who visited the United States, and vice versa, and assess how far those responses were dictated by the evolving American, European and Irish contexts. Ultimately, I hope to illuminate possible effects that this emigrant community had upon the nation-building process in Ireland, and reciprocally the extent to which Irish cultural nationalism impacted upon the contemporaneous Irish in the United States.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available