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Scholarcast 28: Ireland, Empire and the Archipelago

Nicholas Allen


By 1916 the British Empire was at a point of crisis. The beginning of the First World War marked the end of a half-century of expansion in trade and speculation that made the empire a global network for the exchange of capital. Consequently, the foundations of Irish separatism were built in movements antagonistic to world trade. Self-help, folk culture and native language were conceived as late compensation for human losses incurred by the displacement of local resources into the global flow. Irish culture had its own recent and bitter evidence for the decimation of an imperial attachment. The memory of the famine inhabited the same cultural space as the increasing import of traded goods in the second half of the ninteenth century and beginning of the twentieth. So it is that James Joyce’s short story ‘The Dead’ pictures the legacy of hunger through the imagination of a meal. If this first wave of globalization came to an end in Britain with the declaration of war in 1914, it suffered fatal arrest in Ireland in 1916. Reaction to the global empire underpinned the cultural and political movements that fed the rebellion. The Easter Rising was a product of the old order and a siren of the revolutions still to come.

NIcholas Allen

Nicholas Allen is Franklin Professor of English and Director of the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts at the University of Georgia. He is writing a cultural history of 1916 and its impact on modernism for Cambridge University Press. His books include Broken Landscapes: Selected letters of Ernie O’Malley (Dublin, 2011), Modernism, Ireland and Civil War (Cambridge University Press, 2009), That Other Island (2007), The Proper Word (2007), George Russell and the New Ireland (2003), and The Cities of Belfast (2003). Recent essays have been published in The History of the Irish Book in the Twentieth Century (Oxford, 2011) and Synge and Edwardian Ireland (2011). Allen’s work is located at the intersection between literature, history and visual culture. His interests include the study of modernism, empire and, increasingly, writing about ocean and archipelago. Dr. Allen has taught previously at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the National University of Ireland, Galway, where he was academic director of the Moore Institute. 


Series edited by: John Brannigan
General Editor: P.J. Mathews 
Scholarcast original theme music by: Padhraic Egan, Michael Hussey and Sharon Hussey.
Recording, audio editing, photography and development by: John Matthews & Vincent Hoban at UCD IT Services, Media Services.

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