Dr. Joseph Lennon, Emily C. Riley Director of Villanova University’s Center of Irish Studies is Associate Dean and Director of this year's symposium “Creative Acts: the Dynamics of Artistic Ireland” (October 2021) at the Princess Grace Irish Library, in partnership with Villanova University (Philadelphia). 

Note the symposium is closed to the public. However, it is planned to publish conclusions of the symposium at a future date.

Dr. Joseph Lennon will deliver a lecture to Friends of the Princess Grace Irish Library on 11th October 2021:

‘Newcome and Native’: Visions of Irish Cultural Democracy.

The tapestries of Irish culture have long included laments for a lost, ancient culture, threads woven alongside stories of alienation and disillusionment with modern culture.  In 1867, English scholar and poet, Matthew Arnold credited the Celtic temperament with “quick perception and warm emotion.”  The Celtic genius, he argued, however, held back the Irish.  Celtic sensibility required Anglo-Saxon tutelage with its “steadiness, patience, sanity” in order for Ireland to escape its “habitual want of success.”  While Arnold treated Celtic notes of melancholy as limitations, others such as Ethna Carberry, W.B. Yeats, and James Joyce, turned them into creative successes.  The blossoming of arts during Ireland’s Celtic Revival, replete with its anxiety about reviving a lost culture, established Ireland’s reputation as a modern, creative culture capable of producing committed works of artistic genius. 

Today, with Irishness as a portable cultural commodity, the enthusiasm for Irish culture has spread across the globe.  St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in Tokyo streets, and Irish pubs are popular in Budapest, Bologna, and Buenos Aires.  How will Irish writers and artists pivot to understand themselves as part of a global culture—in a society where immigration outpaces emigration, where multiple cultures are remembered and multiple futures imagined?  Irish thinkers and institutional leaders gather at our symposium to explore the implications of cultural democracy and minority voices in Ireland.  This talk will offer instances of how diverse and border-crossing voices contribute to Irishness.   Beginning with the landscape poetry of Ethna Carberry and Siobhan Campbell, continuing with the Dublin experiences of Emma Dabiri and Melatu Okorie, we will explore what it means to be both “newcome and native” in Ireland today. 

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