Rethinking the Irish in the American South
Beyond Rounders and Reelers
Publication Year: 2013
Studies of the Irish presence in America have tended to look to the main corridors of emigration, and hence outside the American South. Yet the Irish constituted a significant minority in the region. Indeed, the Irish fascination expresses itself in Southern context in powerful, but disparate, registers: music, literature, and often, a sense of shared heritage. Rethinking the Irish in the South aims to create a readable, thorough introduction to the subject, establishing new ground for areas of inquiry.These essays offer a revisionist critique of the Irish in the South, calling into question widely held understandings of how Irish culture was transmitted. The discussion ranges from Appalachian ballads, to Gone With the Wind, to the Irish rock band U2, to Atlantic-spanning literary friendships. Rather than seeing the Irish presence as "natural" or something completed in the past, these essays posit a shifting, evolving, and unstable influence. Taken collectively, they offer a new framework for interpreting the Irish in the region. The implications extend to the interpretation of migration patterns, to the understanding of Irish diaspora, and the assimilation of immigrants and their ideas
Published by: University Press of Mississippi
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I can speak for many of this volume’s contributors in extending much gratitude to the University of South Carolina’s Institute for Southern Studies and the Watson-Brown Foundation. The Watson-Brown Foundation generously supported the symposium on the Irish in the South that led to the formation of this book, permitting academics with shared in-terests to gather in the most convivial of environments. From those conver-sations came many good memories, the form of these essays, and a shared ...
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Popular culture conceives of the Irish diaspora as a peculiarly gif_ted if misunderstood people charged with an exceptionalist destiny yet to be worked out. This might help to explain why census data shows a fairly dramatic surge in those who claim Irish ancestry over recent decades, with southern respondents increasingly defecting from the “Scotch-Irish” column and migrating to the generically “Irish” (more on this nomencla-ture soon). We have also witnessed the reclamation of other once-margin-...
I. QUESTIONS OF HISTORICAL DEFINITION
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Chapter 1 "A Lengthening Chain in the Shape of Memories”: The Irish and Southern Culture
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...the purpose of this essay, which commences in the circumstances of family history, is to provide an overview of some of the ways and places where the Irish have imprinted southern culture. of course, the Irish were not the only immigrant group to leave their mark on the regional culture, but for a variety of reasons—including the perception that the Irish were “outsiders” to the region—the Irish presence in the region to explore the relationship between Ireland and southern culture is for ...
Chapter 2 After Strange Kin: Further Reflections on the Relations between Ireland and the American South
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Strange Kin: Ireland and the American South, published in 200five.oldstyle, had its initial inspiration in the frequently heard remark that there is a certain similarity between Ireland and the American South as places in which a veritable explosion of literary creativity took place in the early twentieth century—that is to say, the achievements of W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, and Seán o’Casey, among numerous others, on the Irish side, and of William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, and tennessee Williams, again among ...
Chapter 3 Irish Migration to the Colonial South: A Plea for a Forgotten Topic
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...the topic of Irish migration to the colonial South remains under-studied, and with good reason. Comparatively speaking, it was—and in memory, continues to be—dwarfed by other, more visible and signif_icant migrations, most notably that of the Scotch Irish to the eighteenth-century American colonies and the even larger nineteenth- and twentieth-century movement of the Irish to the United States. The colonial period, especially in the South, did not have much of an Irish component. ...
II. MANIPULATING CULTURE: INFLUENCE, RECONSIDERED
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Chapter 4 Tara, the O’Haras, and the Irish Gone with the Wind
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Perhaps one of the most frustrating things for fans of Gone with the Wind is arriving in Atlanta, Georgia, only to discover that they have come to the wrong place. If they want to see the white columns and the wraparound porch of tara, they need to go to Burbank, California, and take a tour of the MGM movie lot. Because tara does not exist. Perhaps this is fortuitous, given the many anxieties about Mitchell’s representation of plantation life in antebellum Georgia. Mitchell’s attitudes toward slavery, ...
Chapter 5 Transatlantic Rites of Passage in the Friendship and Fiction of Eudora Welty and Elizabeth Bowen
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While suf_fering from homesickness at the University of Wisconsin, Eudora Welty restlessly wandered the library un-til she stumbled across the poetry of William Butler Yeats and remained thoroughly absorbed in the volume until the library closed. Returning day af_ter day to read the poetry of Yeats and George Russell, Welty found her depression alleviated by the Irish revivalists and the warmth of their mysticism, a mysticism that ameliorated far “more than ...
Chapter 6 Shared Traditions: Irish and Appalachian Ballads and Whiskey Songs
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...one of the most contentious debates within southern studies is whether Scotch-Irish settlers within the region can be considered “Celtic.” Grady McWhiney, in his book Cracker Culture: Celtic Ways in the Old South, argues that Ulster Scots immigrants carried various “Celtic” traits and practices that led to a distinctive southern culture. While McWhiney’s study contains some good information, its thesis and analysis are too heavily burdened by a desire to def_ine the “ethnic background of ...
Chapter 7 Blacks and Celts on the Riverine Frontiers: The Roots of American Popular Music
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Environments—geographical, demographic, historical, and contex-tual—have played a key role in American popular music, particu-larly in the case of minstrelsy, the nineteenth-century black/white synthesis that lies at the root of vaudeville, tap dance, tin Pan Alley, and musical comedy. Scholars have identif_ied the role played by shif_ting ante-bellum conceptions of class, race, and politics in the creation of blackface minstrelsy, and the way the idiom ritualized or contested these concep-...
III. IDEOLOGY AND AMBIVALENCE
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Chapter 8 Another “Lost Cause”: The Irish in the South Remember the Confederacy
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In 1eight.oldstyleseven.oldstyleseven.oldstyle a group of prominent Irish Americans met in Charleston to com-memorate the Irish Volunteers in the Confederate States of America. two companies of that name had served during the American Civil War in South Carolina, Virginia, and North Carolina. The original vol-unteers, Company C of the Charleston Battalion, later Company H of the twenty-Seventh South Carolina Infantry, had participated in all the major battles around Charleston between 1eight.oldstylesix.oldstyle1 and 1eight.oldstylesix.oldstylefour.oldstyle, including Secessionville ...
Chapter 9 On the Uses of Slavery: The Irish in the South and Civil War Rhetoric
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Let us start with a case study in how the Irish are “lost” to southern history, and let us begin in a watershed year: 1eight.oldstylefour.oldstylesix.oldstyle was a def_ining year in terms of the entangling of southern and Irish causes, as it set into motion a chain of circumstances that brought the country to war. This was the year that a previously unnoticed St. Louis slave named Dred Scott walked into St. Louis’s old Courthouse and sued for his freedom. ten years later, af_ter appeals and reversals, a Baltimorean named Roger Brooke ...
Coda: Smoke ’n’ Guns: A Preface to a Poem about Marginal Souths, and Then the Poem
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You are Irish. You live in America’s marginal South, where being Irish remains suf_f_iciently unusual as to be found exotic. You get used to the conversation. It seems to happen once a day, every day.It gets murky around about here. You want to be polite—everybody in the South always is—but you know as well that the only names of Ireland they recognize are Dublin and killarney. The momentary hesitation regis-“The South, I suppose.” It doesn’t sound right in your head. “The border ...
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Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2013