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American Encounters in Dubliners and Ulysses


At first glance, it might seem unlikely that the United States could provide a significant frame for understanding a writer who grew up under British imperialism, lived much of his adult life in Paris and Trieste, wrote obsessively about his native Ireland and never even made a transatlantic tour. Nonetheless, Joyce’s treatment of the United States offers a new perspective that brings together several distinct aspects of Joyce scholarship, including work on nation and empire, on popular culture and on language. Specifically, I suggest that in his Dubliners story, “An Encounter,” Joyce presents the United States as a model of postcolonial existence for Ireland. At the same time, I argue that claims about Joyce’s deformation of the English language in Ulysses, as well as his embrace of mass and popular culture, can be seen anew in the context of modern American influence in the early twentieth century.

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