CFP: The International Dimension: Irish Literature and The Arts of The 1930s

The conservative measures implemented by successive governments of the Irish Free State between 1922 and 1940, including the banning of divorce and widespread censorship of printed materials, have projected an image of Ireland in the 1930s as opposed to the contemporaneous (artistic and) literary effervescence characteristic of continental Europe and North America.
Historical analyses of the period are, at times, polarised between a deep provincialism supposedly located in Ireland and creative possibilities of exile for national artists. In the literary sphere, for example, as recent studies on the ‘London Irish’ and on renowned and other overlooked writers have revealed, there existed in the 1930s a vibrant appreciation and response to international politics and artistic and literary innovations. Many Irish writers (Walter Starkie, Mairin Mitchell, Kate O’Brien, Elizabeth Bowen, Sean O’Faolain, Liam O’Flaherty, to name but a few) felt at ease in this climate despite official pressure from the censors through the recently established Censorships of Publications Act, 1929. Writers and artists who were engaged in anti-fascist activities were at the centre of a myriad of activities that eluded frontiers.

In the visual arts, the Royal Hibernian Academy, independent yet in line with the conservative ethos of the government, wielded traditionalism in opposition to modernist attempts to reach out to European experimentalism. Calls for the introduction of artistic movements popular in Paris and the rest of Europe during the 1920s and early 1930s were systematically rejected by state patrons and the Academy, adamant as they were in promoting nationalist art almost exclusively. Thus, revivalism led into a tension between an eclectic modern form and a triumphalist Catholicism that aimed at depicting the recently created Irish national identity. However, even if Ireland has been regarded as a country deprived of culture and under the rule of church and state, cultural and artistic life was vigorous and continuous in this decade. The expressionist painting of Jack B. Yeats and the abstract work of Mary Swanzy or Mainie Jellett, for example, remain beacons in the quest for an artistic revolution in Ireland in the 1930s.

At a time when a fledgling democracy was being created in Ireland, the influence of these and other connections in the realm of culture cannot be underestimated. Reconsidering, therefore, Irish literature and the arts in the 1930s in light of some recent titles such as London Writing of the 1930s by Anna Cottrell, Literary Coteries and the Irish Women Writers’ Club by Deirdre F. Brady, Irish Writers and the Thirties: Art, Exile and War by Katrina Goldstone, English Fiction in the 1930s: Language, Genre, History by Chris Hopkins, Visual Culture and Catholicism in the Irish Free State 1922-1949 by John Turpin, An Age of Innocence: Irish Culture 1930-1960 by Brian Fallon and Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks by Fintan O’Toole et al.) will further enhance an understanding of a decade, which until very recently, was subjected to narrow interpretations. This future volume will draw together the existing scholarship on this period and will strengthen it with these new critical contributions meant to explore the literary and visual arts, taking as starting premises the perspectives and works of those Irish artists that were moved either by circumstances or by their personal desire and their artistic inquisitiveness to travel and explore the world and their mother country beyond its national dimension.

Suggested topics include, but are not limited the following:
● Irish cosmopolitanism/anti-cosmopolitanism in the 1930s.
● Irish writers’ connections, correspondence and/or collaborations with international artists and/or authors in the interwar period.
● Irish writers’ and/or artists’ response to the Spanish Civil War.
● Irish women writers of the 1930s: Mairin Mitchell, Teresa Deevy, etc.
● The repercussions of international culture and politics on Irish writing and the arts of the 1930s.
● The writing and the arts of the ‘London Irish’.
● Irish artists’ connections, correspondence and/or collaborations with international artists and/or authors in the interwar period.
● Irish literary and/or cultural revisionism/counter-revisionism of the 1930s.

Interested authors are asked to submit their proposals electronically to the editors, Madalina Armie, Germán Asensio Peral and Veronica Membrive ( before June 15, 2023. Each proposal should consist of a description of the contents (about 500 words, sent as a Word attachment, written in British English and following the latest MLA system of citation) preceded by a chapter heading, 5 keywords and a short bio-note. The bio-note should not exceed 250 words and should include full name, title/designation and affiliation.

Full papers of 7,000-8,000 words will be due by October 15, 2023. Selected essays will be compiled in a volume that will be published in mid-2024 in a Q1 publishing house.

Please, feel free to contact the editors for further details.
We look forward to your contributions.
Kindest regards,
Germán Asensio, Madalina Armie and Veronica Membrive

Cottrell, Anna. London Writing of the 1930s. Edinburgh University Press, 2017.
Brady, Deirdre F. Literary Coteries and the Irish Women Writers’ Club (1933-1958). Liverpool University Press, 2021.
Fallon, Brian. An Age of Innocence: Irish Culture 1930-1960. Gill & Macmillan, 1999.
Goldstone, Katrina. Irish Writers and the Thirties: Art, Exile and War. Routledge, 2022.
Hopkins, Chris. English Fiction in the 1930s Language, Genre, History. Continuum, 2006.
O’Toole, Fintan, Catherine Marshall, and Eibhear Walshe, eds. Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks. Royal Irish Academy, 2016.
Turpin, John. “Visual Culture and Catholicism in the Irish Free State, 1922–1949.” The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 57.1 (2006): 55-77.