CFP: Irish Studies Beyond the Text

Special Issue of Irish University Review
Guest editors: Emily Mark-FitzGerald (UCD) and Emma Radley (UCD)

Deadline for Abstract Submissions: April 12th 2024
Deadline for Essay Submissions: September 13th 2024

Over the last five years, a number of collections, special issues, handbooks, and critical companions have emerged in Irish Studies, focused (in various ways) on defining and mapping the field in the twenty-first century. Collectively they have sought to account for the state(s) of Irish Studies after the Celtic Tiger, through recession, austerity, and pandemic. These include the 2020 Jubilee issue of the Irish University Review, edited by Emilie Pine; Paige Reynolds’ The New Irish Studies, Cambridge University Press, 2021; Reimagining Irish Studies for the Twenty-First Century, edited by Eamon Maher andEugene O’Brien, published by Peter Lang in 2021; and, most comprehensively, The Routledge Handbook of Irish Studies, edited by Renée Fox, Mike Cronin and Brian Ó Conchubhair, published in 2022.

Many of these texts are underpinned by an ethos of multi- or inter-disciplinarity; and a commitment to diversifying the disciplines, methodologies, and ideologies conventionally associated with Irish Studies. This is often framed as a revitalisation or a renewal, an ‘opening up’ of the field beyond the historically dominant disciplines of literature and history, but also beyond postcolonial approaches to questions of the ‘nation’. The editors of the Routledge Handbook of Irish Studies argue that “scholars of Ireland and Irish Studies have radically revised our fields of inquiry as Ireland moved through a dozen years of economic trauma, austerity, recovery and global pandemic” (5) and that “Irish studies scholarship has reorientated itself in relation to social changes in Ireland over the last several years, embracing theoretical fields including queer studies, disability studies, critical race studies, and ecocriticism as crucial interlocutors” (5). This is vitally important work, yet nevertheless a complex and uncertain business. Emilie Pine remarks in the introduction to the IUR’s Jubilee edition (appositely titled, ‘Criticism, Openness, Diversity: Irish Studies Now’) that “Irish studies has no founding charter, no list of commandments, or global constitution” (2) – and yet, mapping a terrain inevitably involves borders, boundaries, and edges. Pine acknowledges this, noting that a volume of this kind emerges “from the interests of individuals and groups, and it will always reflect the times, in terms of what it includes, and also what it excludes” (2). Even as they work hard to unsettle the disciplinary norms of Irish Studies, many of the volumes mentioned above achieve this unevenly – in part, only tentatively challenging the continued dominance of the fields of Irish literary studies and history. Arguably one of the most ‘excluded’ interrogations within Irish Studies is the centrality of the text and the practice of textual analysis (understood in the narrower sense of analysis of the written word) as a foundational principle.

In her recent provocation Photographs and the Practice of History, 2022, the anthropologist Elizabeth Edwards has argued for how photographs can create ‘disturbances’ or ‘think-spaces’ which confront assumptions underpinning historical practice, recalling how ‘The philosopher of history, Eelco Runia, has called this “creating a mess” in that thinking theoretically about what we are doing is not merely a body of concepts but “the process of quarrelling with the tools of the trade”.’ (3) In this special issue of the Irish University Review, we invite contributors to ‘make a mess’ of the boundaries of Irish Studies, seeking new work and perspectives that go ‘beyond the text’. In so doing, we welcome not only contributions making innovative use of non-textual sources and/or methodologies; but also research on various cultural practices (visual, material, aural, emotional/sensory, embodied, multi-medial, etc.) which themselves disrupt assumptions about the nation and epistemologies of ‘Irishness’ underpinning the field. Contributions on earlier and more contemporary time periods are equally welcome.

Proposed contributions may include new research on:

·           Visual culture, contemporary art, art history

·           Material culture

·           Fashion

·           Performance (theatre, dance, music, art, and ‘performative’ actions)

·           Embodiment

·           Film and screen studies 

·           Music and sound

·           Media and communications (social, digital, and traditional)

·           Orality and spoken language

·           Adaptation

Abstracts of 300 words should be submitted by 12 April 2024, to

Invitations to submit full-length essays will be issued in early May 2024, with full-length essays of 5000-6000 words due on 13 September 2024.

Please contact guest editors Emily Mark Fitzgerald and Emma Radley at with any questions.