Spectres of the past in recent Northern Irish cinema and television
This chapter is intended to complement the two previous chapters by examining how the afterlives of the Troubles have been played out on the big and the small screen. Given that the political settlement in Northern Ireland made no meaningful provision for dealing with the multiple ‘legacy issues’ arising from the conflict, it has hardly been a surprise that the region’s violent recent past has come back to haunt it. One of the spaces in which this has been most evident is in the fictions scripted for cinema and television that have appeared since the restoration of devolved government in 2007. Employing Mark Fisher’s reading of the Derridean notion of ‘hauntology’ to frame our analysis, we examine a number of recent films and TV series concerned with Northern Ireland. In the world of cinema, we examine features such as Hunger, ’71 and Good Vibrations. On the small screen, we provide close readings of The Fall and Derry Girls. While these visual representations often differ greatly in terms of both tone and content, they all suggest that, even a generation after the end of the Troubles, Northern Ireland remains haunted not only by those that were lost during the conflict but also that which was lost in the transition to peace.
This chapter draws on the anthropology of the gift to examine forms of reciprocity between male friends in Paul Auster’s fiction and screenplays. Beginning with a discussion of Auster’s published correspondence with J. M. Coetzee, the chapter argues that Auster critiques liberal individualism by imagining networks of solidarity and alliance born of generosity. Focusing on three novels that Auster tells Coetzee are ‘stories about male friendship’, the first half of the chapter takes up the metaphor of correspondence to follow the ambiguous forms of textual exchange patterning these fictions. The second half explores the role of money as an alternative ‘currency of friendship’ in Auster’s work to further delineate his concern with relationships of indebtedness and obligation across his oeuvre. Closing with a reading of the 1995 film Smoke, the chapter reveals how Auster’s various portrayals of male friendship demonstrate an interest in questions of community and citizenship that has gone unrecognised in critical accounts of his work.
The article presents and discusses thirteen previously unpublished letters from the British novelist and poet Rose Macaulay to the Irish poet and novelist Katharine Tynan, who in 1913 initiated a correspondence and friendship when she wrote to congratulate Rose on winning with The Lee Shore in a prestigious and valuable Novel Competition which she too had entered. Katharine continued to express admiration for Rose’s writing, especially her novels, not only in her letters to Rose (not preserved), but also in memoirs and articles. Rose in turn praised Katharine’s work, especially her poetry, emphasising particularly the comfort it gave her and others in wartime. She herself had lost several friends, including Rupert Brooke, and was anxious about her brother, who was serving in the army. Katharine’s two sons were in the army too. Rose took an interest in Katharine’s daughter, Pamela Hinkson, who was showing early promise as a writer. In 1925 Katharine sent Rose a novel, The Victors, by Peter Deane. When Rose replied, she did not realise that Peter Deane was a pseudonym used by Pamela, let alone that the sad story was closely based on the postwar experiences of Katharine’s elder son.
This chapter examines the constellation of ideas about race, manhood, resistance and violence that shaped the transnational social landscape in which anti-black and anti-Mexican violence unfolded in the 1910s. it examines how a range of white American, African American and Mexican political figures, activists, racial theorists and scholars interpreted the New World histories of slavery and conquest. While the black and Mexican writers and political actors whose ideas are considered here offered their own narratives of New World history diametrically opposed to those which claimed the supremacy of white U.S. civilization, they also perceived struggles for freedom, social transformation and nationhood through a masculinist frame. The chapter will examine how such discourses of manhood and virility permeated the politics of resistance against U.S. violence, imperialism and Mexican dictatorship, as I will begin to examine here, in African Americans’ anti-lynching activism and the Mexican anarchist movement in the borderlands. I will pay particular attention to how the history of slavery in the Americas shaped constructions of gender, race and historical struggle.
The book contains eleven essays, with an introduction and index. Six of the essays focus chiefly on four pivotal members of the influential “Bloomsbury Group” – the artists Roger Fry and Vanessa Bell, the art critic Clive Bell, and the writer Virginia Woolf. Significant new light is shed on them, partly through the presentation of previously unpublished pictures, photographs, and texts, partly through the fresh examination of relevant manuscripts and images. At the same time the life and work of Fry’s wife, the artist Helen Coombe, and her feminist friend the suffragette-supporting inspector of prisons Mary Louisa Gordon, who were never “Bloomsberries”, receive close attention. The five non-Bloomsbury essays too are based on primary source-materials, including previously unpublished texts and images. The first presents thirteen letters from the British writer Rose Macaulay to the Irish poet and novelist Katharine Tynan. It is followed by two essays about the prodigious teenage talents and achievements of Dorothy L. Sayers, destined for fame as a detective novelist and religious writer. The penultimate piece is about the exotic origin and eventful life of Richard Williams Reynolds, who taught J. R. R. Tolkien at school; and the last illuminates the artist Tristram Hillier and especially the personally and professionally important first visit he made to Portugal in 1947. The collection combines homogeneity and variety, and this combination contributes to a rich and balanced picture of the cultural scene in the first half of the twentieth century.
Bloomsbury in the book’s title is the “Bloomsbury Group” of writers, artists, thinkers, and theorists associated with the Bloomsbury area of London and active in the earlier part of the twentieth century. Essays 1–6 are mainly, but by no means exclusively, about four of its pivotal members – the artists Roger Fry and Vanessa Bell, the art critic Clive Bell, and the writer Virginia Woolf. The essays do not attempt a comprehensive account of their lives and works, and the same is true of the writers and the artist treated in the five out-of-Bloomsbury essays – Rose Macaulay, Katharine Tynan, Dorothy L. Sayers, J. R. R. Tolkien’s schoolteacher Richard Williams Reynolds, and Tristram Hillier. Instead, the intention is to enhance knowledge and understanding of them by presentation of previously unpublished texts and works of art, pictures, and photographs, and by the close re-examination of known documents. Rebecca West warns that biography is often heavily reliant on speculation. The present book prefers to deal in hard facts, many of them previously unknown. The mixture of Bloomsbury and non-Bloomsbury, present even in the Bloomsbury essays, makes possible a varied and balanced picture of the cultural scene in the first half of the twentieth century.
This chapter sets out the historical and ideological context in which the events analysed in the book take place. The book takes a relation framework that recognizes the specificity of different historical forms of racism while also being attentive to the fact that these forms did not arise in isolation from one another. Looking at the encounters of violence examined in this book alongside each other, the chapter argues, allows some insight into the tangle of gendered racisms that emerged from the expansion of racialized capitalism in the Americas and the enduring material and cultural legacies of slavery, settler colonialism, and U.S. imperialism. In particular, the chapter introduces the U.S. constructions of savagery and masculinity that emerged at the turn of the century to explain the dominance of white race and the death and subjugation of the world’s “degenerative races,” as well as African Americans and Mexicans’ own conceptualizations of manhood, virility and struggle.
Opening with a discussion of Norman Rush’s 2013 novel Subtle Bodies, this Introduction explores the long history of the connection between friendship and politics. Friendship has played a central role in the theory and practice of democracy since Aristotle suggested philia as fundamental to citizenship. In the US context, male friendship in particular functioned as a model for civic association in the early republic, and continued to be employed as a figure of egalitarian affiliation through the nineteenth century, including in canonical works of fiction. Yet despite its prominence historically in the US civic imaginary, friendship was sidelined from American political culture for much of the twentieth century, until its dramatic and widespread rediscovery in the 1980s and 1990s as part of a broad communitarian critique of liberal individualism. The Introduction analyses how this revival of critical commentary within mainstream liberal thought coincided with continental philosophy’s exploration of friendship’s role in democratic theory, and a renewed interest in same-sex friendship within gender studies and queer theory. Marshalling these histories, the Introduction demonstrates how understanding male friendship as an important intellectual discourse in this period reframes existing accounts of contemporary American literary culture.
This chapter examines U.S. and Mexican discourses of race and nation in the aftermath of the lynching of Antonio Rodriguez, a Mexican national, in Rock Springs, Texas. As writers and demonstrators in Mexico denounced the murder, they highlighted the fact that lynching was a practice Americans wielded against “inferior races.” While protestors express affinity with African Americans, others asserted claims to manhood, honor, and resistance through differentiating Mexicans, “who have a country,” from the putative nationlessness of black race. This troubling use of blackness, the chapter suggests, reflects the legacies of transatlantic slavery in both the U.S. and Mexico.
Northern Ireland is a society not just of two communities but of many. This chapter uses empirical data from surveys and election studies to get a detailed, up-to-date impression of the range of identities held by people living in Northern Ireland today and, importantly, to consider what this means for the future. The chapter deliberately looks ‘in between’ the binaries which tend to be drawn across Northern Irish society. First, it looks at the growth of those who identify as having no religion and considers how this might impact on social preferences in the longer term. It also examines the steady increase in the proportion of those who describe themselves as being neither unionist nor nationalist, and considers whether this constitutes a common identity or mainly a rejection of a divisive politics. Related to this is the fact that many people of different backgrounds in Northern Ireland think of themselves as both British and Irish. The chapter considers what this means, as well as looking to see what is distinctive about the ‘Northern Irish’ identity as it has come to be conceived. Although it is strikingly homogenous compared to its neighbours, the population of Northern Ireland is increasingly ethnically and linguistically diverse and made up of people who were born outside the region. However, statistics show that prejudice and intolerance are certainly not problems of the past in Northern Ireland. Although the younger generation are less likely to oppose mixing and immigration than their parents, they are also less likely to vote and still largely conditioned to think of society in binary terms.