Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A terrible beauty is bought

The journal Irish Studies Review is shortly to publish a special commemorative 1916 edition entitled ‘Commemorating Connolly’. Amongst the seven invited papers for the issue is an article by Dr Alison Younger entitled 'A terrible beauty is bought: 1916, commemoration and commodification'. Mindful of Benedict Anderson’s emphasis in Imagined Communities on the power of print culture – and print-capitalism – to shape and share national ideas and identities, her article offers a comparative analysis of the commemorations in Ireland of 1798 and 1916 by looking at commemorative ephemera: kitschy memorabilia, themed merchandise, newspaper cuttings and advertisements, handbills and inventively branded commodities, as important cultural texts which purveyed ideological values and meanings at the time of their production. It suggests that the consumer sphere allows us to shed light on the commemorative discourses these ephemeral objects produce, retelling and retailing the risings in question. Texts often regarded as throwaway or lowbrow vied for their share in the ideological marketplace to form part of the heritage of 1798 and 1916, the centenary of the one feeding into the ferment of the other. The reception and representation of the pivotal figures of Wolfe Tone and James Connolly is discussed through the prism of Thomas Richards’ conception of commodity culture, and attention is paid to counter-commemorative strands as well as positive rhetorics of remembrance.

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