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The Future of the Past: Revival Ireland 1891–1922

The Edward W. Said Memorial Lecture

  • The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies
  • Glucksman Ireland House NYU
  • Abraaj Group

Declan Kiberd, renowned scholar of Irish Literature, will deliver the annual Edward W. Said Memorial Lecture. The history of literature, said Carlyle, is a narrative of "revivals". The Revival which occurred in Ireland a century ago, far from being a case of late-blooming Romanticism, was a systematic attempt to adapt and update the civic values of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. Although simplified in many subsequent accounts as a manifestation of nationalism, it was in fact a project for liberation. It offered new roles for women, theosophists, socialists, pacifists, secularists and alternative models of republican modernity outside of the available state codes; and its leaders took Ireland as a test-case of the modern decolonising world. They were the first English-speaking people in the twentieth century to walk in hope and in darkness down what would become a better-lit road. The lecture will consider a range of well-known authors such as Yeats and Joyce, locating them against a backdrop which introduces less familiar figures such as Mary Colum, James and Margaret Cousins and Francis Sheehy Skeffington.