The tension between adherence to traditional modes of expression, and experimentation has underlain modern Irish literature. Regarded as the epitome of Modernist experimental writing, James Joyce went so far in pushing the boundaries of what constituted prose as to become the object of criticism from such different commentators as Lukács and Pound, both of whom found fault with Joyce for the radicalness of experiment, particularly in Finnegans Wake. However, Joyce himself considered his work to be firmly set in the realist tradition. At a time when he was yet to publish his first collection of lyrics, W. B. Yeats was encouraged by his father to write realist prose, which may eventually have contributed to his abhorrence of realism in favour of ever more intensive experimentation in verse and his conception of theatre. At the same time, Yeats’s poetry is packed full of realist portrayals of the world about him, from ‘a crowded London street’ to the gory ‘mother murdered at her door’. J. M. Synge may have worked in a realist mode but his implementation of vernacular Aran speech paved the way for the linguistic experimentation of the following generations of Irish (also English-language) playwrights. Similar tensions and convergences define the shape of the contemporary Irish literary landscape which becomes increasingly populated with female, queer, brown, disabled, and other bodies who were earlier marginalized or absent. Their voices have recently been expanding the boundaries of Irish identity and literary tradition as well as opening new avenues of textual experimentation.
In general, Irish literature may seem to be a field of vacillators who employ traditional genres and modes of writing, while at the same time, almost instinctively, seeking to rework them. In view of this peculiar tradition that weds compliance with rebellion, the volume intends to focus on a broad spectrum of literatures from across Ireland and the Irish diaspora with a view to unravelling not only the conflict but also exchanges and creative tensions between traditionalism and experiment.
The topics of articles may include but are in no way limited to:
- realist and experimental modes in high modernism and onwards;
- experimental literature today and a century ago: continuity and change;
- revisions of the realist mode in contemporary Irish literatures;
- ethics and aesthetics of realist and/or experimental literature;
- the great masters’ (stifling/enabling) influences;
- contemporary realisms (including magical realism);
- voices from the margin (social, cultural, racial, etc.) and the conventions and aesthetics they have embraced or created;
- cosmopolitanism vs. parochialism – openness and resistance to foreign trends;
- Irish literature and globalization (e.g. realism and experimentation in literary responses to global traumas, literature and the new media, literature and migration, etc.);
- the aesthetics of nostalgia and futurity.
The articles will be published in 2025 in an edited volume by HJEAS Books New Series (https://ojs.lib.unideb.hu/hjeas/aboutbooks). Article proposals (ca. 300 words) should be sent to Katarzyna Ojrzyńska (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Wit Pietrzak (email@example.com) by March 31, 2023. Selected authors will then be asked to submit full articles by August 31, 2023. Please note that the final decision about including the article in the volume will be based on double-blind peer reviews.
Katarzyna Ojrzyńska (firstname.lastname@example.org)