Rural Idyll in Contemporary Irish Fiction and Film seminar

Wednesday 21st March, 1.15pm – 2.30pm
Room 257, University of Westminster, 309 Regent Street

Aisling McKeown (University of Westminster)
Once Upon A Time In The West: the Rural Idyll in Contemporary Irish Fiction and Film’

Abstract: In 1952, John Wayne starred in John Ford’s film The Quiet Man, set in the west of Ireland. Playing a returned Irish-American emigrant, rather than his more customary role as that potent symbol of the American west, the cowboy, Wayne cut a swathe  through Ireland’s wild landscape. The film projected an image of Ireland as a rural idyll, populated by fiery yet charming natives. Contemporary film-makers and writers, unless being deliberately ironic, tend to avoid such clichéd treatment of rural Ireland. Combining discourses of tradition and modernity, their representations reflect the  socio-cultural evolution of this remote location, which inspired Yeats and Synge over a century ago. This paper will trace the development of these representations and discuss the blend of mythology and realism that underpins the work of today’s writers as they address such themes as immigration, identity and belonging.

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