Waves of Irish immigration have meant a translation of Irish cultural ideals to America. However, amidst the traditional modes of music and poetry that have deeply influenced American art, the Irish American criminal has often been overlooked as a transnational figure. This panel seeks to trace how Irish cultural discourses of criminality have manifested within the American narrative. From The Boondock Saints to Whitey Bulger, the fascination with the Irish American criminal has been a small, but vital part of the American imagination. Specifically, this panel is interested in the ways in which, via the Irish political and economic immigrant, the language of Irish political resistance and rebellion have been refracted both by America and by the criminal element. How does the mythic concept of Cuchulain, so important to revolutionaries, determine narratives of loyalty? How do the influence of gender roles—incarnated in Ireland as Kathleen ni Houlian or the Croppy Boy—influence issues of agency, action, and martyrdom? In what ways does the organization of Irish agrarian agitation movements and secret societies shape American criminal syndicates? Of particular interest are the ways in which Irish heroic narratives inform constructs of loyalty, how violence emerges from an Irish political/revolutionary rhetoric, and how the American context—particularly Boston—shapes a specific response to Irish identity.
Send abstracts of no more than 250 words to Daniel.Shea@msmc.edu.
Contact Email: Daniel.Shea@msmc.edu