Welcome to Issue 11 of IJAS Online, the official journal of the Irish Association for American Studies.
The articles and reviews in this issue were published on a rolling basis throughout 2022; they demonstrate the wide range of approaches and methodologies being brought to the study of American politics, art, and culture, even as they evince similar preoccupations including conflict and its cultural representations, transnational connections, and identity.
In “‘a settled place’: Reproductive Performance in the Liberties and The Liberties,” Lily Ní Dhomhnaill traces the presence of history, labour, and the embodied experience of “liveness” in Susan Howe’s long poem The Liberties (1980). Ní Dhomhnaill presents a historically situated analysis of Howe’s poem, exploring the relationship between official history and more communal ways of relating to the past. Drawing on Howe’s biography – including her time in Ireland as well as her creative development towards immersive, live art forms – the essay reads Howe’s engagement with Irish colonial history through her representation of the historic industrial area of Dublin after which the poem is named.
An emphasis on shared transatlantic connections is also evident in Richard Hargy’s contribution. “The State Department’s Northern Ireland Special Envoys and the redemption of the Good Friday Agreement” examines the interventions of a sub-unit within the US State Department into the peace process in Northern Ireland between 2001 and 2007. The two successive directors of the Policy Planning Staff did not interpret their role uniformly, argues Hargy, but their structural autonomy and independent thinking was crucial in breaking the political stalemate during these years. Through archival research as well as interviews with diplomatic and political actors, Hargy argues for the importance of the mode of “assertive unilateralism” in ensuring the restoration of the NI Assembly and Executive in 2007.
In “Cold Reality: Revisions of War in John Knowles’ ‘Phineas’ and A Separate Peace, Natalie Schreifer explores the literary representation of conflict through close readings of Knowles’ closely-related postwar fictions. Schreifer reads Knowles’s short story “Phineas” and novel A Separate Peace through the shifting politics of the 1950s, tracing the increasing ambivalence in the novel’s portrayal of war even as it retains much of the short fiction’s narrative frame. Charting the development in the representation of WWII from “background device” to “menacing presence,” the essay presents Knowles’s work as reflective of a larger cultural shift in which Cold War fears and doubts predominate.
In “‘Seeming Strangeness’: Mina Loy’s Poetics of Disruption and Julia Kristeva’s Semiotic/Symbolic Model,” Eva Isherwood-Wallace Examines Loy’s poetry through Kristeva’s model of the structure of language. Isherwood-Wallace examines the ambiguous critical reception to Loy in her own time as well as her ambiguous status within national and transatlantic histories of modernism. Focusing on a selection of Loy’s poems published in some of the internationally-oriented little magazines in the early decades of the 20th century, the article finds analogies for poetic description in the tensions between word, image and sound, which disrupt attempts to read or attribute meaning unproblematically.
This issue also includes reviews of several recent monographs presenting new research in American Studies across a range of fields and periods, taking in scholarship on twenty-first century developments in cultural forms and technology, a transnational study of fugitives from US slavery, and studies of individual literary and artistic figures both canonical and less familiar. Included here are reviews by Courtney Mullis of Marie-Christin Sawires-Maselli’s Arab American Novels Post-9/11: Classical Storytelling Motifs Against Outsidership, by Eoin O’Callaghan of Jhn Wills’s Gamer Nation: Video Games and American Culture, by Gillian Grozsewski of Thomas Austenfeld’s edited collection Robert Lowell in a New Century, by Henry Martin of Katherine Manthorne’s Restless Enterprise: The Art and Life of Eliza Pratt Greatorex, and by Laura Gillespie of Alice L. Baumgartner’s South to Freedom: Runaway Slaves to Mexico.
This issue of IJAS Online was edited by Tim Groenland and Fionnghuala Sweeney (Co-Editors-in-Chief) and Keira Williams (Reviews Editor), with support from Stephanie Forde (Marketing Officer). As always, the journal remains committed to publishing articles, interviews, and reviews on American Studies, broadly defined, which means publishing on all aspects of American life and culture, including literature, film, history, social studies, geography, music, art, architecture, and more.
We hope you enjoy Issue 11, 2022.
IJAS Online Co-Editors-in-Chief