The Cultures of Irish Nationalism
By (author) Michael Mays
Publication date:16 February 2007
Length of book:240 pages
Drawing on diverse cultural forms, and ranging across disciplinary boundaries, Nation States maps the contested cultural terrain of Irish nationalism from the Act of Union of 1800 to the present. In looking at Irish nationalism as a site of struggle, Mays examines both the myriad ways in which the nation fashions itself as the a priori ground of identity, and those processes through which nationalism engenders an ostensibly unique national identity corresponding to one and only one nation-state, the place where we always have been, and can only ever be, 'at home.'
Michael Mays' book is a distinguished and original contribution to the current critical confluence of Irish cultural, social, political, and literary history. Mays has unified these elements through a lucid and continuous scholarly narrative marked by a non-pedantic use of primary sources and a fine use of critical theory subordinate to his primary style of presentation. Especially useful is Mays' questioning and judicious use of 'postcolonial' theory and his discussions of modern Irish literature; his crisp and interesting insights regarding Yeats are worth the price of admission. It is the only scholarly work in its genre which I find appropriate for both advanced scholarship and the pleasure of the informed general reader. I unreservedly recommend this excellent book.