Ireland and the Problem of Information

Irish Writing, Radio, Late Modernist Communication

By (author) Damien Keane

Hardback - £55.95

Publication date:

23 October 2014

Length of book:

208 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271064123

Though the work of Irish writers has been paramount in conventional accounts of literary modernism, Ireland itself only rarely occupies a meaningful position in accounts of modernism’s historical trajectory. With an itinerary moving not simply among Dublin, Belfast, and London but also Paris, New York, Addis Ababa, Rome, Berlin, Geneva, and the world’s radio receivers, Ireland and the Problem of Information examines the pivotal mediations through which social knowledge was produced in the mid-twentieth century. Organized as a series of cross-fading case studies, the book argues that an expanded sphere of Irish cultural production should be read as much for what it indicates about practices of intermedial circulation and their consequences as for what it reveals about Irish writing around the time of the Second World War. In this way, it positions the “problem of information” as, first and foremost, an international predicament, but one with particular national implications for the Irish field.

Ireland and the Problem of Information boldly reconstellates late modernism, wartime propaganda, radio and sound recording, and post-independence Irish culture. Damien Keane clears the period of received narratives about modernist formal innovation and the auratic voice. In their place he sets up a cultural field in which social knowledge is produced—and, increasingly, knows itself to be produced—through dispersed, often agonistic processes of mediation. Far from being a belated entrant into this moment, the Irish cultural field emerges here as its advance guard, ‘an early indicator of the antagonistic cooperation that has since come more generally to structure the cultural field of the “information age.”’ This is a rigorously researched book, reflecting Keane’s deep fascination with his subject.”

—Paul Saint-Amour, University of Pennsylvania