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IRELAND'S GRAMOPHONES 

MATERIAL CULTURE, MEMORY, AND TRAUMA IN IRISH MODERNISM

Clemson University Press (2021)

Because gramophonic technology grew up alongside Ireland’s progressively more outspoken and violent struggles for political autonomy and national stability, Irish Modernism inherently links the gramophone to representations of these dramatic cultural upheavals. Many key works of Irish literary modernism—like those by James Joyce, Elizabeth Bowen, and Sean O’Casey—depend upon the gramophone for their ability to record Irish cultural traumas both symbolically and literally during one of the country’s most fraught developmental eras. In each work the gramophone testifies of its own complexity as a physical object and its multiform value in the artistic development of textual material. In each work, too, the object seems virtually self-placed—less an aesthetic device than a “thing” belonging primordially to the text. The machine is also often an agent and counterpart to literary characters. Thus, the gramophone points to a deeper connection between object and culture than we perceive if we consider it as only an image, enhancement, or instrument. This book examines the gramophone as an object that refuses to remain in the background of scenes in which it appears, forcing us to confront its mnemonic heritage during a period of Irish history burdened with political and cultural turbulence.

 

REVIEWS

 
 

Zan Cammack’s Ireland’s Gramophones makes an important contribution to a growing area in Irish studies: our recognition that technology has played a role in shaping a culture that has often presented itself as being determined largely by tradition.  In part, this is a product of our particular historical moment. We are now experiencing what Marshall McLuhan once described as the "rear-view mirror effect," by which we only truly see a given technology once it has been subsumed by another. As digital culture takes all previous technologies as its content, those technologies come into focus for us in new ways. Ireland’s Gramophones reminds us that literature can also provide those moments of perception. Tracing the unexpected appearance of the gramophone in works by Joyce, Shaw, O’Casey, Bowen, Flann O’Brien and Brian Friel, Cammack shows us that Irish literature had already known what we are only now discovering.  As such, Ireland’s Gramophones is timely in more than one sense; it is a book that tells us not only about the writers it considers in their time, but about our own period of technological transformation as well.

Prof. Chris Morash, MRIA, FTCD, Seamus Heaney Professor of Irish Writing, Trinity College Dublin

BOOK CHAPTERS

GRAMOPHONE STRAIN IN LENNOX ROBINSON'S PORTRAIT

Published in Science, Technology, and Irish Modernism by Syracuse University Press (2019)

DRACULA AND NEW MEDIA

Approaches to Teaching Stoker’s Dracula, Ed. William Thomas McBride, MLA. Forthcoming.

PHONOGRAPHIC WITNESSES: NEW MEDIA’S #METOO EVOLUTION

#MeToo and Modernism, Eds. Jerrica Jordan and Robin Field, Clemson UP. Forthcoming

 

ARTICLES

“FANNY PRICE’S SOCIAL CARTOGRAPHY IN MANSFIELD PARK"

Nineteenth Century Studies, vol. 29, 2015 [published in 2019], pp. 37-53.

“THE DEATH OF A GRAMOPHONE IN ELIZABETH BOWEN’S THE LAST SEPTEMBER

Journal of Modern Literature, vol. 40, no. 2, 2017, pp. 132–146

“IRISH LABORERS AND THE PRESTON STRIKE IN ELIZABETH GASKELL’S NORTH AND SOUTH"

New Hibernia Review, vol. 20, no. 4, 2016, pp. 113-127.

“POLITICAL GRAMOPHONIC GENDERING IN G.B. SHAW’S PYGMALION

Australasian Journal of Irish Studies, vol. 16, no. 1, 2016, pp. 78-92.

"AMELIA’S MANUAL MANIPULATIONS OF THE MAJOR IN THACKERAY’S VANITY FAIR"

The Explicator, vol. 73, no. 2, 2015, pp. 153-56.

Image by Kevin Maillefer
 

BOOK REVIEWS

Eleanor Lybeck’s All on Show: The Circus in Irish Literature and Culture. Irish Studies Review, vol. 28, no. 4, 2020. DOI: 10.1080/09670882.2020.1829814

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Kevin Morrison’s Victorian Liberalism and Material Culture: Synergies of Thought and Place. The Wilkie Collins Journal, vol. 17 Special Issue: Materiality in Wilkie Collins and his Contemporaries, 2019.

Emily Ridge’s Portable Modernisms: The Art of Travelling Light. Modernism/modernity, vol. 25, no. 3, 2018, pp. 607-9.

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Aleida Assmann’s Shadows of Trauma: Memory and the Politics of Postwar Identity. Modernism/modernity, vol. 23, no. 4, 2016, pp. 929-31.