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Representations of Jews in Irish Literature

Research Cluster

English, History, Modern Languages

Funding Body

Arts and Humanities Research Council

Project URL

arts.ulster.ac.uk/jewishrepresentations

The Jewish presence in Irish Literature has scarcely been researched to date, apart from the character of Bloom in Joyce'sUlysses, which has been the subject of widespread study and is seen by many as the only real literary representation of Jewry in Ireland by a non-Jew. Yet there are references to Jews going back to the earliest Gaelic literature. This project, which Elmer Kennedy-Andrews and I will lead, will investigate those references, whether in Gaelic or English, and will collect more substantial references into an anthology.

The research funded by this grant will demonstrate how the representation of the Jew in Irish literature actually tells us much more about Irish than about Jewish identity. This examination of Irish attitudes to Jews is of potential interest to all bodies that are engaged with attitudes to racial, national and religious difference, in both Northern Ireland, the Republic and beyond. This includes political parties, immigrant and non-national bodies, and statutory bodies engaged with promoting equality.

The project will create an online database of all texts and writers relevant to the theme, while a conference in 2016 will bring scholars together to analyse aspects of the topic in depth. In conjunction with the conference, an exhibition will be organised at the Belfast campus, and subsequently in Dublin at the Royal Irish Academy in collaboration with the Irish-Jewish Museum.