Re-configuring Irishness: Tradition and multicultural identity politics in Gish Jen’s ‘Who Is Irish’

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers

Abstract

In the wake of colonization and its aftermath, the Irish people have been troubled by fundamental problems about their own identity. Questions such as “What is an Irishman” and “What is an Irish writer” are often asked, but so far no consensus has been made by academics in this regard. Irish literature, particularly in the 20th century, has been beset by ambiguities, by the antitheses of British / Irish, Protestant / Catholic, English / Irish and colonialism /nationalism as well as that of man and woman. Self-conflicted in one way or another, it has been forced to make compromises, and, as a consequence, the notion of Irishness has remained an enigma for Irish scholars worldwide. Reading Gish Jen’s “Who Is Irish?,” a short story collected in the same name collection Who Is Irish (1999), this paper discusses the tradition of Irish identity and how the convention of a tenacious Irish identity, in conjunction with stereotypical sexual identity, is questioned, challenged, re-conceptualized and re-configured in the multicultural American context in the contemporary world. I argue that Irishness, which used to homogeneous and thus helped consolidate the Irish people’s patriotism and camaraderie in the colonial context, is now problematic amid the ever-evolving world in the 21-st century that features heterogeneity, diversity, and multiplicity. Copyright © 2018 IASIL.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

Citation

Chang, H. (2018, July). Re-configuring Irishness: Tradition and multicultural identity politics in Gish Jen’s ‘Who Is Irish’. Paper presented at the International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures (IASIL 2018), Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Keywords

  • Alt. title: Reconfiguring Irishness: Tradition and multicultural identity politics in Gish Jen's 'Who Is Irish?'

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