Drawing on historical, literary and cultural studies perspectives, this book examines the phenomenon of the “Returned Yank” in the cultural imagination, taking as its point of departure the most exhaustively discussed Returned Yank narrative, The Quiet Man (dir. John Ford, 1952). Often dismissed as a figure that embodies the sentimentality and nostalgia of Irish America writ large, this study argues that the Returned Yank’s role in the Irish cultural imagination is much more varied and complex than this simplistic construction allows. Throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, s/he has been widely discussed in broadcast and print media, and depicted in plays, novels, short stories and films. The imagined figure of the Returned Yank has been the driving impetus behind some of Ireland's most well-known touristic endeavours and festivals. In the form of U.S. Presidential visits, s/he has repeatedly been the catalyst for questions surrounding Irish identity. Most significantly, s/he has been mobilised as an arbiter in one of the most important debates in post-Independence Ireland: should Ireland remain a "traditional" society or should it seek to modernise? His/her repeated appearances in Irish literature and culture after 1952 – in remarkably heterogeneous, often very sophisticated ways – refute claims of the “aesthetic caution” of Irish writers, dramatists and filmmakers responding to the tradition/modernity debate.
'An incisive and impressively contextualized study of the trope of "the Returned Yank" in Irish culture. This fascinating and outstanding book will make an invaluable and timely contribution to Irish and American Studies, as well as to diaspora studies more widely.'
Dr Tony Murray, Director of the Irish Studies Centre at London Metropolitan University
'Extremely commendable in its scope and ambition, this book offers a valuable contribution to Irish cultural studies, in particular to research on the complex relationship between "tradition" and "modernity" in Irish culture. It fills a genuine gap in existing scholarship, and its sustained analysis across several decades and multiple forms of representation is especially impressive, as it allows the reader to track a complex and historically-informed narrative arc for the "Returned Yank" figure.'
Dr Stephanie Rains, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Media Studies, Maynooth University