This interdisciplinary collection investigates the forms that authority assumed in nineteenth-century Ireland, the relations they bore to international redefinitions of authority, and Irish contributions to the reshaping of authority in the modern age. At a time when age-old sources of social, political, spiritual and cultural authority were eroded in the Western world, Ireland witnessed both the restoration of older forms of authority and the rise of figures who defined new models of authority in a democratic age. Using new comparative perspectives as well as archival resources in a wide range of fields, the essays gathered here show how new authorities were embodied in emerging types of politicians, clerics and professionals, and in material extensions of their power in visual, oral and print cultures. These analyses often eerily echo twenty-first-century debates about populism, suspicion of scholarly and intellectual expertise, and the role of new technologies and forms of association in contesting and recreating authority. Several contributions highlight the role of emotion in the way authority was deployed by figures ranging from Daniel O’Connell to W.B. Yeats, foreshadowing the perceived rise of emotional politics in our own age. This volume demonstrates that many contested forms of authority that now look ‘traditional’ emerged from nineteenth-century crises and developments, as did the challenges that undermine authority.
CONTRIBUTORS: Marguerite Corporaal, Patrick Geoghegan, Patrick Maume, Michelle McCann, Caroline M. McGee, James H. Murphy, Shane Nagle, Niamh NicGhabhann, Richard Parfitt, Colleen M. Thomas, Tom Walker