Ireland’s Gramophones

BookIreland’s Gramophones

Ireland’s Gramophones

Material Culture, Memory, and Trauma in Irish Modernism

Clemson University Press


August 10th, 2021

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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.

Author Information

Zan Cammack is a lecturer in the Department of English and Literature at Utah Valley University. Her research primarily focuses on studies of material culture in 19th and 20th-century literature. She has published on Elizabeth Bowen, G.B. Shaw, Lennox Robinson, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Jane Austen (the latter two publications are manifestations of deep fangirling of said authors). Her current work is situated at the intersection of material culture and gender studies, including work on female performance studies in Samuel Beckett’s plays and flapper fashion and British politics.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
List of Figures7
Introduction: The Irish Gramophone13
1. Gramophonic Trauma: Shattered Narratives and Undead Oralities31
2. Gramophonic Gendering: Women, Phonographysteria, and the Political Machine67
3. Gramophonic Violence: The Gramophones of the Irish Revolution105
4. Gramophonic Strain: Residual Tension in Post-War Literature143
Coda: Gramophonic Echoes177