For the past seventy years the discipline of film studies has widely invoked the term national cinema. Such a concept suggests a unified identity with distinct cultural narratives. As the current debate over the meaning of nation and nationalism has made thoughtful readers question the term, its application to the field of film studies has become the subject of recent interrogation. In The Myth of an Irish Cinema, Michael Patrick Gillespie presents a groundbreaking challenge to the traditional view of filmmaking, contesting the existence of an Irish national cinema. Given the social, economic, and cultural complexity of contemporary Irish identity, Gillespie argues, filmmakers can no longer present Irishness as a monolithic entity.
The book is arranged thematically, with chapters exploring cinematic representation of the middle class, urban life, rural life, religion, and politics. Offering close readings of Irish-themed films, Gillespie identifies a variety of interpretative approaches based on the diverse elements that define national character. Covering a wide range of films, from John Ford’s The Quiet Man and Kirk Jones’s Waking Ned Devine to Bob Quinn’s controversial Budawanny and The Bishop’s Story, The Myth of an Irish Cinema signals a paradigm shift in the field of film studies and promises to reinvigorate dialogue on the subject of national cinema.
Michael Patrick Gillespie is the Louise Edna Goeden Professor of English at Marquette University. He is the author of The Aesthetics of Chaos: Nonlinear Thinking and Contemporary Literary Criticism, “Ulysses” and the American Reader, and Reading William Kennedy, the latter published by Syracuse University Press.
6.3 x 9.2, 288 pages, 27 black and whote illustrations