Eighteenth-Century (Sub)Versions of Stage Irishness

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Claus-Ulrich Viol

Eighteenth-Century (Sub)Versions of Stage Irishness. Prevalent Anti-Irish Stereotypes and their Dramatic Functionalisation

ISBN 978-3-88476-299-8, ISBN 3-88476-299-0, 134 S., kt., € 18,00 (1998)

(Horizonte -Studien zu Texten und Ideen der europäischen Moderne, Bd. 24)

This book offers a concise and systematic account of the stage Irishman's eventful career in the 18th century. Foregrounding dramatic potential and functions rather than questions of linguistic or cultural '(non-)authenticity', this study explores both the social and the textual strategies that are at the bottom of this most durable and controversial ethnic stock-type in British culture. It also contextualises these different functional variants within the wider social and intellectual background of the 18th century. Based on an application of the conceptual tools of textual stereotype research, the close analysis of a number of exemplary plays – including Colman's Jealous Wife, Garrick's Irish Widow, and Cumberland's West Indian – thus results in a typology of 18th century stage Irishmen that accounts for the different ways of employing the stereotypes of the time. These range from 'mechanical' adoptions and gradual modifications to 'subversive' treatments that seem to anticipate rather modern developments.