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Irish-American Autobiography

Athletes, Priests, Pilgrims, and More

James Silas Rogers (author)

ISBN: 9780813229188

Publication Date: Feb 2017

Format: Paperback

Is there still a distinct Irish identity in America? This highly original survey says yes, though it's often an indirect one. Opening a new window on the meanings of Irishness over the twentieth century, this work also reveals how Catholicism, so key to the identity of earlier generations of Irish Americans, has also evolved.
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Is there still a distinct Irish identity in America? This highly original survey says yes, though it's oft�en an indirect one. True, the age of heroic immigration is over, and today the term "Irish-American" almost always means an American of Irish descent. If the Irish long ago ceased to be America's largest ethnic group, they've nonetheless stayed among the most visible (not least because St Patrick's Day has been adopted by the nation at large). But for all the external trappings of Irishness, the terms, traditions, and nuances of that identity stay elusive.

Irish-American Autobiography opens a new window on the shi�ing meanings of Irishness over the twentieth century, by looking at a range of works that have never before been considered as a distinct body of literature. Opening with celebrity memoirs from athletes like boxer John L. Sullivan and ballplayer Connie Mack–written when the Irish were eager to put their raffish origins behind them–later chapters trace the many tensions, o�en unspoken, registered by Irish Americans who've told their life stories. New York saloonkeepers and South Boston step dancers set themselves against the larger culture, setting a pattern of being on the outside looking in. Even the classic 1950s TV comedy The Honeymooners speaks to the urban Irish origins, and the poignant sense of exclusion felt by its creator Jackie Gleason. Catholicism, so key to the identity of earlier generations of Irish Americans, has also evolved. One chapter looks at the painful diffidence of priest autobiographers, and others reveal how traditional Irish Catholic ideas of the guardian angel and pilgrimage have evolved and stayed potent down to our own time. Irish-American Autobiography becomes, in the end, a story of a continued search for connection–documenting an "ethnic fade" that never quite happened.

Reviews

"In Irish-American Autobiography James Silas Rogers engages with more than a century of Irish-American nonfiction. Meticulously researched, intelligently orchestrated, and beautifully written, Rogers's study–in its deep engagement with the many-sidedness of the Irish experience in the United States–brings into the spotlight the lives of many well and not-so-well-known men and women whose lives and writings allow us to understand the Irish diaspora more thoroughly. Some of his subjects are well-known–Jackie Gleason, Frank McCourt, and Michael Patrick McDonald–while others represent important acts of recovery. This is a wise, informative, excellent, and a vital contribution to both Irish and American Studies." –Eamonn Wall, author of Writing the Irish West: Ecologies and Traditions.
Pages 208
Dimensions 216 x 140
Date Published 28 Feb 2017
Publisher The Catholic University of America Press
Subject/s Social & cultural history   Social & cultural anthropology   Ethnic studies  
James Silas Rogers is the editor of New Hibernia Review and a past president of the American Conference for Irish Studies.

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