No Petty People: The Making of Literary Ireland

Free Public Lecture

No Petty People: The Making of Literary Ireland

For a small country, Ireland has an immense literary heritage and international reputation. This lecture considers some political, social and cultural reasons why this is so. It reflects on the anomalous conditions in which Ireland grappled with modernity in the aftermath of the Great Famine. It assesses the cultural nationalism that led to the extraordinary flowering of the Irish Literary Revival, led by W.B. Yeats, not only in national terms but also enmeshed within wider European intellectual and cultural agendas. Relatedly, it considers the counter-revival manoeuvres of modernist writers, such as Joyce and Beckett. It analyses not just the self-contained achievement of Irish writers, but also their image and reception internationally. Irish literature and its images of Ireland successfully negotiated a world literary field, with evolving and competing literary and aesthetic agendas. This lecture seeks to account not just for the merit of Irish writing in itself, but for its success in that wider cultural economy.

Presented as part of the 2018 Faculty of Arts Dean’s Lecture Series: Celebrating the Impact of Giving

In 2018, thanks to the generosity of our donors, the Faculty of Arts welcomes six newly appointed Professorial Chairs, reaffirming our Faculty’s commitment to excellence in teaching and research. As Chairs, these academics will make significant contributions to their disciplines, enriching these specialist fields for the benefit of our students and the broader community for years to come.

The Faculty of Arts strives to ensure that talented students of all backgrounds have access to the outstanding scholarly expertise and leadership that these new appointments represent. The Faculty of Arts 110 Scholarship is an access and equity scholarship fund that supports students who struggle to afford a university education or are hampered by circumstances beyond their control. Every gift counts – if you’re interested in learning more, please follow the link on this page.

To celebrate the transformative impact of philanthropic giving for future generations of students, join us for this lecture series to hear our new Chairs give talks on their areas of research expertise and teaching.


  • Professor Ronan McDonald
    Professor Ronan McDonald, Gerry Higgins Chair in Irish Studies