|Postcolonial theory has been, and remains, one of the dominant modes of literary and cultural criticism within the broader discourse of Irish Studies. This thesis will provide a summary theoretical interrogation of the development of a loosely federated structure of such critical discourse. Equally, I will trace the mutual theoretical exchanges between an international postcolonial methodology, canonically embodied in the work of Edward Said, Homi Bhabha, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and the forms of postcolonial critique operatives within Irish Studies.
In performing such an interrogation, I hope to illuminate the modalities in which postcolonial theory has assumed such an integral disciplinary location within contemporary Irish academia. Contemporary academic history is notable for the extensive proliferation of postcolonial methodologies in Irish Cultural studies; my project is concerned with tracing this development and with providing a comprehensive and evaluative critique of the discipline of postcolonial studies in Ireland. To this end, I provided a proto-genealogy of contemporary critical interventions that have engaged with the contentious notion of Ireland as a postcolonial society.
I discuss both the theoretical particularities and the theoretical frameworks of postcolonial theory. I trace a line of development in Irish postcolonial criticism from the earlier interventions of Seamus Deane, Declan Kiberd, C.L. Innes, Shaun Richards, and David Cairns to the more recent arguments of Kevin Whelan, David Lloyd, Luke Gibbons, Colin Graham, Joe Cleary, Angela Bourke, Marjorie Howes and Gerry Smyth.
I evaluate postcolonial criticism as an academic discourse by cursorily applying the work of Pierre Bourdieu to recent academic interventions in Irish cultural theory. Specifically, I outline and engage with what I diagnose as recent metacritical interventions in Irish postcolonial studies, debates with concern issues such as subalternity, hybridity, liminality and gender.