Constructions of Illiteracy in Twentieth-Century Ireland
Contesting the Narrative of Full Literacy
Constructions of Illiteracy in Twentieth-Century Ireland: Contesting the Narrative of Full Literacy offers new insights into literacy and illiteracy in the context of twentieth-century Ireland.
Through a close analysis of archived documentation from educational, military, and parliamentary sources, the book reveals a potent narrative of full literacy that promoted literacy proficiency as a facet of the Irish national identity and suppressed any formal acknowledgment of illiteracy within the adult population. Tobin applies a sociological approach and uses Foucauldian concepts of knowledge, power, discourse, and silence to examine how constructions of "illiteracy" and the “illiterate person” varied over time, while also being entwined with activities of nation-building in the twentieth century. Though focused on Irish society from 1900 to 1980, this volume also offers a resonant lens through which to approach the “Decade of Centenaries”, an Irish Government initiative spanning 2012–2023 that commemorates significant events in the history of the Irish state.
Relevant to any readers with an interest in the Irish experience of independence, decolonisation, and postcolonialism, this book will be a useful companion for scholars and postgraduate students of literacy and Irish studies more broadly.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction and Background 2. Power, Knowledge, Silence, and Literacy 3. The Era of Anticipation 1900 to 1921 4. The Era of Independence 1920s and 1930s 5. The Era of Social Progress 1930s and 1940s 6. The Era of Economic Development 1940s to 1960s 7. The Era of Literacy Measurement 1960s to 1980 8. Conclusion
Maighréad Tobin (PhD) is a lecturer at Maynooth University, Ireland. Her research explores the interface between literacy practices and national identity in Irish society.