Rhythms of Writing : An Anthropology of Irish Literature book cover
1st Edition

Rhythms of Writing
An Anthropology of Irish Literature

ISBN 9781350108639
Published April 18, 2019 by Routledge
184 Pages

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Book Description

This is the first anthropological study of writers, writing and contemporary literary culture. Drawing on the flourishing literary scene in Ireland as the basis for her research, Helena Wulff explores the social world of contemporary Irish writers, examining fiction, novels, short stories as well as journalism. Discussing writers such as John Banville, Roddy Doyle, Colm Tóibín, Frank McCourt, Anne Enright, Deirdre Madden, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Colum McCann, David Park, and Joseph O´Connor, Wulff reveals how the making of a writer’s career is built on the ‘rhythms of writing’: long hours of writing in solitude alternate with public events such as book readings and media appearances. Destined to launch a new field of enquiry, Rhythms of Writing is essential reading for students and scholars in anthropology, literary studies, creative writing, cultural studies, and Irish studies.

Table of Contents

ForewordAcknowledgementsPrologue: Writing as Craft and Career 1. The Making of a Writer: Training and Creativity 2. Paths and Profiles: In Search of Recognition 3. The Public Intellectual: Writing Journalism 4. Modes of Writing: Genres, Topics, Styles 5. Tracing Tales: Folklore in Fiction6. Selling Stories: The Publishing Market 7. Varieties of Translation: Within and Across Media 8. America as Hope: Legacy of Leaving 9. Irish Literature and the World BibliographyIndex

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Helena Wulff is Professor of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University, Sweden


"This volume, by a pioneer in the field of literary anthropology, represents a major milestone in a contested field. Given its global context, this book (with a foreword by the eminent folklorist Diarmuid Ó Giolláin) will be of interest to academics and writers in the field of anthropology and literature worldwide. - Anthropological Journal of European Cultures [The book] includes a useful summary of the few existing texts in this branch of literary anthropology, before going on to explore the flourishing literary scene in Ireland, including the social worlds of contemporary Irish writers. - Ethnography Rhythms of Writing is a rich, subtle and intimate anthropological portrait of the lives and works of Irish writers authored by one of our finest ethnographers of art and artistic practice. Wulff writes across the grain of common assumptions that writers should be treated as individual geniuses. Instead, Wulff shows us how Irish writers are social actors influenced by their society, relationships, time and place, yet who also translate their own social experience into more broadly reaching and durable cultural forms. This one-of-a-kind book breathes new life into the anthropology of literature and writing. - Dominic Boyer, Rice University, USA This anthropological study of the public lives world of renowned writers in Ireland, and of the writing that originates far from the market and media in a mundane private sphere of desk-bound craft, shows off Helena Wulff’s unique gifts. She earns the writers’ trust, discloses their habitual rhythms, personal and cultural; she invokes an Irish storytelling tradition; and she offers complex social commentary on professionalism, finance, celebrity, migration, translation and postcolonialism. A highly insightful, rewarding book. - Nigel Rapport, University of St Andrews, UK Rhythms of Writing provides a fascinating exploration of contemporary Irish literature. Individual lives and personalities, shared and distinctive writing practices, translation (across languages and across media), marketing, and other dimensions central to the ongoing shaping of Irish letters emerge with provocative clarity in Wulff’s generous, insightful, and distinctively ethnographic account. - Don Brenneis, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA Using an innovative approach to the anthropology of literature, Wulff draws upon her extensive knowledge of Irish society to describe the ways contemporary Irish authors talk about their craft and careers. She blends cultural and literary analysis to show us how writers engage with commerce, with their publics, and with the changing global scene. - Deborah Reed-Danahay, University at Buffalo, USA"