This book focuses on the intersection between the assimilation of the Irish into American life and the emergence of an American popular culture, which took place at the same historical moment in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During this period, the Irish in America underwent a period of radical change. Initially existing as a marginalized, urban-dwelling, immigrant community largely comprised of survivors of the Great Famine and those escaping its aftermath, Irish Americans became an increasingly assimilated group with new social, political, economic, and cultural opportunities open to them. Within just a few generations, Irish-American life transformed so significantly that grandchildren hardly recognized the world in which their grandparents had lived. This pivotal period of transformation for Irish Americans was heavily shaped and influenced by emerging popular culture, and in turn, the Irish-American experience helped shape the foundations of American popular culture in such a way that the effects are still noticeable today. Dowd investigates the primary segments of early American popular culture—circuses, stage shows, professional sports, pulp fiction, celebrity culture, and comic strips—and uncovers the entanglements these segments had with the development of Irish-American identity.
Table of Contents
1. Setting the Stage: Minstrelsy, Vaudeville, Circuses, and Other Entertainments
2. Heavyweights, Sluggers, and Medalists: The Irish in American Sports
3. The Weird Tales, Spicy Detectives, and Startling Stories of Irish America: Pulp Magazines
4. The Famous and the Notorious: Irish-American Celebrities
5. Irish in the Panels and Gutters: Comic Strips
Christopher Dowd is Associate Professor and Department Chair of English at the University of New Haven.