Irish literature is the body of writings composed in English, Irish, or Latin produced on the island of Ireland or by authors of Irish nationality. The presence of a dual tradition in Irish writing (due to the language of Ireland’s colonizers becoming an important shaping factor in its literary development) resulted in a hybridity of writing and the inevitable interlinking of Irish literature with that of English literature – a relationship leading frequently to the assimilation and amalgamation of Irish writers and texts into the Western canon. Although Ireland is geographically rather small, it has made a disproportionately large contribution to world literature and academic literary studies in comparison.
The field of Irish literature explores the political climate and trends that occurred within the era of Irish development and how an Irish nation dealt with the infringement of a new canon of English values and cultures. Irish literature studies key moments in the historical, cultural, or literary history of Ireland, as well as the ways in which Irish literature has impacted national identity and broader literary trends. Ireland’s history of colonization and conquest, the trials of starvation, famine, and mass emigration, rebellion and civil war have all made a distinguishing mark on the development of Irish literature as its own genre, combining nationalistic and colonial patterns of thinking together into a hybrid interaction of cultural tensions.
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