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Joyce, Ireland, Britain is the first collection explicitly and coherently to address Joyce’s work in the context of British-Irish historical, political, and cultural relations. Almost wholly comprising contributions by British and Irish scholars, the book theorizes a move toward historical materialism in Joyce studies. Methodologically, it involves a skeptical caution about relations between theoretical models and texts; a turn toward concrete historical analysis; a practice of maximal historical saturation; scrupulous attention to questions of historical discontinuity; and an insistence on historical plausibility or likelihood. In this collection, for the first time, historical materialism in Joyce studies becomes properly self-conscious.
The collection is also distinctive in that most contributors do not locate Joyce principally within an international modernist or postmodernist frame. Instead, they prioritize the actual historical contexts immediately indicated by Joyce’s texts, asserting the crucial importance to Joyce’s work of a detailed knowledge of actual, historical relations between the classes and races in late 19th- and early 20th-century British-Irish society and culture. They are also concerned both with Joyce’s significance in and for the contemporary debate about the concept of Britain and British identity, and the implications of the latter for work on Joyce. Focusing on Joyce’s relations to specific historical, political, and cultural issues that haunt Britain and Ireland to this day, the collection thus marks a genuinely original shift in Joyce studies and sets new standards for reading Joyce in history.