Jonathan Swift's Allegiance(s)

Friday, November 15, 2013
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Hamilton Smith 110
Event Type
Katie Umans

Best known for his satirical classic GULLIVER'S TRAVELS, Jonathan Swift is canonized in his native Ireland as a founding father of Irish nationalism.  More accurately, he should be considered the inventor of Irish nationalist rhetoric, responsible for a number of ringing phrases denouncing England's alternating neglect, misgovernment and oppression of Ireland for hundreds of years.  But Swift had little actual affection for Ireland, resisted claiming he was Irish, and complained vigorously about the ways the Irish at all levels of society fell short of basic standards of behavior; he defended the Irish without liking them -- a paradox that suits his reputation as a satirist.  This talk considers these issues and examines his underlying allegiances to Church and State, to a State, indeed, guided by the Church, which he regarded as impossible in England by the 1720s, but still feasible in Ireland.

 Professor Robert Mahony recently retired from the English Department at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.  Early in his career, he studied at Georgetown for his B.A. in 1968 and at Trinity College Dublin for his Ph.D. in 1973, and taught at Trinity College and the University of Illinois at Chicago, and later became the founding Director of the Center for Irish Studies at Catholic.  He has held visiting positions at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Trinity, University College Cork, Queens University Belfast, and the University of Vienna.  He published “Jonathan Swift:  the Irish Identity,” an influential book, with Yale University Press in 1995, and has edited several books on writers like Christopher Smart and Swift in collaboration with scholars like Betty Rizzo and Carole Fabricant.  He has also edited, in collaboration with Brian Caraher, a festschrift for the great Irish literary scholar and critic Dennis Donague entitled “Ireland and Transatlantic Poetics.”  Mahony continues to lead the Annual Dublin Symposium on Jonathan Swift at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where Swift was dean for the last thirty years of his life, a prestigious international seminar for Swift scholars.  

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