The volume ‘Non-Violent Resistance: Irreverence in Irish Culture’ by Agnès Maillot, Jennifer Bruen and Jean-Philippe Imbert scrutinises Irish culture through the lens of humour, contributing to an alternative, and sometimes irreverent, reading of events.
Humour, by its very nature controversial, plays an important role in social interaction. With its power to question assumptions, it can be used a weapon of subversion, and its meaning and interpretation are embedded within the culture that generates them in complex ways. The scrutiny of Irish culture through the lens of humour is highly revealing, contributing to an alternative, and sometimes irreverent, reading of events. As John Updike wrote of Raymond Queneau’s witty re-imagining of the Easter Rising, humour can effectively expose «casual ambivalence».
This volume investigates the many ways in which writers, playwrights, politicians, historians, filmmakers, artists and activists have used irreverence and humour to look at aspects of Irish culture and explore the contradictions and shortcomings of the society in which they live.
The second volume, ‘Non-Violent Resistance: Counter Discourse in Irish Culture’ is edited by Agnès Maillot and Jennifer Bruen, and deals with the concept of counter-discourses.
Counter-discourses express new and alternative views of the world, in contrast with more established discourses which embody mainstream values, norms, beliefs and attitudes. The essays in this volume assess the role of counter-discourses as non-violent forms of resistance to the status quo in core domains of Irish social, cultural and political life. These domains encompass the Northern Ireland conflict and peace process; law enforcement, policing and surveillance; parliamentary debate and obstructionism; identity formation, marriage, divorce and the family; and institutional abuse, authoritarianism and the Catholic Church. The discourses are drawn from a diverse range of media including political and parliamentary speeches, ethnographic accounts, social media, short stories, song lyrics, poetry and novels, including those written for young adults. The essays highlight the power and significance of counter-discourses as vehicles of independent thought, capable of both reflecting and driving social and political change.