"An Irish Feminist GenX Aesthetic: Televisual Memories in Anne Enright’s The Wig My Father Wore"
“'Generation X' is not a term commonly used in Ireland, given that itsassociation with the United States and precise economic contextual factors linked to cultural prosperity and Baby Boom parenting. However, as this collection so persuasively demonstrates, while the economic and social factors that structure the US configuration of Gen X do not necessarily translate, Xers are a global generation. National borders do not always define youth demographics. This is particularly true of a generation immersed in popular cultures articulated, mediated, and circulated through international webs of various media technologies.[i] In the Irish context, it is possible to identify an Irish Generation X consciousness in novels of the late 1980s and early ‘90sthat were, as noted by Conor McCarthy, “at home with a range of mass cultural references (television, rock music, film, Anglo-American youth culture)” (135). One of the features that characterizes this body of work is a shared commitment to an “active forgetting,”[ii] an impulse to reject the past and history, alongside a privileging of the present and its concerns. Active forgetting is a critical response to an Irish postcolonial nation dominated, for most of the 20th century, by an official discourse of conservative nationalism, which idealized the traditional values of a rural Ireland, prioritizing cultural acts of remembrance and an unhealthy obsession with the past. Colonial oppression and the subsequent establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922, which became the Republic of Ireland in 1949, were the focus of official memory, something clearly articulated in the pomp and ceremony of the 1966, 50-year memorial of the 1916 Easter Rising. However, by 1991, the construction of the Irish imaginary had irrevocably changed. The 75th anniversary of the Rising was a notably understated affair, leading literary critic Declan Kiberd to decry a bout of “communal amnesia” (199)."
~ Claire Bracken, Excerpt from Generation X Goes Global
Claire Bracken. Assistant Professor of Irish Literature and Culture in the English Department at Union College, New York, where she teaches courses on Irish literature and film. She has published articles on Irish women’s writing, feminist criticism, and Irish cultural studies. She is co-editor of Anne Enright (Irish Academic Press, Spring 2011) and Irish Visual Narratives: Theory, Culture, Image (Cork University Press, forthcoming 2012). She is currently working on a monograph entitled Irish Feminist Futures.
Anne Enright. The Wig My Father Wore