Identity, Crossings and Hybridisms in Joseph O’Connor’s Works

  • Manfredi Bernardini University of Palermo
Keywords: Joseph O’Connor, Irishness, Diaspora, Geocritique, Crossing, Atlantic, Music,


This paper looks into the works of Irish writer Joseph O’Connor and his perspective in the process of redefining the spacial, temporal and cultural links between Ireland and the Unites States.

In fact, a number of interesting points can be found throughout O’Connor works: the imagology (the image of the Irishman in the American culture); the investigation on prejudices and stereotypes (True Believers, 1991); border studies, although considered in a broader sense, one where the physical and geographical borders (the Atlantic Ocean) appear to be symbolic and imaginary.

Referring to the concept of Black Atlantic, as it was first proposed by Paul Gilroy, we can similarly imagine - acording to scholars such as David Lloyd and Peter O’Neill - a Green Atlantic, where the Ocean, after ceasing to represent a frontier, a border meant to separate, acquires a new meaning and becomes a place for bidirectional crossing: on the one hand as a means to cross over borders and synthesis between two cultures; in the other as a movement towards and beyond the limits of a Third Space, “a space of enunciation” and cultural negotiation, as Homi Bhabha would say.

Other fundamental and recurring themes in the novels of O’Connor are identity and memory (Sweet Liberty Travels in Irish America, 1996), the “look” of the Others (Inishowen, 2000) and towards the Other (Redemption Falls, 2007) and, more importantly, the Irish diaspora towards the United States, spanning from the final years of the 19th century until the first half of the 20th, when, in some respect, the United States were looked upon as a “promised land” (this is mostly evident in the novel Star of the sea, 2002).


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Author Biography

Manfredi Bernardini, University of Palermo

Manfredi Bernardini, PHD student in Studi Culturali. Rappresentazioni e Performance, University of Palermo.
Research interests: Comparative Literature, Cultural Studies, Drama and Performance Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Translations Studies, Border Studies.
Particular research interests: Irish Studies; Contemporary reinterpretations of Greek Tragedy.
Publications: Irishness Troubles: trasformazioni dell’identità irlandese nelle performance della Field Day Theatre Company (forthcoming 2011); Pasolini’s Salò: A Biopolitical Perspective (forthcoming 2011); Il valore della testimonianza per i diritti umani. Ken Saro-Wiwa e il genocidio degli Ogoni in Nigeria (forthcoming); Dai profughi dell’antichità ai profughi del nostro tempo: The Children of Heracles di Peter Sellars (forthcoming); Da Tebe a Sarajevo, da Sarajevo a Napoli: Teatro di Guerra, ARCO-Journal, Arti della Performance, 2007.


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How to Cite
Bernardini, M. (2011). Identity, Crossings and Hybridisms in Joseph O’Connor’s Works. Between, 1(1).
Geocriticism, Geopolitics: The Gaze of the Other