The transition from the twentieth to the twenty-first century saw Ireland transformed from a homogeneous emigrant nation into a multi-cultural society. A growing body of contemporary Irish literature and film is engaging with the reality of multi-cultural Ireland and representing the challenges of migrant life from a variety of perspectives. At the same time, these narratives reflect the contradictions, confusions and concerns that define Irish attitudes towards their new migrant communities. The central argument of this thesis is that this new cultural production, whilst interrogating paradigms of national identity, is also adding different perspectives to the Irish literary and cinematic canon.
I have chosen to focus on the novel, short story and film genres for their accessibility and potentially wide reach, as well as their tangible and permanent forms. Within my chosen genres, I have selected texts and films by both Irish and migrant writers and filmmakers that represent as diverse a range of perspectives as possible.
My close textual analysis of the novels, short stories and films draws on historic Irish literary tradition and in the case of migrant writers, those of their countries of origin, to examine key themes, narrative style and form.
More broadly, the research is informed by postcolonial, globalisation and transnational theory, reflecting its anthropological and sociological dimensions. My thesis reveals the impact of migrants on new Irish writing as producers of and protagonists within texts. It outlines changes to the notion of Irish identity, culture and writing as a consequence of immigration. Finally, as a study of a range of narratives that represent the experience of first-generation migrants in twenty-first century Ireland, it constitutes an original contribution to knowledge and provides a benchmark for further research into migrant writing and film of the future.