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Volume 12

Dance and Performance Studies

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Singing Ideas

Performance, Politics and Oral Poetry

Tríona Ní Shíocháin

214 pages, 11 figures, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-767-3 $120.00/£85.00 Hb Not Yet Published (December 2017)

eISBN 978-1-78533-768-0 eBook Not Yet Published

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“This excellent book gives a concise, comprehensive overview of oral poetry in a crisply written style, confidently delivered and supported by rigorous scholarship.” · Lillis Ó Laoire, National University of Ireland, Galway


Considered by many to be the greatest Irish song poet of her generation, Máire Bhuí Ní Laeire (Yellow Mary O’Leary; 1774–1848) was an illiterate woman unconnected to elite literary and philosophical circles who powerfully engaged the politics of her own society through song.  As an oral arts practitioner, Máire Bhuí composed songs whose ecstatic, radical vision stirred her community to revolt and helped to shape nineteenth-century Irish anti-colonial thought. This provocative and richly theorized study explores the re-creative, liminal aspect of song, treating it as a performative social process that cuts to the very root of identity and thought formation, thus re-imagining the history of ideas in society.

Tríona Ní Shíocháin is a whistle-player, singer and interdisciplinary scholar specializing in performance theory, oral theory and Irish-language song and poetry. She is Lecturer in Irish Traditional Music at University College, Cork, and was previously Lecturer in Irish Language and Literature at the University of Limerick. She is author of Bláth’s Craobh na nÚdar: Amhráin Mháire Bhuí (2012).

Subject: Performance Studies 18th/19th Century History General Anthropology
Area: Europe


List of Figures

Chapter 1. Singing Ideas: An Alternative History of Thought
Chapter 2. ‘Where Everything Trembles in the Balance’: Song as a Liminal Ludic Space
Chapter 3. Singing Parrhesia: Máire Bhuí Ní Laeire, Song Performance and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Ireland

Conclusion: Singing Ideas in Society: Experience, Song and ‘Passing Through’

Appendix of Songs and Lore


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