Berghahn Books turns 25! Get 25% off all books!
Berghahn Books Logo

berghahn New York · Oxford

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
Singing Ideas: Performance, Politics and Oral Poetry

View Table of Contents

Volume 12

Dance and Performance Studies

Email Newsletters

Sign up for our email newsletters to get customized updates on new Berghahn publications.

Click here to select your preferences

Singing Ideas

Performance, Politics and Oral Poetry

Tríona Ní Shíocháin

25th Anniversary Sale, 25% off all books! Add coupon code BB25

214 pages, 11 figures, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-767-3 25% OFF! $120.00/£85.00 $90.00/£63.75 Hb Published (December 2017)

eISBN 978-1-78533-768-0 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! 25% off $34.95 $26.21 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“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


Chapter 1. Singing Ideas: An Alternative History of Thought

  • (Un)doing History: The Authority of Literacy and the Performativity of Thought
  • Oral Trouble and Women’s Voices: Searching for Intellectual
  • Traditions Beyond the Written Word
  • Singing Politics and Power in Society: Some Comparative Examples
  • Seizing Agency: Women of Song
  • Beyond the Limits of Textuality: Performing the Past and Performing Thought

Chapter 2. ‘Where Everything Trembles in the Balance’: Song as a Liminal Ludic Space

  • The Theory of Liminality
  • Performing Liminality: Poetry as a Symbolic Marker for Liminality in the Irish Tradition
  • A Journey to the Sacred and Back: The Liminality of the Aisling (Vision)
  • Song and Oral Poetic Performance as Ritual
  • Separating from the Profane: Ekstasis and Song
  • Moments of Potentiality: The Antistructure of Melody and Verse in the Irish Tradition
  • The Ritual Powers of (Song) Poetry: Satire, Insult and Fearlessness
  • The Potentiality of the Play-Sphere: The Challenging Discourse of Song
  • The Singer of Ideas as ‘Seer of Communitas’: The Liminality of Song and the Generation of Ideas

Chapter 3. Singing Parrhesia: Máire Bhuí Ní Laeire, Song Performance and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Ireland

  • Máire Bhuí Ní Laeire: Nineteenth-Century Song Poet
  • Irish-Language Song-Making: Poetry as Performance and the Aesthetics of Orality
  • Multiformity and Oral Formulaic Techniques
  • Local Agrarian Agitation and the Creation of the Poetic Radical
  • Crisis and Charisma: The Song Poet as Prophet and Truth-Teller
  • Identity and the Aesthetics of Orality: New Ideas and the Narrative of Belonging
  • Framing the Revolution: Performing Antistructure and the Vision of the Revolution through Song
  • From Generation to Generation to Regeneration: The Legacy of Ideas through Song

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

Appendix of Songs and Lore


Back to Top