New Media and Global Identity in Northern Irish Poetry: Ciaran Carson’s Alphabetic Frontier

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This paper will explore the relationships among new media, globalization, and identity in the poetry of Ciaran Carson. I am most interested in Carson’s formal responses to the evolution of information society since the 1960s, and the ways in his poetry has met progressive technologies of science and communication with innovative technologies of writing. The paper ultimately seeks to illustrate how Carson has developed poetic methods that are in some ways analogous to, in other ways conversant with, the digital aesthetics prevalent in the last decade.

Many unique problems of identity—marginalization, conflicts of submission and resistance, convention and progress, political loyalties and grievances, and deep ambivalence regarding cultural history—have shaped the development of Northern Irish literature over the past century. Perhaps not surprisingly, the social and aesthetic challenges precipitated by colonialism in Northern Ireland, as well as the associated processes of continued historical de- and reconstruction, have generated striking innovations in regional poetics. By coding virtual space between conventional categories governing identity, Carson challenges historical boundaries, suggesting that the vital elements of identity are not classifiable data—reported histories, place names, group affiliations—but rather the transactive spaces between classifications.

This is a new form of history-making: an evolving poetics that “mutates” beyond repeated cycles, a fractal poetics that adapts models of science and mathematics to its needs, a graphical poetics that “charts possibilities” in space, and upholds a technologically-driven assimilative model over traditional unitary subjectivity. Carson’s poetry explores possibilities of interactivity and storytelling that are not defined by discrete individuality, as in a conventionally-narrative, colonial history, but rather by collectivity and multiple perspective. He demonstrates the ways in which modern consciousness might come to occupy a new humanist position, as perpetual threshold between tradition and innovation, self and other, order and chaos, science and art.

Keywords: Northern Ireland, Ciaran Carson, Media, Postcolonial, Identity, History, Interdisciplinary, Technology, Postmodernism, Poetry
Stream: Literary Arts Practices
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Danielle Barrios

PhD Student, Researcher
Arts, University of Ulster

Coleraine, Northern Ireland, UK

Danielle Barrios is currently a doctoral research student at the University of Ulster, and she recently earned a Master’s degree in Literature and Media from the University of Georgia. Her interests include Northern Irish poetry, American modernism, media theory and new media politics, peace and conflict studies, and interdisciplinary approaches to the arts.

Ref: A09P0093