James Silas Rogers has been active in Irish Studies for more than forty years, as editor of New Hibernia Review and the director of the Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas, and a past president of the American Conference for Irish Studies. His publications focus on Irish-American literature, chiefly memoir. They include Irish-American Autobiography: The Divided Hearts of Athletes, Priests, Pilgrims, and More (2017); Extended Family: Essays on Being Irish American from New Hibernia Review (2013); and a chapter on diasporic memoir in A History of Irish Autobiography (2018). He is also an accomplished essayist and poet.
Hedge School Talks
Literature: The Strange Case of Angela’s Ashes
Friday, August 16 @ 4:30pm
Saturday, August 17 @ 12:30pm
Controversy has surrounded Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir since the day it was published in 1996. The biggest controversy is surely whether it is a memoir at all, or an exaggerated work of fiction. It won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, but many claim it is really a novel. In Limerick City, the book was first met with considerable outrage (though today one can take the Angela’s Ashes walking tour in Limerick; it departs from the Frank McCourt Museum). Other questions persist. Is it a book about Ireland, or is it a book about America? Why did a book about poverty and desperation become a smash hit in the very years that the Celtic Tiger was taking off? Is McCourt sincere or is he pandering to stereotypes? Is it a story about victimhood, or is it a story of triumph? One thing we know for sure is that Angela’s Ashes now holds a permanent place in the Irish literary pantheon. And we also know that for better or worse, it has defined the Irish “misery memoir.”