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'Tinkers'Synge and the Cultural History of the Irish Traveller$
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Mary Burke

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199566464

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199566464.001.0001

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Screening the Travel(l)er

Screening the Travel(l)er

Chapter:
(p.234) 6 Screening the Travel(l)er
Source:
'Tinkers'
Author(s):

Mary Burke (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199566464.003.0007

The arrival of mass film and television reshaped the long-established literary conceit of the tinker. Thus, the final chapter considers screen portrayals of Travellers, particularly contemporary American depictions of the descendants of Traveller immigrants. US racial history facilitates the cinematic figuring of the Irish-American Traveler as a lovable ‘white trash’ rascal who invokes both post-Famine Irish-American ‘ethnic whiteness’ and furtively appealing Scots-Irish (Ulster-Scots) roguishness; though eventually integrated into an unhyphenated ‘white’ Americanness, the 18th-century Ulster Irish were initially perceived to be scoundrels. The discourse of an ethnically unmarked ‘white trashness’, originally created in response to the incivility of the subsequently assimilated eighteenth-century Irish, inflects the ‘white‘ Traveler’s contemporary image as unreformed but reformable Same. This is considered as an explicit contrast to the irrefutable Othering of the Irish Traveller in many Irish films.

Keywords:   film, television, Irish-American Travelers, Traveller immigrants, race, white trash, Scots-Irish, Ulster-Scots, ethnicity, Americanness

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