Hogan [Abstract]

The sacrificial emplotment of national identity. Pádraic Pearse and the 1916 Easter uprising [Full text]

Patrick Colm Hogan  [1]

AbstractA sense of national identification remains amorphous and inert unless it is cognitively structured and motivationally oriented. Perhaps the most consequential way of structuring and orienting nationalism is through emplotment (organizing in the form of a story). Emplotment commonly follows one of a few cross-culturally recurring genres. In nationalist contexts, the heroic genre—treating military conflict, loss or potential loss, and reasserted sovereignty–is the default form. However, this default may be overridden in particular circumstances. When social devastation precludes heroic achievement, a sacrificial emplotment—treating collective sin, punishment, sacrifice, and redemption—is often particularly salient. Earlier work has examined cases of sacrificial emplotment in its most extreme varieties (treating Hitler and Gandhi). The following essay considers a more ordinary case, the sacrificial nationalism of the prominent Irish anti-colonial revolutionary, Pádraic Pearse, as represented in his plays.

Keywords: Emplotment, genre, heroic narrative, nationalism, Pádraic Pearse, sacrificial narrative

[1] Department of English and the Program in Cognitive Science at the University of Connecticut, USA, patrick.hogan@uconn.edu