Patrick R. O'Malley's book The Irish and the Imagination of Race: White Supremacy Across the Atlantic in the Nineteenth Century (U Virginia Press, 2023) analyzes the role of Irishness in nineteenth-century constructions of race and racialization, both in the British Isles and in the United States. Focusing on the years immediately preceding the American Civil War, Patrick O’Malley interrogates the bardic verse epic, the gothic tale, the realist novel, the stage melodrama, and the political polemic to ask how many mid-nineteenth-century Irish nationalist writers with liberationist politics declined to oppose race-based chattel enslavement in the United States and the structures of white supremacy that underpinned and ultimately outlived it. Many of the writers whose work O’Malley examines drew specifically upon the image of Black suffering to generate support for their arguments for Irish political enfranchisement; yet in doing so, they frequently misrepresented the fundamental differences between Irish and Black experience under the regimes of white supremacy, which has had profound consequences.
Patrick R. O'Malley is Professor of English at Georgetown University, where he teaches Irish and British literature of the long nineteenth century and critical theory. He is the author of two previous books: Catholicism, Sexual Deviance, and Victorian Gothic Culture, which was published by Cambridge University Press in 2006, and Liffey and Lethe: Paramnesiac History in Nineteenth-Century Anglo-Ireland, which was published by Oxford University Press in 2017 and won the Robert Rhodes Prize for books on literature from the American Conference for Irish Studies.
Aidan Beatty is a lecturer in the history department at Carnegie Mellon University