Paddy goes to Europe: Representations of Ireland in the German press and travel writing 1973-2010
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Abstract This investigation examines and comments on German representations of Ireland in a variety of discourses from German press and travel writing between 1973 and 2010. In three content chapters, German perceptions of aspects of Irish sociocultural and economic life are reconstructed and analysed. In addition to informing German readers about Irish life, Ireland acts as a projection screen where German writers project their cultural values, fears and aspirations, in an interaction of auto and hetero-images, on to the constructed Irlandbild. However, as a neutral representation of Ireland is not possible, German perceptions of Ireland are contingent on the individual perspective of writers and their specific agendas. The study considers differences in writer perspective and perception contingent on writer background, familiarity with Irish life and political views. The alleged bias of West German and East German newspapers is recognised and scrutinised. Similarly, the study discerns differences in the representation contingent on genre conventions and how these affect the representation. The study detects patterns and modes of representation and notes shifts and changes in the representation, in terms of positive and negative valorisations, due to the passage of time and changes in circumstances. Stereotypes, with their adaptability and variability are identified and their purposes and uses are considered. Stereotypical representations of Ireland are discerned where depictions of perceived Irish backwardness and otherworldliness act as a foil for German achievements and sophistication. Likewise, Feindbilder and deliberately and purposefully constructed images are identified as part of a subtle communication system where German writers educate their German readers on moral issues. The investigation discerns German fondness for Ireland conveyed by the overall tone and mood of the representation, underpinned by the grüne Insel motif and the legacy of Böll's Irisches Tagebuch construct of Irish friendliness and social cohesion as a model for German society.
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