Influence of Literature and Language on Cultural Nationalism in Present Day

While reading Brown’s Cultural Nationalism, one idea that particularly stood out to me was their emphasis on nationalistic literature and their own language. The Irish Literary Revival placed a huge emphasis on creating an own identity using literature that emphasized Gaelic literary antiquity and Celtic ways of life. They believed in the ability for literature to power a cultural movement so much that they even believed it could act as a substitute for political activity.

Standish O’Grady’s History of Ireland: The Heroic Period, a book vital in the Irish Literary Revival movement

I think its interesting to think about how this movement would pan out in modern day American society. In a world where information comes quick and easily, I don’t think literature would have prevailed as the medium for this cultural movement. People simply just don’t have the time or patience to sit down and read about their culture nowadays. Videos would likely be used instead – short, simple snippets of media that can reach large audiences and rile up the masses.

One big problem that would occur would be of an “authentic cultural nationalist identity”. As a self-proclaimed “melting pot of cultures”, America has ironically failed to create a unique culture for itself. A schism would have to occur within the American population, with each attaching to their own culture – this could be race-bound, state-bound, or even age-bound. There would have to be some sort of identity and language attached to it, and an idealism of it.

I think history is most interesting when it can be used to not repeat mistakes of the past or predict the future. In this case, the Irish Literary Revival movement needs a modern twist on the idea for it to be applicable for both.


  1. David,
    This is a fun idea to hypothesize about! My question is though, in your opinion, do social media postings not count as modern literature? I feel like there could be the argument made that social media is the dominant literature of our day. It is extremely influential and has definitely substituted for much political activity. Videos are also a good medium and used heavily for politics and sending messages, but I just wonder if they are more widely used and more effective than social media postings.

  2. Respond to a peer’s diary entry and ask a question or make a new connection between places or place and text. Respond to a new peer every time and to someone without a response already. Feel free to respond to more than one entry!

    Hi David, interesting observation on how literature has lost some of the power it has to enact major cultural movements now that we rely on visual and audible media more and more. Your observation on America’s problem regarding finding its own cultural identity or revival is a good one, I wonder if the “nativism” movement in early America was partly a result of this awareness of what was happening in Ireland and a wish to have something similar in America as well. However, in America the nativism movement became a negative one concerned with removing immigrants. To me this just shows the dangerous elements inherent with trying to come up with one established “identity”, as in “doing/believing/speaking__x__ makes one Irish”. My question to you would be, which do you consider more potentially effective (or dangerous) as a form of nationalism? Cultural or political?

  3. I also focused on Brown’s “Cultural Nationalism” and I thought interpretation was super interesting. I didn’t think about the impacts of national identity in terms of American society and how much of our population remains detached from their culture. I appreciate how you also draw attention to the melting pot of cultures that exists here, making the creation of a unified identity difficult. Perhaps the national identity we do have in America, though, could be sometimes be seen as nativist, as Alexandra pointed out above. If this is the case, do you think that superiority complexes can be born out of these ideas? Does the promotion of one culture sometimes lead to bias and discrimination?

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