Riverdancing as the ship goes down
Bergfelder, Tim and Street, Sarah (eds.)
The Titanic in Myth and Memory: Representations in Visual and Literary Culture.
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The prominent position of Irish people and culture in Titanic (1997) is something more than an acknowledgement of historical fact; it is structural and symbolic, which is arguably one of the principal functions of packaged ‘Irishness’ in the international cultural arena. Irishness certainly should be central to Titanic. The ship was made in Belfast, last put in at Cobh (Queenstown as was) and Irish people made up a proportion of steerage passengers and the crew. But instead, the Irish in the film occupy a bizarre position: firstly they constitute a colourful background, and secondly they embody a charged symbolism in the film. Dramatic (and other) concerns have obliterated representational concerns - and consequently, from this point of view, rendered the description ‘realistic’ meaningless.
This paper is concerned with how Titanic trades in the international commodity of ‘Irishness’, particularly in musical format. This is not necessarily Irish but is something labelled and sold as ‘Irish’. James Cameron’s film keys into the international commodification of Irish culture, here filtered through the mythological aura surrounding the event of the Titanic’s sinking
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