Yvonne Whelan takes the reader from the contested iconography of Dublin as it evolved in the years before Independence through to the contemporary plans for the millennium spire on O'Connell Street, showing how a shift has taken place from an intensely political symbolic landscape to one that is increasingly apolitical, in tune with the changing nature of Irish politics, culture and society at the turn of the 21st century. In her comprehensive discussion of how the streetscape has changed, Whelan explores the capacity of the cultural landscape to underpin and reinforce particular narratives of identity and reveals the ways in which issues of street naming, building, designing and memorializing became firmly grounded in space and bound up with the politics of representation. Incorporating many pictures, maps and plans, "Reinventing Modern Dublin" is a work of historical, cultural and urban geography, a valuable addition to the growing body of knowledge about Dublin's historical geography and Irish urbanism.
Part 1 Unravelling the cultural geographies of landscape
- interrogating the cultural landscape. Part 2 City of empire, site of resistance
- representing empire
contested identities and the monumental landscape
naming Dublin - imperial power, nationalist resistance. Part 3 A capital once again - reinventing post-independence Dublin
- symbolizing the state - planning, power and the architecture of nationhood
scripting public memory - the power of public monuments
removing icons of empire
street naming and nation building in Dublin
the power of space - towards a postmodern iconography.
"in the transformation from thesis to published book Ms Whelan has succeeded in transforming the appeal from the academic to the general reader."
Bookview Ireland June 2003
"text, balanced and elegant, explores imperial power, nationalist resistance and finally postmodern iconography and the drift towards the apolitical."
Books Ireland Sept 2003
"This ambitious book explores the complexity, dynamism and ambiguity of both Irish self-identity and Ireland's relationship with Britain through a detailed investigation of the historical and cultural geography of Dublin's cityscape from the 18th to the 20th century. For anyone interested in Dublin, this landmark work should be a must read, but it should also be on the reading lists of anyone interested in the meaning and experience of the monumental urban landscape, and especially how this meaning and experience can change over time."
Landscape Studies 29 (1) 2004
"Whelan's book is a major contribution to the understanding of Dublin's public landscapes. It explores Dublin's streetscape as a symbolic landscape, shaped through and imbricated in the representation and imaginative construction of national identity."
Cultural Geographies 12 2005
"offers a solid, informative overview of the evolution of civic decoration from colonialism through nationalism in Ireland's capital city ... much of the cityscape is richer for me having encountered this work."
Irish Literary Supplement Spring 2006