Print Project Proposal: Ireland’s Reaction to the Age of Revolution

The Age of Revolution swept across the Americas and Europe, promoting patriotic rhetoric alongside anxieties surrounding change.  Between 1650 and 1750 “revolution” changed from a lowercase word to an uppercase one, emphasizing a shift in thinking.  England, having gone through its own “Glorious Revolution” in 1688, largely reacted to these new revolutions with fear.  This response has been publicized in popular literature, such as Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, but what did the Irish have to say about these changing times?

Relations between England and Ireland have not been without their challenges.  Filled with rebellions, battles and political strife, Ireland’s history leading up to the Age of Revolution is filled with English oppression.  So how did they react when one of England’s other colonies revolted against it and won?  Or how did they feel about the bloody Revolution just across the English Channel?  I hope to find the answers to these questions by looking into Irish newspaper articles from 1750 to 1800.

My original inquiry was sparked by a search on Google Ngram.  The change in the word from “revolution” to “Revolution” has been documented in the literature of the time.  I wanted to look deeper into public opinion by looking at newspapers.  The British Newspaper Archive, partnered with The British Library, has digitized 30,357,848 pages from the 1700s from both English and Irish newspapers.  This resource allows for searches of specific people, places, events, and more.  By using the advanced search you can narrow your field to specific time periods, newspapers, countries, and regions. 

I propose using this resource to analyze the emotions toward the Revolutions of America and around Europe amongst the people of Ireland.  This resource provides allows me access to thousands of Irish newspapers from the time period.  By narrowing my search to cover papers between 1750 and 1800 I can make my search a little more manageable, especially when I look at one or two newspapers, such as the Dublin Evening Post and Saunders’s News Letter. 

Some challenges to this project will be, while narrowing my scope, ensuring I have close to equal representation of different social classes.  Research into the demographics where the newspapers are printed should help with this obstacle. Research from secondary sources will be necessary to provide further context that the newspapers could not provide. By combining primary sources and secondary sources I hope to represent Ireland’s reaction t the changing times of the mid- to late eighteenth century. 

One Reply to “Print Project Proposal: Ireland’s Reaction to the Age of Revolution”

  1. This is a great idea, and it sounds like you have identified a solid set of sources that you can work from. It seems like one of the most central issues for you to work through is identifying the distinct perspectives of particular newspapers you want to work with and the right terms to be exploring them for.

    It strikes me that a core part of your project would involve being able to compare and contrast coverage of topics and issues between the papers. Given that this content isn’t loaded into a tool like n-gram, you will likely need to think through some ways you can use search strategies to help you connect with and work with the scale of the newspaper search results.

    Given the scale of this, it would likely be good to identify a series of specific events that you want to look at too. That way you could work across a large number of papers in those cases.

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