The Irish history is one that is extremely complex. Colleen did a wonderful job of explaining the historical and economic climate of Ireland over time, and how it has evolved in reaction to other nations. I was amazed to see the parallels that were created throughout history, as well as the dualities. This is a theme that Judy has mentioned as well, and that I am starting to see all over. The cities are both old and new. The people carry both a slight mistrust of their government (or "anti-government feelings" as Colleen put it) and a fierce will to be a involved in it (the streets are peppered with election posters). The national identity is strong, but is formed and propagated by people of many different origins. Colleen described the cultural climate of Ireland as being like the celtic knots. It is very complex and reflective, rather than straightforward. The people tend to move in thoughtful ways, changing slowly and over time. This idea really amazed me. Several other cultures have identified themselves with artists before (such as the US with Jackson Pollock's Autumn Rythm Number 30), and it is great to see another clear example of this. We often dismiss art as something purely aesthetic, forgetting to look at it in context. Oscar Wilde, the famous Irish poet and novelist wrote, "every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not the sitter," in his famous novel The Picture of Dorian Grey, and, while I wholeheartedly agree with him, I feel that, even beyond the artist, art can be a portrait of a culture. Without context, these subtleties are lost on viewer, but, thanks to Colleen Dube's lecture on Irish culture and political history, I was able to better understand not only Irish culture, but also how it came to create the beautiful, unique works we see today.
The second part of Colleen's lecture focused on the Irish Fulbright Commission and how it works. The Commission in Ireland is a part of the Institute of International Education's Fulbright Program. However, due to complications while Fulbright was working to take roots in Ireland, it has become its own office, sponsored by the Irish government, rather than an outside organisation's office in Ireland. the Fulbright program was set up in 1942 in the United States by Senator J. William Fulbright, to promote exchange between the United States and other countries. It became active in dozens of countries, and included Ireland as part of its network in the 1950s. Today, Fulbright extends to over 140 countries, providing opportunities for students to study, research and create abroad. This multinational approach to the development of ideas sounds amazing, and I am glad that this sort of exchange is happening and is being fostered by governments and organizations like Fulbright.
This early morning class session was amazing. Colleen couldn't have been more helpful and informative, and I emerged with lots of new knowledge on Ireland and on the Fulbright Program.