Bardic traditions on air. Modernism, radio, and Celtic revivalism, 1929-1964

Start - End 
2018 - 2021 (ongoing)



In the mid-20th century, authors increasingly took to the new sonic medium of radio to expand their audience, experiment with new techniques, and express their cultural identity. If modernist scholars have often focused on the relation between literature and visual media, they have only recently begun to study radio as part of the 20th-century media environment. Recent studies explore the transnational reach of radio (i.e. its ability to go beyond national borders) and its role in the creation of a strong national unity (e.g. via literary propaganda during World War II). The proposed project aims to go beyond these accounts by regarding radio as a site for dynamic cultural activity, and by including the regional, national, and global dimensions of broadcasting. It examines how authors with a Celtic background—W.B. Yeats, Hugh MacDiarmid, and Dylan Thomas—used the modern medium of radio to revive oral and folkloric traditions. It researches these authors’ engagements with various broadcasting stations, their relation to an oral tradition, and their views on cultural identity in an increasingly globalized world. By studying the radio works of Yeats (Ireland), MacDiarmid (Scotland), and Thomas (Wales) in dialogue with each other, the project aims to uncover a hitherto neglected strand in modernist broadcasting that can be called regional but that was all but provincial in its wide reach and connections with emancipatory movements around the globe.