Dani Green responds to Matthew Reznicek
Matthew Reznicek draws our attention to Novel Institution’s interest in the ways memory offers an antidote
to institutionalism’s strategy of forgetting because of the way that deliberate remembrance insists on
registering “lived memory” in order to resurrect a “dead past” (Mullen 74). Ireland is particularly disposed
to this type of radical remembrance given its strong folkloric traditions that overlay and disrupt imperial
institutions and their aftermath, particularly in literature and art of its self-appointed “revival period.”
Toward the turn of the nineteenth century, Irish literary figures called upon the ancient and medieval for
inspiration across creative genres. Take Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince and Other Tales or W. B. Yeats’s Fairy and Folktales of the Irish Peasantry, both published in 1888. One might even look to contemporary young adult/fantasy like The New Policeman (2005)—a novel by Kate Thompson that features a teenager’s foray into the immortal fairyland of Tír na n’Óg as a way of commenting on Ireland’s short-lived economic boom in the 1990s and 2000s—in order to trace the ways that Irish literature culls from the past in order to revise dominant institutions like British imperialist initiatives that are continuing to affect a post-Brexit Republic of Ireland and United Kingdom. Memory allows us to reflect on the past in ways that helps us to reimagine the present and future; the act of reflection has the potential the revise the “path dependency” that characterizes narratives that have been institutionalized across art, literature, and society by deliberately dwelling in the untapped potential energy of the past.