Bryan Fanning’s Histories of the Irish Future is an intellectual history of Ireland and a history of Irish crises viewed through the eyes of twelve key writers: William Petty, William Molyneux, Edmund Burke, Thomas Malthus, Richard Whately, Friedrich Engels, John Mitchel, James Connolly, Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, Jeremiah Newman, Conor Cruise O’Brien and Fintan O’Toole.
These writers’ analyses of the shifting conditions of Ireland, and their efforts to address Ireland’s predicaments, provide a fascinating lens through which to examine the wider social, political, economic and cultural anxieties of their times. Bryan Fanning adopts this unique angle in Histories of the Irish Future, resulting in a pioneering interdisciplinary contribution to modern Irish history and Irish Studies that will appeal to students of politics, economic history, and philosophy.
Highly original in its approach, thoroughly-researched and elegantly written, the book brings its twelve subjects to life whilst also weaving together a compelling narrative of Ireland’s evolution in recent centuries. Here’s what our pre-publication reviewers had to say about it:
‘[E]legantly readable, informative, erudite and wonderfully engaging… The book presents a lucid and compelling narrative and its choice of figures presents new perspectives on Ireland as it was theorised; a tour de force.’
Dermot Moran, Professor of Philosophy, University College Dublin, Ireland
‘Thoughtful, reflective, rich in anecdote and with lively pen portraits of a dozen thinkers… Fanning’s work is a distinguished contribution to a small corpus of work on the Irish intellectual tradition. At a time when Ireland appears to be directionless even purposeless, such a work is badly needed to inform contemporary debate about Ireland’s future.’
Tom Bartlett, Professor of Irish History, University of Aberdeen, UK
Bryan Fanning has recently appeared in several video interviews produced by University College Dublin in which he discusses some of the figures who appear in the book and their wider significance. In this video he introduces the book, explaining why intellectual life is such a key aspect of modern Irish history and how the figures he discusses in the book exemplify the times they lived in:
Here tells us about Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington, a feminist and radical republican who campaigned for women’s right to vote in Ireland:
Another figure examined in the book is Robert Malthus, a famous demographer who is sometimes blamed for the Great Famine in Ireland:
Histories of the Irish Future was published in November 2014, and is available to buy on the Bloomsbury website.