Brandon Stevens ’20

Project Title: As the Irish Have and as the Irish Will: The Duality of Ireland’s Colonized State Through the Structure of TransAtlantic by Colum McCann
Mentor: Nancy Comorau

Colum McCann’s novel, TransAtlantic, argues, through both structure and content, that Ireland is a once-colonized nation that is both postcolonial and still colonized and that the unseen effects of British colonization directly continue until the 21st-century. Ireland is a country with a long history of colonization by the British. As a colonized nation, it stands out due to its status as a primarily white nation and the timeline in which is was colonized and then decolonized. Ireland was colonized centuries before other nations in the British Empire and most nations colonized by the British were decolonized following World War II, like India. However, most of Ireland was able to separate from the British Empire in 1922. A small part, Northern Ireland, remained part of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland is made up of six counties on the northern tip of the Ireland. This history of colonization and the continued political colonization of Northern Ireland is a main theme within Irish literature. McCann participates in this tradition through this novel. He makes his argument about the colonized status of Ireland through the structure of the novel, including uses of epigraphs and the choices of the events and characters that make up the story as well as the order that they are presented in. Ireland is set in contrast to the United States, another formerly colonized nation, through characters that make several key transatlantic crossings. These crossings include the first transatlantic flight by Alcock and Brown, Frederick Douglass’s visit to Ireland, and flights by U.S. Senator George Mitchell to participate in peace talks to end the Irish Troubles. McCann uses these transatlantic voyages to construct a timeline of Irish history that displays its “colonized” status at each stage of colonization and decolonization.

Contact Info


Merrick Hall
65 S. Sandusky St.
Delaware, OH 43015
P 740-368-3880

David Markwardt, Associate Dean of the OWU Connection