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The in-betweeners: Irish animation as a postcolonial discourse

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posted on 23.02.2011, 09:47 by Thomas Walsh
This thesis shall examine the development of a contemporary Irish animation industry, and in doing so, shall demonstrate how representations of Irish culture in animated film can be effectively assessed using postcolonial models of cultural production. The application of postcolonial theory not only acts as a method of describing the historical circumstances that have determined the emergence of a contemporary Irish animation industry, but also illustrates how the social, historical and educational aspects of animation production in Ireland reflect the postcolonial conditions of Irish society itself. In the late 1980s and early 1990s the presence of a large American animation studio in Ireland, under the stewardship of ex-Disney animation director Don Bluth, played a pivotal role in the development of the indigenous Irish industry, and constituted a colonial moment in Irish animation history. Whilst assessing the long-term effects of the Don Bluth studio on the education of Irish artists and the aesthetic tradition adopted by the contemporary industry in Ireland, this study also recognises the existence of an Irish animation history that pre-dates the arrival of the American studio. It shall consider the pioneers of indigenous animation production in Ireland, working at the forefront of cinema in the early 20th Century, and the experimental application of animation aesthetics in a social and economic climate not conducive to film making practices. This investigation engages multiple analytical tools to generate a portrayal of the past, present and potential future of the Irish industry, involving debates over animation aesthetics and authorship, resistant forms of cinema, and its analysis in Irish news media. But most importantly, this study generates primary evidence in the form of interviews with producers, directors, artists, and educators working in the contemporary Irish industry, thereby complimenting conceptual theory with first-hand experience of the economic and social realities underpinning indigenous animation production. It is these oral accounts that offer useful insights into models of production, aesthetic expression and processes of cultural transmission, in the increasingly commercialised and globalised animation industry of the 21st Century.



  • Design and Creative Arts


  • Creative Arts


Loughborough University

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© Thomas Walsh

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A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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Paul Wells

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