Recently released Redefining Irishness in a Coastal Maine City, 1770-1870: Bridget’s Belfast by Kay Retzlaff

Kay Retzlaff, Professor of English at the University of Maine at Augusta, recently published Redefining Irishness in a Coastal Maine City, 1770 –1870: Bridget’s Belfast. The publication, released by Routledge Advance in American History, examines how Irish immigrants shaped and reshaped their identity in a rural New England community.

Forty percent of Irish immigrants to the United States settled in rural areas. Achieving success beyond large urban centers required distinctive ways of performing Irishness. Class, status, and gender were more significant than ethnicity. Close reading of diaries, newspapers, local histories, and public papers allows for nuanced understanding of immigrant lives amid stereotype and the nineteenth century evolution of a Scotch-Irish identity.

About the Author

Kay Retzlaff grew up on a Nebraska farm and she earned her B.A. in English, with a minor in history, as well as her M.A. in English, with an emphasis on writing and rhetoric, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Maine in Orono where she wrote her dissertation on the medieval Irish epic Táin Bó Cuailgne. (This is often translated as “The Cattle Raid of Cooley.)

In addition to her recent publication, Dr. Retzlaff is the author of two other books, Ireland: Its Myths and Legends and Women of Mythology. Her short stories and poems have appeared in numerous small magazines and e-zines, including Plainsongs, Feile-Festa, The Prompt, Common Ground Review, among others.  She also edited Vietnam Memories: A Cookbook, by Winterport author and gourmet chef Bich Nga Burrill. Dr. Retzlaff spent summer of 2015 teaching World Literature at Chonnam National University, Gwangji, Korea.