This important and valuable study seeks to evaluate the contribution of culture to Unionist identities before and after the Second World War. In weaving analysis of literary landmarks and civic events together, Gillian McIntosh succeeds in illuminating the complexity of meanings and values associated with the Northern Irish State since 1920.
Starting with the legitimizing histories written in the decade after the Great War and concluding with the elaborate civic ritual of Elizabeth II’s coronation visit to Northern Ireland in 1953, the culture of Unionism emerges as a web of contradictory “performances” in which alternative visions for the State have to compete. Some of these moments are mediated through broadcasting, and one of the main strengths of this study is a unique examination of the policy and programming of the BBC. The impact of contemporary literary production is also evaluated through a selection of the most prominent Protestant writers, Hewitt, Rodgers and MacNeice