Gendered spaces in contemporary Irish poetry

Abstract

The thrust of this thesis is summarized by the following questions: How does contemporary Irish poetry migrate from traditional conceptions of identity drawn on by the cultural nationalism of the Irish Literary Revival, and what effects does this have on understanding gendered and national identity formation? Chapters are on the following: Seamus Heaney, Tom Paulin, Paul Muldoon, MedbhMcGuckian, Eavan Boland and Sara Berkeley. These poets are chosen for discussion since their work most effectively engages with the relationship between woman and nation, the representation of gendered national identity, and the importance of feminist and post-colonial theorization. Focusing on poetry worth and South of the border from the last fifteen years, the thesis asks how a younger generation of poets provide a response to nationality which is significantly different from their predecessors. The thesis is composed of three parts: the first understand how the male poets depart from conventional conceptions of the nation with reference to post-colonial theorization; the second explores how feminist theorization informs readings of how the female poets respond to the nation; the final part investigates migration in the poetry and problematizes this in terms of post-nationalism. Discussing the issue of deterritorialization in Irish poetry, the thesis notice how as the poets attempt to take flight from the mythologies of nationhood, they undermine the monoliths of gendered and national identity inscribed within Irish political discourse, which is typified at a representative level by the figure of Mother Ireland or Cathleen Ni Houlihan. Investigating the ways in which gender and nation, and the body and space are reinscribed by the poets, the thesis argues that their poetry challenges authentic conceptions of Irish identity and the nation-state, so as to loosen the legacy of a colonial and nationalist inheritance

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