During much of the twentieth century, Irish women's position was on the boundaries of national life. Using Julia Kristeva's theories of nationhood, often particularly relevant to Ireland, this study demonstrates that their marginalization was to women's, and indeed the nation's, advantage as Irish women writers used their voice to subvert received pieties both about women and about the Irish nation. Kristevan theories of the other, the foreigner, the semiotic, the mother, and the sacred are explored in authors as diverse as Elizabeth Bowen, Kate O'Brien, Edna O'Brien, Mary Dorcey, Jennifer Johnston, and Eilis Ni Dhuibhne, as well as authors from Northern Ireland like Deirdre Madden, Polly Devlin, and Mary Morrissy. These writers, whose voices have frequently been sidelined or misunderstood because they write against the grain of their country's cultural heritage, finally receive their due in this important contribution to Irish and gender studies.
Table of Contents
Contents: Irish women in the 20th century; Reaching out to the other in the nation; Dialog from the margins; Reclaiming the mother in the mother-daughter story; Translating between cultures: a Kristevan reading of the theme of the foreigner; The feminine and the sacred; Northern Ireland; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.
Heather Ingman teaches in the English Department and in the Center for Gender Studies at Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland. She has published extensively on women's writing, including Women's Fiction Between the Wars (1998).
’... Ingman's text is appropriate for a wide readership, including scholars of women's writing, Irish literature, contemporary fiction, psychoanalytic and feminist theory, and peace and conflict studies... Ingman offers a shrewd account of women's writing in Ireland, and one that invites the reader to wonder where, in light of the recent peace process in Northern Ireland, such literature will turn next.’ Rocky Mountain Review ’...the theorists among us will find [Heather Ingman's] application useful and interesting. Ingman's writing is clear and graceful as well, and her story summaries never intrude on her analyses. Today's scholars and students will benefit from research like Ingman's, which promotes Ireland's heterogeneity, especially in the current economic and social explosion. Her study provides a valuable addition toward building on Irish women writers canon.’ Journal of British Studies ’... a reminder that Ireland and Irish culture must not become so complacent that the silencing of women’s voices, and the voices of those belonging to different religions and ethnic minorities, can be allowed to continue unchecked.’ Contemporary Women's Writing