Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Lisa Weihman

Committee Co-Chair

Dennis W Allen

Committee Member

Gwen Bergner

Committee Member

Enda Duffy

Committee Member

John B Lamb


This dissertation traces the impact and influence of Ireland's Great Famine (145-1852) on the formal developments of Irish and British modernism. The Famine is arguably the founding event for colonial Ireland's entry into modernity. This forceful event and forced legacy allows us to rethink modernism's developmental trajectory; rather than a movement deriving out of metropolitan experimentation, I argue for modernism's colonial roots. Colonial events like the Famine or what I term colonial atrocities are marked by mass death and cultural degradation, and further facilitated by the technological, ideological, and exploitative practices deriving from modernity. Representative practices that arise in response to atrocity---like stream of consciousness, fragmentation, large and elusive allusions---precede and develop ahead of the later consolidation of these practices as "modernism".;At its most ambitious, this dissertation's philosophical, postcolonial, and formal emphases allow us to rethink the ontological notions of modernity and postcolonial theory while also recasting the relations between colonialism and modernism as generative rather than antagonistic. For writers composing in the aftermath of colonial atrocities, a viable anti-colonial and resistant narrative can be fashioned once the atrocity as pitfall of despair and victimization is seen in another light. My conception of atrocity becomes a mode of analysis that fits Alain Badiou's philosophy of the event. The Famine, then, is the event that generates truth and revolutionary subjects capable of shifting atrocity's legacies from victimization and dehumanization to an egalitarian force opposed to colonial hegemony. On a textual level, I see these revisionary Famine legacies played out in the formal practices of Bram Stoker's Dracula, Rudyard Kipling's Kim, and James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses..