Date of Graduation
The Easter Rising of 1916 is often considered to mark the end of the colonial period in the territory now called the Republic of Ireland. Because for centuries preceding the Rising women were aligned with mythological and Christian images that glorified their saintly and maternal â€œnature,â€it seemed the rising would mark a period during which women would no longer need to represent the motherland and might assume some degree of autonomy in Irish society. The reality, however, was that independence in the republic prompted a state-sanctioned preoccupation with regeneration of the nation and a system whereby the national subject was no longer an individual but the family. The result in women's writing was evidence of a lack of rootedness and a fragmented consciousness, which I see as a direct result of their construction by the nationalist project. This construction can be studied productively through both postcolonial and feminist theory, both of which attempt to recover voices marginalized by a dominant force. However, neither theory can be used alone in this context. In studying a culture in which women's oppression has resulted so directly not only from a patriarchal society but a colonial history, postcolonialism and feminist theory are interdependent and equally significant. Contemporary women writers in Ireland, whether drawing on precolonial images of women, or feminist revisions of nationalist iconic images, have recently begun to evidence the emergence of new, powerful, independent and often overtly sexual voices. Poets such as Eavan Boland, Paula Meehan and Rita Ann Higgins, Belfast playwright Anne Devlin, and novelist Julia O'Faolain are among the writers I discuss as examples of a trend in contemporary Irish writing to move away from traditional and colonial representations of women toward representations of women as speaking subjects and tellers of previously unspeakable narratives. As sectarian violence and debates over women's issues continue in Ireland, perhaps the most important voices are to be found in the literature of Irish women, who emerge from the shambles of a history which has long refused to hear them.
Maloy, Kelli Elizabeth, ""Out of the shambles of our history": Irish women and (post)colonial identity." (1998). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 9349.