Featured Article

Introduction to Gender, Sexuality, and Intersectionality in Irish Studies

Author: Sinead Kennedy (Maynooth University), Abby Palko (University of Virginia), and Moynagh Sullivan (Maynooth University)

Comments

This issue of Breac has been in the works for a while now, and as we think back over the events that have happened during this time period, we’re struck by how salient gender has been in a number of the big stories. One that comes to mind was the work of Marriage Equality, including the “Sinéad’s Hand” ad, and their campaign to secure marriage equality; on May 22, 2015, the referendum passed to add the thirty-fourth amendment to the Constitution of Ireland, and Ireland became the first nation to guarantee marriage equality by legislation (as opposed to by judicial decree). More recently, the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home at Tuam has reentered the news.…

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“The only human person in that whole neighborhood”: James Joyce, Edna O’Brien, and the Question of Originality

Author: Margot Gayle Backus (University of Houston)

Comments

In 2013, my standing in Irish Studies as a specialist on the Anglo-Irish gothic and James Joyce paradoxically qualified and compelled me to deliver a plenary address on Edna O’Brien, whose writing I had only started to read, at a mainstream Irish Studies conference. That year I was invited to give a keynote talk on the subject of my choice at the Mid-Atlantic American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS). This particular conference was important to me because it was to be held in Rochester, New York, at St. John Fisher College, where I first learned to be an English professor. And it was scheduled for the same month—as it happened, the same week—that my second book, Scandal Work,

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Maeve Brennan, Celebrity, and Harper’s Bazaar in the 1940s

Author: Ellen McWilliams (University of Exeter)

Comments

Just four years after the end of the Second World War, in his 1949 essay “Here is New York,” E.B. White begins his celebration of the city with the promise that “On any person who desires such queer prizes, New York will bestow the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy.”[1] In her biography of Maeve Brennan, Homesick at The New Yorker

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On Trial: the challenge of exploring on stage the lives of Irish Women

Author: Celia de Fréine

Comments

It is no secret that the number of plays by women staged in Ireland is few and far between. Factor into the mix the number of plays in Irish by women and the figure plummets. There are many reasons why this is the case: Irish theater has traditionally been dominated by men, and women have found it harder to break into it, not least because of the anti-social hours involved and the lack of support on the domestic front.…

Read More

“‘Habit is a Great Deadener’: Gender, Sexuality and Futurity in Brian Friel’s The Gentle Island and Frank McGuinness’s Dolly West’s Kitchen”

Author: Graham Price (University of Limerick)

Comments

Introduction

In 1971, Frank McGuinness went to see his first professional play at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin. That play was Brian Friel’s The Gentle Island and it was to have to a major impact on the future course of Frank McGuinness’s artistic career; so much so that, in 1988, McGuinness directed a production of The Gentle Island

Read More

John McGahern’s The Dark and the Formative Spaces of Irish Gender

Author: Michael E. Beebe (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)

Comments

The physical organization of modern society relies upon the delineation and mediation of spaces into distinct places. We recognize the spatial boundaries between places by the ways in which they permit or deny access or entry. The institutional discernment of one person or another’s access to a given place is a function of an individual’s relative privilege within a given socio-political and bureaucratic framework. The power of our institutions can be visibly imposed via the cordoning off of privileged places; this is made apparent with regularity in an era of identification cards and security clearances, compulsory searches and ever-encroaching surveillance in both the public and private realms. It is assumed that power is enacted, at least partly, in its ability to control physical spaces, to tell members of the populace where their bodies and capacities of conscious perception can and cannot be. The rise of the modern nation-state as the principle global apparatus of government served to bestow constituent populations with the civil rights of citizenship and military defense. The state also became necessarily invested in the drawing of borders that describe the limits of the physical territories within which particular political and cultural codes prevail, and that also describe the semi-sovereignties of private and public property so essential to liberal economics. In this manner, the state became the primary actor in dividing the space

Read More

Irish Families and Secular Benevolence: Colm Tóibín’s The Testament of Mary and his Irish Short Fiction

Author: Michael Fontaine (Dalhousie University)

Comments

When asked in a 2013 interview how he first became interested in the character and the story of Mary, mother of Jesus Christ and the subject of his short novella, The Testament of Mary, Colm Tóibín declared, “I suppose it starts with Irish Catholicism.”[1] Given the overtly religious subject matter of the work, Tóibín’s answer seems rather obvious.[2]

Read More

Emma Donoghue, in conversation with Abby Palko

Author: Emma Donoghue and Abigail L. Palko (University of Virginia)

Comments

For the past couple of years, Emma Donoghue has been in the spotlight, with her adaption of her best-selling novel Room receiving a number of accolades. Donoghue was nominated for an Oscar, a BAFA, and a Golden Globe for Best Adapted Screenplay, and she won the Canadian Screen Awards’ Best Adapted Screenplay, the Irish Film & Television Awards’ Best Script Film, and the Independent Spirit Awards’ Best First Screenplay, among a number of other awards. The novel itself has also been high-acclaimed: it was short-listed for the Orange and Man Booker Prizes and won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize regional prize (Caribbean and Canada). Readers just getting to know Donoghue’s work are arriving at a party already well underway. This well-deserved success follows two decades of a prolific writing career in which Donoghue freely explores a range of genres and time periods. The entire corpus of her work consistently prompts readers to question the impact of gender on our social interactions, as we explore in the conversation below. Her most recent novel, The Wonder

Read More

Living as the “Cuckoo’s mother”: Feminism, Interculturalism, and Intersectionalism in Linda Anderson’s Cuckoo

Author: Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado (Maynooth University)

Comments

Introduction

This essay investigates contemporary gender, racial, sexual, and diasporic relations in Northern Irish author Linda Anderson’s novel Cuckoo (1986) through the optic of transnational intersectionality.[1] Anderson was born in 1949 to a working-class Protestant family in Belfast and in 1968 she joined the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland while a student at Queen’s University Belfast. However, she grew increasingly frustrated by the lack of change and in 1972 she immigrated to England, where she still lives. Cuckoo

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“We Have Not Lost…”: Anti-Abortion Rhetoric and The Futility of Female Power in Edna O’Brien’s Down by the River

Author: Kaylee Jangula Mootz (University of Connecticut)

Comments

Twenty-five years after the infamous X Case, which challenged traditional, conservative views on the issue of abortion in Ireland, the topic remains a source of endless contention for Irish society. Ireland continues to have some of the strongest abortion regulations in the developed world, despite significant protests and movements to repeal abortion restrictions. Backlash against abortion policy in Ireland saw an enormous upsurge in 1992 during the X Case. The X Case refers to when “X,” a fourteen-year-old, Irish girl, was raped by a close family friend. Fearing for their daughter’s life because of her suicidal thoughts, her parents brought her to the UK to receive an abortion. Before X was to have her abortion, her parents called the Irish Garda to ask if DNA evidence from the products of conception could be used against the rapist. Once the Garda reported that the family was intent on seeking an abortion, the Irish government forced X to return to Ireland and detained her in Ireland to stop her from seeking an abortion in the UK. The significance of the X Case lies not only in the debate between pro-choice and anti-abortion groups, but also in the core beliefs of Irish identity and culture. For the first time since the Eighth Amendment in 1983, which equates the life of the unborn child with the life of the mother, giving the fetus the same rights as a person, Irish society began to shift its perspective away from traditional, conservative views of abortion and sexuality.[1]

Read More

“[W]here and how he loves”: Reading Pearse Hutchinson Now

Author: Ed Madden (University of South Carolina)

Comments

 “I was always amazed by how much light that green window let in.

 

In[1] Philip Coleman and Maria Johnston’s 2011 foundational collection Reading Pearse Hutchinson: From Findrum to Fisterra, Moynagh Sullivan argues that “in placing Hutchinson we must attend to where and how he loves.”[2]

Read More

Current Articles

Introduction to Gender, Sexuality, and Intersectionality in Irish Studies

Author: Sinead Kennedy (Maynooth University), Abby Palko (University of Virginia), and Moynagh Sullivan (Maynooth University)

Comments

This issue of Breac has been in the works for a while now, and as we think back over the events that have happened during this time period, we’re struck by how salient gender has been in a number of the big stories. One that comes to mind was the work of Marriage Equality, including the “Sinéad’s Hand” ad, and their campaign to secure marriage equality; on May 22, 2015, the referendum passed to add the thirty-fourth amendment to the Constitution of Ireland, and Ireland became the first nation to guarantee marriage equality by legislation (as opposed to by judicial decree). More recently, the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home at Tuam has reentered the news.…

Read More

“The only human person in that whole neighborhood”: James Joyce, Edna O’Brien, and the Question of Originality

Author: Margot Gayle Backus (University of Houston)

Comments

In 2013, my standing in Irish Studies as a specialist on the Anglo-Irish gothic and James Joyce paradoxically qualified and compelled me to deliver a plenary address on Edna O’Brien, whose writing I had only started to read, at a mainstream Irish Studies conference. That year I was invited to give a keynote talk on the subject of my choice at the Mid-Atlantic American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS). This particular conference was important to me because it was to be held in Rochester, New York, at St. John Fisher College, where I first learned to be an English professor. And it was scheduled for the same month—as it happened, the same week—that my second book, Scandal Work,

Read More

Maeve Brennan, Celebrity, and Harper’s Bazaar in the 1940s

Author: Ellen McWilliams (University of Exeter)

Comments

Just four years after the end of the Second World War, in his 1949 essay “Here is New York,” E.B. White begins his celebration of the city with the promise that “On any person who desires such queer prizes, New York will bestow the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy.”[1] In her biography of Maeve Brennan, Homesick at The New Yorker

Read More

On Trial: the challenge of exploring on stage the lives of Irish Women

Author: Celia de Fréine

Comments

It is no secret that the number of plays by women staged in Ireland is few and far between. Factor into the mix the number of plays in Irish by women and the figure plummets. There are many reasons why this is the case: Irish theater has traditionally been dominated by men, and women have found it harder to break into it, not least because of the anti-social hours involved and the lack of support on the domestic front.…

Read More

“‘Habit is a Great Deadener’: Gender, Sexuality and Futurity in Brian Friel’s The Gentle Island and Frank McGuinness’s Dolly West’s Kitchen”

Author: Graham Price (University of Limerick)

Comments

Introduction

In 1971, Frank McGuinness went to see his first professional play at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin. That play was Brian Friel’s The Gentle Island and it was to have to a major impact on the future course of Frank McGuinness’s artistic career; so much so that, in 1988, McGuinness directed a production of The Gentle Island

Read More

John McGahern’s The Dark and the Formative Spaces of Irish Gender

Author: Michael E. Beebe (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)

Comments

The physical organization of modern society relies upon the delineation and mediation of spaces into distinct places. We recognize the spatial boundaries between places by the ways in which they permit or deny access or entry. The institutional discernment of one person or another’s access to a given place is a function of an individual’s relative privilege within a given socio-political and bureaucratic framework. The power of our institutions can be visibly imposed via the cordoning off of privileged places; this is made apparent with regularity in an era of identification cards and security clearances, compulsory searches and ever-encroaching surveillance in both the public and private realms. It is assumed that power is enacted, at least partly, in its ability to control physical spaces, to tell members of the populace where their bodies and capacities of conscious perception can and cannot be. The rise of the modern nation-state as the principle global apparatus of government served to bestow constituent populations with the civil rights of citizenship and military defense. The state also became necessarily invested in the drawing of borders that describe the limits of the physical territories within which particular political and cultural codes prevail, and that also describe the semi-sovereignties of private and public property so essential to liberal economics. In this manner, the state became the primary actor in dividing the space

Read More

Irish Families and Secular Benevolence: Colm Tóibín’s The Testament of Mary and his Irish Short Fiction

Author: Michael Fontaine (Dalhousie University)

Comments

When asked in a 2013 interview how he first became interested in the character and the story of Mary, mother of Jesus Christ and the subject of his short novella, The Testament of Mary, Colm Tóibín declared, “I suppose it starts with Irish Catholicism.”[1] Given the overtly religious subject matter of the work, Tóibín’s answer seems rather obvious.[2]

Read More

Emma Donoghue, in conversation with Abby Palko

Author: Emma Donoghue and Abigail L. Palko (University of Virginia)

Comments

For the past couple of years, Emma Donoghue has been in the spotlight, with her adaption of her best-selling novel Room receiving a number of accolades. Donoghue was nominated for an Oscar, a BAFA, and a Golden Globe for Best Adapted Screenplay, and she won the Canadian Screen Awards’ Best Adapted Screenplay, the Irish Film & Television Awards’ Best Script Film, and the Independent Spirit Awards’ Best First Screenplay, among a number of other awards. The novel itself has also been high-acclaimed: it was short-listed for the Orange and Man Booker Prizes and won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize regional prize (Caribbean and Canada). Readers just getting to know Donoghue’s work are arriving at a party already well underway. This well-deserved success follows two decades of a prolific writing career in which Donoghue freely explores a range of genres and time periods. The entire corpus of her work consistently prompts readers to question the impact of gender on our social interactions, as we explore in the conversation below. Her most recent novel, The Wonder

Read More

Living as the “Cuckoo’s mother”: Feminism, Interculturalism, and Intersectionalism in Linda Anderson’s Cuckoo

Author: Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado (Maynooth University)

Comments

Introduction

This essay investigates contemporary gender, racial, sexual, and diasporic relations in Northern Irish author Linda Anderson’s novel Cuckoo (1986) through the optic of transnational intersectionality.[1] Anderson was born in 1949 to a working-class Protestant family in Belfast and in 1968 she joined the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland while a student at Queen’s University Belfast. However, she grew increasingly frustrated by the lack of change and in 1972 she immigrated to England, where she still lives. Cuckoo

Read More

“We Have Not Lost…”: Anti-Abortion Rhetoric and The Futility of Female Power in Edna O’Brien’s Down by the River

Author: Kaylee Jangula Mootz (University of Connecticut)

Comments

Twenty-five years after the infamous X Case, which challenged traditional, conservative views on the issue of abortion in Ireland, the topic remains a source of endless contention for Irish society. Ireland continues to have some of the strongest abortion regulations in the developed world, despite significant protests and movements to repeal abortion restrictions. Backlash against abortion policy in Ireland saw an enormous upsurge in 1992 during the X Case. The X Case refers to when “X,” a fourteen-year-old, Irish girl, was raped by a close family friend. Fearing for their daughter’s life because of her suicidal thoughts, her parents brought her to the UK to receive an abortion. Before X was to have her abortion, her parents called the Irish Garda to ask if DNA evidence from the products of conception could be used against the rapist. Once the Garda reported that the family was intent on seeking an abortion, the Irish government forced X to return to Ireland and detained her in Ireland to stop her from seeking an abortion in the UK. The significance of the X Case lies not only in the debate between pro-choice and anti-abortion groups, but also in the core beliefs of Irish identity and culture. For the first time since the Eighth Amendment in 1983, which equates the life of the unborn child with the life of the mother, giving the fetus the same rights as a person, Irish society began to shift its perspective away from traditional, conservative views of abortion and sexuality.[1]

Read More

“[W]here and how he loves”: Reading Pearse Hutchinson Now

Author: Ed Madden (University of South Carolina)

Comments

 “I was always amazed by how much light that green window let in.

 

In[1] Philip Coleman and Maria Johnston’s 2011 foundational collection Reading Pearse Hutchinson: From Findrum to Fisterra, Moynagh Sullivan argues that “in placing Hutchinson we must attend to where and how he loves.”[2]

Read More