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Ireland in Psychoanalysis—Contents

Author: Joseph Valente (University of Buffalo), Macy Todd (University of Buffalo), and Seán Kennedy (Saint Mary's University)

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This issue of Breac, "Ireland in Psychoanalysis," was guest edited by Joseph Valente (University of Buffalo), Macy Todd (University of Buffalo), and Seán Kennedy (Saint Mary's University). Its contents include:

 

1. Joseph Valente — "Psychoanalysis in Ireland—Ireland in Psychoanalysis"

2. Macy Todd — A Lumper in the Throat: Famine and Object a

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Psychoanalysis in Ireland—Ireland in Psychoanalysis

Author: Joseph Valente (University of Buffalo)

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Introduction

It would be useful in my view to inaugurate the consideration of “Ireland in Psychoanalysis” by taking a look at what the provocative title phrase might be taken to signify, with what stakes and ramifications. And I thought to begin by puzzling the relationship of this suggested formulation to its chiasmatic (and more accustomed) counterpart, “psychoanalysis in Ireland.” Are we to gloss these rubrics as synonymous? Am I, in addressing the question of Ireland in psychoanalysis, expected to speak to the institutional presence, the methodological variation, and the sociocultural fate of psychoanalysis in Ireland? Left to wonder whether I should be identifying or differentiating these inverse formulae, and on what grounds, I came to imagine a rather unexpected distinction to be immanent in this pair of discursive/disciplinary constructs: psychoanalysis in Ireland is an object of history; Ireland in psychoanalysis is at bottom a literary proposition. The topic of psychoanalysis in Ireland poses relatively straightforward questions of genealogical fact—how psychoanalysis entered Ireland, how it developed there, how widespread was its influence at several points over the last century, and so on—although owing to the privatized nature of clinical practice in psychoanalysis, its focus on individual subjects in confidential settings, it leaves open, if not unanswerable, certain questions of social impact or cultural consequence. Ireland in psychoanalysis, by contrast, does not respect the regime of empirical fact, there being no collective subject, Ireland, who could be, as a literal matter, in

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A Lumper in the Throat: Famine and Object a

Author: Macy Todd (University of Buffalo)

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Psychoanalysis is often hailed as the advent of the notion of foundational trauma: an originary burl in the texture of subjectivity that produces symptoms in the present. In this context, were one to produce a psychoanalysis of Ireland, it would be tempting to settle on the Great Famine as this foundational trauma; marked by Kevin Whelan as the “loss so absolute as to be beyond redemption,”[1]

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Psychoanalysis in Ireland—An Interview with Dr. Noreen Giffney

Author: Noreen Giffney (Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, Cultural Theorist and Convener of Psychoanalysis +)

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Dr. Noreen Giffney works as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice. She also provides supervision to clinical practitioners conducting research in the fields of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. She is a tenured lecturer in counselling and psychotherapy at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. She has published extensively on psychoanalysis, gender and sexuality studies, and cultural studies. She is particularly interested in the writings of the psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion, the impact of psychosocial factors on work in the consulting room, and the clinical usefulness of non-clinical case studies for psychoanalytic practitioners becoming more self-reflective about the countertransference experience in the clinic. She is the convener of Psychoanalysis +

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Fifty Shades of Green: Ireland and the Erotics of Austerity

Author: Seán Kennedy (Saint Mary’s University)

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As Joseph Valente remarks in the opening essay of this volume, it makes little sense to talk of “Ireland in Psychoanalysis,” there being no collective Irish subject that might plausibly enter into such a process. As such, the phrase can only indicate a “literary proposition.”[1] It is in literary discourse, Valente suggests, that Ireland has been placed in psychoanalysis, by writers as different as James Joyce, Anne Enright, and Sebastian Barry. Here, I want to offer a comparable psychoanalytic reading of Irish political discourse, more specifically certain propositions about the Irish people that have become prevalent in the wake of the recent banking collapse: the era of “troikanomics” and continuing austerity. I want to address Ireland’s experience of troikanomics and recent membership of the European Union (EU) as part of what I am calling an “erotics of austerity”: I want to look at Ireland’s traumatic experience of, and muted response to, troikanomics as an erotic problem; or, put differently, I want to frame the apparent passivity of the Irish people in the wake of the bailout as a problem of austerity erotics. In reading about Ireland’s experience of troikanomics, one is struck, time and again, by the regularity with which the language of kink has permeated, even structured, the conversation: there has been a recurring tendency to frame the issue in terms drawn from the diverse vocabularies of BDSM.[2]

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Cuckoos, or a Natural History of the Gay Child

Author: Ed Madden (University of South Carolina)

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The common or European cuckoo, cuculus canoruscuach in Irish—is a migrant.[1] It spends its winters in Africa, but summers in Europe, showing up in Ireland in April when its song is considered one of the earliest signs of Irish spring. Unlike any other Irish bird, the cuckoo is also a brood parasite, which means that it lays its eggs in the nests of other birds—in Ireland, usually the meadow pipit and the dunnock, or hedge sparrow, both birds smaller than the cuckoo. When the female host bird is out of the nest, the female cuckoo swoops down, quickly pushes the host bird’s egg out of the nest, and replaces it with her own. In some species of cuckoos, the evolutionary adaptation includes egg mimicry, the cuckoo’s egg marked like that of a specific host bird. The bad egg looks like one of its own. Typically, too, the cuckoo eggs hatch before those of the host birds, and the chick will shove out the eggs of the host. If the host birds have already hatched, the cuckoo chick will push the smaller nestlings out as well, so that—as the bad egg turns bad seed—the surrogate parents focus only on the singular strange offspring

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Psychoanalysis in Ireland—An Interview with Dr. Barry O’Donnell

Author: Barry O’Donnell (Director, the School of Psychotherapy, St. Vincent’s University Hospital)

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Introduction

The School of Psychotherapy was set up in 1983 to develop the teaching of psychotherapy in the Department of Psychiatry in St. Vincent’s Hospital (subsequently St. Vincent’s University Hospital). Its first Director and co-founder was Dr. Cormac Gallagher who had attended the seminars of Jacques Lacan in Paris in the 1970s and had introduced Lacanian psychoanalysis into Ireland. UCD Professor of Psychiatry Noel Walsh and Dr. Mary Darby, consultant psychiatrist, founded the School along with Gallagher. Both practiced a psychanalytically-informed psychiatry in St. Vincent’s. Since its launch, the School has offered a Masters program awarded by UCD. The teaching on this program introduced the work of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan to students who (for the most part) already had formal training in psychiatry, medicine, psychology, social work, chaplaincy, or philosophy. It was the first formal psychoanalytic teaching in Ireland and serves as the foundation for most other developments in psychoanalysis in Ireland since. It has always required its students to take up their own psychoanalysis as a prerequisite for any real encounter with the field. The School has from the outset practiced an openness to the representation of other traditions within psychoanalysis and related practices, requiring only that there be respect for different positions and learning from these differences.

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Mirrors/ Lacan with Joyce/ Theory, Psychoanalysis, and Literature

Author: Beryl Schlossman (University of California, Irvine)

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 “Pouvait-on s’attendre à autre chose d’emmoi: je nomme.”
[“Could one expect anything else from me/being emotional: I give names.”][1]

 

Jacques Lacan considered an analytic perspective on language and the effects of literature as distinctive in the context of writing. In several chapters of his seminar of 1975-1976, posthumously published under the title of Le Sinthome

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Samuel Beckett: From the Talking Cure to the Walking Cure

Author: Andre Furlani (Concordia University)

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 “Lovely walk this morning with Father,” Beckett wrote to Thomas McGreevy on April 23, 1933. “I’ll never have anyone like him.”[1] There was grim clairvoyance in that prospect, for William Beckett’s fatal heart attack two months later terminated their Sunday tramps to the Dublin mountains. “I can’t write about him,” Beckett wrote to McGreevy a week afterwards, “I can only walk the fields and climb the ditches after him.”[2]

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Psychoanalysis in Irish Studies—An Interview with Margot Backus

Author: Margot Gayle Backus (University of Houston)

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How has the discourse of psychoanalysis shaped or contributed to your exploration of Irish literature and culture more generally?

 

My earliest engagement with Irish literature and culture sought to explore historical grief as informing literary representations of homoerotic love and loss. Psychoanalysis became methodologically crucial as I came to see the heterosexual nuclear family as mediating, within the Anglo-Irish settler colonial order, between the socio-historical trauma of colonial appropriation and the individual subject. I became particularly interested in the Anglo-Irish gothic, and found in its recurrent staging of supernatural assaults against youths on the cusp of sexual maturity a reversal of the idealized projection Freud describes in the family romance—as a fantasized projection of traumatic historical forces internal to the Anglo-Irish family onto monstrous external figures.

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Yeats’s Extimacy

Author: Jen Braun (SUNY Buffalo)

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It has long been the desire of Yeats readers and critics to establish the real thread of meaning that might link all of Yeats’s work into a comprehensible whole, a desire that John Unterecker observes in Yeats himself: “His project, always, was to give his work organic unity. Everything, he felt, should fit into a whole.”[1]

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Paul Muldoon’s Things

Author: Guinn Batten (Washington University in St. Louis)

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He was living in the open,

In a secret camp

On the other side of the mountain.

He was fighting for Ireland,

Making things happen

—Paul Muldoon, “Anseo”[1]

 

Something I never but once let on

—“The Firing Squad”[2] 

 

[S]omething made me want to persevere

 —“Bangle (Slight Return)”[3]

 …

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Polymorphous Performance—An Interview with Fintan Walsh

Author: Fintan Walsh (Birkbeck, University of London)

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Leafing through some book or other in the early 2000s, I first encountered the Freudian claim that we are all polymorphously perverse.[1] That we might all be perverse, and not just me, was a profoundly assuring and unnerving idea at the time, and one that has stayed with me since. That academic work, including within the trampled field called “Irish Studies,” might involve the study of polymorphous perversions by polymorphous perverts remains such a thrilling idea that it almost sounds too good to be true.…

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The Irish Ga(y)ze, or Whither my O/other?

Author: Adrian Goodwin (Independent Scholar)

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 “He was a polymorph, unintegrated, could-become-a-person creature.”[1]

“For my perception […] is as much a fact as the sun.”[2]

 

At its broadest level, the central focus of this paper is the dynamics of seeing, being seen, and not being seen within Irish queer culture. Through a close reading of a recent queer autobiography, namely that of the drag artist Pandora “Panti” Bliss, I wish to analyze the ocular vicissitudes of Irish queerness―what I will refer to, in psychoanalytic terms, as the “Irish ga(y)ze.”…

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The Oedipal and the Everyday in Irish Theater

Author: Ariel Watson (Saint Mary’s University)

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Oedipus always ruins the barbecue. Or that’s what he claims in the final scenes of Pan Pan Theatre’s 2006 version of Freud and Sophocles’s omphalic drama, blindly poking some disruptively “moist” sausages as his family gathers around him at the grill.[1] In this reinvention by Simon Doyle and Gavin Quinn, which goes by the winkingly flippant title Oedipus Loves You

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Psychoanalysis in Irish Studies—An Interview with Claire Bracken

Author: Claire Bracken (Union College)

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How has the discourse of psychoanalysis shaped or contributed to your exploration of Irish literature and culture more generally?

 

Psychoanalysis has profoundly shaped my thinking about, and analytical approach to, Irish literature and culture. During my undergraduate and graduate studies at University College Dublin and University College Cork respectively, I was influenced by the important feminist psychoanalytic scholarship of Patricia Coughlan, Gerardine Meaney, Anne Mulhall, and Moynagh Sullivan. Through their work and mentorship, I realized just how crucial psychoanalysis is to feminist explorations of Irish literature and culture, enabling thoughtful critique of some of the most entrenched gendered constructions underwriting the Irish imaginary, particularly with respect to the well-known Ireland-as-woman trope.

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Irish Writers in Wartime

Author: Jim Haughey (Anderson University, SC)

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Of War And Wars Alarms

Gerald Dawe. Of War and War’s Alarms: Reflections on Modern Irish Writing. Cork: Cork University Press, 2015, x + 194 pp.

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Introduction to Gender, Sexuality, and Intersectionality in Irish Studies

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

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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)

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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)

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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

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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.…

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“‘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)

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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

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

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

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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

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

Author: Michael Fontaine (Dalhousie University)

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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]

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Emma Donoghue, in conversation with Abby Palko

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

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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

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

Author: Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado (Maynooth University)

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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)

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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]

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

Author: Ed Madden (University of South Carolina)

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 “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]

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