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

Author: Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado (Maynooth University)


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 and its author are often overlooked—critical material on Anderson is scant and she appears in only a handful of anthologies of women writers.[2] As several critics remark, this outcome is similar to that of other women prose writers and Protestant women activists from Northern Ireland.[3] Given her history of social activism and subsequent disillusionment with the lack of change, this study foregrounds Anderson as a Northern Irish feminist living in Britain who aims to promote social change via her writing. Christine St. Peter cites Anderson as “a politically motivated novelist” with “a vision, perhaps even a program, motivating the [writing].”[4] Accordingly, this essay situates her novel within contemporaneous Irish debates surrounding feminism, multiculturalism, and civil rights in the 1980s. In particular, it considers Anderson’s fictional examination of sociopolitical violence in Cuckoo in light of the ongoing LIP pamphlet conversation between her Irish feminist contemporaries Eavan Boland, Edna Longley, and Gerardine Meaney, and their treatment of entrenched parochialism.[5] The persistence of restricted social categories is a form of systemic violence that fueled political conflict and debate in the British and Irish isles during the 1980s and 1990s. Consequently, as Ailbhe Smyth notes, “the exploration of the impact of violence and conflict on people’s lives is a particular focus” of Anderson’s work.[6] Anthologists highlight Anderson’s “deconstructive” approach as “boldly experimental and subversive” and list her among Irish women writers who “challenge the forces opposed to social change in ways that avoid simplistic polemics.”[7] Anderson destabilizes the binaristic discourses of male/female, black/white, and Northern Irish/British, which are constitutive of larger, oppressive socio-symbolic systems. She performs what Julia Kristeva would term “an unsettling process,” one which “challenges a sign system that calls for the identity of a speaking subject within a social framework.”[8] Kristeva maintains that there is no fixed, unified self and “the production of the subject” is therefore “a process, an intersection.”[9] Correspondingly, I argue that Anderson portrays Cuckoo’s central protagonist Fran as a “questionable” subject-in-process through the image of transcription.[10] This study traces the fragmented narrative trajectory of Fran, a Northern Irishwoman from an upper-middle-class Protestant background who immigrates to London as a Troubles migrant and experiences the metropole as a “diaspora space.”[11]


Transnational Intersections

Kimberlé Crenshaw theorizes intersectionalism as the “process of recognizing as social and systemic what was formerly perceived as isolated and individual” with regard to the “broad-scale system of domination that affects women,” in addition to other multiply oppressed groups such as “people of color, and gays and lesbians, among others.”[12] Intersectionalism is frequently categorized as a branch of feminism; however, Crenshaw’s formulation signifies a more inclusive analysis of marginalized subjectivities. Similarly, Anderson substantiates this process within her fiction, which is also inherently diasporic in its scope due to the fact that she is a Northern Irish author living in Britain. Eamonn Hughes has coined the term “Irish-British” in order to denote the hyphenated cultural identity of writers living in Britain whose background is Irish, and includes Anderson in his study of this minority literary “community which sees itself as Irish-British and which requires cultural articulation.”[13] It is important to note that her hyphenated cultural identity is distinctly Northern-inflected. Anderson indicates that she “considers herself ‘very much’ a Northern Irish writer, situated in a specific region and era.”[14] Her perspective as a Northern Irishwoman living in the “specific region and era” of diasporic London during the Troubles and the Thatcher administration noticeably influences her construction of Cuckoo. As a Northern Irish migrant in the metropole, Anderson demonstrates an acute awareness of the transnational networks that structure intersectional oppression. She intertransposes multiple cultural and sociopolitical milieux within the novel. Cuckoo is set in 1980s London, but it is also underwritten by the conflictive cartographies of Troubles-era Belfast, the Falklands War, and a supposedly “multicultural Britain.” She indicates that contemporary oppressive structures in both Northern Ireland and Britain are undergirded by a neoimperial nexus that informs cultural representations of gender, race, and nation, and she charts these discourses within the intersecting spaces of her novel.


The transnational, archipelagic perspective of the book counters the dominant critical view of migrant writers such as Anderson for whom either Northern Ireland or Britain, rather than an identifiable diasporic community, is thought to be the cultural referent. Anderson exhibits a composite writerly identity in Cuckoo, a novel that addresses Troubles migration to London. She connects this migratory movement to those of other diasporic peoples who have been violently expelled from their homeland. Avtar Brah and Ann Phoenix call for the expansion of “intersectional analysis” in order to include “postcolonial feminist analysis and diaspora studies.”[15] They argue that in the context of “transnationalism,” such an approach facilitates the study of “configurations of power in specific spaces and historical moments.”[16] Brah and Phoenix theorize an expanded intersectionalist mode that lends itself well to a reading of Anderson’s avant-garde text. Anderson advocates “fiction that combines historical exactitude with technical innovation to convey the complexities of contemporary problems.”[17] She demonstrates this narratological method in Cuckoo and employs a variety of forms (diary entries, autobiography, a mock play-text, and a cassette recording) in order to trace the journey of a Northern Irishwoman within London diaspora space. Diasporicity is a transnational phenomenon; therefore in diaspora space, to adapt Jacques Derrida’s deconstructionist theorization, the narrative voice “takes place placelessly, being both atopical […] and hypertopical, both placeless and over-placed.”[18] Brah and Phoenix define “diaspora space” as a concept that “embraces the intersection of ‘difference’ in its variable forms, placing emphasis upon emotional and psychic dynamics as much as socio-economic, political and cultural differences. Difference is thus conceptualized as social relation, experience, subjectivity.”[19] Anderson utilizes a nonlinear chronology and different focalizing perspectives in order to illustrate the relational aspect of diasporic experience in London. As David Lloyd observes, “in Britain during the decades of the Northern Irish conflict,” the “exclusion and discrimination” of the Irish led to “ongoing anti-racist organization in solidarity with the Caribbean […] diasporic communities.”[20] The pastiche format of Anderson’s book enables her to depict different diasporic viewpoints such as that of Fran, a Northern Irish Troubles migrant, or her neighbor and one-time sexual partner Cornelius Lloyd, an Afro-Jamaican economic migrant.


Anderson’s novel indicates that the “place” of intersectionality is at once exterior and interiorized, located within the networked intimacies of biopolitics. Allen Feldman argues against reading the Northern Irish subject “as the unified and underlying originator of actions and values,” countering that “[p]olitical agency is not given but achieved on the basis of practices that alter the subject. Political agency is relational—it has no fixed ground—it is the effect of situated practices.”[21] Anderson portrays the political subject as the locus of an intersection between “violence, body, and history”—internal and external forces that frame the shifting identitarian constructions in her novel.[22] As Kristeva maintains, “the experience of the subject in [the] unsettling process” is heterogeneous, material, and polylogical.”[23] Fran’s narrative is relational in that it overlaps with those of her diverse sexual partners, whose embodied experiences of oppression become imbricated with her own. Her various sexual entanglements also create opportunities for the intersection of difference within the novel. Her first boyfriend Nick, a young man from her Protestant neighborhood, is killed in an anonymous bombing in Belfast. Later in the book, Fran’s marriage to Paul, a working-class Catholic, disintegrates due to the onset of his post-traumatic stress disorder. His traumatized condition is a result of the sectarian violence that he witnesses during the Troubles. Paul eventually walks out on Fran after forcing her to abort their baby, and she soon begins a volatile affair with Cornelius, her Afro-Jamaican neighbor. Anderson’s novel allegorizes the violent and competing transcriptions of the politicized body via Fran’s sexual relationships.[24] These sexual encounters overwrite Fran’s embodied narrative through social forces, which attempt to delegitimate her self-expression. As Feldman asserts, “This contest over adversarial transcripts fractures the body as an ‘organic,’ ‘natural’ object and thus accelerates the body’s subjectivation.” Fran ultimately achieves self-legitimation by transcribing her autobiography in the journal that another lover, Dominic, discovers towards the end of the novel. By recording her story, Fran rewrites her own “embodied transcript,” thereby re-asserting her body through the performative act of writing.[25] Accordingly, Anderson explores themes of self-subjection and self-identification throughout the text, and demonstrates the ways in which these also inform self-representation.



Cuckoo also represents a Northern Irish literary intervention into the ongoing debate regarding the intersectional image of woman-Ireland-Muse, which is perhaps most notably documented in the late 1980s and early 1990s LIP pamphlet conversation between Belfast-based critic Edna Longley and two Dublin-based writers—poet Eavan Boland and critic Gerardine Meaney. Anderson’s novel was published in 1986, the same year as Boland’s “A Kind of Scar: The Woman Poet in a National Tradition,” which Longley critiques four years later in “From Cathleen to Anorexia: The Breakdown of Irelands” (1990). The following year, Meaney responds to Boland and Longley in her essay, “Sex and Nation: Women in Irish Culture and Politics” (1991). Boland’s pamphlet invokes figures from her poems “Mise Éire” (1986) and “The Achill Woman” (1986) in order “to probe the virulence and necessity of the idea of a nation. Not on its own and not in a vacuum, but as it intersects with a specific poetic inheritance and as that inheritance, in turn, cuts across me as woman and poet. Some of these intersections are personal.”[26] “Mise Éire” is Boland’s response to Patrick Pearse’s nationalist poem of the same name, which was composed in the Irish language and published in 1912. The image of the Achill woman proves Boland’s point, as the poet appears to internalize this figure in her version of “Mise” (Irish for “I am”). Given this fact, as Longley observes, Boland’s choice of the Achill woman as the locus for her argument is problematic. Boland herself states that “memory is treacherous,” and her awareness of “this woman as emblem and instance of everything I am about to propose” is telling of her own imagistic entrapment.[27] Longley contends that Boland is complicit in patriarchal forms of nationalist representation since “The ‘real women of an actual past’ are subsumed into a single emblematic victim-figure. By not questioning the nation, Boland recycles the literary cliché from which she desires to escape.”[28] Here, Longley identifies the Achill woman as reiterating multiple patriarchal Irish stereotypes of women. She writes, “Because she does not blame nationalism, her alternative Muse turns out to be the twin sister of Dark Rosaleen etc.: ‘the truths of womanhood and the defeats of a nation. An improbable intersection?’ No, as Conor Cruise O’Brien said in a similar context, ‘a dangerous intersection.’”[29] Longley remarks that “Boland’s new muse, supposedly based on the varied historical experience of Irish women, looks remarkably like the sean bhean bhocht.”[30] The sean bhean bhocht also appears in Anderson’s novel Cuckoo; however, her treatment of this figure is markedly different than Boland’s.


Although Anderson was living in London when she wrote Cuckoo, this text aligns with the contemporaneous discussion regarding Irish feminist nationhood and its attendant literary and cultural representations. On the opening page of the novel, Fran encounters an incarnation of the sean bhean bhocht, a figure whom she regards as a frightening vision of her future. Fran and her married lover Mark are “driving into the country for some pastoral coitus when an old woman emerge[s] suddenly between the hedgerows.”[31] Fran recounts:


I climbed out clumsily, taking in the details of the woman. Tangled hair. Watery, beseeching eyes. Shawl draped round her shoulders and fastened with a safety pin. Slippers and men’s socks. Mark’s solicitous hand already pat-patting her shoulder. I don’t know why but the sight of his hand touching that old woman gave me such physical distress, I almost laughed. For a moment I thought I would be sick and leaned against the car to steady myself.[32]


The old woman babbles incessantly and exclaims, “You mustn’t believe anything you’ve heard about me…Lies, wicked lies. They say I spread germs.”[33] Eager to be rid of her, Fran steers the old woman away: “I led her…into her dank shit-smelling hellhole of a house.” Once there, she pleads with Fran, “I’ll give you…anything, only stay here, stay.” Fran sprints back to the car where Mark awaits and she remarks, “We had strayed accidentally into a new field of force.” This “new field of force” is in fact an ancient one which persists in the present—that of Mother Ireland, an interrupting image which is out of place in this contemporary English “pastoral” landscape.[34] The opening scene frames a Northern Irish diasporic narrative that is haunted by symbolic images of the woman-Ireland-Muse. Fran attempts to drive this anachronistic figure back into the past where she belongs, “into her dank shit-smelling hellhole of a house,” but finds herself drawn in along with her. This site is also metaphoric of the unconscious, as Fran tries to suppress her memory of this occurrence. She recalls, “The woman’s face kept interrupting like a pop-up monster in a children’s book…for a long time afterwards she followed me into my dreams, trailing her stink. A witch. An Ancient Marionette. She looked like the face of my future, loveless, penniless, tormentors whispering in my ear, demons tweaking at my flesh.”[35] Fran measures herself against the figure of Mother Ireland which is her purported, mythical mirror image. Her visage haunts Fran because she recognizes herself in the old woman and fears that they are becoming one in the same. Moreover, Fran’s home in “inner-city bedsit-land” resembles the old woman’s hovel as it is a “small” and “oppressive” place that “smel[ls] of…poverty.”[36] Fran immigrates to England as a means of escape, and yet once there she perceives that oppressive images from her past have followed her across.


In Cuckoo, Anderson strategically redeploys metonymic images of woman-as-Ireland such as the sean bhean bhocht, Mother Ireland, and Cathleen Ní Houlihan. She pronounces, “I think it is important to writers to explore, subvert or discard stereotypes, not merely to recycle them.”[37] Correspondingly, I agree that “by not questioning the nation” Boland “recycles” literary clichés—however, despite Longley’s own questioning of the nation in her essay, she is ultimately ensnared by the same “dangerous intersection” which is a recurrent rhetorical problematic for Irish feminist writers. Longley accuses Boland of disregarding the role of the North within more recent contexts of Irish nationhood. She asserts that Boland “ignore[s] the extent to which the North has destabilized the ‘nation’.”[38] Longley continues, “Because A Kind of Scar activates only one pole of its dialectic, it does not evolve the radical aesthetic it promises.” Nevertheless, I would argue that Longley’s dialectic, which ostensibly frames “the reality of the North as a frontier-region, a cultural corridor,” and argues that “the Republic should cease to talk about ‘accommodating diversity’ and face up to duality,” is equally narrow.[39] By continuing to operate a polarized dialectic, regardless of the fact that she “activates” both poles as opposed to “only one,” Longley also fails to “evolve the radical aesthetic” that she promises.[40] She maintains, “This would actually help the North to relax into a less dualistic sense of its own identity: to function […] as a shared region of these islands.”[41]


However, here and in her later essay “Multiculturalism and Northern Ireland” (2001) Longley’s polarized dialectic thwarts her own attempts to substantiate a self-proclaimed methodology of “interculturalism” as an alternative to “duality” or administrative discourses of “multiculturalism.”[42] She expresses her desire that Northern Ireland be conceived of as part of a more intercultural network, “at which point there will definitely be no such person as Cathleen Ni Houlihan.”[43] Yet she adheres rather obstinately to a parallel reductivism within her exposition of the narrowly bicultural outlook that is supposedly “required” for effecting change within contemporary society. Both Longley and Boland espouse “connective” and “intersect[ing]” approaches in their writings, but ultimately fail to instantiate them due to a still-reductivist approach that is symptomatic of a deeply entrenched bias within Irish feminist theory.[44] Boland indicates that images of Irish nationalist womanhood “cut across me as woman and poet” and observes, “I existed, whether I liked it or not, in a mesh, a web, a labyrinth of associations.”[45] Similarly, Longley argues that the partitioning of Ireland created “ideological clamps” that “hold both Irish entities together.”[46] These restrictive “clamps” function much like the mesh/web/labyrinth that Boland describes in that they are visualizations of the complex intersectionality which shapes contemporary Irish experience. It is inherently biopolitical since it simultaneously “clamps” or constrains the Irish subject (Longley) and “cuts across” him or her, operating on a deeply “personal” level (Boland). It is also a form of epistemic violence because intersectionality impinges upon the psyche of the Irish subject and “distorts” his or her self-knowledge.[47] I would posit that as a result of this fragmentation, Boland and Longley appear to internalize certain reductivist notions of Irish nationhood that render their particular brands of feminism ineffectual within the context of interculturalism.

Meaney, on the other hand, responds to the previous pamphlets with a more inclusive view of Irish feminism and its relationship to “the experience, expectations, and ideals of the contemporary woman.”[48] As the title of her conclusion indicates, she frames her discussion of Ireland—North and South—within “the international context.”[49] She critiques Longley’s dismissal of “attempts to understand Ireland’s past and present in terms of colonization and decolonization as reactionary and inherently anti-feminist” and cites such an approach as an example of reductive “regionalism.”[50] She reworks Boland’s concept of “the point of intersection between womanhood and Irishness” and contends that an insistently relational female Irish subject “will complicate and change Irish culture at precisely that point of intersection.”[51] Meaney maintains, “The double marginality of Ireland-European, […] sharing a history and experience with post-colonial states elsewhere, never quite one thing or another—may yet provide a space in which Irish women can make and say something different of ourselves as women and of the many traditions which are our burden and our inheritance.” This theorization gestures toward a practicable intersectionalist version of Irish feminism that evaluates subjectivity along multiple axes of oppression as well as intercultural relation. Her methodology represents a crucially expansive engagement with the aforementioned “connective” and “intersect[ing]” approaches that Longley and Boland reference but fail to substantiate within their tracts, which fall short of resisting restrictive imaginings of Irish nationhood. Paralleling Meaney’s concept, Anderson explores the “double marginality” of Northern Ireland-United Kingdom in her novel via Fran’s diasporic experience in England. She thereby illustrates the ways in which hyphenated cultural identities problematize binaristic identitarian frameworks.

Anderson rhetorically subverts insidious forms of representationalist violence. In her characterization of Frances, a name that means “free one” in Latin, Anderson offers a protagonist who successfully navigates contemporaneous oppressive structures. I would argue that Anderson re-appropriates Cathleen Ní Houlihan—the very figure whom Longley declares will “definitely” no longer exist in an intercultural future—within her feminist counter-discourse in order to highlight the unrealistic nature of such claims. Anderson subverts the traditional image of Cathleen Ní Houlihan, the Irish nationalist figure of anti-British, anti-imperialist insurrection, by aligning her with the focalizing character Frances McDowell. Cuckoo’s protagonist is a Northern Irishwoman of Ulster Scots descent with a penchant for rebellion against social oppression. Anderson thus reveals that the contemporary, feminine Mise Éire is a set of multiple “I” positions, all of which are intersected by myriad versions of the woman-Ireland-Muse. Significantly, as Ruth Hooley remarks, “Fran is propelled through nearly every unpleasant experience going for women.”[52]


However, Anderson does not restrict her novel to an analysis of female identitarian complexity—she also explores masculine gender identity, and the ways in which these two positionalities intersect. Anderson connects Fran’s story with that of Cornelius Lloyd, her Afro-Jamaican neighbor, who experiences a similar sense of dislocation. Additionally, she sets the novel in the London metropole, a transnational space where the fractile topographies of Troubles-era Belfast, post-independence Jamaica, and the Falklands War converge. Her novel features a transnational web that exists in stark contrast to Boland’s myopic approach and Longley’s bifocality. Anderson probes the “cleavages” that are made by the “intersect[ing]” forces which Boland, Longley, and Meaney perceive, and finds space within these fissures for the inclusion of difference.[53]



Longley describes Northern Ireland as “a frontier-region, a cultural corridor,” and yet she delimits this space as merely “a zone where Ireland and Britain permeate one another.”[54] Elsewhere, she advocates an “archipelagic” vision of the British and Irish islands, stating, “[m]ulti-culturalism in these islands is indivisible. There can be no such thing as multi-culturalism in one country, or one side of the border, without reference to the rest of an archipelago whose populations […] are so intertwined.”[55] Nevertheless, the scope of this axiom remains finite and therefore closed or cordoned off. In contrast, Anderson broadens the Northern Irish imaginary by reaching across multiple archipelagos within her novel—the British and Irish isles, and those of the Caribbean. In this sense, she retropologizes Northern Ireland as a “permeable” frontier in the corporeal form of Fran, who has a sexual encounter with an Afro-Jamaican.[56] Their encounter allegorizes the Caribbean and Irish reverse colonization of Britain, which occurred in the post-Second World War era.[57] Fran is living in a squalid London bedsit when her new neighbor Cornelius swiftly “move[s] in. Storm[s] in.”[58] The fact that a Northern Irishwoman and an Afro-Jamaican are now “neighbors” in London metaphorizes the influx of various diasporas that took place during the 1970s and 1980s, and the sudden proximity of these otherwise seemingly disparate cultural groups. Fran recounts Cornelius’s “invasion” of her room, stating, “he was dressed in a track suit and training shoes which he planted considerately on my white bedspread.”[59] She is simultaneously drawn to and repulsed by Cornelius’s uncouth manner and marvels, “I thought he wouldn’t bother me again, but he was back the next night, repossessing the bed.”[60] Much to Fran’s own bewilderment, he continues to intrude upon her space. She recalls, “Short of murder, there seemed to be no way to get rid of him. I knew it was the utter vacancy of my life that legitimized his colonization of it. I was manless, jobless, pointless. If only my life could have a purpose, then I might be allowed to inhabit it on my own terms.”[61] Anderson reproblematizes the multiply compounded trope of a feminized, passive Ireland since Fran allows herself to be penetrated by Cornelius. As Peter Stallybrass and Allon White argue:


the body cannot be thought separately from the social formation, symbolic topography and the constitution of the subject. The body is neither a purely natural given nor is it merely a textual metaphor, it is a privileged operator for the transcoding of these other areas. Thinking the body is thinking social topography and vice versa.[62]


Here the occupied terrain is specifically Northern Ireland, and the “colonizer” is Afro-Jamaican. Anderson thereby alludes to the intersecting forms of contemporary colonization that are the direct result of Britain’s perverse relationship with its neocolonies in Northern Ireland and Jamaica. These cultures have become more tightly intertwined within the diaspora space of London due to successive historical waves of migration to the metropole.


This scene is subtended by an additional layer of historical complexity since Fran is of Ulster Scots descent. For instance, she declares of “her own race of Northern Irish Protestants”: “We’re the usurpers.”[63] Anderson implies that Fran’s internalized cultural guilt is a potential motivating factor in her willingness to be “colonized” by Cornelius. Nonetheless, Fran only seems to be aware that her passive role in their sexual relationship is impelled by a desire to forget the events of her immediate traumatic past, rather than her ancestral history of plantation. The contemporary landscape of Northern Ireland, of which Fran is an embodiment, is implanted by another kind of metaphorical seed. She states:


His body moves on me, a broad black blade. His face falls towards me and falls towards me, until I no longer need eyes to see him. His blackness is filling me and I am not afraid. I remember the childhood blackness of my bedroom, the blackness of nightmares, forest fires, coalmine disasters, cancer, death, sin, secrets. I am not afraid. I clasp him tight.[64]


Here Anderson addresses the historical representations that discursively constructed colonized Irish and African peoples as the obverse of the English colonizer. Irishness and Africanness were therefore characterized by lack within colonial discourse. Anderson retropologizes the Fanonian theory of blackness as negation by depicting Fran as an empty orifice to be “filled” by Cornelius’s equally negational “blackness.”[65] The disturbing images that flood Fran’s mind in this scene lend the impression that she is defeated by this sexual act. However, Anderson destabilizes such a facile supposition by portraying Fran’s decision to keep the child who is the product of this violent cultural encounter.


At first glance, Cuckoo seemingly portrays a missed opportunity for revolution since Fran and Cornelius part ways abruptly and fail to establish a romantic partnership. They do consummate their relationship, but their sexual encounter is the culmination of a series of explosive run-ins. Cornelius repeatedly shows up at her flat unannounced and harasses Fran. This particular time, he breaks into her flat and waits on her bed for her to arrive, and she finds herself giving in to his sexual advances. In her review, Hooley reads the aforementioned passage as an instance of “virtual rape.”[66] Fran does not invite Cornelius into her flat or her bed—nor does she resist him. Despite the disturbing nature of this scene, Anderson renews the opportunity for hope via Fran and Cornelius’s daughter, who is the unexpected outcome of their encounter. Revealingly, Fran names the child Emily after her favorite Brontë sister, stating, “Emily fascinated me, and I found myself sometimes whispering lines from her work and it felt like praying […]. This woman…who once painted heaven as a place of exile, Catherine crying to Nelly: ‘Heaven did not seem to be my home, and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth.’”[67] Fran obsesses over the author and ponders her enigmatic persona, the essence of which remains elusive in her writings due to the impingement of nineteenth-century structures of oppression. Fran marvels, “It cannot be known. It cannot be found out. She is like the prisoner in one of her own poems, confined behind triple walls.” She feels a strong sense of affinity with Brontë and exclaims, “Oh what was she but a sex-starved religioso, half in love with death like all the Irish?”[68] This scene performs a transhistorical, intertextual act of relation whereby Fran identifies with Brontë as a fellow Irishwoman living in England and struggling against multiple forms of oppression. However, what is most significant about this passage is the fact that it utilizes intersubjectivity in order to convey multiple (Northern) Irish Protestant authorial perspectives.[69] In this moment, Anderson simultaneously presents the (Northern) Irish Protestant authorial perspectives of herself, Fran, and Brontë. As Rebecca Pelan notes, “With the exception of work by novelist Linda Anderson, […] one of the most noticeable aspects of contemporary writing by women from Northern Ireland is the absence of an imaginatively articulated Protestant or unionist woman’s voice.”[70] However, it is important to consider that while Fran is Protestant, she is a staunch nationalist. Anderson limns Fran in such a way that she functions as an intersubjective figure. Not only does she embody the figures of Cathleen Ní Houlihan and Emily Brontë, she also speaks for members of the larger Northern Irish Protestant collective. She conveys a voice that has been historically disarticulated by a largely male Irish literary tradition, and by associations of Irishness with Catholicism. The Brontë quote that Fran recites emphasizes the profound sense of displacement that Protestant Irish women writers have historically endured. Moreover, Fran’s voice represents a further minoritized viewpoint since she is a Northern Irish Protestant nationalist.


At first, the thought of becoming a single mother terrifies Fran and she considers undergoing a second abortion. She recounts, “I was a fermenting bog, a piece of perforated flesh that could be penetrated by the penis, the finger, the broken bottle, invaded by germs and sperms. I begged my baby to die, to release herself and drain away. Get out! Get out!”[71] Fran’s equation of her corporeal frame with the image of a seeping bog evidences the conflation of the Irish people with a feminized landscape, an image from colonial discourse that is deeply engrained within her psyche. Looking around at her decrepit, filthy living quarters, she begins to panic: “‘Nobody’s home,’ I thought. ‘I am nobody’s home.’” With this description, Fran reiterates Elizabethan planter discourse that rendered the North of Ireland unhomely due to its seemingly uninhabitable environment, which is dappled with peat bogs. In the early modern period, it was also deemed “savage country” by the English colonizers since the local Irish people were viewed as barbaric and uncivilized due to their cultural difference.[72] In addition, Fran echoes more recent stereotypes of the post-partition North as inhospitable and peopled by an unruly, culturally backward population due to the crisis of the Troubles.


Kristeva contends that “As long as there is language-symbolism-paternity, there will never be any other way to represent, to objectify, and to explain this unsettling of the symbolic stratum, this nature/culture threshold, this instilling the subjectless biological program into the very body of a symbolizing subject, this event called motherhood.”[73] Nevertheless, in her novel Anderson envisions a maternal aesthetic that challenges patriarchal, sectarianized Northern symbols of the “Mother Country.” Fran contemplates the marring effect of the contemporaneous Troubles through her introjection of the war-torn landscape, and expresses her uneasiness regarding its ability to foster its children. Despite her initial reluctance, however, Fran ultimately accepts the thought of motherhood and chooses to keep the child in an act of self-affirmation that shows renewed faith in Northern Ireland-as-mother. Anderson aligns Mother Ireland with Fran, an Ulster Scot Irishwoman and Troubles diasporan, thereby writing her narrative of motherhood under a historicized maternal sign. In doing so, she redresses what Moynagh Sullivan describes as the “critical absence of historicisation and symbolisation of the experience of the maternal body” in Irish literature.[74] Fran even revels in the transcendent aspect of pregnancy, marveling at “this unbroken intimacy of two bodies, this endless unity.”[75] Once her daughter Emily is born, Fran is enamored immediately, doting on her and calling her “‘my little black Celt.”[76] In other words, Anderson depicts Emily as a wee Dark Rosaleen. However, rather than the woman-Ireland-Muse of James Clarence Mangan’s patriotic poem, this little rose symbolizes the hope for a revolutionary, intercultural future.[77] Cornelius scoffs at the notion that children of color will be accepted by the monoculturalist society of Thatcherite Britain. He exclaims, “Having kiddies what is called Black Britons. No such thing as a Black Briton!”[78] This could explain why he chooses to abandon Fran rather than attempt to form a family unit with her.



In Anderson’s novel, Emily’s birth coincides with the start of the Falklands War in April 1982. Once more, war is being waged to combat British imperialism as Argentina and Britain battle for control of the region, unsettling the lives of Londoners who fear an impending nuclear war. Here she extends her archipelagic vision even farther, beyond the British and Irish isles and those of the Caribbean, to include the chain of Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic. As Hooley contends, “Fran’s daughter (the more obvious ‘cuckoo’ of the title) […] is Fran’s stake in the future and her main reason for joining the [women’s] peace camp at Greenham Common. There is a desperate need in this book to make sense and find purpose beyond the petty and destructive forces of our world.”[79] As a diasporan from the militarized space of Northern Ireland, Fran’s concern with the growing militarization of the world leads her to envision the collapse of its borders. She declares, “It’s my world. And there are no frontiers any more. The Bomb has done away with frontiers.”[80] Fran feels an overwhelming sense of dread about the world that Emily will inherit in the wake of nuclear activity: “I noticed a slogan on one of the workmen’s shirts: NUKE THE ARGIES.”[81] Alarmed, she finds a newspaper and reads about:


the Task Force “mission” to the Falklands. Saw the festive pictures of the fleet’s send-off from Portsmouth. Women waving handkerchiefs and Union Jacks. Embracing their men or just watching, their faces glowing with pride and excitement. On the huge ship, a banner: SOCK IT TO ‘EM, BOYS! I couldn’t believe it. Britain was heading to war. Britannia. Troops setting sail to reclaim John Bull’s Other Other Island. Sock It To ‘Em. Nuke the Argies. Murder is Big Fun. Don’t think about it, I told myself. This is not your country.[82]


In spite of herself, Fran continues, “I could not banish it from my mind. Memories of my life in Belfast surged back, images of that same bloodlust.”[83] Traumatic memories of the Troubles suddenly flood her mind in a rapid-fire sequence of fragmented, horrific images. She recalls, “A woman dancing with glee and screaming at an injured Civil Rights marcher: ‘Fenian blood! I want to see Fenian blood!’ My own father crowing over the televised deaths of marchers on Bloody Sunday: ‘Slap it to them! They had it coming!’” Their indifference to human suffering terrorizes Fran, who observes, “Those blunt aggressive words with their comic-strip notion of death: sock, slap, nuke. I went to bed, shivering like a dog in a storm. Nothing was inviolate. No room, no womb, no indifference.”[84] The “storm” that Fran mentions illustrates the destructive nature of (neo)imperialism and the violent exertion of its hegemony through warfare. More specifically, Anderson links these historical cycles of violence to their psychosomatic effects on women and children.


Fran yearns for her daughter to grow up in a secure world that will shelter her from harm—but she is aware that as a mixed-race child, Emily will face a difficult upbringing. While taking the baby for a walk in the park, Fran is confronted by a young English girl who calls her a “nigger-lover.”[85] She thinks, “Thin skin. Black skin. I looked at Emily asleep in the pram. What am I going to do? I asked her silently.” Via Fran’s narrative, Anderson enacts a feminist repossession of the idea of “nation.” She foregoes limiting this concept to (Northern) Ireland, and she also eschews the neoimperial family romance of the “United Kingdom.” When Fran tells herself, “this is not your country,” she rejects war-crazed Thatcherism and its empty myths in favor of an interculturalism that is propelled by feminist agency. During the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher fashioned herself as the unassailable, impenetrable emblem of neoimperial British womanhood. Fran rejects this model, stating, “in the north-east corner of Ireland where I come from, we’re British citizens. Some are reluctant and some are enthusiastic about it. I was brought up to exult in being an honorary Brit. It didn’t work in my case.”[86] In contrast to Thatcher, whom she aligns with the “women waving handkerchiefs and Union Jacks” and the “woman dancing with glee and screaming at an injured Civil Rights marcher,” Anderson presents us with Fran. She is an alternative, feminist figure in that she is an admittedly flawed woman whose armor is penetrable. Fran embodies a complicated cultural heritage and also gives birth to a daughter as the result of an interracial liaison. Additionally, Fran takes up the cause of protesting the stationing of cruise missiles at British naval bases by Ronald Reagan’s administration. She endures the dangerous conditions of the Women’s Peace Camp at Greenham Common, and there she befriends her fellow women protestors, even serving jail time with some of them. Fran ultimately reasserts her agency by joining the antinuclear cause and setting an outspoken example for her daughter.



An analysis of masculine gender identity in the novel returns us to the imbricated stories of Fran and Cornelius, and their haunting of London within Anderson’s text. Cornelius makes his desire for a home perfectly clear, telling Fran, “Britain not my home! Jamaica not my home! No place my home!”[87] His behavior toward Fran, which is characterized by hypermasculinity and an “abusive edgy courtliness,” is a reactionary response to monoculturalist British social discourses that inferiorize, marginalize, and feminize black male immigrant identity through sociocultural processes of negation.[88] Consequently, Cornelius experiences a double displacement similar to that of Fran, who, although she is white, also faces overt prejudice. She consistently encounters people who regard her as “a wee colleen” and dismiss her fellow Northern Irish with crass statements such as, “All those nutters. What are they fighting for, eh? […] It’s in their blood.”[89] On the other hand, even her so-called friends such as the bourgeois Caroline make tactless comments such as, “I do think Irish people are well integrated and accepted into this country,” to which she retorts, “Oh sure! They express and perpetuate the belief that we’re just a bunch of subhuman Paddies, so who cares what happens to us? Just a bunch of thick Paddies.”[90] Accordingly, Fran and Cornelius both encounter intersectional discursive regimes, which homogenize minority cultural groups and negate the possibility for immigrants to truly arrive within British society. Cornelius is also complicit with such discourses, at times comparing Fran to the other white women he knows and making offhanded comments such as, “Whites all look the same to me.”[91] At other times, he singles her out for her cultural difference: “‘You white cow,’ he said. […] ‘You filthy Irish white cow.’”[92] This animalizing (and once again feminizing) discourse is another form of dehumanization, which was historically directed toward the colonized Africans and Irish alike by the British colonizers, and which Cornelius redeploys against Fran in an attempt to assert his dominance over her.


As Hughes remarks, this fractious mixing “with other ‘migrant’ communities” is “often part of the experience” of diasporans in Britain.[93] While at times “it can be seen as a form of solidarity in the face of alienation,” he observes, “it must also be seen as an indication that ‘Britishness’ or ‘Englishness’ […] is marked by its heterogeneity, a heterogeneity signaled most visibly by colour.” Cornelius’s narrative demonstrates that while “Black Britons” are putatively integrated within a “multiculturalist” British culture, the social reality in contemporary Britain is in fact highly conflictual and monoculturalist. Hughes also discusses Cuckoo’s preoccupation with “the temporary, often unsatisfactory nature of home and the consequences of that on the mentality” of the characters.[94] He determines that Fran “is eventually most at home in the necessarily temporary and unstable home of the Women’s Camp at Greenham Common with its constant evictions and upheavals,” but also acknowledges that her daughter Emily “functions to anchor her more firmly in Britain to which she moved in the first place to have an abortion.”[95] Fran’s immigration to the London metropole as part of the Troubles diaspora is mediated by the fact that she cannot have an abortion in her homeland. However, she indicates that it would be equally unconscionable to bring a child into the hostile world of the “troubled” North. She states, “No abortion in Northern Ireland, you see, I imagined explaining to the nurses. Illegal, immoral, impossible. Only ‘ex utero’ human beings may be killed there with impunity. An advanced civilisation. But I was no better. An accomplice of death, after all.”[96] Anderson’s depiction of Troubles migration to London suggests that the “blighted” landscape renders the Northern Irish motherland incapable of providing a nurturing environment for its children—echoing the “diseased” figure of the sean bhean bhocht from the opening of the novel. Consequently, this forces Northern Irish diasporans to seek refuge in the neoimperial “Mother Country,” likely never to return home. This trope of repetition and return is a persistent theme in contemporary (Northern) Irish writing in Britain. As Hughes notes, “The geographical proximity of Ireland and Britain has made the dream of return […] appear to be more plausible for the Irish than other migrant groups.”[97] “Despite its plausibility, however,” he points out that return is statistically “no greater among the Irish than among other groups.” It is significant that in Anderson’s novel, the mother-island-nation to which Fran ultimately chooses to return is the “island” of women protesters congregated at Greenham Common, whose activism is motivated by the fact that they are also mothers. The closing image of the novel is one in which Fran leaves the men’s station on the border of the camp after running into her ex-husband Paul, and turns to “walk back to the women.”[98] This final scene constitutes a feminist refusal of dominant nationalist narratives of “home” and “family.” Rather than the narrowly nationalist vision of Ireland which Paul espouses, or the equally reductivist construct of “Thatcher’s England,” Fran chooses to inhabit a diversified “nation” of women activists. She leaves her married lover, Dominic, and relocates to the camp, declaring, “I can’t be dispossessed anymore.”[99] At the novel’s end she chooses to possess herself, and Anderson implies that Fran intends to teach her daughter to do the same. This intergenerational and intercultural inheritance textualizes Anderson’s views regarding how to navigate transnational intersectionality within the British and Irish isles. Her protagonist represents a self-empowered woman-Ireland-Muse who diverges from the traditional figures upon whom Boland and Longley focus within their political tracts.


Although the Peace Camp is designated a women-only space, Anderson portrays men such as Paul who set up camp on the outskirts to assist the women in their cause by providing childcare, thereby presenting it as a community effort across gender lines. Her narratological vision of a positive web of human relations in the face of intersectionality substantiates the image that Longley seemingly calls for when the latter states, “The image of the web is female, feminist, ‘connective.’”[100] The difference here is that Longley finishes this sentence with, “as contrasted with male polarization.” Anderson, on the other hand, perceives that men are a necessary part of the equation when considering the protensity of an intersectional social discourse. While Cornelius abandons notions of interconnectivity and disappears from Fran and Emily’s lives, Fran’s ex-husband Paul partakes in the camp’s mission and explains that he tries “to work for peace. I try to do no more harm. That’s more ambitious than it sounds!”[101] Anderson discloses that Paul’s viewpoints do not expand into other areas, however. He claims that he is “sick of all those hierarchies of value, you know […]. I wanted nothing more to do with all those tables of values and systems of salvation that lead to murder! That’s why I had to get away from Ireland.”[102] Even so, he also tells Fran in the same conversation, “We didn’t have a baby. That was a seven week foetus. A lump of overgrown sperm.”[103] Cuckoo illuminates the ambivalences and hierarchies that can warp apparently noble intentions. Paul attempts to justify leaving Fran by stating that he “couldn’t have a child” due to his traumatized condition which is a result of his experiences during the Troubles.[104] He tells her, “I loved you as much as I could.”[105] Despite their differences, Paul and Fran are alike in their desire to make sense of the world and to find purpose within it. As Hooley asserts, “it is this need which brings Fran’s ex-husband to the same frontier.”[106] This “frontier” is the border of the Women’s Camp, and Paul and Fran’s meeting in this liminal space allows Anderson to examine the nuances of male/female relationships and to dismantle gender binaries.



Anderson also considers the ways in which her male and female characters interact across national borders. Cornelius immigrates to England as an economic migrant whose post-independence Jamaican homeland offers no work and thus no sense of security. Upon arrival, he is no less able to find a comfortable home in Britain. Fran undergoes a parallel experience when she moves out of the bedsit and attempts to fit into Caroline and Dominic’s upper-middle-class London household. Fran remarks bitterly that she and Emily live as “the cuckoo and the cuckoo’s mother” in Caroline and Dominic’s home.[107] As Hughes states, once there Fran becomes a kind of “nanny-cum-housekeeper and […] she is ‘still essentially homeless. A lodger.’”[108] Fran ultimately rejects Caroline and Dominic’s attempted embourgeoisement and runs away to the Women’s Camp, where she feels most at ease despite the rough outdoor living conditions. Still she ponders, “I wish I was home, home, home, I thought as I trudged along, but the home in my mind was not one I had ever known. It was more like something out of an Ovaltine commercial.”[109] Realizing the constructedness of conventional ideas of “home,” Fran eventually commits to the space of the camp and reflects on “the words of a concentration camp survivor, Zdena Berger: ‘You don’t need walls and doors […]. Freedom is not a place you own […]. It’s a home inside yourself.’”[110] Anderson’s overlaying of the Holocaust concentration camp and the Women’s Peace Camp through the figure of a Troubles diasporan serves to align women’s variegated lived experiences of comradeship and suffering, home, and dispossession. She entwines these women’s narratives with those of masculine experience through Fran’s encounters with Paul and Cornelius, creating a diasporic web of affiliation across gender, racial, and national divides. While this metropolitan network of diasporic entanglements is produced through the negative experiences of sexualization, racialization, and disenfranchisement, it also creates the opportunity for shared “culture-in-diaspora.”[111] Anderson frames Fran’s relationship with Cornelius in such a way that it links Northern Irish diasporic experience with those of other hyphenated cultural groups—in this case, “Black Britons.” Her narrative matrix represents an interculturalist response to contemporary oppressive structures, establishing a relational discursivity that accommodates the unsettled and shifting orientations of lived diasporic experience.


In Cuckoo, Anderson engages with discourses of feminism, multiculturalism, and (neo)imperialism, but she does so by rejecting normative patterns. She demonstrates the ways in which identity is constructed within these tightly enmeshed discursive fields, and therefore can be deconstructed. Correspondingly, Fran’s fragmented narrative trajectory does not conform to a given pattern, since it is that of a subject-in-process. As Hooley states, “Cuckoo charts a journey of female survival, in and out of one displacement after another—hence the title.”[112] Anderson uses this subjective unsettling process as a narrative tool and a productive form of displacement in order to politicize Fran’s experience, as well as the experiences of her lovers. The author explains, “A recurring obsession in my work is the link between public and private kinds of violence, the way ‘public’ violence seeps and deforms and creates what a man says to a woman in bed, for example, and the reverse situation, too. The way all our ‘privacies’ create the mutilating world.”[113] She investigates the deep structure of entrenched sociopolitical violence and the ways in which it frames her characters’ life narratives. Consequently, as St. Peter observes, “The microstructures of their personal histories are embedded within the larger social context that shapes, and is shaped in turn, by the characters.”[114] In Anderson’s fiction, the reflexive text of the body is the locus of public and private violence. It is the site of multiple intersections, fragmentary forces that shape the subject-in-process. The embodied transcripts of her characters are fragmented, multiple, and relational, and therefore overrun their determined limits (political/personal, male/female, black/white, Northern Irish/British). This is most evident in liminal spaces such as the camp, the prison, and London diaspora space, in which Anderson disarticulates cultural labels. She addresses “the Northern question” through her portrayal of Fran as questionable and questioning subject, a diasporan whose journey challenges received forms of “Troubles” narratives as it intersects with multiple subject positions and contesting fields of discourse.


[1] Linda Anderson, Cuckoo (London: Bodley Head, 1986; Cooleen: Brandon, 1988). All quotations in this essay are from the 1988 edition of Cuckoo.

[2] See the following anthologies: Angela Bourke et al., eds., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, Volume V: Irish Women’s Writing and Traditions (Cork: Cork University Press, 2002); Claire Buck, ed., The Bloomsbury Guide to Women’s Literature (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 1992); Sinéad Gleeson, ed., The Glass Shore: Short Stories by Women Writers from the North of Ireland (Dublin: New Island Books: 2016); Alexander G. Gonzalez, ed., Irish Women Writers, an A-Z Guide, (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2006); Liz Murphy, ed., Wee Girls: Women Writing from an Irish Perspective (North Melbourne: Spinifex Press, 1996); Ann Owens Weekes, Unveiling Treasures: The Attic Guide to the Published Works of Irish Women Literary Writers (Dublin: Attic Press, 1993); and Ailbhe Smyth, ed., Wildish Things: An Anthology of New Irish Women’s Writing (Dublin: Attic Press, 1989).

[3] See Anthea Cordon in Gonzalez, Irish Women Writers. As Cordon points out, this comes despite the fact that “Cuckoo drew rave reviews for its technical merits and ability to expose harsh truths about identity, bigotry, and belonging. Its publication led to the author being chosen as one of the top ten new authors in 1986 by W.H. Smith and Cosmopolitan” (11). See also Linda Connolly and Tina O’Toole, “Feminism and Northern Ireland,” Documenting Irish Feminisms: The Second Wave (Dublin: The Woodfield Press, 2005), 145-170; Rebecca Pelan, “The Unfinished Revolution: Women’s Writing from Northern Ireland,” in Two Irelands: Literary Feminisms North and South (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2005), 52-101.

[4] Christine St. Peter, “Feminist Fiction,” Changing Ireland: Strategies in Contemporary Women’s Fiction (New York: St Martin’s Press, 2000), 151.

[5] The LIP pamphlets were published in a series during the 1980s and 1990s by the Irish feminist publishing house Attic Press.

[6] Ailbhe Smyth in Buck, The Bloomsbury Guide, 279.

[7] Cordon in Gonzalez, Irish Women Writers, 11; Smyth, ibid.; Bourke et al., The Field Day Anthology, 1133.

[8] Julia Kristeva, Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art, Trans. Thomas Gora et al. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1980), 125, 18.

[9] Julia Kristeva, Revolution in Poetic Language. Trans. Margaret Waller (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984), 118.

[10] Kristeva, Desire in Language, 125.

[11] See Avtar Brah and Ann Phoenix, “Ain’t I a Woman? Revisiting Intersectionality,” in Journal of International Women’s Studies 5, no. 3 (May 2004), 83.

[12] Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color,” in Stanford Law Review 43, no. 6 (July 1991), 1241-1242. “Intersectionalism” as a critical framework is not to be confused with “intersectionality,” as the latter term denotes the intersecting systems of oppression which the former analyzes.

[13] Eamonn Hughes, “‘Lancelot’s position’: The Fiction of Irish-Britain,” in Other Britain, Other British: Contemporary Multicultural Fiction, edited by A. Robert Lee (London: Pluto Press, 1995), 143.

[14] Anderson cited by Anthea Cordner, in Gonzalez, Irish Women Writers, 9.

[15] Brah and Phoenix, “Ain’t I a Woman,” 75.

[16] Ibid., 83.

[17] Cordner, in Gonzalez, Irish Women Writers, 9.

[18] Jacques Derrida, “Living On—Border Lines,” in Deconstruction and Criticism, by Harold Bloom et al. (New York: Seabury Press, 1979), 105. Derrida distinguishes between the “narrative voice,” which is situated, and the “narratorial voice,” which is neutral and therefore surpasses dialectical opposition.

[19] Brah and Phoenix, p. 83.

[20] David Lloyd, “What’s in a Name: The Dialectics of Diaspora and Emigration,” Breac 2 (April 2013), n.p.

[21] Allen Feldman, Formations of Violence: The Narrative of the Body and Political Terror in Northern Ireland (London: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 1.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Kristeva, Desire in Language, 206.

[24] Feldman, Formations of Violence, 7.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Eavan Boland, “A Kind of Scar: The Woman Poet in a National Tradition” (1989), in A Dozen LIPs, by Eavan Boland et al. (Dublin: Attic Press, 1994), 74.

[27] Boland, “A Kind of Scar,” 74.

[28] Boland cited in Edna Longley, “From Cathleen to Anorexia: The Breakdown of Irelands” (1990), in Eavan Boland et al., A Dozen LIPs, 178.

[29] Longley, “From Cathleen to Anorexia,” 178.

[30] Ibid. The sean bhean bhocht is the Irish literary archetype of the “poor old woman.”

[31] Anderson, Cuckoo, 7.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid., 8.

[34] Ibid., 7.

[35] Ibid., 8-9.

[36] Ruth Hooley, “Exit, but No Escape from the World: Review of Cuckoo by Linda Anderson,” Fortnight 272 (Apr. 1989), 23; Anderson, Cuckoo, 10. Ruth Hooley now goes by Ruth Carr.

[37] Linda Anderson, “A Lack of Alternatives,” The Honest Ulsterman 91 (1991), 92-93.

[38] Longley, “From Cathleen to Anorexia,” 178.

[39] Ibid., 186.

[40] Ibid., 178.

[41] Ibid., 186.

[42] Edna Longley, “Multiculturalism and Northern Ireland: Making Differences Fruitful,” in Multiculturalism: The View from the Two Irelands, by Edna Longley and Declan Kiberd (Cork: Cork University Press, 2001), 1-44.

[43] Longley, “From Cathleen to Anorexia,” 186. Of course, Cathleen Ní Houlihan is not an actual “person,” as Longley states, but rather a personification of Ireland.

[44] Longley, “From Cathleen to Anorexia,” 185. Boland, “A Kind of Scar,” 74, 81.

[45] Boland, “A Kind of Scar,” 74, 80.

[46] Longley, “From Cathleen to Anorexia,” 164.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Gerardine Meaney, “Sex and Nation: Women in Irish Culture and Politics” (1991), in A Dozen LIPs, by Eavan Boland et al. (Dublin: Attic Press, 1994), 188.

[49] Meaney, “Sex and Nation,” 202. The conclusion is titled “Analogies: The International Context.”

[50] Ibid., 194-195. Regarding Longley’s dismissal of London Irish critic Terry Eagleton as “foreign,” Meaney comments, “That use of ‘foreign’ seems strange from a writer who advocates the abolition of the concept of Irishness and it should alert the reader to the inconsistent assumptions underlying the pamphlet.”

[51] Ibid., 203.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Longley, “From Cathleen to Anorexia,” 185. Boland, “A Kind of Scar,” 89.

[54] Ibid., 186.

[55] Ibid., 3.

[56] Ibid. To “retropologize” is to strategically rework a trope for rhetorical effect.

[57] There is a burgeoning field of scholarship in the area of Irish-Caribbean connections. See Alison Donnell, Evelyn O’Callaghan, and Maria McGarrity, eds., Caribbean Irish Connections: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (Kingston: University of the West Indies Press, 2015); Kathleen Gough, Kinship and Performance in the Black and Green Atlantic: Haptic Allegories (London: Routledge, 2013); Michael Malouf, Transatlantic Solidarities: Irish Nationalism and Caribbean Poetics (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009); Maria McGarrity, Washed by the Gulf Stream: The Historic and Geographic Relation of Irish and Caribbean Literature (Cranbury: Rosemont Publishing, 2008); Peter D. O’Neill and David Lloyd, eds., The Black and Green Atlantic: Cross-Currents of the African and Irish Diasporas (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009); Abigail Palko, “Colonial Modernism’s thwarted maternity: Elizabeth Bowen’s The House in Paris and Jean Rhys’s Voyage in the Dark,” Textual Practice 27, no. 1 (2013): 89-198; Nini Rodgers, “Ireland and the Black Atlantic in the Eighteenth Century” Irish Historical Studies xxxii, no. 26 (2000): 174-192; Dawn Miranda Sherratt-Bado, “E.A. Markham’s St. Caesare: the other ‘Ulster’?” Irish Studies Review 24, no. 2 (May 2016): 191-206.

[58] Anderson, Cuckoo, 11, 12.

[59] Ibid.,13, 12.

[60] Ibid.,13.

[61] Ibid.,14.

[62] Peter Stallybrass and Allon White, The Politics and Poetics of Transgression (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986), 192.

[63] Anderson, Cuckoo, 48.

[64] Ibid., 15.

[65] Ibid. See also Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, 1952, translated by Richard Philcox (New York: Grove Press, 2008).

[66] Hooley, “Exit, but No Escape,” 23.

[67] Anderson, Cuckoo, 24.

[68] Ibid., 24-25.

[69] Brontë’s father Patrick was an Anglican clergyman—original surname Brunty—from County Down in the pre-partition North of Ireland.

[70] Rebecca Pelan, “The Unfinished Revolution,” 92-93.

[71] Anderson, Cuckoo, 22.

[72] See Ann Rosalind Jones and Peter Stallybrass, “Dismantling Irena: The Sexualizing of Ireland in Early Modern England,” in Nationalisms and Sexualities, edited by Andrew Parker et al. (London: Routledge, 1992), 157-171.

[73] Kristeva, Desire in Language, 241-242.

[74] Moynagh Sullivan, “The Treachery of Wetness: Irish Studies, Seamus Heaney and the Politics of Parturition,” Irish Studies Review 13, no. 4 (2005): 463.

[75] Anderson, Cuckoo, 25.

[76] Ibid.

[77] Mangan’s “Dark Rosaleen” was published in 1846.

[78] Anderson, Cuckoo, 89.

[79] Hooley, “Exit, but No Escape,” 23.

[80] Anderson, Cuckoo, 88.

[81] Ibid., 16.

[82] Ibid. John Bull is a personification of the English nation, portrayed either positively in national political propaganda or negatively in political cartoons or caricatures.

[83] Ibid.

[84] Anderson, Cuckoo, 17.

[85] Ibid., 83.

[86] Ibid, 87.

[87] Anderson, Cuckoo, 90.

[88] Ibid., 12.

[89] Ibid., 86-87.

[90] Ibid., 50.

[91] Ibid., 90.

[92] Ibid.,13.

[93] Hughes, “‘Lancelot’s position,’” 151.

[94] Ibid.,154.

[95] Ibid., 155, 151.

[96] Anderson, Cuckoo, 131.

[97] Hughes, “‘Lancelot’s position,’” 143.

[98] Anderson, Cuckoo, 160.

[99] Ibid., 88.

[100] Longley, “From Cathleen to Anorexia,” 85.

[101] Anderson, Cuckoo, 60.

[102] Ibid.,159.

[103] Ibid.,158.

[104] Ibid.,159.

[105] Ibid.,159-160.

[106] Hooley, “Exit, but No Escape,” 23.

[107] Ibid., 27.

[108] Hughes, “‘Lancelot’s position,’” 155 (citing Anderson, Cuckoo, 29).

[109] Anderson, Cuckoo, 152.

[110] Ibid.,142.

[111] Lloyd, “What’s in a Name,” n.p.

[112] Hooley, “Exit, but No Escape,” 23.

[113] Anderson, cited in Weekes, Unveiling Treasures, 16.

[114] St. Peter, Changing Ireland, 151.