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Uncovering the Irish Woman in Early 20th Century Fiction, NeMLA, April 7-11, 2010
full name / name of organization:
Elizabeth Foley O'Connor/ Northeastern Modern Language Association
41st Anniversary Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 7-11, 2010
Montreal, Quebec - Hilton Bonaventure
"Uncovering the Irish Woman in Early 20th Century Fiction"
While Irish male writers such as Beckett, Joyce, and Yeats have achieved canonical status in English literature, there are very few Irish female authors who have been recognized to a comparable extent during the first half of the 20th century. Recent criticism has brought forth works by authors like Mary Beckett, Emily Lawless, and Kate O’Brien, to name a few, who deserve to be more widely known. Ireland’s history of colonial subjugation and the patriarchal values that its English overlords inculcated are at least partially to blame for the shadow that Irish female writers have been under. In a 1997 Eire: Ireland essay, the poet Eavan Boland addresses this history and points out the “shame, anger… [and] confusions of expression” that women have experienced in the aftermath of Ireland’s colonization. Boland writes:
Being a woman in Ireland touches on an adventure of powerlessness. It is not just a historic adventure, or an imaginative one. And it is exactly where a woman’s experience shifts and dissolves into that experience of powerlessness that she becomes a key witness to the geology of secrets and exclusions that are an important part of Irish literature and the culture around it. (10)
This panel will explore both this “adventure of powerlessness” and women’s response to it in Irish novels and plays from the decades surrounding the achievement of Irish nationhood. Although many representations of women in texts of the period do appear to conform to Boland’s bleak assessment, papers that critique this view are especially welcome. This panel is most interested in investigating representations of Irish womanhood by Irish female writers from the fin de siècle to World War II but will also consider papers on female characters in male-authored texts.
Please send a 250-word abstract to Elizabeth Foley O'Connor (firstname.lastname@example.org) by September 30, 2009.
Include with your abstract:
Name and Affiliation
Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable.
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