Show Less

Sons of Ulster

Masculinities in the Contemporary Northern Irish Novel


Caroline Magennis

Both masculinity and the Northern Irish conflict have been the subjects of a great deal of recent scholarship, yet there is a dearth of material on Northern Irish masculinity. Northern Ireland has a remarkable literary output relative to its population, but the focus of critical attention has been on poetry rather than the fine novels that have been written in and about Ulster. This book goes some way towards remedying the deficiency in critical attention to the Northern Irish novel and the lack of gendered approaches to Northern Irish literature and society.
Sons of Ulster explores the representation of masculinity within a number of Northern Irish novels written since the mid-1990s, focusing on works by Eoin McNamee, Glenn Patterson and Robert McLiam Wilson. One of the key aims of the book is to disrupt notions of a hegemonic Northern Irish masculinity based on violent conflict and hyper-masculine sectarian rhetoric. The author uses the three sections of the text to represent the three key facets of Northern Irish masculinity: bodies, performances and subjectivity bound up with violence.


Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Chapter One - Bodies 21


Chapter One Bodies 1. ‘That great swollen belly’: The Grotesque Feminine in the Northern Irish Imagination Ghoul! Chewer of corpses! No, mother. Let me be and let me live. — Joyce: 10 The mother takes up her place, so it goes once again, at the central loca- tion of the writer’s feminine showroom. But here, explicitly and in very significant fashion, she is split in two. — Kristeva 1984: 157 This chapter will consider how the body is represented in Northern Irish fiction, how we construct what is other to ourselves through visual and discursive practise, and how this is figured in the Northern Irish imagi- nation. This section will consider ways in which the maternal is figured as grotesque, abject and uncanny in Northern Irish fiction. The maternal has a significant hold on the Irish literary and cultural imagination, and we will see how this has affected the portrayal of these monstrous moth- ers. While the focus of this book is the representation of masculinity in Northern Irish fiction, the uncomfortable relationship to the maternal that Northern Irish men evidence in this writing cannot be escaped. The male protagonists are uneasy with, yet drawn to the apron strings, a world away from the vision of maternity in Irish women’s poetry, particularly the work of Medbh McGuckian, with its emphasis on positive visions of pregnancy and maternity. 22 Chapter One This section is informed by the work of Julia Kristeva, particularly her concept of the abject in Powers of Horror (1994) and...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.