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Liminal Borderlands in Irish Literature and Culture


Edited By Irene Gilsenan Nordin and Elin Holmsten

Liminality, if interpreted as a concern with borders and states of in-betweenness, is a widespread theme in Irish literature and culture, which is perhaps not surprising considering the colonial and postcolonial background of Ireland. The liminal, from the Latin word limen, meaning «a threshold», can be broadly defined as a transitional place of becoming. It is a borderland state of ambiguity and indeterminacy, leading those who participate in the process to new perspectives and possibilities.
This collection of essays examines the theme of liminality in Irish literature and culture against the philosophical discourse of modernity and focuses on representations of liminality in contemporary Irish literature, art and film in a variety of contexts. The book is divided into four sections. The first part deals with theoretical aspects of liminal states. Other sections focus on liminal narratives and explore drama as liminal rites of passage, while the last part examines transformative spaces in contemporary Irish women’s poetry.


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4 “‘The Other’ that Moves and Misleads”: Mapping and Temporality in Éilís Ní Dhuibhne’s The Dancer’s Dancing Susan Cahill 69


4 “‘The Other’ that Moves and Misleads”: Mapping and Temporality in Éilís Ní Dhuibhne’s The Dancers Dancing Susan Cahill Éilís Ní Dhuibhne has claimed that her writing is interested in duality and ambiguity especially in relation to questions of identity and Irishness (Interview 2003, 105). Her novel The Dancers Dancing articulates the problematics inherent in a dualistic, bifurcated experience between west/ east, north/south, Irish/English, and past/present. Her body of work as a whole displays this interest in crossing borders – Ní Dhuibhne is a bilin- gual writer and she has published in the genres of short fiction, novels, drama, and children’s fiction under the pseudonym Elizabeth O’Hara. She has also edited collections of poetry and folklore. Ní Dhuibhne pos- sesses an academic background in folklore, having completed a PhD in University College Dublin, and it has often been noted that her fiction is concerned with drawing together past and present, integrating myth and modernity using structures, motifs, and influences from folklore, Irish and otherwise (Fogarty xi). The Dancers Dancing, published in 1999 at the cusp of a new millen- nium, concerns a group of girls at a transitional stage of their lives and their experience of Irish college in Donegal. Questions of identity and Irishness lie at the heart of the narrative and indeed Claire Connolly uses the opening section of the novel to begin a discussion of Irish Studies and the place of cultural theory in her introduction to Theorizing Ireland. Connolly has also cogently pointed out that...

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