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No Country for Old Men

Fresh Perspectives on Irish Literature


Edited By Paddy Lyons and Alison O'Malley-Younger

Once a country of emigration and diaspora, in the 1990s Ireland began to attract immigration from other parts of the world: a new citizenry. By the first decade of the twenty-first century, the ratio between GDP and population placed Ireland among the wealthiest nations in the world. The Peace Agreements of the mid-1990s and the advent of power-sharing in Northern Ireland have enabled Ireland’s story to change still further. No longer locked into troubles from the past, the Celtic Tiger can now leap in new directions.
These shifts in culture have given Irish literature the opportunity to look afresh at its own past and, thereby, new perspectives have also opened for Irish Studies. The contributors to this volume explore these new openings; the essays examine writings from both now and the past in the new frames afforded by new times.


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Caroline Magennis Sexual Dissidents and Queer Space in Northern Irish Fiction 177


Sexual Dissidents and Queer Space in Northern Irish Fiction Caroline Magennis The ways by which Northern Irish society has preserved its boundaries and cohesion in the maintenance of certain forms of sectarian identity are in unnerving correspondence with the ways in which it has repressed homo- sexuality through law, protests and intimidation. For each subversion of the norm, it seems, there is a tactic of marginalisation against those who dare dissent. Space is a critical issue for the study of both ethno-sectarian conflict and the queer experience. This essay takes a number of theoretical cues from the work of the sociologist Rob Kitchin, whose essay ‘Sexing the City’, (2002) describes Belfast as having a ‘homophobic hyper-hetero masculinity’ (2002: 215). Kitchin, working with Karen Lysaught, employs the term ‘sexual dissidents’1 remarks that: It is clear that Belfast, as expressed through legislation and political policy, and institutional and public attitudes and practises, is on the whole a sexually conser- vative and homophobic society. (2000: 11) Space is a critical issue for both gay activists and for queer theory. As Kitchin and Lysaught note, there is a growing academic interest in the provision and maintenance of ‘queer space’ and debate on the necessity of a separate space. These debates, in Northern Ireland, are inflected with political consequences. 1 Kitchin and Lysaght use this term to ‘represent all those people who do not perform as “good” heterosexuals’ (23) in the formulation set out by Gayle Rubin (Rubin, 1989). 178 Caroline Magennis This essay will...

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