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‘Kicking Bishop Brennan Up the Arse’

Negotiating Texts and Contexts in Contemporary Irish Studies


Eugene O'Brien

This collection of essays reconsiders aspects of Irish studies through the medium of literary and cultural theory. The author looks at the negotiations between texts and their contexts and then analyses how the writer both reflects and transforms aspects of his or her cultural milieu. The essays examine literary texts by W. B. Yeats, Seamus Heaney, James Joyce and Sean Ó’Faoláin; media texts such as Father Ted, American Beauty and a series of Guinness advertisements; as well as cultural and political contexts such as globalisation, religion, the Provisional IRA and media treatment of murders in Ireland. The author also looks at aspects of the postcolonial and feminist paradigms and makes use of a theoretical matrix based on the work of Jacques Derrida and Jacques Lacan.


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Acknowledgements vii Introduction Negotiating Texts and Contexts 1 Chapter One Ireland in Theory: The Influence of French Theory on Irish Cultural and Societal Development 11 Chapter Two The Ethics of Translation: Seamus Heaney’s Cure at Troy and Beowulf 27 Chapter Three The Body Politic: The Ethics of Responsibility and the Responsibility of Ethics in Seamus Heaney’s The Burial at Thebes 47 Chapter Four ‘You can never know women’: Framing Female Identity in Dubliners 67 Chapter Five The Return and Redefinition of the Repressed: Postcolonial Studies and ‘Eveline’ in Dubliners 81 Chapter Six ‘Inner Émigré(s)’: Derrida, Heaney, Yeats and the Hauntological Redefinition of Irishness 99 Chapter Seven ‘Kicking Bishop Brennan up the Arse’: Catholicism, Deconstruction and Postmodernity in Contemporary Irish Culture 115 Chapter Eight ‘Guests (Geists) of the Nation’: A Heimlich (Unheimlich) Manoeuvre 133 Chapter Nine Global Warnings: Towards a Deconstruction of the Global and the Local 153 Chapter Ten ‘Tá Siad ag Teacht’: Guinness as a Signifier of Irish Cultural Transformation 171 Conclusion 189 Bibliography 193 Index 205

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