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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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Chapter Five The Return and Redefinition of the Repressed: Postcolonial Studies and ‘Eveline’ in Dubliners 81


Chapter Five The Return and Redefinition of the Repressed: Postcolonial Studies and ‘Eveline’ in Dubliners That postcolonial studies has become a seminal part of academic life is now beyond debate. Indeed, the very term ‘postcolonial’ has become the latest ‘catchall term’ to ‘dazzle the academic mind’ ( Jacoby 1995, 30) by becoming part of the ‘intellectual/academic industry taking as its topic the colonial division of the world’ (Smyth 1995, 27). At an epistemological level, however, there has been considerable debate as to the epistemological status of postcolonialism: such has been the elasticity of the concept postcolonial that in recent years some com- mentators have begun to express anxiety that there may be a danger of it imploding as an analytic concept with any real cutting edge. (Moore-Gilbert 1997, 11) A further level of complexity is introduced into this debate when the matter of Ireland is considered. Luke Gibbons has speculated that the problem with Ireland and postcolonial studies is simply that ‘a native population which happened to be white was an affront to the very idea of “white man’s burden”, and threw into disarray some of the constitutive categories of colonial discourse’ (Gibbons 1996, 149). However, academic opinion has diverged considerably on this issue. There has been ongoing debate about this topic within the academy, with some theorists, notably Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin in The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures and in The Post-Colonial Studies Reader, arguing that Ireland was complicit in the colonising...

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