International in scope and based on primary research, this book gathers twelve new essays by critics including both well-established and newer voices. It aims to stimulate further enquiry, research and critical reflection, in sceptical, analytic or celebratory modes, on the riches of Irish literary texts and traditions. The collection discusses texts from the early 18th century to the present. It also addresses those meta-narratives by which we understand and mediate these riches for contemporary and future use. The cumulative effect is to call into question, often in new contexts, master narratives of Irish studies. Some essays focus on the aesthetic - a vital category of discussion about a national literature - and its interweaving with ideological purposes. Others concentrate on different phases of the retrieval of women's texts previously occluded by gender bias in canon formation. A central theme is the need to renegotiate the relations of feminism with nationalism and to transact the potential contest of these two important narratives, each possessing powerful emancipatory force. Irish Literature: Feminist Perspectives contributes incisively to contemporary debates about Irish culture, gender and ideology.