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Title: Speaking of silence : myth and history in contemporary Irish women's poetry (1989-2004)
Author: Arnison, Alexandra
ISNI:       0000 0001 3428 8311
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2008
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Although, Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, Eavan Boland and Medbh McGuckian avoid labelling themselves 'feminist poets', each provides a 'feminist insight' into what Catriona Clutterbuck describes as their 'marginalization from official systems of representation'. This thesis will primarily discuss how each of these women poets, from both the North and South of Ireland, writes from the margins of Irish myth and history to question the concept of silence. The introduction interrogates the meaning of silence in relation to wider philosophic responses to the politics of silence in contemporary Irish poetry. This chapter will also briefly review some of the more monumental anthologies of Irish literature and major works of literary criticism (1989-2004) to illustrate how women poets have emerged from their obscurity and established themselves as prominent figures within a patriarchal tradition that had previously marginalized their voices. As an example of their rise in status, Chapter II will have a comparative look at how all three poets employ the body to paradoxically speak of women's silence, while using it to maintain a level of silence. This thesis will then move on to discuss how Ni Dhomhnaill, Boland and McGuckian all write from the margins of Irish myth and history to speak of the unspeakable. In Chapter III, Ni Dhomhnaill speaks of women's silence through Irish myth and history by engaging in the oral tradition of storytelling. Whereas Ni Dhomhnaill favours myth over history, Boland's overall ambition in Chapter IV is to write woman out of her silence, thus 'out of myth [and] into history' by using her autobiography. The fifth chapter will return to the mythical realms of McGuckian's more radical approach to history in her later poems from Captain Lavender (1994) and discuss her private symbolic re-reading of Northern Ireland's political history. Since in much of their later poetry, Ni Dhomhnaill, Boland and McGuckian all adopt the ethical position of speaking while maintaining a certain silence, Chapter VI will conclude with a comparative look at some of the Irish women poets writing of silence in the twenty-first century.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available