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Title: Forming the nation : early modern England and modern Ireland
Author: Collins, Nicholas J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5915 2201
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2015
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Previous work links early modern England with modern Ireland solely through the figure of Shakespeare. This thesis broadens the connection to early modern literature more generally, and examines the deeper cultural tie between the two temporo-geographical spaces. In forming nations, writers in the two periods adopt the same strategies; England and Ireland as nation-states emerge into modernity in the same manner because they share a cradle of modernity, characterised by widespread cultural production. The respective polities of Elizabethan England and the Irish Republic are shaped by the same forces: modern Ireland is not merely postcolonial, but is post-early modern England. Without a positive engagement with early modern England, there is no modern Ireland. In five chapters I examine different formal arrangements that are rewritten through literary culture. The relationship between mothers and daughters in James Stephens and Eavan Boland is central to Irish modernity through the motif of maternity, as with Queen Elizabeth I. Fathers and sons in Pádraic Pearse, James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and in John McGahern are reorganised into fraternal relationships at the foundation of Ireland’s modernity alongside Love’s Labour’s Lost (1594-5) and King Lear (1605-6; 1609). Ghosts are the ideal figure of the sovereign, descending from Hamlet into J. M. Synge, Joyce’s ‘Hades’ and John Banville. Additionally, bodies are the most alienating form, yet provide the surest path to personal sovereignty from Volpone (performed 1605-6; published 1607) to Troilus and Cressida (1602), through to Samuel Beckett and Edna O’Brien. Finally, a national poet emerges from the nationalised land in the dance of John Davies’ Orchestra (1596) and W. B. Yeats, as in the digging of Hamlet (1600-1) and Seamus Heaney. We have long known about early modern writers’ importance to the shape of the nation, and here those ideas are updated. They now show how modern Irish writers’ contribution to the Republic’s polity forms through their English forebears several centuries earlier; the literary form of the nations gives rise to authors’ sovereignty – authors who in English script the modern Irish nation. Note on the Text When citing William Shakespeare I use the latest Arden editions, but I do not footnote references; instead I cite in parentheses in the main text. Occasionally I have used a different Shakespearean text, which has been signalled in the notes. Standard systems of reference have been adopted for Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene and Joyce’s Ulysses. I parenthetically cite line numbers for poems, rather than increase the number of notes. For prose and for drama, aside from Shakespeare, notes are used. Notes are reset for each chapter.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR English literature