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Title: Ruins and cultural memory in literary representations of Ireland, 1916-1945
Author: Induni, Harriet
ISNI:       0000 0004 8504 5426
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis analyses forms of ruin within literary representations of Ireland between 1916 and 1945. I examine how novels, short stories, and life writing set during these years use ruin as a source of active reflection on Irish history and culture. The texts in question can be understood as resistant contributions to Irish cultural memory - a term I use to denote the diverse social sites within which remembrance of the past is practiced and developed. I focus on the work of J. G. Farrell ('Troubles'), Elizabeth Bowen ('The Last September', 'Bowen's Court'), William Trevor ('Fools of Fortune', 'The Story of Lucy Gault'), Sebastian Barry ('The Secret Scripture'), Seán Ó Faoláin ('Midsummer Night Madness', 'A Broken World'), and Máirtín Ó Cadhain ('Cré na Cille'), arguing that each author mobilises ruin to intervene in problematic narratives of the past. The history in question is firstly Ireland's revolutionary period and the fate of the Anglo-Irish 'Big House' during this time; secondly, the insular and damaged conditions within post-independence statehood; and finally, the pressures placed upon the Free State's nationalistic insularity by the global ruin of World War II. I coin the term 'radical decay' to describe how fragmentation, damage, and degeneration are deployed in order to resist ingrained cultural values and perceptions of history. Ruins are records of the past characterised by absences and flux, which result in semiotic ambiguity. The writers discussed here embrace this ambiguity to unsettle historical meaning, and so resist calcified practices and manipulative agendas within Irish heritage. Ruin appears as a heterogeneous substance within these texts. It is present in the narratives regarding damaged buildings, including the torched Big Houses of the Ascendancy, as a decaying asylum within the Free State, and in sites of abandonment or neglect in a destitute rural landscape. Ruin is also portrayed as a textual and personal condition. Using radical decay as a conceptual foundation for my analysis, I will show how each form of ruin is represented in Irish literature to provoke resistant renegotiations of cultural memory.
Supervisor: John, McLeod Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available