By Susan Cannon Harris
Gender and smooth Irish Drama argues that the representations of sacrificial violence imperative to the paintings of the Abbey playwrights are in detail associated with buildings of gender and sexuality. Susan Cannon Harris is going past an exam of the connection among Irish nationwide drama and Irish nationalist politics to the bigger query of how nationwide id and gender id are built via one another. extensively redefining the context in which the Abbey performs have been played, Harris files the fabric and discursive forces that produced Irish conceptions of gender. She seems to be at cultural buildings of the human physique and their effect on nationalist rhetoric, linking the creation and reception of the performs to conversations approximately public wellbeing and fitness, pop culture, monetary coverage, and racial identification that have been occurring within and outdoors the nationalist neighborhood. The ebook is either a very important intervention in Irish reviews and a massive contribution to the continuing feminist venture of theorizing the construction of gender and the physique.
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Cathleen was important, not simply because it influenced so many other Irish playwrights, but because it modeled strategies that could be used to allay the anxieties that would continue to drive nationalist 28 1 / body and soul 29 politics. Five years before the protests sparked by Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World demonstrated the lengths to which Irish nationalists would go to preserve their conception of Irish womanhood, the success of Cathleen ni Houlihan offered some hints as to why representations of Irish women should generate such anxiety—and how the story of blood-sacrifice could soothe it.
10 The story of the souper—like the story of the Great Famine—represents the starving body as the point at which economic manipulation translated into cultural disintegration, the crucible in which material pressures dissolved intangible commitments. The body is what renders the “Irish national character” vulnerable to imperial coercion, what makes imperial intervention inescapable and cultural pollution unavoidable. O’Donnell was not the only critic of The Countess Cathleen who wished that power away.
The family narrative is useful in that it presents “nation-ness” as an essential quality that cannot be disavowed—a “natural” attribute like “skin-colour, gender, parentage and birth-era” (143)—thus making an abstract idea concrete, fixed and human 18 gender and modern irish drama enough to inspire acts of devotion and sacrifice. Anderson does not explore the consequences for women of nationalism’s use of the family narrative, but others have. As Norma Alarcon’s discussion of the mythology of Malinche and the virgin of Guadeloupe demonstrates, an insistence on “maternity” as the “primary cultural function” of women, who remain “bound to a double reproduction .