Irish women then and now: Reading Lady Gregory, Eavan Boland, and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers

Abstract

In Irish literary traditions, women were either stereotyped as hags who were tied up with the land or pretty yet feeble women who longed for their male rescuers from lands far away. Additionally, due to the influence of the Catholic Church, Irish women used to be closely bound up with compassion and sacrifice. These male-constructed attributes also derived from nationalism, which favored male dominance over women for the benefit of nation-building endeavors. As a consequence, women fell victim to political propaganda and thus failed to be themselves. Eavan Boland criticizes the label inflicted on Irish women because the traditional image of women is a “cold and exclusive emblem” (Reinbaum 479). By the 1970s, Irish women had been excluded from the center of history, politics, and military activities. However, while Irish women have tended to be characterized in terms of allegorical mother figures, the image of women and their actual lives had significant changes in the last few decades of the 20th century. This transformation, coupled with the traditional images of women, is further explored in Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill’s poetry. Examining Irish women's writings, ranging from Lady Gregory to Eavan Boland and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, this paper aims to investigate how landscapes, legends, animals, and female bodies are used strategically by the three writers to construct/deconstruct the conventional images and the changing faces of Irish women. Copyright © 2017 IASIL.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

Citation

Chang, H. (2017, July). Irish women then and now: Reading Lady Gregory, Eavan Boland, and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. Paper presented at The International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures Conference 2017 (IASIL2017), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

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