English - Doctoral Theses

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    Things in time: a digital synchronic analysis of manuscript newsletters (1575-76)
    (University College Cork, 2023) Kreuze, Wouter; Dooley, Brendan; Cosgrave, Michael; Irish Research Council
    The development of a news culture in early modern Europe profoundly affected the perception of time. Because political conceptions are generally understood to be historically rooted, this also affected the way in which political identities and unities were defined. I have therefore analysed and described the news network as it functioned within one moment in time using two different collections. This description has been made for the timeframe 1575-76, as for these years the archival documents have been well-preserved and coincide with an important political event in Genoa that is symptomatic for how the news system functioned. As the principal news genre of the sixteenth century the manuscript newsletter (or avviso) was created according to certain formal and textual properties that defined it as a genre. Its very recognizable lay-out, repeated in every document, divided material into separate header sections consisting of different news items per paragraph. This makes the avviso very suitable for collection in digital repositories and relatively easy to submit to a digital analysis. The analysis carried out here has been able to clarify that most avvisi came from a handful of locations where they appeared with regular intervals. That these really were continuous serials, is shown by the fixed weekdays on which they were usually published. Furthermore, authors writing from the same location seem to have relied on the same sources as testified by the many similarities between the series. This further proves that we are dealing with a proper news network that was impersonal and international. The writing style of the manuscript newsletters can be characterised as descriptive and devoid of embellishments. Yet, in the sixteenth century, news writing was often considered a questionable practice, as it had the reputation of spreading lies. Speculative accounts, furthermore, were seen as an eschatological hazard. That might explain the descriptive writing style and the avvisi’s apparently sympathetic stance towards Catholic causes. That is not to say that the world was regarded from the standpoint of universal values alone. News was probably more than anything an enumeration of particular events. That comes even more to the fore where the news was placed within its historical context. The prime example here is the Republic of Genoa, that was represented as not existing universally and perennially but as moving between key moments in its constitutional history. Having said that, Catholic world views are clearly deeply interwoven in the fabric of the news system. The texts often spoke in terms of ‘ours’ whenever discussing Catholic forces fighting Protestants or Muslims. The newsletters in general had a bias favouring ‘the Catholic kings’ of Spain, who were perceived as being more supportive of the Catholic cause. The Republic of Genoa was perceived as being part of this Catholic world order just as much as other states. There does appear to be a tendency, however, to see the party that did not enjoy the sympathy of most avviso writers, in this case the Genoese nuovi, as lacking in Catholic fervour. We can conclude therefore that in the second half of the sixteenth century, newsletters, notwithstanding their descriptive writing style, spoke with a distinct, especially Catholic, voice. By regularly dispatching news, they harnessed a distinct Catholic identity and created a community of readers. The news, however, was by its very nature transnational and reported upon what happened in remote areas. Its main purpose was to make particular events known to the public, not to communicate universal values. Therefore, it appears that the system was already inclined to the integration of areas with different confessional backgrounds, although this development began to gain momentum only around the year 1600.
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    Analysing Irish accents on the contemporary screen: historical contexts and throughlines to the present
    (University College Cork, 2022) O'Riordan, Nicholas; Monahan, Barry
    Against a history of perceived misrepresentation of Ireland and the Irish in literature and theatre, academic discourses around the nation on screen have frequently evaluated the accuracy of these depictions. Such assessments have tended to focus on how the on-screen image of Ireland is shaped, and specifically how it looks. The current thesis shifts this focus, and offers an in-depth consideration of how the country sounds on screen. Colonial and foreign representations of the Irish were once characterised by a specific style of accent employment that tended to infantilise, essentialise, and ‘other’ Irish characters through their voices. This was often achieved in the form of ‘eye dialect’, where a character’s speech is explicitly marked as non-standard through variations in spelling. The introduction of the voice to cinema offered the previously silent medium a recorded and permanent aural manifestation of the types of linguistic representation that had already been commonplace on the stage and the page for hundreds of years. Outside of academia, public commentary online around representations of Ireland and the Irish abounds with criticisms and complaints about depictions of the Irish accent, often perceived as inaccurate, exaggerated, and stereotypical. The current project both explores the historical growth of, and motivations behind, such complaints, and also tracks their enduring evolution to contemporary criticisms of the Irish accent on screen. It proposes that there are historical and political motivations (nationalism, protectionism, and desires for cultural autonomy) for the intense critical reaction to the perceived misrepresentations. By interrogating the concept of accent as a social phenomenon, this project deconstructs essentialist considerations of standard and non-standard accents, and also offers a structuralist methodological framework for approaching accent. It suggests that the Irish accent, on the street or on the screen, should only be adjudicated and analysed in relation to the context of the speech act, the background of the speaker, and the relative experience and knowledge of the listener. Addressing textual uses of accent, a considerable part of the methodological and conceptual project involves the construction of a taxonomy. Focusing on moments in which there is a marked, or meaningful employment of accent, it considers what these moments are doing in the context of each film. This thesis ultimately proposes four main categories of accent use and thus, results in a categorisation of cinematic accents in Irish cinema.
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    Heron: a novel
    (University College Cork, 2023) Feeney, Robert; Walshe, Eibhear; Davis, Alex; Corcoran, Miranda; Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences
    ‘But remember that here all is enchantment, that you have fallen under the spell of the dead, that the lights and the colours and the voices must fade away at last into emptiness and silence’ - from Lafcadio Hearn's Japan: An Interpretation (1904) Greek-Irish writer Lafcadio Hearn wrote this in the year of his death. By that time, he had written a number of books about Japan, including "Kwaidan", a collection of traditional ghost stories. Hearn's work was heralded as translating the East for the West, but also criticised for its idealised view of Japan. Hearn lived there for thirteen years, taught English at Tokyo Imperial University, married a woman from a noble family and had children. However, quotes such as the one above suggest that he was not entirely comfortable in his adopted home. The creative thesis explores, through the means of a historical novel, the idea that his troubled state of mind stemmed from his eventful upbringing in Dublin and abroad. Left in the care of his great-aunt at age seven, half-blinded at sixteen in a playground accident, expelled and impoverished in Cincinnati at nineteen; the novel looks at the ghosts of Hearn's past and how they haunted his life in Japan. The critical thesis also examines these familial ghosts, using a close reading of one of Hearn’s stories (‘Yuko: A Reminiscence’) to discuss three themes pertinent to his writing and his past. A record of creative practice notes the influence of that story on the novel Heron and details the novel’s construction through a chronological account of its influences, obstacles and the forms of its various drafts, from first to last.
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    Performing women’s poetry: an evolving craft
    (University College Cork, 2023) Manning, Maria Hanora; Jenkins, Lee; Hanna, Adam; Irish Research Council
    This research project proposes to examine a current cohort of female poets employing performance techniques in their poetries, investigating how these poets continue to adapt and adopt the aesthetics of earlier poets. In recent years, the popularity of poetry in online communities has boomed, with an inevitable backlash to this poetic movement, criticising its contribution to poetry as a cultural form, such as Rebecca Watts’ PN Review article. Throughout this research, I aim to locate these poetries (often described as “digital” or “e- poetries”) along a continuum of performance, identifying the ways in which such a factor is evoked in both these new works and the work of earlier poets. Bearing in mind the theories John Miles Foley’s book Oral Literature and the Internet: Pathways of the Mind, which suggests the internet is a natural evolution of oral literature and spoken word poetries, I aim to connect the work of this cohort of poets with performance poets before them, examining the performative overlaps between oral and digital literatures. This project will interrogate the ways in which performance is enacted through a number of guises, from the sounds of orality and musicality, to the embodiment of performance by these poets. I aim to examine the creation of an aesthetic of performance among these women poets, paying particular attention to the ways the female body is performed in this work. Finally, I consider the social implications and contexts of such work, exploring the connections between poet and audience, the poetic persona and the performance of politics in these poetries. My research is primarily focused on work of poets disseminating their work chiefly through non-print methods, such as recording, performance, and social media, in the 21st Century. I will also examine the performance poetries of women poets in the 20th Century, examining the connections and creation ofa performance aesthetic, aiming to link the work of poets across these eras by examining a series of aspects of their poetics, such as the orality, the body, musicality, social engagement and public spheres of poetry.
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    Revival: traditional medicine in the works of W. B. Yeats, Augusta Gregory, and J. M. Synge
    (University College Cork, 2023) Walker-Dunseith, Holly May; Hanna, Adam; Davis, Alex
    This thesis is an investigation of the representations of traditional medicine and healing practices in Revival-era literature, with a specific concentration on the works of three authors: William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), Lady Augusta Gregory (1852- 1932), and John Millington Synge (1871-1909). Looking at the Revival period (c.1889-1922) from a medical perspective, this study links writing concerning healing and healers to the wider historical, political and social forces at work in Irish society. Folk medicine and cures, both as image and metaphor, are central to the literature of what has become known as the Revival period in Ireland. As indigenous methods of healing, folk medical practices have a metaphorical significance as well. The Irish Literary Revival can be seen as a resuscitation of sorts: a cultural process that was framed in explicitly medical terms, which sought to breathe new life into the country’s past. Traditional medicine was a distinctive area of Irish life and practice that could be woven into Irish prose, drama, and poetry as part of a project to bring to light the country’s overlooked folk ways. The deployment of folk medicine, healers, and cures as an image, though, had a wider metaphorical significance that is inextricable from the political tensions at work in Ireland in the decades before the foundation of the Free State. Literature that represents traditional medicine at times gestures towards the possibility of a culture and nation in the act of healing itself from illness, and at times questions these nationalist discourses.