English - Doctoral Theses

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    "Nordic Joyce: Old Cawcaws Huggin and Munin for his Strict Privatear"
    (University College Cork, 2022) Lawton, Mary; Davis, Alex; University at Buffalo
    Nordic Joyce compares the interrelationship of James Joyce’s works and specific Nordic literature in translation, employing an onomastic and etymological framework that offers an innovative opportunity to re-visit, re-view, and re-think Joyce’s canon. The thesis proposes a methodology to assess Joyce’s work and specific Nordic narratives, arguing that names and terminology may be defined through their respective engagement with thematic considerations, thus providing a relevant critical structure by which to study the application or construction of these in Joyce’s writing. It contributes to Joyce studies proper: detecting and interpreting specific Nordic texts and language’s role in Joyce’s oeuvre. Narratives, created under vastly different circumstances, reflecting distinct writing cultures, societies, and histories, connect and transform in Joyce’s modernist perspective. At the same time, I indicate how Joyce’s fiction appreciates Nordic literature’s role, both contemporary and medieval, broadly and narrowly defined as a recurrent theme in his work, and to a recognition of the influence of Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen, the Nordic languages, and other Nordic writers upon his innovating language creation and reconstruction. Terminology and methods of several practitioners in comparative, onomastic, and etymological disciplines are used to examine these associations. Comparative theories from Georg Brandes through David Damrosch, plus critical issues in onomastic and etymological lexical subdisciplines by theorists Warren R. Maurer, Grant W. Smith, Yakov Malkiel, Staffan Nyström, Willy van Langendonck, and David Seed amongst others, inform this study, emphasising the importance of Nordic, thematic content in Joyce’s style and form. Seminal figures, concepts, and terms in these theories will be introduced. Still, the most basic distinction is worth noting: the essential status of authorial name-giving, how Joyce distorts onyms to distribute autobiographical constructions in the disparate texts studied, and the meaning these misinterpreted, reconstructed, and sometimes hidden Nordic terms have for Joyce. This persuasive literary onomastic and etymological wordplay plays a crucial role in his fiction, demonstrating an interaction between language, characterisation, and authorial vision.
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    War trauma in women’s First World War poetry and autobiographical writing
    (University College Cork, 2022) Hanley, Edel; Jenkins, Lee; Irish Research Council
    Near-contemporaries, H.D. and Vera Brittain are both major women writers of the twentieth century who engage with war in their poetry and in prose yet have seldom been considered comparatively. In bringing them together, this thesis questions the binary that too often still applies in literary canons between Georgian and modernist modes, and between First World War writing and modernism. H.D. and Brittain contest the conventional criteria for inclusion in the First World War canon, and, in H.D.’s case, the Second World War canon. Women have been excluded from canonical First World War scholarship like Paul Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory (1975) due to their civilian status, and H.D. is doubly excluded from the critical canon, as Fussell constructs it, as a woman and as an experimental writer. Expansions of First World War literary scholarship post-Fussell have not fully bridged the divide between First World War and modernist writing, a rule proved by significant exceptions to it such as Vincent Sherry’s The Great War and the Language of Modernism (2007). However, women and civilian writers are now included in the literary history of the First World War. This thesis argues that women writers of opposing camps, and who are rarely examined together, adopt and adapt both Georgian tropes and experimental techniques to articulate war. It examines the poetry of mourning and loss in women’s war writing, considering the ways in which women delineate the lived experience of bereavement. This thesis thus crosses the divide between modernist and Georgian war writing in pointing out the similarities between women writing in different idioms. This research examines the ways in which war trauma inflects H.D.’s poetry and prose, prompting her rewriting of classical myths to address women’s subjectivity and her own wartime losses. Brittain’s poetry and autobiographical writing is discussed in comparison with that of H.D. and this thesis argues that Brittain deploys modernist and Georgian tropes to represent prolonged war trauma. Women writers use a range of genres and idioms to articulate war: H.D. makes use of poetry in Imagist and epic modes from Sea Garden (1916) to Trilogy (1946), and novel/autobiography in her war novels, Asphodel (1921) and Bid Me to Live (1960), while Brittain draws on experimental techniques in the poems of Because You Died (1934), memoir in Testament of Youth (1933), diary in Chronicle of Youth (1981), and letter/correspondence in Letters from a Lost Generation (1999). Brittain had served as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse in England, Malta, and France and this thesis explores nurses’ status as civilians and first-hand witnesses to battle, again challenging the binary between (male) combatants and (female) non-combatants, while also exploring the ways in which nurse writers use modernist strategies to reveal that women’s war writing exceeds and resists, as well as utilising, traditional modes of representation.
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    The short stories of Rita Kelly
    (University College Cork, 2022-07) Kelly, Rita; Walshe, Eibhear
    This thesis was submitted as part of a PhD by Prior Publication. It was based on a close analysis of representative short stories from my collection: The Whispering Arch & Other Stories published by Arlen House, Dublin, 1986. I looked at two very different stories from the collection. The main differences were matters of style and the use of language. One story, “Soundtracks”, is an excellent example of my poetic, laconic, compressed style. The other story, “The Intruders”, is shaped within an accessible and straightforward narrative style. This story also satirizes the Irish Revival movement as it was experienced in a convent secondary school, in Ireland, in the mid-1960s. The thesis also looked at the place and importance of the publication of that collection within the early formation of my practice as a writer and poet. It particularly looked at my nascent interest in the Irish language as a mode of expression in my developing creative engagement. There is a discussion of the interrelationship between narrative structures and cultural forces at work within these short stories.
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    New naturalism: the resurgence of American literary naturalism in the neoliberal twenty-first century
    (University College Cork, 2022-04) McCreedy, Sarah; Gibbs, Alan; Irish Research Council
    For a literary tradition that has persisted in America, naturalism has rarely been discussed in the context of contemporary American fiction. Considering this a serious deficiency, this thesis investigates naturalism’s resurgence in twenty-first century American fiction. In the field of naturalist studies, this thesis’s main contribution lies in the connections that it draws between new naturalism and a distinct cultural phenomenon that has dominated the social, political, cultural, and economic hemispheres since the late 1980s: namely, neoliberalism. Expanding its influence during the 1980s, the neoliberal project emphasises the privatisation of the state. But neoliberalism is more than a free market policy; it is an ideology. Through its positioning of competition and self-interest as moral imperatives, individual subjects living under neoliberalism are to be viewed as self-responsible; their decisions need not be understood as anything but their own. This not only removes accountability on a systemic, governmental level, it also significantly obscures the harsh realities of social inequality in relation to the intersectionalities of gender, race, and class. As this thesis will illustrate, contemporary American literature that responds to the neoliberal era gives rise to familiar themes that emerged with literary naturalism in the late nineteenth century, including the agonies—as opposed to the luxuries—of choice, masculinist discourses of rugged individualism versus feminine discourses of disempowerment, and, more broadly, the acknowledgement of a force that works beyond the power of individual will. However, in ‘new’ naturalism, the deterministic worldview of more traditional naturalistic texts has been supplanted by a more nuanced conception of free will. The new naturalism imagines a world where free will exists but in the context of excruciatingly limited choices; choices, indeed, that may not even qualify as choices at all. The existence of free will only creates the illusion of freedom, creating a process that I term Naturalistic False Consciousness. Over the course of four chapters, this study examines literary texts including two of Cormac McCarthy’s novels, No Country for Old Men (2005) and The Road (2006), Colson Whitehead’s Zone One (2012), Lionel Shriver’s The Mandibles (2016), ZZ Packer’s short story collection Drinking Coffee Elsewhere (2003), T.C. Boyle’s The Harder they Come (2015), Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone (2006), and, finally, Emily Fridlund’s History of Wolves (2017). Spanning a fourteen-year period and a number of associated forms, styles, and generic categorisations that are implicated in both high and low art, my aim is to establish that while new naturalism may have a recognisable philosophical core, there are several directions in which writers can, to employ a documentary analogy that resonates with classic naturalism, zoom out from that core, resulting in a range of conflicting ideas and affiliated ideologies that emerge in specific yet analogous cultural contexts. With its non-anthropocentric view, naturalism is uniquely placed to engage with the self-interested fantasies of American identity and nation-building; fantasies that may take on a new and specific meaning in the neoliberal context, but which also echo the very foundation upon which the nation has historically been constructed and understood. As such, this thesis understands naturalism as a significant interpretative lens through which to view a nation that has taken centre stage during a young yet tumultuous century.
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    Transnational women’s poetry of the two World Wars: Lola Ridge, Winifred Letts, H.D., Sheila Wingfield
    (University College Cork, 2021-11-17) Condon, Gráinne; Jenkins, Lee; Collins, Lucy
    This thesis traces symmetries in the poetic responses of four women poets across two continents to the two World Wars: Lola Ridge, Winifred Letts, H.D. and Sheila Wingfield. This thesis considers the representation of the events and experiences of the two world wars in the work of four women poets: Lola Ridge (1873-1941), Winifred Letts (1882-1972), H.D. (1886-1961) and Sheila Wingfield (1906-1992). Adopting a comparative and transnational approach, the thesis traces the relationships and “touching points” between the lives and wartime poetry of Ridge, Letts, H.D. and Wingfield (Stubbs and Haynes, 2017: 7). It examines the ways in which this quartet of women poets creates a literary space of mutual understanding and shared concern in their responses to the trauma and upheaval of a world at war. This study explores how, thematically and formally, Ridge, Letts, H.D. and Wingfield fuse, reject and champion innovation and tradition in their wartime poetry. Collectively, the four women poets considered in this thesis disrupt the binary schema which still underpins critical conceptions; that war and Modernism are antipathetic categories, that women writing of war is an irreconcilable conundrum, and that the poetry of the First and Second World Wars, including civilian poetries, are wholly discrete. The four writers discussed in this thesis raise analogous, sensitive and contentious issues in the lead up to and during the First and Second World Wars. Read comparatively, their writing reveals formal and thematic parallels which breach temporal, geographical, gendered and political borders. This thesis identifies and explores the “transnational imaginative energies and solidarities” apparent in the wartime writing of Ridge, Letts, H.D. and Wingfield (Ramazani, 2020: 23). Their consistent and shared perceptions of warfare tether the two World Wars together. These four women poets present alternative perspectives and complicate received paradigms of war poetry, highlighting subjects and figures long excluded from the canon. Ridge, Letts, H.D. and Wingfield demonstrate that women’s poetry is an integral part of the continuing and evolving narrative of a world at war.