Animals and animality in Irish fiction

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O'Connor, Maureen
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Cambridge University Press
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This chapter charts a transhistorical narrative to analyze the evolving permutations encoded within human–animal binarisms. Maureen O’Connor argues that “The native Irish were long believed to have powers of human–animal metamorphosis.” O’Connor states that the Welsh clergyman Giraldus Cambrensis, and later Edmund Spenser in his View of the Present State of Ireland, “claimed that the Irish regularly turned into wolves.” Interestingly, in the late nineteenth century “various threats to the status quo, including feminists and Fenians, were figured as werewolves. Following the Great Hunger and the subsequent rise of Fenianism, which agitated for Irish independence often through acts of violent terror, the image of the threatening Irish animal became ubiquitous in English culture.” O’Connor is especially alert to the gendered dimensions to such discourses, making visible the transformation of the dyadic relationship between animality and femininity that stretches from early Irish writing to colonial and postcolonial deployments.
Human , Animal , More-than-Human , Gender , Werewolves , Ireland
O’Connor, M. (2022) ‘Animals and animality in Irish fiction’, in M. Sen (ed.) A History of Irish Literature and the Environment, Cambridge University Press, pp. 298–316.
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