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Title: Writing the troubles : gender and trauma in Northern Ireland
Authors: Cordner, Anthea Elizabeth
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis argues that the interaction of gender and trauma theories within the fictional prose writing of five women authors from Northern Ireland whose work spans throughout the mid-twentieth century until the present day, suggests a crisis of individual and collective identity during the traumatic decades of the Troubles. This necessitates a re-engagement with literary tropes and historical representations of the emerging sense of Northern Ireland as a six counties nation. The first chapter considers how trauma theories have been defined and developed and assesses their value for readings of Northern Irish literature. This provides the critical framework used in the subsequent chapters to enable close readings of the novels and short stories. Mary Beckett’s narratives highlight the continuing trauma of Northern Ireland’s inception, the Second World War and Internment, while giving voice to the strong women who fought against traumas and traditions in hope of a positive future. Linda Anderson engages with 1980s feminism, while depicting the Troubles alongside Cold War politics, anti-nuclear war protests and the Civil Rights Movement to expand upon the impact of war on female identity. Deirdre Madden and Jennifer Johnston recreate Irish Gothic Big House literature, utilising their tropes and images to explore the traumatic fracturing of history and identity on individual and collective levels. Anna Burns enables a post-traumatic engagement with the Troubles by moving retrospectively through thirty years of violence using absurdity, carnivalesque and fantastical imagery to explore the unknowability at the centre of trauma. All five writers acknowledge the impact of trauma on a sense of self that becomes divided between the pre- and post- trauma time, and suggest that the liminal spaces created by trauma may allow for readings of history and identity beyond the confines of patriarchy, nationalism and colonialism.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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