Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
AN ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION OF DAVID KELLY, for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in ENGLISH, presented on APRIL 21, 2014, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: "EOLAS TO MA:" CONSTRUCTION OF POSTNATIONAL SPACE IN THE INTERSTITIAL VISIONS OF HEANEY, CARSON AND MORRISSEY MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Michael Molino In his 1997 work Postnationalist Ireland, Richard Kearney addresses the issue of the Irish community today. He notes how an Irish diaspora of seventy million "challenged the inherited definitions of state nationalism" (99). He then notices how "the Irish word for province is coiced which means fifth" (99) and, though contemporary Ireland is divided into four provinces, earlier traditions included a "`middle' or the `fifth province'" (99). It is in this medial space, whose boundaries are not geographical or political but, for Kearney, "more like a disposition" (100), that Irish postnational identity can be reimagined as the interplay between the local and global communities. After all, Kearney asserts, "Irish culture rediscovers its best self...in its encounter with other cultures...." (101). My study will argue that this postnational sense of Irish identity is a preoccupation of three waves of Northern Irish poets: Seamus Heaney, Ciaran Carson and Sinead Morrissey. It is best depicted through an analysis of each poet's use of the concepts of "center," "war," "home," and "travel." My research will focus primarily on Heaney's version of Builhe Suibhne , Sweeney Astray, and District and Circle, Carson's retranslation of The Táin and Belfast Confetti, and Morrissey's Between Here and There and analyze the strategies of each of these writers as they re-present a contemporary postnational Irish identity that is shaped by local and international forces. Despite the recognized importance of Heaney, Carson and Morrissey as insightful poetic commentators on "The Troubles," a three decade long period of violent political and social turmoil (1968-1995), these three authors' use of Japanese elements in their verse tends to be overlooked. And, despite each writer's familiarity with the others' work, they are not often discussed together. My comparative study of these authors will aim to show how their interstitial vision embedded in distinctive Early Irish translations and use of Japanese religio/aesthetic elements in their contemporary verse, create a third space, a postnational center. In order to analyze how each poet constructs a regional/global identity, this study will examine and compare such transitional cultural and linguistic processes as "liminality," "ma," and the act of poetic translation. Morrissey's verse, in particular, often succinctly and exactly frames these issues expressed by her senior colleagues, so her poetry will be frequently employed as a lens for examining Heaney's and Carson's poetry.
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