Bogs and the Irish Postcolonial Gothic, 1890-2010

  • Author / Creator
    Gladwin, Derek E
  • This dissertation examines how bogs are represented in Irish literature and culture between 1890 and 2010. Bogs – a type of wetland topography similar to mires or fens – are visually deceptive, physically volatile, and conceptually elusive. Bogs sprawl across Ireland and are often associated with history and culture as much as they are with geography and biology. For many Irish writers the bog evinces important sets of concerns: modernization and the environment, nationalism and haunting, mapping and bog bodies, and gender and neocolonialism. This study approaches the bog through a critical paradigm called the postcolonial Gothic. Bogs are unions of opposites and, because of this simultaneity, Irish writers use bogs as both terrestrial (real and earthly) and symbolic (imaginative and conceptual) spaces to explain fissures in postcolonial politics through conventions of the Gothic form. Irish writers use bogs because they are sites of interplay and disjunction and they function as seemingly contrary representational spaces that never quite mold into a single, definite meaning. Moving chronologically, this study covers a variety of works from Bram Stoker’s The Snake’s Pass (1890), Frank O’Connor’s “Guests of the Nation” (1931), Seán Ó Faoláin’s “A Meeting” (1937) to Seamus Heaney’s bog poetry and prose (1966-1980). It ends with a discussion of Marina Carr’s By the Bog of Cats… (1998) and Deirdre Kinahan’s Bog Boy (2010). This study employs a diverse historical and cultural scope and examines both men and women, Catholics and Protestants, nationalists and non-nationalists, and canonical and non-canonical writers in five literary genres representing the novel, short fiction, drama, poetry, and prose, thus testifying to the pervasiveness, range, and tenacity of the bog’s allure.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • English
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Watson, Garry (English and Film Studies)
    • Connolly, Claire (English, University College Cork, Ireland)
    • Caradonna, Jeremy (History)
    • Slemon, Stephen (English and Film Studies)