Red Biddies, Wailing Banshees, and Rebel Sisters: Reading Feminist Discourses, Women's Movements, and Alternative Periodicals in the Republic of Ireland, 1950-1980

  • Author / Creator
    Sydora, Laura
  • In the Republic of Ireland, the years between 1950 and 1980 are often characterized by national and postcolonial historiographies as culturally and politically inert – if not limited – in terms of women’s social and cultural output. Not unlike other narratives of feminist and women’s histories, studies of this era tend to focus on either the institutional and social conservatism of the Irish state that curtailed women’s social lives until the economic boom in the early 1990s, or the contentious politics of the short-lived radical feminist branch of the mid-century Irish women’s liberation movement. The reality of women’s activism during this period of modernization, like nationalism before it, was that it was a dynamic process of conformity, resistance, and dissent nurtured by new and adapted spaces of feminist criticism and cultural critique. In this alternative reading of women’s cultural history, I argue that the intersection between literary censorship laws, state modernization, and media developments enabled print media to reveal itself as a formative site for women’s cultural intervention. Throughout my chapters, I examine how feminism unfolded on the printed page of the periodical press, and discern the material and imaginative processes through which the women’s movement negotiated the competing demands of state-driven values and social movement actors, paying particular attention to the emergent discourse of autonomy. This critical intervention into discussions of Irish feminism is situated at the junctures of alternative print culture, social movement dynamics, sociological modernity, and feminist history, and argues for a sociospatial reading of feminist discursive practices. In reading materials held in the Róisín Conroy/Attic Press Collection at Boole Library in University College Cork, I hope this study continues to build on the research efforts of Irish feminist and media scholars and highlights the continuing need for work on feminist archives and women’s social movements.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2019
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
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