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Sexuality, Catholicism and literature in twentieth-century Ireland

This book studies the twentieth-century Irish Catholic Bildungsroman. This comparative examination of six Irish novelists tracks the historical evolution of a literary genre and its significant role in Irish culture. With chapters on James Joyce and Kate O'Brien, along with studies of Maura Laverty, Patrick Kavanagh, Edna O'Brien and John McGahern, this book offers a fresh new approach to the study of twentieth-century Irish writing and of the twentieth-century novel. Combining the study of literature and of archival material, the book also develops a new interpretive framework for studying the history of sexuality in twentieth-century Ireland. The book addresses itself to a wide set of interdisciplinary questions about Irish sexuality, modernity and post-colonial development, as well as Irish literature.

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Sexuality, Catholicism and modernisation in Ireland, 1940–65
Michael G. Cronin

This chapter discusses Angela MacNamara's promotion of purity, chastity and marriage in her works which were aimed at teenage readers for the Catholic Truth Society of Ireland (CTSI). McNamara's work in the 1960s represents an innovative development within the Catholic sexual discourse.

in Impure thoughts
Michael G. Cronin

This chapter discusses the literary censorship of Katy O'Brien's novels: Mary Lavelle (1936) and The Land of Spices (1941). O'Brien's novels were banned in Ireland because of their explicit depiction of sex. The chapter emphasizes the political significance of O'Brien's novels, arguing that she offered to Irish society the ideal of liberal individualism.

in Impure thoughts
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The rural Bildungsromane of Maura Laverty and Patrick Kavanagh
Michael G. Cronin

This chapter focuses on the works of Maura Laverty and Patrick Kavanagh. It first analyses Kavanagh' two versions of the Bildungsroman: his autobiography The Green Fool (1938) and his novel Tarry Flynn (1948). It then compares his works with Maura Laverty, whose works depict sexuality, rural life and Irish underdevelopment. The chapter argues that Laverty's and Kavanagh's youth narratives and their visions of rural Ireland were important innovations in the history of the Irish Bildungsroman.

in Impure thoughts
Joyce and the Freudian Bildungsroman
Michael G. Cronin

This chapter discusses the emergence of psychoanalytic thought in the twentieth century and the historical development of the notion of sexuality. It examines the Freudian libidinal theory model, which re-conceptualised desire and stated that human subjectivity is produced by a struggle between opposing forces of sexual desire and sexual repression.

in Impure thoughts
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Sexuality, Irish moral politics and capitalist crisis,1920–40
Michael G. Cronin

This chapter discusses the concept of sexuality as a moral problem in the first decades of the new Irish state. Irish Catholics were involved in social activism directed at issues of public morality. The new independent Irish state had organisations involved in this campaign, which included the Irish Vigilance Association, the Catholic Truth Society of Ireland, St Vincent de Paul Society and the Legion of Mary. These organizations aimed to incorporate the public morality framework into social policy and legislation.

in Impure thoughts
Sexuality, trauma and history in Edna O’Brien and John McGahern
Michael G. Cronin

This chapter focuses on the works of Edna O'Brien and John McGahern. O'Brien's The Country Girls trilogy (1960–64) and McGahern's The Dark (1965) were banned due to their portrayal of sexuality. The chapter also discusses the reform of literary censorship and the contribution of these novels to the cultural reconfiguration of sexuality and social change in Ireland.

in Impure thoughts
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Michael G. Cronin

This conclusion discusses the legacy of Bildungsroman in contemporary Irish literature. It highlights Nuala O'Faolain's Are You Somebody (1996) which portrays the social changes that transformed Ireland in the late twentieth century. It also discusses the official inquiries into clerical sexual abuse of children by Irish Catholic priests: The Ferns Report (2005), The Report by the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin (2009), commonly known as the Murphy Report and The Report by the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne (2011).

in Impure thoughts
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Michael G. Cronin

This book examines the historical formation of ideas about sexuality in modern Irish culture. It analyses the history of sexuality in Ireland and the Catholic Church's regulation of Irish sexuality from the mid-nineteenth to the late twentieth century. It focuses on the study of a literary genre, the Bildungsroman and its significance in twentieth-century Irish writing.

in Impure thoughts
Michael G. Cronin

The emergence of Irish studies in the 1980s took place in the context of economic recession and bitterly contested social change in the South and a worsening, bloody war in the North. Irish literary studies has never been interested in affirming, projecting or protecting 'Irish difference' but in analysing the complex historical processes through which ideas about Irish difference have been discursively produced, circulated and resisted. At a symposium, held at NUI Maynooth in June 2012, examining the future of Irish studies in the wake of the 2008 crash, Heather Laird argued that while the global crisis is clearly economic and political it is also a crisis of narrative. Thinking about the future of Irish studies invariably meant considering the past of Irish studies, and Laird was one of several contributors to note that the intellectual project had its beginnings in an earlier period of economic and political crisis.

in Are the Irish different?