GIST 'Girlhood/Empire/Nation: Irish Girls' Literary Cultures 1870-1920'

When:26 Jun 2012, 4pm - 5:30pm
Venue:Room 137 Robert Webster Building
Who:Dr Susan Cahill, School of Canadian Irish Studies, Concordia University
Susan Cahill

This paper explores the proliferation of fiction aimed at girls, written by Irish women between 1870-1920 such as L.T. Meade, Rosa Mulholland, Flora Shaw, and J.M Callwell. Despite its contemporary popularity, this is a literature that is critically neglected, due perhaps to its middle-class, young, female audience; its associations with popular culture; and its Victorian outlook, at odds with the literary project of the Irish Literary Revival. This paper explores the resonances of the Irish girl as a literary figure in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, thinking about the books produced for and about her. It will investigate the complex ways in which these writers construct Irish girlhood in the period, negotiating between British colonial constructions of the “wild Irish girl”, and both colonial and nationalist representations of Ireland in feminine form such as Hibernia, Mother Ireland, Cathleen Ní Houlihan and Roisin Dubh. In examining such writing, Irish girlhood is revealed to encompass multiple articulations that intersect with discourses from philanthropy to consumerism, and nationalism to colonialism.

Dr Susan Cahill is an Assistant Professor in the School of Canadian Irish Studies, Concordia University. Her research interests include Irish children’s literature and contemporary Irish literature, particularly women’s writing. Her monograph, Irish Literature in the Celtic Tiger Years: Gender, Bodies, Memory, has just been published by Continuum. A collection of essays on Booker prize winning author, Anne Enright, co-edited with Dr Claire Bracken, was also recently published by Irish Academic Press. She has also published on historical children’s literature, gender and the body in contemporary Irish fiction, and fairytale cinema.

Contact Details

For more information contact Angela on telephone 9385 7164 or email

View Past Events