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Women and Embodied Mythmaking in Irish Theatre by Shonagh Hill (review)
James Joyce Quarterly Pub Date : 2021-06-10
George Cusack

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Reviewed by:

  • Women and Embodied Mythmaking in Irish Theatre by Shonagh Hill
  • George Cusack (bio)
WOMEN AND EMBODIED MYTHMAKING IN IRISH THEATRE, by Shonagh Hill. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019. 266 pp. $105.00.

It has been thirty years since the release of the first three volumes of The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing and the ensuing controversy sparked by series editor Seamus Deane's near-total exclusion of Irish women from his de facto canon of Irish literature.1 Though feminist criticism in Irish Studies by no means began in 1991 or in response to Field Day, the anthology and its shortcomings highlighted the pressing need to recover and properly consider the contributions of women to Irish art, literature, and culture. Numerous scholars over the past three decades have made significant contributions to that effort, but the work is by no means done. Thus, Shonagh Hill finds herself in good and welcome company with her own contribution to this body of scholarship, Women and Embodied Mythmaking in Irish Theatre, from the Cambridge University Press. Hill posits her book as a complete reimagining of the historical narrative surrounding women and female embodiment in Irish theater. In the end, I do not think that the book accomplishes anything quite that revolutionary, but it does draw intriguing connections between texts and performances from the last twelve decades, offering new perspectives on the ways Irish women have experienced and resisted the dominant historical narratives of Irish identity from the Revival to the present.

Hill's stated goal is to create "a new paradigm, the genealogy, as a means of remodelling our understanding of the development of Irish theatre" (2). Citing philosopher Alison Stone, Hill explains that this conception of genealogy "is not concerned with origins, purity and bloodlines, but rather advocates a coalitional politics whereby 'women are connected together in complex and variable ways, through historical chains of partially and multiply overlapping interpretations of femininity'" (2).2 Through this model, Hill seeks to establish continuities between women's perspectives and experiences that cut across—but do not ignore—historical and cultural contexts.

As the title indicates, Hill focuses her analysis on female bodies, both in their textual representation by female authors and their physical manifestation onstage by female performers. Through an interconnected series of close readings stretching from the Revival to the twenty-first century, Hill traces the tradition of "embodied mythmaking" through which Irish female authors and performers "explicitly engage in the process of breaking and creating links in the chains of reinterpretation of myths of femininity" (24). In practice, this means [End Page 375] that Hill does not follow a strictly chronological path in her analysis, but instead seeks to establish "lines of confluence" between selected texts and performances, seeking "to uncover the hidden veins of resistance and revolution embodied in their mythmaking" (3). Hill posits this as a means of resistance to masculine narratives of linear history, arguing that the connections uncovered through her analysis "speak across the silences and create a (non-essentialist) body of work" (3).

The structure of the book somewhat undermines this effort to subvert linear narrative, though. In terms of scope, the book confines itself to the Revival and afterwards, with a first chapter that focuses entirely on Revival figures before introducing more recent authors in chapters 2 and onward. Taken by itself, chapter 1 is an excellent piece of scholarly analysis: Hill identifies a tradition of Irish women using their physical presence onstage to both evoke and disrupt iconic depictions of Irish femininity, a tradition she traces from the tableaux vivants staged by the Inghinidhe na hÈireann in 1901 (27), through Maud Gonne's performance as the titular character of Kathleen ni Houlihan in 1902,3 and eventually to Eva Gore-Booth's The Triumph of Maeve (54-62).4 In the context of the book as a whole, though, this chapter uncritically positions the Revival as an originating moment for Irish identity, at least as it has been understood and represented in the decades since. Hill's subsequent chapters, either explicitly through the configurations of sources they engage or implicitly through their very position as subsequent chapters, seem to reaffirm this...


Shonagh Hill的爱尔兰剧院中的女性和具体神话制作(评论)



  • Shonagh Hill的爱尔兰剧院中女性和具体的神话制作
  • 乔治·库萨克(生物)
爱尔兰剧院中的女性和具身神话制作,作者:Shonagh Hill。剑桥:剑桥大学出版社,2019 年。266 页。105.00 美元。

《爱尔兰写作选集》的前三卷发行以来已经三十年了,系列编辑西莫斯·迪恩 (Seamus Deane) 几乎完全将爱尔兰女性排除在他事实上的爱尔兰文学经典之外,引发了随之而来的争议。1尽管爱尔兰研究中的女权主义批评并非始于 1991 年,也不是为了回应Field Day,选集及其缺点突出表明迫切需要恢复并正确考虑女性对爱尔兰艺术、文学和文化的贡献。在过去的三年里,许多学者为这项工作做出了重大贡献,但这项工作还没有完成。因此,Shonagh Hill 发现自己与她自己对爱尔兰剧院中的女性和具体神话制作这一奖学金机构的贡献融洽相处,来自剑桥大学出版社。希尔认为她的书是对爱尔兰戏剧中围绕女性和女性化身的历史叙事的完整重新构想。最后,我不认为这本书完成了任何革命性的事情,但它确实在过去 12 年的文本和表演之间建立了有趣的联系,为爱尔兰妇女经历和抵制占主导地位的历史叙事的方式提供了新的视角。从复兴到现在的爱尔兰身份。

希尔声称的目标是创造“一种新的范式,即谱系,作为重塑我们对爱尔兰戏剧发展理解的一种手段”(2)。希尔引用哲学家艾莉森·斯通 (Alison Stone) 的话说,这种谱系概念“不关心起源、纯洁性和血统,而是提倡一种联合政治,即‘女性通过部分和多重重叠解释的历史链条,以复杂多变的方式联系在一起。女性气质”(2)。2通过这个模型,希尔试图在跨越——但不要忽视——历史和文化背景的女性观点和经历之间建立​​连续性。

正如标题所示,希尔将她的分析重点放在女性身体上,包括女性作者的文字表现和女性表演者在舞台上的身体表现。通过从复兴到 21 世纪的一系列相互关联的细读,希尔追溯了“具身神话”的传统,通过这种传统,爱尔兰女性作家和表演者“明确地参与了打破和创造重新解释链中链接的过程”。女性气质的神话”(24)。实际上,这意味着[End Page 375]希尔在她的分析中并没有遵循严格的时间顺序路径,而是试图在选定的文本和表演之间建立“汇合线”,寻求“揭示他们神话中所体现的抵抗和革命的隐藏脉络”(3)。希尔认为这是一种抵制线性历史男性叙事的手段,认为通过她的分析发现的联系“跨越沉默说话并创造了一个(非本质主义的)工作主体”(3)。

不过,这本书的结构在某种程度上破坏了这种颠覆线性叙事的努力。就范围而言,该书仅限于复兴及之后,第一章完全侧重于复兴人物,然后在第 2 章及以后介绍更多最近的作者。就其本身而言,第 1 章是一篇出色的学术分析:希尔确定了爱尔兰女性利用她们在舞台上的身体存在来唤起和破坏爱尔兰女性气质的标志性描绘的传统,她从Inghinidhe na上演的舞台剧中追溯了这一传统hÈireann于 1901 年 (27),通过 Maud Gonne在 1902 年扮演Kathleen ni Houlihan的名义角色,3并最终由 Eva Gore-Booth饰演梅芙的胜利(54-62)。4然而,在整本书的背景下,本章不加批判地将复兴定位为爱尔兰身份的起源时刻,至少在此后几十年中人们对它的理解和表现是如此。希尔的后续章节,无论是明确地通过他们参与的资源配置,还是隐含地通过他们作为后续章节的地位,似乎都重申了这一点……