Contemporary Irish Republican Prison Writing

Contemporary Irish Republican Prison Writing

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As it traces the textual history of the works of authors like Bobby Sands and Gerry Adams, this book analyzes Republican resistance to disciplinary structures, demonstrating the ways in which prisoners appropriate space through discursive strategies.

The first book devoted entirely to a critical examination of contemporary Irish prison literature, Contemporary Irish Republican Prison Writing explicates extant and previously unpublished texts by world-famous figures like Gerry Adams and Bobby Sands as well as the works of lesser-known and anonymous authors, paying special attention to women’s writing. This book analyzes Republican resistance within Northern Irish prisons as it traces the textual history of these writings, demonstrating the ways in which POWs appropriate prison space through discursive strategies. As it explores the aesthetic alterity of prison writing Contemporary Irish Republican Prison Writing critiques traditional assumptions about literature, simultaneously shedding light on the continuing conservatism of canonical boundaries.

Lachlan Whalen is Assistant Professor of English at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg. His writings on Irish Republican prisoners have appeared in New Hibernia Review/ Iris Nua Éireannach and Nua: Studies in Contemporary Irish Writing.

“An original study. In addition to using his readings of prison literature to highlight the continuing influence of a subtly conservative modernist aesthetic within the academy, Whalen also refutes elements of the poststructural theory that has represented new criticism’s most widely-accepted alternative, rejecting in particular poststructuralism’s pessimism concerning the possibility of human agency. Whalen’s readings are superb; he deftly balances descriptions of the overall pieces he explicates, the historical and material conditions under which they were created, and the telling details on which he founds his surprisingly weighty arguments.”–Margot Backus, University of Houston

Introduction: Taoibh Amuigh agus Faoi Ghlas: The Counter-aesthetics of Republican Prison Writing * “Our Barbed Wire Ivory Tower”: The Cages of Long Kesh * “Comrades in the Dark”: Writing in the H Blocks, 1976–1981 * “Silence or Cell?”: Women Writing in Armagh, Maghaberry, and Durham * “Captive Voices”: Post-1981 Republican Prison Writing * Postscript: “You Look Like Jesus Christ”: Images of Republican POWs in Contemporary Cinema

Additional information

Weight 1 oz
Dimensions 1 × 6 × 9 in