The Politics of Gender, Bodies, and Power

  • Jennifer M. Jeffers


In this chapter I wish to broach two issues that will enable us to better understand, theorize about, and critique Irish novels from the last decade (1989–1999) of the twentieth century—especially those written by emerging young writers. The first issue at hand in this chapter is a contemporary overview of recent developments in the culture, politics, economics, and lifestyle of those who live in the Republic and Northern Ireland. The socioeconomic changes, for instance, in the North and the Republic have radically altered everyday life through media communication and greater mobility. The Republics entry into a global economy has irrevocably changed Irish culture. The contested sites of gender and sexuality and the success of women’s rights and gay/lesbian rights are amply manifested in the novels in the last decade of the twentieth century. These changes, along with the 1990s Northern Peace talks, are imperative to understanding the last decade of Irish novels. The second task in this chapter is to develop a working theoretical strategy to help us open up and understand the issues of gender, sexuality, the body, and the regulation and parameters of power. Because the contemporary Irish novel is formally sophisticated and often technically innovative, offering the reader new cultural, political, and economic contexts that are radical departures from earlier periods, we need a critical reading strategy equally contemporary and sophisticated.


Sexual Identity Peace Process Sexed Body Irish Context Irish Culture 
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© Jennifer M. Jeffers 2002

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  • Jennifer M. Jeffers

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