"The distant skin": a deconstructive analysis of women and polysemic touch in the writing of John McGahern and Anne Enright
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis, by providing a deconstructive reading of the work of John McGahern and Anne Enright, elucidates the way in which the place, position and representation of women in modern Irish society is profoundly affected by personal, political, religious and even legal societal forces. The project attempts to utilise the work of both authors to access and reveal the ‘Real’ experience of Irish women, in particular emphasising the impact of physical, emotional and metaphoric touch upon both their bodies and minds. By analysing the work of these writers through the lens of literary theorists such as Julia Kristeva, Jacques Lacan, Luce Irigaray, Jacques Derrida, Hélène Cixous, Michel Foucault and Louis Althusser, this work will attempt to chart the changing perception of women and the lived female experience in modern Irish society from the 1960s right up to the present day, elucidating both the covert methods by which Irish women are currently repressed or silenced within society, and the myriad of ways in which they rebel against such repressive forces. In order to provide a comprehensive investigation of the lived experience of women in modern Irish society, this work aims to look at the ways in which women are touched physically, emotionally and mentally by societal forces. It will focus on such issues as self-identity and touching the inner self, violent or oppressive physical or sexual touch, the complex physical and emotional changes associated with the inner touch that is pregnancy, and finally the stigmas and difficulties facing Irish women who are deemed to be “Touched” by mental illness in Irish society. These analyses and examinations are undertaken with a view to building upon previous socio-cultural and literary academic works in relation to the representation of women in modern Irish society, whilst simultaneously opening new debates and iv discussions in relation to how the Irish female experience has changed in the advent of the twenty-first century.