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Women, Reform, and Resistance in Ireland, 1850–1950

Editors: Brophy, Christina S., Delay, Cara (Eds.)

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  • ISBN 978-1-137-51313-7
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About this book

Women, Reform, and Resistance documents the challenges faced by Irish women from 1850 to 1950 and their complex reactions. By investigating prisons, and hospitals; interrogating court records and memoirs; and exploring the 'imaginative resistance' women expressed through folk tales; authors illuminate previously obscured experiences of Irish women.

About the authors

Lindsey Earner-Byrne, University College Dublin, Ireland Elaine Farrell, Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland Brigittine French, Grinnell College, USA Margaret Preston, Augustana College, USA E. Moore Quinn, College of Charleston, usa Jennifer Redmond, NUI Maynooth, Ireland Conor Reidy, University of Limerick, Ireland Vanessa Rutherford, University College Cork, Ireland

Reviews

“This very welcome collection, featuring work by anthropologists and historians, offers an incisive look at Irish gender politics that I appreciate, first and foremost, because it is thoroughly intersectional. … A much needed, expertly executed contribution to the conversation in Irish Studies, Women’s Studies and Irish Women’s Studies, it is well worth the investment and should perhaps be considered compulsory reading for students and scholars in these areas as well as Gender Studies more broadly.” (Maureen E. Ruprecht Fadem, Irish Studies Review, Vol. 26 (1), December, 2017)


'Brophy and Delay's eclectic mix of historical essays provide accounts of struggles faced, and lives lived, by mná na hÉireann (the women of Ireland). Each essay can be read either as active engagement in, or resistance to, social, legal and cultural reform in modern Ireland. Covering a diverse range of themes from philanthropy both as actors and agents- deviant behavior, criminality, patriarchy and folk beliefs, the entire social spectrum finds representation in this lively read, which will appeal to scholars of Irish studies, gender, and world histories alike.'

-Ciara Breathnach, Lecturer in History, University of Limerick, Ireland

'Christina Brophy and Cara Delay have brought together a dazzling array of writers who produced a challenging set of essays, all of which give Irish women agency and voice. Whether thinking about family, religion, the criminal justice system, sexuality or citizenship, these articles challenge and inform, rightfully making the women who come alive in these pages powerful historical actors.'

-Hasia R. Diner, Director, Goldstein-Goren Center for American Jewish History, New York University, USA

'This collection of essays offers a fresh and insightful exploration of women's lives in Ireland in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Including work by historians and anthropologists it provides enlightening studies of how the interactions between middle class and poorer women shaped both the nature of power between them, and also the character of their resistance to wider economic and social pressures. The essays move among women in institutions such as prisons, hospitals and reformatories exploring the impact of women's behavior and speech on shaping their interactions with authority. It also examines the intersections of gender and class. That some Irish women were adept at defying society's expectations of appropriate gendered conduct is evident in their disruptive behavior in institutions. Other women, particularly those who petitioned for charitable assistance, were able to utilize accepted gendered ideals to mediate between power and poverty and in the process sustain their own and their families' wellbeing. Many of the essays reveal acts of resistance in the ways, for instance, in which young women acquired sexual knowledge, through storytelling, or in the formulaic cursing employed by keening women and widows. These essays provide a sense of the complexity of Irish women's lives within a dramatically changing social, economic and political period of Irish history.'

-Maria Luddy, Professor of History, University of Warwick, England

'The historians in this collection provide rich narratives of how the forces of modernization resulted in increased surveillance and stifling regulation of women and girls in late Nineteenth and early Twentieth century Ireland. Yet the central achievement of these scholars is the attention they give to the resilience of the women they document: their strategies of resistance, subversion and even rebellion. The archives used for documentary sources in this book are more varied than generally mined by Irish historians and the deft deployment of theoretical concepts is also not routinely found in Irish history writing. Perhaps most impressive is that the scholars are as attentive to how class inflects, constrains and demarcates differing female experiences as much as they are focused on the discourses of gender. The essays gathered here are not 'women's history' in that they don't seek to add an account of what women did to the dominant narrative of Irish history. The scholars in this collection provide a consummate example of how feminist historiography not merely adds nuance or complicates received historical accounts but radically challenges the unreflective assumptions of much Irish history writing: their work provides new ground from which to gain a perspective on how lives were lived, and what lives mattered in post-Famine Ireland.'

-Katherine O'Donnell, Senior Lecturer, School of Philosophy, University College Dublin, Ireland

'This is a coherent and very stimulating collection of essays. It makes an innovative and fresh contribution to Irish historical studies. Drawing on the multi-disciplined approaches of historians, folklorists and literary scholars, the volume interrogates the notion of Irish women as passive victims of church and state. It documents the complex and, often, surprising ways in which women responded to the challenges of post-Famine Irish society. The volume is essential reading for students of modern Irish history.'

-Mary O'Dowd, Professor of Gender History, Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland

Buy this book

Hardcover $119.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-1-137-51313-7
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Immediate ebook access, if available*, with your print order
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Women, Reform, and Resistance in Ireland, 1850–1950
Editors
  • Christina S. Brophy
  • Cara Delay
Copyright
2015
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan US
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s)
Hardcover ISBN
978-1-137-51313-7
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XI, 242
Number of Illustrations
3 b/w illustrations
Topics

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