Shaping Destinies: Women and the Hungarian Refugee Movement to Canada (1956–1958)

By December 1958, Canada had admitted almost 38,000 Hungarian refugees, forced to flee their country after Soviet forces crushed the October 1956 uprising. A rich historiography has examined this migration from a range of perspectives, but an analysis of women’s actions and attitudes represents an uncharted approach. Archival research reveals that Canadian women expressed opinions and took on a variety of roles related to the refugee movement. Examining those opinions and roles not only offers a novel perspective on Canada’s response to the refugee crisis, but it also provides insights into the evolving roles of women in Canadian society. The weight of intersectionality often muted the voices of women of Hungarian origin, both Canadians and refugees. Yet, refugee women were accorded a symbolic power that played its own role in the movement, and they found ways to exercise their agency to achieve their desired admission and settlement outcomes. (ST)

Beyond the “Raked Gardens”: Female Identity in American Suburban Poetry

The article analyzes an overlooked aspect of American suburban poetry—the writing of American women poets who deal with the problem of how to represent female identity. Drawing on the existing criticism of women’s poetry, a comprehensive survey of the suburban poems by American women poets, from the 1940s to the 2000s, is provided. The article documents the various approaches that these poets adopt in order to explore identity while resisting the gender stereotypization in American suburbia. These approaches include either embracing the suburban ideal of domestic conformity or attempting to present women suburbanites who reject the socially prescribed roles forced upon them and develop new identities of their own. (JF)

A Novel Inquiry into a Strategic Aspect of Irish Women’s Theatre across a Century

Book review:

Hill, Shonagh. Women and Embodied Mythmaking in Irish Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2019. 257 pages. ISBN 978-1-108-48533-3. Hb. ₤75.

Experimental Dramaturgy, Intellectual and Art-related Subjects in Irish Theatre

Book review:

Woodward, Guy, ed. Across the Boundaries: Talking about Thomas Kilroy. Dublin: Carysfort Press, 2014. 112 pages. ISBN 978-1-909325-51-7. Pbk. €25.00


Introduction to the Special Section: Negotiating Aging and Ageism in English-Speaking Fiction and Theatre

Dramaturgical Roles of Present and Past Teenage Characters in Post-Agreement Northern Irish Drama

The Good Friday Agreement (1998) has set in motion significant changes in Northern Ireland, generating new conditions which, however, also brought numerous problems to the surface on various levels of society. Sociologists have called attention to how intensely the persistent afterlife of sectarian hostilities affect especially teenagers who are often unable to see their goals clearly. Several contemporary Northern Irish playwrights have relied on young characters to pinpoint timely and pressing social and cultural issues as well as to throw light on the precarity of the post-Troubles environment. This essay discusses three plays from different decades of the post-Agreement period: Gary Mitchell’s Trust (1999), Lucy Caldwell’s Leaves (2007), and Owen McCafferty’s Quietly (2012). Their respective dramaturgies showcase the long-lasting influence of the historical burden of the Northern Irish conflict on young peoples’ subjectivities as well as demonstrate how middle-aged characters are still haunted by memories of the psychic wounds they suffered during the most formative years of their lives. Through their underage protagonists, each playwright suggests that members of this generation might not be able to further strengthen the peace they have formally inherited. (MK)

Aging and Death in Edward Albee’s The Sandbox and Tennessee Williams’s The Milktrain Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore

With focus on the tropes of aging and death in Edward Albee’s The Sandbox (1960) and Tennessee Williams’s The Milktrain Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore (1963), the essay investigates the negotiation of the protagonists’ identity through specters of age and the means of encountering death, and it analyzes the representation of the dramas’ senior citizens with special regard to the ways in which these characters challenge mainstream cultural constructions of aging. On their deathbed, both Albee’s and Williams’s protagonists are reconnecting with their pasts in idiosyncratic ways: they build up a conscious “age autobiography” (Margaret Morgenroth Gulette) in an inventory of events and feelings assessing a complete(d) life and achieve an “agewise” (Gulette) identity that comes full circle in the very moment of grace. The characters who escort these two elderly women on their last journey reconceptualize the sense of intimacy between people. The dialogic potential of their empathy, care, and unconditional support during the end-game of the protagonists accommodates difference in various contexts by blurring the boundary between the old and the young as well as the one between men and women, because death has neither age nor gender. Thus, these intergenerational exchanges help elder characters’ agewise enterprises into the unknown gain a cathartic sense of freedom. (RMC)

The Architecture of the Self

Book review:

Ng, Andrew Hock Soon. Women and Domestic Space in Contemporary Gothic Narratives: The House as Subject. Basingstroke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. xiii + 246 pages. ISBN 978-1-137-53681-5. Hb. $90.

What Makes the Genre of Lyric Compelling?

Book review:

Culler, Jonathan. Theory of the Lyric. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2015. x + 391 pages. ISBN 978-0-674-74426-4. Hb. $41.

Women in Contemporary Irish Theatre: Widening the Space

Book review:

Haughton, Miriam, and Mária Kurdi, eds. Radical Contemporary Theatre Practices by Women in Ireland. Dublin: Carysfort Press, 2015. 251 pages. ISBN 978-1-909325-75-3. Pbk. €20.

Alternative Readings of J. M. Synge’s Drama Predicated on Archival Material

Book review:

Collins, Christopher. Theatre and Residual Culture: J. M. Synge and Pre-Christian Ireland. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. 301 pages. Hb. ISBN 978-1-349-94871-0. €106.99.

Geographies of Women

Book review:

Beebe, Kathryne, and Angela Davis, eds. Space, Place and Gendered Identities: Feminist History and the Spatial Turn. London: Routledge, 2015. x + 158 pages. ISBN 978-1-138-83049-3. Hb. £110.

Reproduction and the Female Body in Anne Sexton’s Poetry

The essay focuses on two representative examples of Anne Sexton’s poems about reproduction, “In Celebration of My Uterus” and “The Abortion.” Contrary to most previous analyses which have foregrounded Sexton’s concern with personal identity, the paper claims that Sexton positions personal experience in the wider framework of cultural and social discourses. “In Celebration of My Uterus” explores the experience of the vitality of the speaker’s reproductive organ in the context of kinship with women in other geopolitical locations, also addressing how childbearing is implicated in processes of national economic production. “The Abortion” situates the termination of a pregnancy in the context of the Pennsylvanian landscape, raising questions regarding the embeddedness of the natural landscape in processes of human economic production, as well as the financial implications of the termination of a pregnancy. While questions of self-identity, personal boundaries, and physical experiences are undoubtedly central to “The Abortion” and “In Celebration of My Uterus,” they also attest to Sexton’s concern with the experience of the individual in their wider social context.  (BK)

Chronotopes of the City: Spatial Injustice and Narrative Form in Helena María Viramontes’s Their Dogs Came with Them

Combining Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of the chronotope and Sarah Dillon’s notion of the palimpsest, the essay highlights the dialogic relationship between narrative time and space in Chicana author Helena María Viramontes’s novel, Their Dogs Came with Them (2007). Set in East Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s—the heyday of urban renewal projects and the rapid spread of freeways—the novel registers the geographical displacement and constrained socio-economic mobility of Mexican Americans whose homes are demolished by the freeway building bulldozers. The spatial form of intersectionality characterizing the architectural structure of the freeways also describes the narrative form of the novel. The non-linear narrative is structured upon multiple intersecting plotlines, each of which portrays the social struggles of a young Chicana woman inhabiting the city. Focusing on the interplay of environmental theme and narrative form, the paper explores the narrative representation of East Los Angeles as a spatially and temporally multilayered landscape that palimpsestously overlays and interconnects the personal memory of the characters and the collective history of Mexican Americans’ socio-political oppression in North America. (BR)

Can Female Resistance Emerge from Vulnerability?

Book review:

Butler, Judith, Zeynep Gambetti, and Leticia Sabsay, eds. Vulnerability in Resistance. Durham: Duke UP, 2016. x + 336. ISBN 978-0-8223-6290-6. Pbk. $26.95.

The “Latina Madwoman” at the Crossroads of Harm and Hope

Book review:

Halperin, Laura. Intersections of Harm: Narratives of Latina Deviance and Defiance. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 2015. xii + 238 pages. ISBN 978-0-8135-7036-5. Pbk. $29.95.

Coming of Age and Urban Landscapes in Edward P. Jones’s “Spanish in the Morning” and “The Girl Who Raised Pigeons”

This analysis of “Spanish in the Morning” (2009) and “The Girl Who Raised Pigeons” (1992) by Edward P. Jones offers a preliminary (re-)interpretation of the urban imaginary in Jones’s oeuvre by focusing on how urban places interact with the protagonists’ coming-of-age process. Detailed descriptions of routes, references to exact locations in the city, spatial relations, and changes of place run through both stories. Relying on trauma theory and Jon Anderson’s conceptualization of places, the essay argues that the geographical landscape is in the forefront in these narratives, but not as a means of emphasizing, matching, or complementing the emotional one, but rather to hide it from view. The protagonists’ memories and identities gain expression in spatial terms, but foregrounding the city is posited as a hindrance to their coming-of-age process insofar as it prevents them from accepting the reality of their loss and from facing and coping with trauma. (ZsLM)

Narrating Motherhood: The Power of Storytelling

Book review:

Martin, BettyAnn, and Michelann Parr, eds. Writing Mothers: Narrative Acts of Care, Redemption, and Transformation. Bradford, ON: Demeter P, 2020. 258 pages. ISBN 978-1-77258-223-9. Pbk. $34.95.

Old Age and Aging: Presence and Absence in the Plays of Brian Friel

Old age and aging may not seem an immediate priority in Brian Friel’s drama, yet several plays feature memorable characters of old, elderly, aging, or declining people, whose presence on stage is occasionally revealed through their absence. The growing cultural visibility of older people contrasts with their invisibility as useless members of society: they are physically present, yet invisible. In Friel’s dramaturgy, this arouses reflection on the role of old age absent from the mimetic space and relegated to the diegetic space offstage; absence as a theatrical device marks offstage characters as potential catalysts for action. If in some plays elderly characters remain in the background, in others they become pivotal to dramatic construction, ranging from dominant figures like Columba in The Enemy Within (1962), to tyrannical ones such as Manus in The Gentle Island (1971) and Father in Aristocrats (1979), to social outcasts in The Loves of Cass McGuire (1967) and Dancing at Lughnasa (1990). This essay considers the variety of ways in which Friel introduces or openly deals with the issues of aging and of old age through stagecraft and varied dramatic choices as well as the manipulation of mimetic and diegetic space in terms of presence and absence in particular. (GT)

Affect for Mothers and Others

Book review:

Lane, Julia and Eleonora Joensuu, eds.  Everyday World-Making: Toward an Understanding of Affect and Mothering. Bradford, ON: Demeter P, 2018. 340 pages. ISBN 978-1-77258-140-9. Pbk. $34.95.

Seaside Resort Blues: The English Seaside in the 1930s

In the interwar period, seaside holidays had become accessible to more people in the United Kingdom than ever before. It was not least the unapologetic hedonism of the working classes that gave places like Blackpool and Scarborough their vibrant energy. However, a notable number of English travelogues in the 1930s depict seaside resorts as overcrowded, vulgar, debilitating, and in fact un-English. During the years in which the UK faced the rising threat of fascism, the seaside became a site where ideas of Englishness, popular culture, and masculinity came under scrutiny. In my paper, I explore these ambivalent constructions of the English seaside resort, from J. B. Priestley’s English Journey to the collection Beside the Seaside, in which women authors, including Yvonne Cloud and Kate O’Brian, celebrate the seaside as a catalyst of female agency. (VR)

Disruptive Domesticity in Shakespearean Drama

Book review:

Whipday, Emma. Shakespeare’s Domestic Tragedies: Violence in the Early Modern Home. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2019. 262 pages. ISBN 9781108474030. Pbk. £29.99

Contemporary and Beyond?

Book review:

Acheson, James, ed. The Contemporary British Novel Since 2000. Edinburgh UP, 2017. 214 pages. ISBN 978 1 4744 0375 7. epub. £80.00.

Transgressions and Reterritorializations as Markers of Minor Literature in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slapstick, or Lonesome no More!

Deterritorialization and reterritorialization are transgressive techniques in literature that characterize subversive literature. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari suggest that questions about marginal literature or other forms of peripheral literatures must all be covered within the designation and definition of minor literature, not only if they are written in the language of the mainstream. Kurt Vonnegut’s Slapstick, or Lonesome no More (1976) is a set of deterritorializations and reterritorializations made possible through creative assemblage, a technique that allows a continuous flow of meaning, that is, meaning is not fixed, as language moves from one territory to another, constructing new assemblages and acquiring new meanings. Meaning changes each time a new assemblage is composed. Through the re-construction of family, love, and human relationships, the novel defies the alienating practices of the American society as presented in Vonnegut’s novel. (MM and WHRM)

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