Gender and sexuality in early Irish saga.
Sheehan, Sarah.
223 leaves.
Microform, Thesis
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dissertation note
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Toronto, 2009.
general note
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 72-06, Section: A, page: .
local note
ROBARTS MICROTEXT copy on microfiche.
This thesis examines early Irish ideas of sexual difference through five thematic studies of the construction of gender in Irish saga texts. Its readings analyze the representation of femininity, masculinity, sexuality, and corporeality in a range of sagas from the mythological and Ulster cycles. A brief introductory survey of historical and literary scholarship on women, gender, and sexuality in early medieval Ireland opens the thesis. The first chapter reads two foretales to the central text of the Ulster cycle, Tain Bo Cuailnge [The Cattle-Raid of Cooley], De Chophur in Da Muccida [On the Quarrel of the Two Swineherds] and Noinden Ulad [The Debility of the Ulstermen], for their representation of gender and corporeality; a preliminary discussion of gender in sagas classified as foretales contextualizes the analysis of the place of gendered bodies in originary saga narratives. The second chapter focuses on Irish literature's militant women, surveying female warriors in texts including the Law of Adomnan, a learned poem by Flann Mainistrech, and early Irish classical adaptations as context for a reading of the women warriors in Tochmarc Emire [The Wooing of Emer]. The third chapter examines the representation of bodies and sexuality in the mythological saga Cath Maige Tuired [The Battle of Mag Tuired], concentrating on the carnivalesque sequence that relates the sexual encounter between the Dagda and the daughter of the enemy leader, Indech; the discussion contrasts the sequence's subversive, scatological comedy with the conservative portrayal of gender and sexuality elsewhere in the narrative. The fourth chapter traces the differences of gender ideology between the two medieval versions of Tain Bo Cuailnge by analyzing their representation of masculinity, particularly in the Fer Diad episode. The final chapter reads the corporeal signification of the heroes of Scela Mucce Meic Datho [The Story of Mac Datho's Pig] through the concept of inscription in flesh, drawing on Old Irish legal texts and twentieth-century theorists to examine the function of mutilated male bodies in the saga's ironic, parodic discourse. The prominence of bodies in the texts considered suggests that early Irish saga privileges corporeality over gender as an index of power and difference.
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