Confessing Ireland : the colonial politics of Irish Catholicism in James Joyce's A portrait of the artist as a young man Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/12579v770

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  • Ireland's Catholic Church played an important role in the turn-of-the-century nationalism that shaped James Joyce's identity and writing; yet it also played an important part in preventing that nationalism from achieving its goals of autonomy and cultural independence. For Joyce, this was particularly evident in the dialects and thought structures of Ireland's hybrid language practices. As he demonstrates through the character of Stephen Dedalus, the protagonist of A Portrait, this linguistic hybridity was a direct result of the authority and influence of both liturgical and confessional discourse in an Ireland dominated by the priesthood. Overcoming these discourses thus became a necessary part of achieving the kind of liberating cosmopolitan identity that Irish autonomy required. Yet as Stephen readily shows, moving beyond the Church requires more than simply taking up a position against it. Indeed, as in the theories of Frantz Fanon, Mikhail Bakhtin, and Homi Bhabha, the reclamation of one's language requires re-imagining it as both a pluralistic contact zone of heterogeneous languages and a model of power where the binary divisions between one people and another are cultivated and exposed. As a result, Stephen, like the neo-pagan nationalism of Renaissance Celticism, remains locked in a struggle for an authenticating self-expression while Joyce ably shows the limitations of such an expression in the purview of internationalism and multicultural politics. The tensions between thus comprise a dynamic and systematic critique of the repressiveness of both Church discourse and Irish nationalism at a time when nationalist Ireland and Catholic Ireland were becoming synonymous representations of one another.
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