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Censoring nationalisms : literature, legislation and national identities in Ireland, 1923-58

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Censoring nationalisms : literature, legislation and national identities in Ireland, 1923-58

Kent, Brad (2006) Censoring nationalisms : literature, legislation and national identities in Ireland, 1923-58. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the relationship between literature and State-directed censorship in the process of national identity formation in post-independence Ireland, from 1923 to 1958. It traces the institutionalisation and workings of censorship by providing culturally and historically informed readings of banned books written by Irish writers, State, Church and personal archival documents, and the secular and religious media of the day. This interdisciplinary cultural approach allows for the analysis and articulation of the bottom-up resistance from those who were censored and fought the censorship, the top-down imposition of norms and mores through the State's banning of literature, and the informal censorship that occurred at points in between the writers and the State at the hands of booksellers, librarians, social groups and literary critics. By undertaking such an inclusive methodology, the thesis provides a much fuller understanding of how censorship and the resistance it engenders function than what has previously been offered in other studies; there is therefore a simultaneous focus on the official State nationalism that censors and the oppositional nationalisms that are censored. It develops this dual focus by arguing that censorship is a crucial means of determining the cultural borders of the nation in terms of what it permits and prohibits from circulating within the territory of the State. More exactly, it demonstrates that prohibited literature contains ideas and images that cannot be assimilated to the constructs of official nationalism. Furthermore, the thesis challenges the concept of institutions as they have been theorised by political scientists. While institutions are defined by their ability to remain resistant to change, the thesis argues that such a concept is predicated on the fact that theorists and empiricists have focused on what are termed "hard" institutions. Instead, censorship is posited as a "soft" institution for its relatively more malleable quality that allows it to be shaped by those in power while still conforming to other characteristics of institutions. Finally, the thesis examines the legacy of censorship, specifically through how censored books are and are not discussed in the decades after they are banned and unbanned. It makes the case that in order to undo the harm the State causes to a society through censorship, literary scholars need to continue to prioritise the discussion and analysis of formerly censored books and the power structures of the society that censored them.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Kent, Brad
Pagination:viii, 487 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:School of Graduate Studies
Date:2006
Thesis Supervisor(s):Kenneally, Michael
ID Code:9289
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:18 Aug 2011 14:47
Last Modified:18 Aug 2011 14:47
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