Dr James Little
- School: School of English, Drama and Film
- Mentor: Prof. Emilie Pine
CONFINED - Mapping Literary Representations of Coercive Confinement in Ireland, from the Mid-Nineteenth Century to the Present
My project examines Irish literary representations of institutions of coercive confinement – such as prisons, asylums, industrial schools, mother-and-child institutions, Magdalene laundries and direct provision centres – from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. By studying the uses of this literature in legal, medical and media discourse, I investigate the ways in which selected works of prose, poetry and theatre function as agents of national memory (Aguilar 1999; Budrytė 2010).
How have audiences responded to – or ignored – Ireland’s literature of coercive confinement? How has the media remediated it (Erll and Rigney 2009)? How have these literary texts been used in official discourse, such as the recent series of state reports on institutional abuse? How might they be used differently to guard against future abuse?
How has the ‘memory capital’ (Reading 2019; Pine 2020) of Ireland’s carceral literature changed since the development of the island’s ‘architecture of containment’ (Smith 2007) in the mid-nineteenth century?
Through collaborations with the Museum of Literature Ireland, UCDScholarcast and public service broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann, I am creating a digital exhibition, a podcast and other events to explore these questions. See the project webpage or follow me on Twitter for updates: @Jamesjli.