Lauren Cassidy

School: School of English, Drama and Film

Supervisor: Professor Gerardine Meaney

Gender, Sovereignty and the Changing Nation: The Irish Feminist Novel, 1963-2023

Lauren’s research posits that Irish mythology’s sovereignty goddess is experiencing a renaissance in contemporary women’s writing. Her thesis argues that key texts from 1963 to 2023 are fertile ground for the cultivation of new literary landscapes, with authors consciously exhuming the goddess from canonical tradition for the renovation of hetero-patriarchal myth, the gestation of queer national identities, and ultimately, the deconstruction of a monolithic conception of Irishness. 

Until the late twentieth century, women’s interactions with Ireland’s sovereignty myth were largely unrepresented in criticism. In 1991, Patricia Coughlan published “Bog Queens: The Representations of Femininity in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney and John Montague”, a foundational text on the depiction of women in contemporary Irish poetry. While Coughlan’s work catalysed a new wave of feminist scholarship on the sovereignty goddess, these paradigms are no longer applicable to a new generation of writers, and almost a quarter of a century later, current academic discourse has failed to keep pace with Ireland’s changing nation. Lauren contends that the key novels in her study are new wave literatures of resistance, which act as cultural receptacles for the production of heterogeneous nationalities, and blueprints for a modern, queer sovereignty tradition. 

PhD candidate, University College Dublin (2020 – Present)

M.A. in English, University of Limerick (2018 – 2019)

B.A. in English and History, University of Limerick (2014 – 2018)

Contact (email address): lauren.cassidy@ucdconnect.ie