Textualities 17 Live Blog: Panel 4

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Erin Bergin: John B. Keane’s work and the identity of the Irish Migrant

Irish migration patterns form the basis for Erin’s research studies, especially the relationship between those who have gone away and those who’ve stayed. Her study was prompted by coming across the statue of Keane in Listowel, and the importance of him to that community.

Keane’s work explores the anxiety of those unable to leave, and Erin feels the underlying economic conditions of this anxiety are under-analysed in comparison to the gender issues in his work. He portrays children and young adults as sound compared to the corrupted older generations, who are rendered in a more satirical light.

Keane condemned immigration and viewed the government as a source of corruption in the state. Linked to this is his exploration of the fear of foreigner and fear of the returning migrant, particularly in The Field, and Many Young Men of Twenty.

Lauren McAuliffe: The New Motherly Father – Representations of Motherhood in James Joyce’s Ulyssespanel

Oxen of the Sun, set in a maternity ward, parallels the gestation of the child with the development of the English language. Joyce’s focus here is on male writers, rather than the women of the episode. Joyce may be suggesting that men are forcing themselves onto literary practices as well as birthing practices.

Bloom is, for Joyce, the mother of the text. He’s the only male character in the episode concerned with the mother’s welfare. Lauren calls attention to Melanie Klein’s Good Breast/Bad Breast Mother theory. Applying this to the episode, Bloom becomes a nurturing good breast mother for Steven, especially when compared to the sexualised, rather than typically domestic motherly portrayal of Molly Bloom and Gerty.

Haley Bonner: Finding Zora’s Janie

Haley opens by making note of the importance of Alice Walker’s “Finding Zora” essay in reviving Hurston scholarship. Hurston wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God late in life, and her experiences influenced her writing. In the novel, Janie’s blossoming sexuality is symbolised by the blossoming of flowers, leading to an interest in self and other. Haley suggests that we can read this kind of symbolism using theories such as Lacan’s mirror image stage, the feminist work of de Beauvoir, and Cixous’ theory of feminine writing.

Hurston repeatedly uses the image of woman as a mule, thereby implying man as master, and complicates this opposition by including race as a factor. This mule/master dichotomy runs throughout the novel, playing out in different ways in Janie’s three marriages. The effect of this is that Janie experiences a duality of identity, seeing herself as both self and other.

Zoe McCormack: The Double in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan

Zoe suggests that in Aronofsky’s film the double is rendered using both narrative and cinematic techniques. The concept of the doppelganger is developed by Freud and used throughout literature and cinema, such as in the work of David Fincher and David Lynch. Aronofsky notes the influence of works such as Dostoyevsky’s The Double, Powell and Pressburger’s The Red Shoes, and Swan Lake on his exploration of doubling.

As well as their doubling, characters experience a fragmentation of personalities. Much like Brian de Palma’s Carrie, the central mother/daughter relationship dictates the personality of the main character, as well as the dichotomy between virginal innocent and sexual deviant. The characters of the film are also mirrored by those of Swan Lake, and this dictates their behaviour.

In casting, Aronofsky chose actors with similar appearances, and costume director Westcott uses her designs to further emphasise the diverging moral dualities of the characters. Adding to this is the use of mirrors in almost every scene of Black Swan, serving as a constant reminder to the audience of the presence of the double.

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