Queering the Celtic Tiger

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Queering the Celtic Tiger Re-Imagining the Nation-State in Two Dublin Bildungsroman
McCann, Emily
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[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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1 online resource (57 p.)

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Master's ( M.A.)
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University of Florida
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Kershner, R. B.
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Mennel, Barbara
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Capitalism ( jstor )
Cities ( jstor )
Countries ( jstor )
Female homosexuality ( jstor )
Irish culture ( jstor )
Irish literature ( jstor )
Narratives ( jstor )
Novels ( jstor )
Tigers ( jstor )
Women ( jstor )
English -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
dublin, globalization, ireland, nation, queer, urban
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
English thesis, M.A.


This study analyzes the relationship between re-imagining urban space from a queer perspective and re-imagining the national state in late capitalism in two recent queer bildungsroman set in contemporary Dublin. In the last decade of the twentieth century, Dublin underwent a rapid transformation from an impoverished European backwater (Coulter 17) to a self-consciously bustling hub within the networks of global capital. Historically, authentic Irishness was grounded in the rural West Country, creating a space of ambivalent national identification in Dublin. This ambivalence has become more complicated as Dublin, but not the rest of the Republic, has undergone significant economic transformation and has, in mainstream discourse, been conscripted to standing in metonymically for a trans-Irish narrative of economic and cultural transformation. As Dublin has developed in the last two decades, it has become a site of simultaneous chronologies through its architectural hodgepodge. The bildungsroman genre formally depicts a national longing for progress and development (Moretti 8). The queer bildungsroman, however, complicates the genre's typical narrative of development and merging into heteronormative capitalist society. The queer bildungsroman focuses on negotiating networks outside of the sanction of the society and the state (D'Emilio 13): as such, it offers a unique vantage point for charting the influence of capital on the continued viability of the construct of nation-state. Ultimately, I demonstrated the opportunities for imagining new forms of kinship and identity found in the negotiations between sexual desire and urban space. I focused on two recent narratives, Hood, by Emma Donoghue, and The First Verse, by Barry McCrae. This study explores the connection between sexual desire and urban space, which, I propose, destabilize narratives of the nation. Urban space functions as a 'flashpoint of memory' where the competing pressures and artifacts of nation and social memory collide with amnesiac flows of capital that 'erase the traces, the exploitative and alienating work' from its end products (Kincaid 20). Irish history, from English colonization, the Great Famine, to the Troubles, is characterized by a collection of narratives that constitute a discourse of identity as cultural trauma. Constitutive of these hegemonic discourses of trauma, however, are silences regarding the presence, experiences, and relationships through which queer desires circulate. ( en )
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Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2008.
Adviser: Kershner, R. B.
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by Emily McCann

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2 2008 Emily McCann


3 To my parents, who have always supported my research.


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I wish to thank m y committee, Brandon Kers hner and Barbara Mennel for their guidance and generous support of both my research and writing during this process. I thank Brandon especially for guiding the projec t from its inception in an independent study on the twentiethcentury Irish bildungsroman over a year ago. I tha nk Barbara for her incred ible teaching in the Feminist and Queer Theory seminar in which this paper was first written, as well as her patience and kindness through several subseque nt drafts of this thesis.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 ABSTRACT .....................................................................................................................................6 1 AN ALMOST GLOBAL CITY................................................................................................ 8 2 DIASPORA, GLOBALIZATI ON AND THE CELTIC TIGER............................................ 14 3 HOOD ......................................................................................................................... .............20 4 THE FIRST VERSE...............................................................................................................35 5 CONCLUSI ON................................................................................................................... ....49 REFERENCES ..............................................................................................................................55 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .........................................................................................................57


6 Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts QUEERING THE CELTIC TIGER: REIMAGINING THE NATION STATE IN TWO DUBLIN BILDUNGSROMAN By Emily McCann May 2008 Chair: Brandon Kershner Major: English This study analyzes the relationship betw een re-imagining urban space from a queer perspective and re-imagining th e national state in late capit alism in two recent queer bildungsroman set in contemporary Dublin. In the last decade of the twen tieth century, Dublin underwent a rapid transformation from one of the poorest countries in Europe to a selfconsciously bustling hub within the networks of global capital. Histori cally, authentic Irishness was grounded in the rural West C ountry, creating a space of ambivale nt national identification in Dublin. This ambivalence has become more complicated as Dublin, but not the rest of the Republic, has undergone significant economic transf ormation and has, in mainstream discourse, been conscripted to standing in metonymically for a trans-Irish narrative of economic and cultural transformation. As Dublin has developed in the last two decades, it has become a site of simultaneous chronologies through its architectural hodgepodge. Through its education and perfection of a metonymic youth, the bildungsroman genre formally depicts a national longing development. The queer bildungsroman, however, complicates the genres typical narrative of development and merging into heteronormative capitalist society. In contrast, the queer bildungsroman focuses on negotiating networks outside


7 of the sanction of the society and the state: as such, it offers a unique vantage point for charting the influence of capital on the continued viability of the construct of nation-state. Ultimately, I demonstrated the opportunities for imagining new forms of kinship and identity found in the negotiations between sexual desire and urban space. I focused on two recent narratives, Hood, by Emma Donoghue, and The First Verse by Barry McCrae. This study explores the connection between sexual desire and urban space, which, I propose, destabilize narratives of the nation. Urban space functions as a flashpoint of memory where the competing pressures and artifacts of nation and social memory collide with amnesiac flows of capital. Irish history, from English colonization, the Great Fa mine, to the Troubles, is characterized by a collection of narratives that constitute a discourse of identity as cultural trauma. Constitutive of these hegemonic discourses of trauma, howev er, are silences regarding the presence, experiences, and relationships throug h which queer desires circulate.


8 CHAPTER 1 AN ALMOST GLOBAL CITY In Space, Time, Perversion Elizabeth Grosz contrasts the s tates self-constructed image of the monolithic yet transparent (and knowable) entity with the unmappable disorder of the city: The state functions to grid and organize, to hierarchize and coordina te the activities of and for the city and its state-produced correla te, the country(side). These are th e site(s) for chaotic, deregulated, and unregulateable fl ows.the city is formed as a point of transit while the state aims to function as a solidity, a mode of stasis or systematicity. (107) The city frustrates attempts to map its entirety : the flow of material goods, people, information and desires throughout defies regul ation or discipline in any comp lete way: cities are eternally changing, physically, ideologicall y, and in terms of population. More over, she writes: The city provides the order and organizati on that automatically links otherwise unrelated bodies: it is the condition and milieu in which corporeality is so cially, sexually, and discursively produced (104). Although the bodies that inhabit cities are subject to ideological constructions propagated through a nation-states, they also inhabit citi es spaces that, because they contain dense populations and myriad of spaces, can be infinitely repurposed and re-imagined against the dominant stream of ideology even as these bodies/subjects are constructed by the very limitations, which these spaces with in the nation state represent. Grozss arguments, however, take on larger meaning when brought explicitly to bear on cities in the age of globalization: although the nation-state may attempt to force the city into a subordinate relationship in the service propagating the fictional coherence of the nation through the its regulation, the city contains spaces of concealment and subversion. Saskia Sassen writes in Global Cities that a class of cities exists that ar e more enmeshed economically and culturally to each other than to their respective nations or even national regions: this connection is forged by the investment of multinationa ls in cities. This investment Sassen argues, tends to produce


9 areas in which firms that service Global companie s congregate, despite the assertion that the new information economy would obviate the importance of a firms location. Sassen writes further in Whose City is it Anyway? that, in the wake of globalization, global cities fit neither economically nor culturally within a hierarchy beneath or within the nation or their surrounding areas: they are instead linked economically and socially to other similar cities. Sassen hypothesizes that it is the very proximity of bodies through which the city exists that contains the global citys greatest opportunities for political tr ansformation: as the site of large, concentrated populations of migrant and minority workers, and womenall of whom have tended to be marginalized by globalizationthe global city holds the potential of a productive flashpoint, even as agents within the city simultaneously atte mpts to cater to the needs of the elite of firm management. Groszs above-quoted vision of the city is co mpatible with Sassens critical mass politics although she refocuses attention to the political potential for individuals in the city as a heterogeneous space that frustrates attempts to pr edict, map out, or regulate its flows, economic or, significantly, erotic. Groszs cityscape, despite attempts to rationally map or discursively construct it as a series of discrete mutually exclusive spaces like pub lic, private, domestic, commercial, productive and nonproduc tive, permits flows of materials and desires to circulate in concealed, disguised or subversive manners not sanctioned by any legitimating and imbricated narratives that the nation-state might marshal in the regulation or imagining of city space. For example, capitalisms emphasis in rational(ized) production and reification can be read in the ideologies of heteronormative domesticity, thro ugh which it posits the correct location of desire and appropriate di visions between outside, inside, pub lic and private. The global city cannot be contained within the discursively imagined community of the nation anymore than a


10 nations government can any longer guarantee the domestic and global rights of capital (Sassen, xxviii). The city exists in tension with the narrative of nation-state and capital on the one hand, and exists in a network of similar citi es tied together by common sets of exchange on the other. Grosz adds to Sassens account the focus on the question of the subjects bodily experience of urban space within globalization. This thesis explores the re lationship of desire and urbanities by analyzing the accounts of two novels that are set in a city that is moving towards inclusion among the ranks of gl obal cities (Irish Urban System Report). These two novels each feature a queer narrator attempting to negotiate urban as well as national space, rela tive to their marginalized desires. Urban spaces are increasingly a focus of sociological, geographic, and even literary research. This paper focuses on one city, Dublin, b ecause it became the site of a rapid shift from the major urban center in a country described by Colin Coulter as being a European backwater experiencing third world conditions-a crum bling, strife torn, economically depressed assemblage of buildingsto, within the cour se of a decade, a hodgepodge of simultaneous pockets of time and aestheticssome crumbling, some self-consciously bohemian, some glittering centers of global fina ncial investment. Andrew Kincaid describes the recent fervor in Irish fiction for the Dublin-centered memoir in te rms of its narrative of progress from backwater youth to Urban renewal adulthood (20) The two texts I have chosen, Hood (1995), by Emma Donoghue, and The First Verse (2005 ) by Barry McCrae, fit roughly within the memoir genre, although each is a hybrid of the memoir and the b ildungsroman. The first is a memoir of grief, experienced within spaces of varying levels of confinement within Dublin in 1992. As Pen, its protagonist, moves through the first week of grieving her partner, however, she also moves throughout formative scenes in her life as a lesbia n in Dublin with her partner Cara. The second,


11 while also told in retrospect about a specific pe riod of time, can also be read as a queer bildungsroman (Jeffers): in it, the education of its protagonist in the challenges of being gay and growing up Irish, is interlaced with the giddy adol escence unleashed in parts of Dublin at the Celtic Tigers zenith. This thesis explores the co nnection between sexual desire and urban space, which, I propose, destabilize narratives of the nation. Ultimately, I demonstrate the opportunities for imagining new forms of kinship and identity found in the negotiations between sexual desire and urban space. Dublins role as an irregular space, hist orically, within and apart from the nation, has been long noted, although its place within the Ir ish discursive imagination has taken on added dimensions of with the advent of the Celtic Tiger. In his article, Memory and the City: Urban Renewal and Literary Memoirs in Contemporary D ublin, Kincaid writes that the urban renewal in Irelands capital city and epicenter of its self-proclaimed social, cultural, and economic revolution has transformed the city into a frag mented collage of aged, sometimes decrepit structures and glossy new centers of capitala place that desperately wants to be inhabited and used by what Sassen termed the elite of global cities. Development in the city indicates the extent to which the lifestyle of this interna tionally oriented crowd al so inscribes the urban environment, creating spaces in its own image (Kincaid 26). Connected with renewal, Kiberd argues, is a spate of literary memoirs set in Dub lin in decades past, marking a desire of some in Ireland to attest, as just how much they have grown up since the days detailed in Angelas Ashes (Kiberd in Kincaid). In all of the mentioned narratives, Dub lin acts as a character with which one struggles, against whic h (or with which) one defines oneself, and which shapes in a very literal way ones experience of self and nation through its convoluted, sometimes crumbling streets and nationalist monuments.


12 As an example of the emotional engagement with the city the memoirs typically evince, Peter Sheridan writes in his memoir, If Dublin ha d been a girl I would have married her (qtd. in Kincaid 31). Although the above quote is pe rhaps charming in its hyperbolic affection for Dublin, this statement does articulate a presumed pattern for relating to a city: heternormative conquest and maybe even an attempt to make an honest woman out of what was then an economically depressed, strife-t orn assemblage of buildings. In her dissertation on twentieth century Irish lesbian fiction, Moira Casey deta ils the extent to whic h heteronormativity is enshrined in the juridical discourse of the count ry: in the Irish Free St ate constitution, women are described as personages to be protected, to be gua rded within an explicitly domestic space, one that would be, if Eamon de Valeras emphasi s on Irish economic self-s ufficiency were any indication, a space that was not dependent on in ternational capital and exchange for its productivity (7). In other words, females should, as wives and mothers of the Irish nation state, be enshrined in rural domestic space, not in urba n spaces. As an Irish city, Dublin exists within this heteronormative narrative of nationhood, clearly, but it also pr esented from the Free States inception a space that would not, even as a historic hotbed of revolutionary sentiment, easily be subsumed within nationalist discourses of home, place, and gender. In this thesis, I pursue othe r memoirs of other memories that form the analysis of how urban space in Irish fiction represents the muta ting imbrications of sexuality and nation in the global economy. Urban space functions as a f lashpoint of memory where the competing pressures and artifacts of nation and social memory collide with amnesiac flows of capital that, erase the traces, the exploitative and alienating wo rk from its end products (Kincaid 20): On the one hand, we desire to be free of the past, to create our world anew. On the other, we struggle ceaselessly with our obligations to previous gene rations, with fulfilling some of those ambitions


13 that we have inherited form our national, our clas s, our family (Kincaid 21). Irish history, from English colonization, the Great Famine, to the Troubles, is characteri zed by a collection of narratives that constitute a discourse of iden tity as cultural trauma. Constitutive of these hegemonic discourses of trauma, however, are si lences regarding the presence, experiences, and relationships through which queer desi res circulate: silences which th e texts that I analyze in this essay will speak to and use as a launching point to interrogate the tensi on between sexuality and nation within the urban milieu of Celtic Tiger era Dublin.


14 CHAPTER 2 DIASPORA, GLOBALIZATI ON AND THE CELTIC TIGER Before beginning my discussion of Dublin in two Celtic tiger era fictional memoirs that detail the homosexual desire imagined through sp atial representation, it is important to briefly sketch the connections between the Irish diaspor a of the last century and a half, globalization, and anxieties surrounding the permeability of Iris h, particularly urban, spaces. Although it joined the EC in 1973, Ireland was not, until the onset of the Celtic Tiger, invested in a European identity, or for that matter a global identity or trade. Prior to 1954, Ireland had pursued cultural and economic isolationism as hoped for (but ultima tely futile) antidote to entanglements with its former colonial master Britain. Its poverty, unemployment, and poli tical violence, relative to the rest of Western Europe, caused many Europeans and Irish alike to view the country as an impoverished European backwater (Coulter 9). Beginning, at least, in the eighteenth century, and escalating in the early nineteenth century during the Great Famine, large numbers of Irish nationals emigrated (or were forced to emigrate ). Irish land has been th e site of traumathe British took over, the land failed through potato bli ghts, Unionist and Republicans continued to fight over the borders until the end of the twenti eth century, through which the Irish claimed an identity. This is true even despite the fact th at, during mid-twentieth cen tury, many Irish viewed their nation, at best, as the home base for a popula tion that, because of a history of social and economic hardship, was in Diaspor a: at one point duri ng the 1990s, it was claimed that more Irish and people of Irish des cent lived in abroad than in Ireland itself (Coulter 7). The Celtic Tiger, a term coined by a Morgan Stanley market analyst in 1994 refers to the rapid development of the Republic of Ireland s economy. Although lionized in domestic media as a home-grown phenomenon, it was actually Amer ican investment in a few, high tech firms in Dublin and other urban centers that inst igated the economic boom that would rapidly


15 modernize Ireland during the last years of the millennium (Coulter 3). Dublin cannot be said to be a global city in the sense that Sassen means it, although Dublin described by Peter J. Taylor, et al, in Global Networks, Linked Cities as a city that has, as of 2000, demonstrated significant trends in becoming one. Dublin is much smaller th an other European global cities, most notably London and Paris, although it has made every pos sible attempt to cater to and welcome the international management elite. As noted above by Kincaid, Dublin has seen significant renewal and cultural shifts as a result of the economic developmen t. Large populations of young people have left rural agriculture in favor of Irelands relatively few urban centers that have seen the majority of economic development from American owned high-tech companies. According to Coulter, these youth have embraced commodity cu lture enthusiastically as an ontological quest. Although employment has in creased, much of it has been the result of immigrants and women crowding into lower paying service jobs. Another significant change in Dublin culture that Coulter argues may be a consequence of the economic boom is the liber alization of sexual attitudes (7) towards out of wedlock sex, be it heterosexual and homosexual. During the firs t three quarters of the twentieth century, the Catholic church maintained a very strong in fluence over public policy and public sentiment regarding all areas of life in the Republic, resu lting in positions that sought to reinforce the placement of women within the home, the restric tion of access to family planning of all kinds, and the marginalization of homosexuality. Howe ver, during the mid seventies, public debate erupted concerning womens rights and access to family planning. These, combined with the


16 eruption of the Troubles1, resulted in what Fintan OToole de scribes as a marked shift in national discourse surrounding the body: [during this time this] country which had hyste rically guarded its in timate secrets turned these secrets into a public show[Excremen t became a protest tool and reproductive rights were fiercely debated] On the st reets and country lanes of Northern Ireland, intimate human blood flowed and was seen in living colour on the TV screens At no time and in no country can there ever have been so much body in the body politic. [emphasis added] In other words, the body, be it of desexualiz ed political prisoners or heterosexual women, became the site of political spectacle during this period. What remained more covert in Ireland during this time of political unrest, however, was the political visibility of homosexuals. Mary Robisons, Irelands first female president, invitation to leader s of Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) to her official re sidence in the early nineties ma rked the beginning of a thaw in Irish attitudes towards homosexuality (Coulter, passim). Moreover, the timeline from the decriminalization of homosexuality in Ireland (1993) to its relative to lerance in Dublin and other urban spaces in Ireland has been a rela tively quick process. As the Celtic Tiger has continued, urban Dublin has become the site on an increasingly visible Gay and Lesbian rights movement (Coulter, passim). However, as alleged by one of the novels, The First Verse that I discuss in this essay, this lib eralization in attitudes towa rds homosexuality does not obviate anxieties surrounding possible discrimination a nd violence faced by the community as it negotiates globalized Dublin: McCrae implies this ostensible liberalization may be a performance self-consciously cosmopolitan status rather than actual acceptance. Moreover, I do want to suggest that the advancement of capitalism necessarily results in the uncomplicated advancement of gay and lesbia n rights. Rather, I will, especially in my 1 A popular term for the thirty years conflict between Re publican and Loyalist paramilitary organizations, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), the British Ar my and others in Northern Ireland from the late 1960s until the late 1990s with the signing of the Good Friday P eace Accords in 1998.


17 analysis of The First Verse explore how the ostensible libera lization which capitalisms advance brings to the Irish nation state is a more ambivalent process than one might hope for: visibility in the urban space and the national imaginary still results in violence, discrimination, and exile, even as heteronormative Irish hegemonic discour se heralds the countrys economic development as an opportunity for homecoming for Irish youth and Irish-descended people to the now successful island republic. Gay and lesbian bildungsromans useful make the ideological baggage of capitalism and its enshrinement of the heternormative nuclear family as the sight of emotional and personal fulfillment visible. John DEmilio writes in Capitalism and Gay Identity that capitalisms spread enabled individuals to survive outside of the material producti on unit of the nuclear family (6): concomitantly, wage labors spread also made large families unnecessary, thus unyoking sex from reproduction (8). Ideologically, capitalism dr ives people into heterosexual familiesMaterially, capitalism weakens the bonds th at once kept families together so that their members experiences a growing instability in the place they have come to expect happiness and emotional security (12). Moreover, both gays and lesbians have had to create, for our survival, networks of support that do not de pend on the bonds of blood or the li cense of the state, but that are freely chosen and nurture. The heterornorm tive bildungsroman can be read as a genre whose form aims at producing of an ideal capitalist, bourgeoisie subject, the queer bildungsroman can be seen as the potential site of an alternative narrative of se lf-discovery, self -actualization, and less confined conception of what counts as co mmunity or home. Tracking how queer subjects register the increasing pressure s of capitalism upon the urban spaces in which they, as well as straight people, exist may offer useful tools for imagining a more expansive form of urban community and the nation state.


18 As globalization progresses, the binaries of queer and straight, public and private, domestic and international sp aces have become increasingly untenable. The cultural texts discussed in this paper represent these probl ems spatially, as well as temporally, making reference to discourses of geogr aphy and urban sociology as well as queer globalization theory, productive. First, I will discuss Emma Donoghues Hood as a re-imagining of heternormative domesticity. The novels protagonist, Pen, crea tes a home, already a contentious space for homosexuals according to Pat Califia (qtd. in Bell 106), that subverts many of the expectations implicit in domesticity: heter onormative masculine and feminine roles that are performed by biological males and females, rooms or spaces th at have as rationalized a purpose as possible (e.g. eating in the dining room, slumber in the bedroom, leisure in the liv ing room), and living arrangements based on biological kinship, often limited to the nuclear family (Bell 106) The domestic space in this novel is situated in Dub lin 4, a largely middle class district, in the early nineties just as globalization and homosexual visibility were on th e rise in Ireland. In this text, domestic/private spaces exists in dialectical tension with public/urban spa ce: the destabilization of the construct of the former in this novel re frames anxieties surrounding homosexual visibility and Irish culture in terms of an increasingly gl obalized economic reality in which borders and boundaries between spaces are increasingly un tenable. Next, I discuss Barry McCreas The First Verse (2005) as an attempt to allegorize the dest abilization of Irish national space via analogy to the mutable, but still tangible presence of qu eer spaces in which desires are exchanged. These texts provide a traj ectory tracing out the re-imaginings of domesticity into increasingly open flows of queer desire throughout time and urba n space, pointing ultimately towards a more permeable Irish, even possibly tr ansnational queerness. One obvious challenge to this approach is the appearance (even reality) of erasing the very wide range of differences


19 between lesbian and gay desires, in general, and in particular in Ireland (which both texts could be said to be clearly engaging with) under the banner of queer. What I hope to account for via my references to geography and sociology are the very real material differences between these two communities (i.e., gay and lesbian), as they are represented in th e novels. Although many spaces within the urban may be said to be queer, a commonplace of sexual geography that I interrogate through Ingram and co lleagues account is that gay desire, and not lesbian desire, colonizes public space for erotic expression and th at, because of their rela tive affluence to other marginal sexual communities, gay men are better able to claim contiguous spaces for their own. By accounting for these material re alities in the readings, I point to the destabilizing effects queer desires, bodies, and spaces, variegated as they ar e, as articulated by Grosz, have on the monolith of the state.


20 CHAPTER 3 HOOD Hood recounts in Pens (Penelope) OGrady s first-person narration the week following the death of her on-again, off again partner, Cara Wall. Pens narrative shifts between flashbacks, speculations, and forward m oving linear narrative. Pen and Cara started dating as sort of girlfriends during their junior year of high school. Pen had pr eviously had a crush on Kate, Caras older sister. However, Pe ns crush met a fatal blow when Kate moved with her mother to America when the sisters parents got a divorce. Pen fails her exams that year and is forced to repeat junior year again, this time with Cara as a classmate. Pen ultimately graduates, goes to college, and returns to the same high school she loathed as an elementary school teacher. Cara, on the other hand, spends her twenties involved in a range of sincere, if dilettantish volunteer political activism and frequent travel within Europe. Despite her commitment to Pen, Cara also sleeps around with a number of men and women. Earlier in their relationship, she sometimes attempted to build relationships with these other people, but she always re turns to Pen. Cara later promises to always return, even though she doe s occasionally stray. Pen speculates that Cara sleeps around because she has a practically unl imited capacity to fall for other people, physically and romantically, while at the same time not attaching a great deal of emotional importance to casual sex. Pen, on the other hand, is ever faithful, alt hough often resentful of Caras freedom from work and id iosyncratic definition of fidelit y. Pen moves in with Cara in Caras fathers house in a middle-class area of Dublin. They pretend to occupy separate rooms for the sake of appearances, and, although Pen pa ys no rent, she assumes Mr. Walls father is ignorant of her romantic i nvolvement with his daughter. Cara dies in a car accident on her way back to Pen after a tr ip to Greece with friends from the Amazon Attic, a lesbian collective whom Cara is a part of but whom Pen avoids interacting


21 with until Caras death. Pen experiences conflic ting emotions about her desire for her mourning to be legitimated in the eyes of the heterosexu al mainstream and her re sistance to coming out of the closet to her family, her co-workers, Mr. Wall, and her employer who only gives her half a week off for her housemates death. Kate, now a successful and polished executive expatriate, arrives from America for her sisters funeral. Ho wever, her mother does not because of what her ex-husband describes as her tendency to run aw ay from difficult situations (Hood 181). Pen is a little standoffish towards Kate at first, but grad ually the two warm toward s each other. Pen later confesses to Kate that she and Pen were partners, which Kate sa ys she suspected. Kate leaves after the funeral and Pen is left to mourn Cara with Mr. Wall and the Amazon Attic. Mr. Wall asks Pen to stay in the house because she is both like a daughter to him and because she was Caras friend, denoting his awar eness of their partnership. By the weeks end, Pen visits the Amazon Attic for a memorial for Cara and begins to find a sense of community among other lesbians that she had previously shunned, movi ng beyond the domestic is olation that she had clung to so jealously for the duration of her relationship with Cara. Published in 1995, the novel describes events that took place in 1992, prior to what, for the purposes of this paper, are two major shifts in Irish cultur e: the 1994 decriminalization of homosexuality and the christening of Irelands relatively sudden economic growth by American investors as the Celtic Tiger The novel registers the tensions which these two shifts brought into sharp focus and suggests that they are in f act imbricated with each other: constructions of sexual space, both historical and contemporar y national space, and the contemporary physical space (Dublin). I argue that Pens narrative re-i magines Dublin as a node within the flows of history and myth, urban and domestic spaces, and desire and kinship. Kate and Cara serve as figures of increasingly more porous Irish national and cultural boundaries through their


22 respective emigration and travel. This is mirrored by the destabilization of Irish space from within via Pens re-imagining of the urban and domestic. The domestic is, for all its supposed privacy, a central space within constructions of the nation-state. Gayatiri Gopinath writes that the disc ursive construction of h ome is a crucial for diasporic populations as well as their nations of origin in attempting to maintain a coherent construct of nation within an imagined comm unity that spans vast re aches of geopolitical space (Anderson). Nationalist discourse, along with the imbricated ideologies of capitalism, inform how the urban and public in teracts with and structures the possibilities of the domestic and private. Rural West Country agriculture and domesticity, especially near Galway, peopled by families who adhered to heternormative social di visions of labor were what Eamon de Valera, the first president of Ireland hoped would resist industrializati on and, consequentially, cultural influences from abroad. As Irelands population sh ifted more towards the urban towards the end of the century its discourse surrounding what spaces count as trul y Irish and how th ey are (or are not) enmeshed within other cultural spaces has shifted. The proximity of the private and the public in urban spaces (as opposed to the rural) ma y be seen as resulting in a significant frisson in the novels as Ireland attempts to construct itself within the flows of global capital. The novel represents anxieties surrounding the possibilities of love, affiliation, and kinship in spatial terms. The lit eral movements deployed in this articulation serve as tropes: trans-European travel; emigration to the United St ates; confining domestic spaces, in both senses of the term, like the attic in which Pen lives; th e voluntary domestic labor that Pen performs to the exclusion of socializing with people besides Mr. Wall and Cara; the Amazon Attic womens collective of which Cara is a member; the pr overbial closet and Caras surname Wall, and, finally, Dublin urban space itself.


23 In Hood, Kate and Mrs. Walls emigration and Ca ras frequent trans-European travel serve as counterpoints to Pens staid and at times resentful dome sticity in middle class Dublin. During most of the twentieth century, Irish citi zens emigrated in order to find employment in Great Britain and, to a lesser extent, the United States, Canada, and Australia. Although perhaps not on the scale of global cities (Sassen), Dublin serves as a hub in a network of transnational Irish diasporic communities whose members contributed to Irelands economy via regular remittances and often sailed and, later, flew back and forth between home and away (Delaney). However, as Delaney notes, these journeys were sometimes emotionally fraught experiences between the formerly Irish and the currently Irish. Although Kate and Mrs. Walls diaspora was pr ecipitated by a paucity of personal rather than economic possibilities, Kate still serves as a figure of the emigrant returned from across the water who feels and provokes anxiet ies regarding stereotypical Iris hness. Kate Wall herself is a formidable characterization of the jetsetting Irish-American femme fatale businesswoman, a figure that is ruthless, efficient as a figure of the Irish diaspora: despite Irish nativity, she has adopted a typically Yankee (D onoghue, passim) work-ethic, and, through it, material wealth and glamour. Kates coming unnerves Pen, even as she mourns Cara. Significantly, her nervousness expresses itself in anxieties over Kates expected American-ness. Pen imagines smiling smugly when Kate slips into American isms and warns herself that she is, on no account to attempt to impress Kate Wall (45). This determination reads as a defense against an Irish inferiority complex that is the residue of several decades as a European backwater. Kate later admits to Pen that she always impatient with Ireland as child before leaving with her mother. Pen, on the other hand, is both figura tive and literally a home body. While once a skinnymalinks youth, she has become a rid iculously voluptuous thirty-something. The


24 repetition of her bodily transformation throughout the text, often in conj unction to anxieties surrounding the slender figures and greater mobility of either Wall sister, marks Pens selfperceived bodily excess as an expression of fear surrounding national unruliness or excess. Pen attempts to imagine the Wall women returned from their self-imposed, because of the Irish stigma against divorce, exile: Walking into the kitchen, with my finger sk imming the woodchip wallpaper, I wondered whether they would look American. Wi nona [Caras mother] would, of course; according to Mr Wall, she looked American when she was Winnie Mulhuddart fresh from County Limerick. But Kate I was not sure about. Vigorous dark hair, I remembered, curlier than mine; the cu rls were cropped by now no doubtShed say Pehnno, more like Pain, ahl cahl yah. No, you eejit, that was Deep South. What was a Boston accent? Pen al cawl yew. W hy would she be calli ng you anyway, you daft egg, when shed be staying at your house. Her house, I meant. Or was it a little of each now? (45-46) American-ness seems to signify sophistication, or at the very least difference from selfproclaimed (or self-loathed) Irish-ness. In what functions as an apt (eve n prescient) figure of Irelands anxieties in both Diaspora and globalization, Pen2 cannot fix ownership or belonging within the house with any certainty: its unclear at this point, whethe r heternormative ties and nativity in a country constitute immutable ownershi p of a place as home. Is the house that her father, Mr. Wall, lives in that she has not seen for over twenty years sti ll Kates home? Is the house that Pens partner no longer lives in and wh ere she has paid no rent to its owner, her partners father, for over six years no longer he r home? Moreover, the return of the migr highlights the failure of home as a construc t to satisfactorily organize and ensure the continuance of the heteronormative family bound by supposedly immutable (i.e. biological and thus, somehow, affective) ties. However, home proves to be a useful construct in so far as it 2 Additionally, given this anxiety over accents, it is worth noting that am ong Pens duties as an instructor of young girls is teaching the Irish language. Pen, albeit without an y enthusiasm or commitment be yond what is necessary to fulfill her job competently, propagates Irishness through th e church/state apparatus of education at Immaculate Conception Girls School.


25 can be readapted to connote a sp ace of safety and comfort or a way station in porous, networked global capitalist space. As Pen remembers her in this chronicle of grief, Caras body, desires, and actions refuse to be fixed or confined, be it spatially or ideologi cally. Caras lack of fixity serves as a foil to Pens at times masochistically adhered to domesticity and highlights the possibilities of travel, and a wide affective network created by what Pen terms her practically unlimited ability to fall for other people (Donoghue, passim). Caras sl ender, tall lanky body only seems to find enough room in space when she moves at high speeds playing football at college (cite). She goes through a phase where she denies claiming that she and Pen are partners: they are sort of girlfriends and, while not a lesbia n, is a person who is in love with a person who is female, and, prior to finally committing in her idiosyncra tic way to Pen, sleeps with several men. This dynamic, as Jennifer Jeffers notes, on one leve l reproduces stereotyped role of butch/femme, with Cara as the more mobile, promiscuous and therefore butch partner: the Odysseus to Pens Penelope. Ultimately, however, as will be explai ned further, this butch/femme dynamic breaks down and consequently disrupts the spatial binary through which one might read their relationship. Cara lacks fixity but she also dies returning home to Pen from one of her many travels with a casual lover, and Pen, while in so me sense trapped, ultimately repurposes domestic space and through it forms a more fluid no tion of space, kinship, and safety. However, Caras death after a cheap holiday in the Greek isles (Donoghue 125) implies that her lack of fixity is t oo extreme to be tenable. Although the novel acknowledges the parallels between the partnership at its center and The Odyssey, the figure of the traveling queer is an important one to acknowledge in its own right. Acco rding to David Bell, traveling is an integral part of transnational queer culture: queer tr avelers know travel as a second skin. The


26 experience of a chosen dislocation spatially fits like the expe rience being unable or unwilling to be fit within heteronormative, domestic fixed enclosures and their implied congealed power-relations within patriarchy. Th is contrasts sharply to Pens staid double domesticity. Pen resents enclosur e and even lies to Cara about having had a secret lover once, but she cannot be unfaithful, cannot accept the vi sibility of her own body and desires outside of her relationship with Cara and th eir attic: her attempts to flirt after being hit on by woman in a feminist bookshop result in her flushed mortification. The novel acknowledges that Cara verges on a pa rody of desire (in all senses of the word) freed from constraints like nationality, space, and the se lf-regulation which successful participation capital demands Cara attempts to liv e outside of --at least, outside of its demands on her as an individual. Her father funds her travels and Pen supports her with a steady job teaching at the secondary school she once loathe d so she can undertake a number of volunteer positions with rape crisis hotlines, and letter-wri ting to Amnesty International. Pen, on the other hand is from the lower class and both enjoys the sense of moral privilege that it gives her in resenting Caras lack of fixity and envies it a little. Towa rds the end of the novel Pen is astounded to discover that, despite her own commitm ent to Caras utterly captivating qualities, Jo, another lesbian, thought Cara was absolu tely nuts. Although she sometimes verged on exploitative, Cara is a node in a transnational queer network of desires and space. Cara complicates what is registered in the novel as appealing, utopi an, but ultimately too divorced from material reality to be tenable. Casey and Jeffers each note that Donoghue consciously rewrites the narrative of the Odyssey from Penelopes perspective (234), th e first of Donoghues forays into rewriting received narratives from a marg inalized female, queer perspectiv e. Pen directly addresses the


27 limitations of this role that her parents have dea lt her: she is often impatient with her namesake (224). This reference is a deterritorialization of space and desire in which the Odyssey Penelope stays at home and stalls her suitors by disman tling her weaving project, Odysseuss funeral shroud, every night. She was defined by the domestic space as the consummate Greek hostess and wife. Pen is by her own admission, more committed to gag-mongamy3 [monogamy] (Donoghue, passim) than Cara and, by implicatio n in the novels logic, domesticity as a construct. Pen manages the quotidian in the Wa ll household: she dusts, she cleans, shops for groceries, and feeds Grace the cat. Fittingly, Kate interpolates Pen as a cleaning woman because of the headscarf Pen wears while cleaning the house when Kate arrives. Pen risks being subsumed entirely by domesticity, but, by voici ng Penelopes frustrations from her own perspective, the domestic, as well as the domestic space, is re-imagined. Although she is mired in the domestic space itself, Pen take s it as her quest, her raison dai tre in the relationship is to recapture her lovers body as it it were territory (Donoghue, passim) and to prove her prowess each time Cara returns. Pen is a phallici zed version of the supremely feminine name Penelope both because it is gender neutral and its reference to a writing instrument often cast as phallic. Kates interpolation ostensibly captures Pen s imprisonment as the domestic partner in a space which isnt even hers to legitimately and visibly claim as partially her own, even during her partners life. Pat Califia describes the domes tic (especially the suburba n) as a battle zone of queer spaces between the architecture of male/female sepa ration, implicit assumptions of family hierarchy, and domestic utility (qtd. in Bell 106). Pen complicates the binary between 3In Pens narrative, one is led to believe that this is Ca ras ironic term for sexually exclusive partnerships, although Pen uses it herself in a self-deprecating fashion to ackn owledge both her desire for and the impossibility of a monogamous relationship with Cara.


28 public and private spacesthe remains of her domestic life and her journeys throughout urban Dublin allow her to acknowledge how these environs have shaped her current subject position, even as she reconstructs these spaces via the pr ocess what Casey describe s as mythologizing in her discussions about lesbian narrative conven tions: she re-imagines and explores different configurations of Dublin urban, domestic, and cultural space. Pens mythologizing can be read as an attempt to reassert a lesbian and feminist presence back into the historical narrativ es that Dublins landmarks and spaces contain. This is a more subtle form of claiming territory than public de monstrations, but it is cr ucial in understanding the spatial politics at work in the novel. Lesbi an, bisexual and transsexual history, placemaking, and territorialization are curren tly undertheorized and underdocum ented (Ingram, et al. 7). The binary that was drawn in theo rization (done mostly by and about queer white males) was that women choose ties that are affective and do not venture to territori alize and utilize public spaces as erotic (Ingram, et al. 8) Implicit in these categories, as well, is the ability to make the flows of capital and material exchange that often accompany these processes: e.g. domestic partnership, collective living, squa tting, prostitution, etc, legible. Tamar Rothenberg argues in her essay about lesbian communities in Park Slop e, Brooklyn that lesbians have historically tended towards less public displays of territory due mostly to their relatively more limited means relative to gay men: women are more often enmeshed with caring for families and make less than men do, on average (Rothenberg 172). In th e context of Irish culture, one of the (albeit mixed) benefits of the economic expansion is that more women joined the workforce, although their earnings still lagged behi nd that of men (Coulter 5). Pens narration of private attachment and grief incorporates Dublin in to its structure as a silent witness to the relationshi ps history as well as other hi stories that Pen indicates. Her


29 backward glance framed by the cityscape does seem to anticipate what Declan Kiberd notes about Angelas Ashess account of Limerick, published first in 1996. Angelas Ashes generically and thematically attempts to demonstrate the di stance between the past and the present moment as an attempt to contain the traumas wrought by fairly recent history. Donoghue, however, reclaims Dublin as a site of then unacknowledged and still illicit passions, making them legible within a larger Irish na rrative of history by projecting them onto the cityspace. Pens description of the first time she and Cara made love reflect s this. She writes that they are on the top of their girls school, Immac(culate Conception) on their own island of concrete and iron floating above Dublin (Donoghue 28). Casey poi nts out that this in timacy is enabled by separation from the rest of the school and from the rest of the city ( 232). Moreover, The roof is both attached to the school as well as a liminal space that allows the girls some privacy and some freedom from the strictures of Catholicism (Casey 232). The space both structures their relations and yet, as Elizabeth Grosz argues in Bodies/Cities about subjects in urban space, responds to their attempts to repurpose it. Space is substantially altered, even if only in Pens memory. An otherwise public space can serve a pr ivate, double function, as it the case with many zones of queer urban pleasure ( Pleasure Zones 104). Casey mentions this disconnect in terms of its references to flying carpe ts and other fairy tales which Donoghue has demonstrated interest in retell ing. The novel depicts the erotic space as a possible model of the complications of the public and private spaces. Pen and Cara are above the c ity, but they are still bound in the citys orbit. A furt her example of Pen responding to and reimaginging Irish Urban geography is the statue of Constance Markievicz a female revolutionary who was fired on with her men during the Easter Rebellion: instead of a leader forced by her superiors to surrender, Pen imagines Constance as leading her men in di gging trenching in order to occupy them, like


30 children, until the inevitable snipers fire rained down on them. Female martyrdom to the Irish national state is given a wry rereading through the acknowledg ement of female agency. Catholicism, a presence that often violently structured space in Dublin, is open to revision through the re-imagi ning of its relics. While at mass, as Casey and Jeffers point out, Pen reimagines the Virgin Mary proclaiming her tec hnical virginity whilst w earing a crown of ten white stars, which looks remarkably like the EC logo (Donoghue). While this re-imagining of Catholic and public space is remarkable in one light because Pen reclaims the Virgin Marythe figure of female perfection in Roman Catholic Ir eland being both fertile and still a virginfor lesbian desire. However, what goes unnoted in bo th Casey and Jeffers is the satiric reading that Pen offers of the Blessed Virgin as not Cathol ic but EC kitsch. The totalizing narrative of Catholicism has been amalgamated with, even su pplanted ironically by another, that of the European Community. Catholicism, a narrative wh ich structures the Iris h experience of the body, sexuality, metaphysics, and teleology has beco me another object th at global capitalism subsumes, penetrating Catholic, Irish with transnational and capitalist space. Casey points out that Donoghue portrays Dublin as a pastiche of modern, liberal images like the abortion hotline numbers and C onstance, together, in St. Stephens Green, thus indicating an urban space in a process of regeneration (227). However pastiche fails to give full credit to the sort of textual transf ormation Donoghue attempts. Pastiche, as defined by Fredric Jameson, is symptomatic of late-capitalis ms subsumption of all culture into commodity in which Modernist style becomes postmodern codes (17). Instead, what Donoghue conveys is a politically and historically aware dialogue between Dublin urban space and lesbian domestic space in the novel closer to Linda Hutcheons definition of parody, which assumes an ironic


31 stance towards the object in quest ion. The result is a dedoxification (Hutcheon, passim) in which the doxology of nationa list state is rewritten and proven as political. The line between public and private/domestic is renegotiated through Pens two attics in the novel: the semi-private space she shares with Cara and the Am azon attic, a lesbian collective, and semi-private in a difference sense, she had avoided until Caras death because of its presumed affiliations with Caras infidelities. The term attic, in both the Amazon and in Pens reference to her own space, is significant beca use it alludes to the madwomen that, according to Gilbert and Gubar, can be found there as we ll as to the closet, the private space which homosexuals occupy when they do not publicly espouse their sexuality. In reconsidering public and privacy in terms of Pens space, it is important to refine the definition of what counts as public. Typically, in queer urban geographies, public can be thought of as whatever isnt contained in a family dwelling space. Ho wever, this definition of family is often presumed to be heteronormative and based on blood kinship. If one structures affiliation in different ways, so that exchanges of desire and goods occur that are not structured by heteronormative or capitalist dictates, occur, th en the binary between public and private is complicated somewhat. The process of outing or being out in a domestic space where one presumed oneself to be closeted complicates notions of privacy or domesticity. Pen lived, she assumed, in the closet with Cara and her father in middle-class Dublin rent-free for over six years. The brief misunde rstanding Mr. Wall and Pen share when he asks her if she has any place she is goi ng to go to after Caras funeral is telling. Mr. Wall, the spirit of discretion, assumed that the only thing that tied Pen to his hous e was his daughter and that her lover, because of pain or a wider set of social networks (like Pen, Mr. Wall is a bit of a shut in), would naturally want to go elsewh ere. He had hoped, when he asked her, that she would infer


32 that, all other things being equal, she was we lcome to stay. Pen, howev er, had read Mr. Walls previous inquiry as an attempt to make it clear that she would soon be homeless. After they clear up the misunderstanding two days later, Mr. Walls tacit acknowledgement of Pens relationship with his daughter (You were my daughters friend) changes, ontologically, the space she occupies in his home. He has come to think of her as a daughter and sh e relates to him better than to her own biological family. He requests th at she live in his house, for free, because they like each others company. Pen demurs and he allows her, at a later date of her choosing, to determine what kind of exchange she would prefer to take place. Pen wants to pay him rent, but he points out to her that she already pays him, in a sense th rough her otherwise uncompensated domestic labor. This constitutes an exchange outside of the realm of both capitalism and heteronormative kinship: only after Pen demurs does Mr. Wall articulate the exchange in terms of money or labor. The Amazon Attic is another semi-private sp ace in which Pen embraces the possibility of community. While ostensibly domestic the Attic also troubles the construction of domestic space because of its collective quali ty. The term amazon, however even as it denotes woman warrior seems to suggest some skepticism at the idea of a utopian womens collective based on the idea that women are inherently morally superior agents within corrupting, abusive patriarchy: in the absence of men, the women fight, belch, ch eat on each other and ar e otherwise convincing human beings. Territories still exist, however, even within collective networks. While it is a separate female space, one gets the sense that their affiliation derives from a not unalloyed fondness as much as a shared political commit ment or sexual identity. Although the space does read as Donghues attempt to skewer utopian or self-righteous tende ncies of lesbian separatists, it is within the community that Pen gains perspe ctive on her relationship with Cara. Pen is


33 prevailed upon by Jo to join the collective in a separate memorial service for Cara and finds emotional support and a potential romantic interest: Jo tells Pen that Cara was a little crazed but also deeply devoted in her particular way to Pen. At Caras memorial at the Amazon attic, Pen joins in an emotional and material exchange that exists outside of heteronormative and capitalistic space, but complicates the domesticity and privacy she had so zealously guarded. At the novels final page, Pen begins to ma ke her private, lesbian space much more public by beginning to out herself to her family at her mothers kitchen table. Though this gesture, she is out within the domestic space and has repurposed domesticity for lesbian and queer usage. While it is her care that keeps her chosen family together, first Cara and then Mr. Wall, her care was predicated on a certain inab ility to communicate and realize her emotional needs through others. She makes progress towards reconciling the two at the novels end through reclaiming a semi-public queer domestic space situated within a network of other domestic spaces. Pens narrative of grief can, in spatial terms, be read as a secret history of both her attic and the Walls domestic space. She collates storie s from her girlhood with Cara, scenes from Caras childhood in the same Dublin house and j uxtaposes them along side the domestic labor she performs that she assumes no one notices and the desires and intimacy she shared with Cara in what she assumed was secrecy of their attic. Pens narrative of domestic space witnesses the failure of the heteronormative fam ily unit and the forging of new tie s of kinship that exist outside of blood and economics. Mr. Wall, invites Pen to live with him both in honor of his daughters memory, because hes fond of her. He only accepts the prospect of rent af ter Pen insists. In an attempt to avoid reifying their relationship via the exchange of money, he encourages Pen wait and, if she must, state the terms of their exch ange. The house that Pen believed secretly housed


34 the intimacy and desires between Cara and hersel f was in fact a tacitly accepting space and a space in which exchanges can be made visible and mutual, as well. Mr. Wall acknowledges, as best as hes able, that his daughter and Pen were friends and, while language, another patriarchal construct, fails him, emotions do not. Instead of a space which is a part of the naturalization of feminized domestic labor (e.g. th e separation of the sexes into spaces of the house in which certain tasks are performed like weaving), the space Pen in the late 20th century opens us is one that can be re purposed, even used to channel simultaneous and parallel desires. This channeling is not entirely dissimilar to the use of public spaces within public urban space in that it frustrates the tendency in heteronormative domesticity to Taylorize space according to what is most productive, biologically or economically.


35 CHAPTER 4 THE FIRST VERSE In the intervening decade between the publication of Hood and The First Verse Dublin moved from the first intimations to the aftermath of relatively explosive economic growth. Another kind of explosions, however, had been silenced: the Good Frid ay peace accords were signed in 1998 signifying the beginn ings of actual progress in the peace process that culminated in a power sharing agreement between Catholics and protestants in Northern Ireland in May 2007. One of the traumatic narratives that had constituted Irish discours e, representations of Ireland by both the Irish and others in films, boo ks, and other media had apparently come to an end. A new narrative of Irelands cultural adolescence as it atte mpted to morph both in tastes and consumption into a nation, metonymically focu sed in Dublin, which would properly take its place as an economic leader in the EU. Like Niall in The First Verse Dublin in the early 2000s went through an awkward, stammering, j ourney towards new narratives, swinging between self-loathing, as Paul a McVeigh evidences in the novel, and manic self-confidence. During this time, according to Coulter, certain members of the Irish press lionized the development as home-grown and the result of canny tax-breaks, deregulation: the payoff hoped for when the urban renewal that Andrew Kincaid describes in the piecemeal glittering renewal, self-conscious bohemian shabbiness, and decay that is the Temple Bar district in Dublin. Although Morgan Stanley coined the term Celtic Tiger in 1994, a year prior to Hoods publication, discussion of the phenomenons implica tions and effects did not reach its zenith until around the turn of the century (Coulter, pa ssim). In that time, as critics of the phenomenons hagiography note, the economic succe ss was relatively limited in the sectors of the economy it touched: mostly high-tech and bi o-tech companies either invested in or franchised from American firms. Moreover, the se gments of the economy that saw this lift were


36 mostly concentrated within Irelands we ll-educated young professional class who sough conspicuous consumption as a new ontological pursuit (Coulter). The urban spaces that The First Verse navigates (McCrae, passim ad nauseam) feel more manic, more fluid, and phantasmagoric than Pens. Donoghue emphasizes Pens construction her narrative through spaces of varying c onfinement, proceeding through a dialectic between private/closet/attic to public/urban to the semi-private semi-domestic closing of the Amazon attic and her mothers kitchen table. This dialectic demonstrates the mutually constituting and imbricated quali ties of public and priv ate spaces. McCrae, however, chooses to utilize the figures of addiction and hallucination in depicting the experience of urban Dublin. Pen is deep within the closet prio r to Caras death and, despite her grief, remains more or less psychologically intact. Niall, as I shall demonstr ate, is both in the clos et and out: his friends know hes gay, he knows his friends know, but he refuses to attempt to ontological shift of coming out of the closet. Furthermore, Niall experiences the simultaneity of urban life in a semi-global city as overwhelming: the psychological damage wrought by his involvement in the bibliomantic cult leaves his psyche and body dest royed, emptied of their habits and perceptions, and, because of this void (the psychological is na rrative in this novel), he exists what Deleuze would call a full body without organs (Bonta and Prot evi). This potential, however, is rejected as untenable by Niall. As this section argues, however, Niall s contemporary urban Dublin of 2005 is a series of spaces interc onnected through either the networks of desire made legible by his narration and, later, his involved in bib liomancy which turns interconnectedness back on itself with scenes from Dublin, earlier Paris, hom e to Irish modernist migrs Beckett and Joyce, renaissance masses, and walking and then plungi ng into the frigid muddy waters of the Grand Canal. This interconnectedness functions as an al legory for the simultaneous chronologies of late


37 capitalism, a reality of urban development. I complicate this proposition by showing how the overarching metaphors of navigation that McCrae uses to frame queer desires and bibliomancy reveal a significant and always already faile d attempt to cognitively map Dublin urban space within the flows of global capital. The novel follows Nialls lost first year at Trinity College. This year, in his words, is consumed first by the manly exile of freque nt, anonymous hookups in the citys gay bar scene and then later by membership in a three-member cult, Pour Mieux Vivre, whose members hope to gain access to a better life via bibliomancy-induced hallucinations which allow them, among other sensory experiences, to hear the Misere Dei sung in Rome during th e Renaissance, or see fin de siecle Paris interlaced with twenty-fir st century Dublin. Niall stops going to class and attempts to drop out of the lives of his Trinity friends. His physical and mental health both suffer: friends who do attempt to talk to him about his sudden change in be havior speculate that he has become addicted to drugs because of his pale, sunken cheeks and glassy eyes with a greenish glow. He leaves the cult twice. He first leaves after he walk s on the Grand Canal while under the influence his fellow cult members John and Sarah and, upon hearing, the thing, shouting voice of a young working-class Dublin boy, sc ratchy and flat on th e high notes, singing phonetically without understanding them, the words of an Irish song he had learned in school (McCrae 212), he collapses into the frigid water. He gives up the cult, en ters therapy which he sees a creative rather than confessional narrative therapy, works as a teller in a bank, and attempts to reintegrate himself into the segmente d, rationalized, and generally comfortable life of a young man from an upper-class suburb who sh ares an apartment with a childhood friend attending medical school at UCD. He gives up his da ys of promiscuity and begins to date Chris,


38 a man from a lower-class comm unity in Dublin who has a pr edilection for French cinema. However, his cravings for masochistic transcende nce persist, and he falls back into performing sorties, in order, he tells hi mself, to tracks down his fellow cult members to Paris so as to find out the truth about what ultimately proves to be a fictional parent organi zation. Nialls competing hallucinations may be read as articulating anxi eties and possibilities for Dublin urban space: cultural space is permeablea medium through which a myriad exchanges pass. While the authentically Irish intervenes in the boys song, it is only as a temporary palliative, and selfconsciously maudlin. Through Nialls often sardonic narration, McCrae depicts Dublin as a city in denial about an identity crisis spurred by attempts to integrate competing reified stories into its own narrative of self-renewal and nascent fabulou sness. This urban identity cris is parallels his own frustrated attempts to balance what for him are the competing demands of friendship and sexual satisfaction. The novel devotes many pages to deli neating different kinds of spaces within a newly prosperous Dublin: Trinity College, Temple Bar, the Irish Film Institute, the working class neighborhood which Chris, Nialls occasional boy friend, is from, and the affluent suburb of Sandycove, where Niall attended an all-male prep school only to collapse them all again after he begins to have bibliomancy-induced hallucina tions. He falls into a group of friends who constitute a microcosm of the newly successful Ir ish state. Self-consciously clever and a trifle awkward, the new friends pick th eir way through the refurbished playground of the Celtic Tiger bar scene during the first few w eeks of the quarter. Niall descri bes the contrived pan-Ireland setting on his first night out w ith other Trinity students: The last time I had mixed with the national pool had been years before, in Irish language college with Patrick, when for three weeks we breakfasted, dined, played sport, dance at


39 ceilithe4, and spoke pidgin Irish with other four teen-year-olds from Limerick, Thurles, Arklow and Bunclody. Just as I had clung to Patrick in the language classesnow, among this small group of departing pilgrims m eeting for the first time in ONeills of Suffolk Street, I gravitated towards the only ot her traveler from my world, an expensively dressed and rather self-centered girl from Foxrock called Andrea. (McCrae 17) McCrae constructs Nialls initial experiences at Tr inity in terms of an artificially constructed pan-Ireland experience, analogous to the ideological state appa ratus of Irish language summer school mentioned in the above passage. The journe y that Niall archly a lludes to as beginning (pilgrims, traveler from my world) refers most literally to a pub crawl in the Temple Bar district or perhaps their educa tion at Trinity. However, it could also refer to a journey through this new, artificial and always already failed sp ace of national coherence (national pool) that the national press has constructe d in its reports of the unalloy ed good that the Celtic Tiger bestowed upon Ireland. While discursi vely constructed as an event that binds Ireland together in the swell of economic prosperity, the passage ac knowledges many persistent divisions in Irish culture: geography, gender, and sexuality. Rural regions, women, minorities, and the working class are excluded from the na rrative of triumph as their employment and earning numbers stagnate (Coulter). Despite attempts to place the Irish within a narrative of uniform good fortunewhere the success concentrated in urban Dublin is forced to stand in metonymically for the imagined success of the entire country, Niall, at least, sti ll alludes to the city, county, and provincial identifications that have historically trumped an Irish identity. Dublin, like the other regions, are still their own wor lds. The gap between the dicti on of the pilgrimage and worldtravelers and the quotidian bacchanalia of a pub-crawl consisting of Ire lands most accomplished 4 Dancing time during Irish language college. Irish langua ge college is undertaken by most Irish teenagers the summer between the equivalent of sophomore and junior year in high school. Part of the Leaving Cert, the national high school exit exam, is on Irish.


40 students is significant: th e narratives that once framed the likes of the Canterbury Tales or Dantes Divine Comedy no longer have any purchase on th is brave, drunk new world. Paula McVeigh, mother of Nialls friend Patrick, gives voice to the prevailing middleclass sense of Irelands provincialism within the EU. Through her, McCr ae satirizes the desire for a cosmopolitan-ness and urba nity that look a certain way and may be acquired, an urban space cultivated like a bonsai. Early in the novel, Niall bumps into Paula on St. Stephens Green. She buys him dinner in a posh Sandybrook bar and bemoans the state of Ireland: Where are the light-rail systems the gays out in their finery like peacocks, the Chinese wholesale outlets with the old fe llas playing checkers outside on a little table, the lesbians running a center where are the Arabs playing dice or whatever it iswhere are all the beautiful people? (115) Dublin fails as a cosmopolitan urban space because it is not, by McVeighs standards, cosmopolitan or picturesque enough. A population of beautiful people, racial, ethnic and sexual others would only serve, in a bourgeois univ erse, to adorn space rath er than inhabit it as subjects. She wants both to guide Nialls steps, tell ing him that it is absol utely essential to leave Ireland (114) and to abandon what she construes as a typically Irish parochial world view and to vicariously enjoy the pleasures and possibilities of Dublins economic success. She is skeptical of the media reports and yet fails to perceive the logic of commodification underlying both the propagation of the Celtic Tiger story in the Iri sh media and her own fetishizing of Others. Ironically, Paula delivers her peroration on Dublins lack of fabulous spectacle to a closeted gay man. Niall reveals a network of erotic pleasures and exchanges that Paula, a bearer of the heteronormative bourgeois gaze, does not dete ct. The novel catalogues ostensibly discrete spaces within Dublin before linking them toge ther through the discreet communication desires through images with a markedly occult register Paula McVeigh dismisses Ireland from the tony suburb of Sandycove. Niall meets his first boyfriend, Chris, at the George, an actual and visibly


41 queer-friendly bar in the Temple Bar district of Dublin and acro ss the River Liffey from the Irish Film Institute, where Chris and Niall have their first date. Nialls on-again off-again relationship is also spatially signif icant: Chris is working-class and from the rough part of Dublin. As alluded to previously, Niall is from Sandycove, an uppe r-middle to upper-class suburb of Dublin which he views as a boring and artifici ally idyllic bourgeois enclave (McC rae 5). Chris is very aware of the difference in their education levels whic h makes Niall somewhat uncomfortable. Nialls relationship with Chris forces him into a kind of spatial trespass (class-wise) which reveals the heterogeneous quality of Irelands economic upswi ng. Other important spaces such as Phenix Park, St. Stephens Green, and Trinity College are all depicted, but as a constellation of spaces through which first erotic desire is channeled and later as a constellation which Niall attempts to map and experience as a totality. Niall de scribes his immersion into the city: I learned the weekly timetable of ga y nights in mainstream nightclubs, an internalized sextant regulating the movement of constellations, an arcane system of seasonal rotation During the day I would catch the eye of young men in suits who would give me a surreptitious look in the sandwich queue, or at th e bus stops along the Green after their working day was over, and imagine in advan ce their transfiguration according to this enigmatic calendar into sweaty dancers to Madon na on a stage, throwers of louche looks and surreptitious caresses hungry heaving bodies in my bed. My nights were spent in a shadowy erotic haze a swirl of discosmoke, aftersha ve, and beery kissing. [emphasis added] (McCrae 33) Any place can be repurposed as a surreptitious channel of erotic exchange (Bell, passim), whether in plain sight or thr ough the channels established fo r the conveyance of people and goods, and by extension capital. Bus routes carr y people and sandwich queues are for selling food. Moreover, the young men he exchanges glances from are suited, which I read as members of the young professional class wh ich Dublins technology-fueled boom created. The internal constellations present alternatives to heternormative and capitalistic conceptions of space that Bell describes as the Taylorization of space into discrete, isolating but materially productive


42 units ( Pleasure Zones 106). Moreover, Niall describes a Dublin which eludes any gaze which attempts to ossify its glancing flows and exch anges into a outwardly visible or complete representation: the sextant and the erotic haze to which it lead s him are apprehensions whose occult register prefigures hi s experiences in the cult. In his discussion of the erotic possibilities of the city, David Bell writ es that flux, flows between fixed points, has become crucial in recent research into the erotic architecture and structures of cities and that this increasing emphasisnot on fi xed locations such as the home, but on tropes of movement and flow which, in th e representations of Jarman and Bech, reveal yearnings and chronic transit: displacement, maybe, or restle ssness or dispossession that speaks to an experience of queer erotic spaces wi thin the city (Bell, et al. 97). Bell describes queer desire in this context as a subversi ve presence within the cityscape, unpinning the ideologies of family and productivity through which embattled but imbr icated narratives of capital and nation propagate themselves. The flux wh ich Jarman and Bech refer to is borne out in Nialls description of moving through flows of gay desire in Dublin. Niall is chronically displaced from one way-station to the next and one encounter to th e next. This displacement and dispossession results in a self-imposed exile fr om his straight friends and in himself. His metaphors gesture towards the desire for navigable but unmappable flows. Ni alls desire to have it both waysnavigation and concealment expre sses itself in his reluctance to reconcile the emotional difficulties that his sexual identity and his unrequited crush on a rugby player caused him to his desire to remain in the closet despite everyone know ing that hes gay. However infallible it appears in the above description, Nia ll acquires his quasi-mystical internal erotic compass by which networks of desire are rendered visible and somewhat navigable: the gap between the desire for what one could imagine to be an innate and reflexive


43 navigation system and what it is actually possible and what is at risk is striking. Prior to this passage in his narrative, a dr unken homophobic lout decks Niall and calls him an arsebandit after Niall allows his glance to linger a moment too long and what he had perceived to be a receptive male (McCrae 70) Indeed, Nialls stor y can be read as a queer bildungsroman, although one that writes against several conventions of the genre, most notably coming out (Jeffers), furthering the depiction of persona l identity in terms of geopolitical context in tension with the urban setting in which he finds himself. Niall dispenses with the closet metaphor and describes his sexuality as a kind of exile: [describing running into a friend on the way to a school event at the end of his first semester]I..regretted the manly exile I had chosen over the previous weeks, the flashing lights and smell of aftershave, ball sweat, and Smirnoff ice. I was pleased to be here with a woman, for a cha nge, with a friend. (McCrae 34) As fond as he was of his friends, his sexuality and sexual practices have resulted in exile although his friends and family tacitly acknowle dge what they presume orientation to be repeatedly throughout the text. Hi s first friend at Trinity, Fionanua la and his friend Patrick each tacitly acknowledge the po ssibility of Nialls sexuality. Fionanua la make a point of using one of her questions during a bibliomancy session, while Ni all is pretending to be asleep, to ask Who does Niall fancy? (McCrae 112). Patrick opens up a space in the narrative for him to come out while they speak, in very vague terms, about Nial ls boyfriend, Chris. Niall claims that whatever illness he may appear to suffer is the result of lovesickness. Patrick responds, circumspect: I look forward to hearing about it (McCrae 271). In that quote, Patrick responds to Nialls paleness, which Niall explains to the reader, is caused by his urge to relapse into sorties again. He switches focus to [his] other secret in or der to deflect his attenti on form this one (McCrae 271). The secrets and the space they o ccupy are, thus, roughly exchangeable.


44 He resists acknowledging the relationship between the two spaces and their significance until he pieces together his personal narrativ e with Keith, the American in Paris studying Modernist American expatriates called The Lost Generation. Nialls tr ajectory through space during the novel parallels the movements of both the American lost generation as well as the movements of Irish writers like Joyce and Becke tt, the writer for whom Nialls fellowship in French at Trinity is named for. For these author s, the only possibilities fo r forging in the smithy of my soul (Joyce ) existed outside of the confines of the islands then very parochial culture: in order to attempt to see something whole, one need s to be in exile. Exile offered the chance to pursue what was then deemed more authenti cally artistic, bohemian lives. Significantly, however, when Niall attempts to explain what can be read as his great ar tistic, exile-justifying truth (the sorties and th e culture), Keith listens politely, but refocuses Nialls confessions on his friends and family. Nialls exile is really into at least two in carnations of Paris. Du ring his sorties-fueled walked through Dublin, he is convinced that he has slipped into turn of the century Paris, with all its connotations of technological and cultural renaissance and in tellectual sophistication. When he actually makes it over there, how ever, the reader is reminded of how Irish went before him: in his first evening in town, he manages to run into a fictional character, Wan the Clon, an Irish expatriate vaguely reminiscent of Tammany Hall pol iticos in nineteenth century United States who functions as an unexpected link in the tr ansnational Irish community between home and Parisian employment possibilities. Losing oneself, shedding home and its psychological baggage is, even in a global city, impossi ble. The surprising link illustrate s, fortuitously, a transnational Irish community in existence, even as the Tiger allegedly (Kincaid) beckons its members back to Dublin.


45 Niall leaves Ireland for France led by sorties, but ultimately, it seems, in order to narrate himself back into some semblance of wholeness w ith the help of Keiths tape recorder. Jeffers argues that, in the queer bildungsroman, making oneself visible as a homosexual and claiming a coherent homosexual identity are politically as well as ontologically significant moves. To remain closeted is to remain complicit with heterosexist oppression. Ho wever, this ontological shift does not appear to be what Nialls story is exclusively or even inexorably moving towards. The novels final scene is ambiguous: hes return ed from Paris and heads off into the night towards his old boys preparatory school. This can be read as a redemptive move to reclaim the divided psyche forged in his hi gh school closet as easily as it can be read as a temporary regression into the safety of youth before once ag ain doing into the city. Fo r isolation articulated in geopolitical language, the onl y cure appears to be actual movement through national space towards the rediscovery of pe rsonal connections and not the attempt to locate his own and Dublins place within a netw ork of desires and exchanges, that offers salvation. McCrae parallels Nialls efforts to integrate his sexual desire, first characterized by Niall as the objectifying beery erotic haze, into his relationships with his boyfriend and straight friends to the navigation of urban and transn ational urban spaces. Their shared articulation through registers of (or literal participation in) the occult ma y be read as an attempt at cognitively mapping Irelands own coming of age w ithin global capital. At the semesters end while with his friend Fionuala, he meets Sarah, a prickly linguistics gradua te student at Trinity, and John, a young businessman, at a party while they are performing a sortie using what they called tolle lege or take (up) and read, a divination met hod comprised of asking a question out loud, flipping through the books pages and randomly selecting a spot to being reading as an answer. Niall is intrigued when, under John and Sarahs guidance, Fionanuala asks the books


46 who Niall fancies and the selected passage co ntains a reference to Sodom and Gomorrah. Niall demands to know more, but John and Sarah refuse to explain why they are drawn to the sorties or how they work. Niall forces his way into John and Sarahs confidence, however, later bumping into John on Trinitys campus during a Christmas party while John is on a sortie. Pursuing truth and an all encompassing know ledge with Sarah and John quickly replaces pursuing sex at the George. Niall is seduced by the promise of an infinitely ordered universe, one in which all of human thought and emo tion, including his own, are revealed. Niall, John, and Sarah function as a cell of a cult called Pour Mieux Vivre, a group which, according to Sarah, is dedicated to a bette r life through charting the synchronicities, or metaphysically significant coincidences, f ound through the dialogue between sorties and surroundings: the sorties function as a hermeneutic for negotiating simultaneous spaces (past, present, literary, cultural, sexual, material) with in Celtic Tiger Dublin: in an average sortie, a passage in a book may refer to a statue which may illuminate a reference to an 18th century Catholic hymn which may, in turn, demand a further consultation with a random book which may lead to a bar. All possible spaces ar e connected, navigable, and, most importantly, mappable via this augury. Repeatedly, and pe rhaps most significantly, however, Niall hallucinates streets in Paris as he moves th rough Dublin on his quests for synchronicities: Twice, when I turned a corner I found myself in Paris (89). National borders and time have, through their practices been disrupted. It is important to note the possible cultural inheritance that McCrae may be alluding to with constant references to Pa ris and Nialls ultimate fate of finding himself and narrating himself into sanity. The intellectual lineage of modernist and post-WW II Irish novelists (e.g. James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Iris Murdoch) is complex and transnational: French novelists,


47 British novelists, French and German philosophers (especially in Murdochs case) and Irish novelists were inspired by and inspired each othe r (Kershner). The repetition of Paris, as an implied locus of true cosmopolitanism far removed from whichever incarnation of Irelands self-perception as a cultural back water is an important reference to this always already muddled literary/cultural heritage that th e Irish claim. Moreover, exile, especially in the case of Beckett and Joyce, was a crucial part of forging the soul of [their] race in the smithy of [their] [souls] to brutalize Joyce a bit. Sin ce the Irish diasporas start in the mid-eighteenth century, writing about Ireland and claiming Irish lineage is to negotiate feelin gs and realities of exile. The quest for this complete vision ultimately disrupts his sanity, but it also disrupts space and time: although the reader may debate Nialls credibility as a narrator, he offers in all sincerity an account of him floa ting above the Grand Canal, hallu cinating the Misere deum being sung, and then, as noted above, cras hing into the water when he h ears, the thing, shouting voice of a young working-class Dublin boy, scratchy a nd flat on the high notes, singing phonetically without understanding them, the words of an Iri sh song he had learned in school (McCrae 212). The Dublin boy in question might refer to some thing essentially Irish: a ghost of the recent economic past. Collapsing the forward moving narrative of time that Benedict Anderson argues was an essential shift that permitted nationalism as a discursive formation to take root, into a simultaneous experience of prosperity and adversity frustrates the temporality upon which the nation as it is currently con ceived depends. The experience both acknowledges the attempt to experience and conceptualize a total picture of the self, the city, a nd the nation even as frustrates said attempt. In Postmodernism: the Logic of Late Capitalism Fredric Jameson adapts Kevin Lynchs term, cognitive mapping, which describes the process whereby city-dwellers mentally


48 represent to themselves and thereby navigate urban space, to describe a process where by the nation state, or the totality of late capitalism ar e represented. In his in troduction to Jamesons theories, Michael Hardt writes: A cognitive map is necessarily partial and incomplete rendering of the multi-dimensional and constantly changing totality that serves as a kind of navigational aid (Hardt 20). The auguries that Niall is comp elled to pursue can be read as an attempt at mapping the necessarily incomplete processes of charting a sexual identity and a national identity. The necessarily aleatory and incomple te quality of the auguries mirrors the fraught process of mapping out, encountering, or articulating both se xual and national identities. Moreover, the form of the auguriesunmappabl e, random, infinitely interconnected, and overwhelming, can be read as allegorizing th e mode of production under which Ireland finds itself today.


49 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION Franco Moretti writes in his study of the Bildungsroman, The Way of the World, that the genre is the symbolic form that more than any other has portrayed the promoted modern socializationis also itself cons ists first of all in the interiorization of contradiction. (10) The genre marked in early modernity (e.g. mid-18th century) a formal means of managing and directing the increased mobility of (typically male) youth: although he passes through a variety of professions, spaces, and social networks, the protagonist ultimately ends his journeying as a more refined if not always ideal modern subject and finds his place in his societyone that is typically defined in terms of immediate location as well as na tion The youths movement beyond the more staid social and economic ties that char acterizes pre-industrialization cultures comes to serve as a specific material sign of the social and economic upheaval that capitalisms expansion induced (10). However, bildungsromans themselves, at l east in the continenta l tradition during the period that Moretti examined them, do not focus on attempt to represent capital itself, not that a satisfying representation for the movements of capital has or can exist (Jameson). The genre, according to Moretti, is incompatib le in its traditional iterations with the representation of capital itself despite being a genre that emerged in response to capitalisms demands on the literary and social imagination. Capital, un like the subject and pl ot of the bildungsroma n, must grow, change form, and never stop doing so: as Adam Smith observed in The Wealth of Nations, the merchant is a citizen of no country in particular. Quite true and that is precisely the point: the merchants journey can never come to a conclusion in thos e ideal places..(Moretti 26). Unlike capital, the subjects education ends, and, despite the numbe r of spaces he may have mapped throughout his journeys, he does eventually reach a final form. Additionally, in the case of ladies education


50 novels, a more ossified and more explicitly pe dagogical sub-genre within the bildgunsroman (Jeffers) the subjects education ends in the lit eral cease of movement in domestic sphere. She need never again move, at least of the logic of the subgenre, beyond her matrimonial bower. Kincaid, as mentioned in the introduction, argues that the commerc ial flourishing in the first half of this decade of memoirs set in urban Dublin prior to the economic expansion reveals a social impulse to manage the related demands of memory and progress: to acknowledge the past and therefore contain it, demonstrating a progres sion beyond its terror and privations. Unlike the memoir, however, the bildungsroman is as Moretti notes, a forward looking genre, one that became a pervasive genre of the novel because of its adaptability and pliancy (Moretti 26) in the fact of shifting social, political, and economic demands. Throughout this thesis, I have focused on queer movements throughout urban Dublin as depi cted in two examples of the relatively new sub-genre of queer bildungsroman (Jeffers). In th ese two texts, I have ar gued that one can read a new specific material sign of globalization thro ugh their attempts at representing a myriad of spaces whose uses and connections are subjec t to re-conceiving, adaptation, and repurposing through the imaginations of the urban protagonists Pen, from Hood, and Niall, from The First Verse. Although Jameson notes that it no longer makes sense to wr ite bildungsroman, since the genre is focused on depicting the education of a subject and, in turn, educating subjects that can no longer be said to exist in la te capitalism (Postmodernism), I hope to emphasize that these two texts use and subvert the convent ions of the sub-genre in an attempt to articulate new urban, transnational subject-positions in ways that queer te xts are especially su ited to accommodating. In this conclusion, I will discu ss the very real differences be tween the lesbian and gay urban spaces, national/transnational spaces, and sexuali ties that these texts represent. However,


51 ultimately, I will conclude that these texts, especially The First Verse, can be seen as moving towards iterations of uniquely queer transnational consciousness. Jeffers writes that queer bildungsomans shar e several formal feat ures: movement from home to college, discovery of sexual orient ation, integration within the local homosexual community, and coming out (128). Coming out may be read as structurally equivalent to either marriage or final integration into the local society in the queer bildunsgroman: the final step in which marks the ontological a nd political from closeted an d complicit homosexual to being out. Although this is a politic ally and personally vital step in many homosexual lives, formally, Jeffers notes that it has produced a rather rigid, over determined genre with a pedagogical bent more similar to a ladiess education novel than a subvers ive text (129). Both novels complicate the typical fo rward chronological movement of the bildungsroman. Pen is both moving forward in ti me as she grieves her partner and reflecting on her development as a socially isolated lesbia n through reflecting on long, tumultuous relationship from high school onward with her dead partner. She narrates her story an adult, but in many ways Caras death constitutes a coming of age for her, in terms of hitting key developmental milestones as a fictional lesbian: only after Caras death does she visit the Amazon Attic collective, come out to her tr usted co-worker, and begin to move towards coming out to her mother. Formally, Donoghue implies that Faulkner is correct: The past is not dead: is it not even passed. Through Hoods chronological moveme nt Donoghue preserves and mourns Dublin lesbianisms formerly illicit and concealed pa st prior to the legaliz ation of homosexuality, reincorporating it into an ultimately forward look ing trajectory. Nialls narrative is told in retrospect although it ultimately proves to be circ ular rather than forward-moving: his text moves in a circle from Sandycove to urban Dublin to France and back to the fields of his childhood


52 school in Sandycove. Instead of attempting to formally represent the attempt to map homosexuality within the memory of urban space as Pen does, Niall implicitly parallels networks of gay desire in urban Dublin through his halluc inatory quest for totalizing knowledge. Instead of producing an exclusively forward looking narrativ e, the effect of linking these two arcane systems of sense-making is profoundly disorientin g, forcing the reader to question, along with Niall, the hegemony of linear movement through space and time. When Niall participates in sorties everything is infinitely linked in a way that brings to mind Jamesons concept of cognitive mapping: an allegory of the impossibl e attempt to understand the movements of capital and, in Nialls case, how these movements have and continue to restructure his life and his city. A further deviation from the genre is that bo th novels withhold direct depiction of what Jeffers argues is one of the key moments of a queer bildungsroman: coming out. visibility is possibility fraught with anxiety in both texts, neithe r Pen nor Niall come out in the texts. If more didactic exampl es of the genre can be said to be aimed at producing an out visible queer as their final e nd, both novels refuse this final development. Pen does begin to make herself more visible as a lesbian thr oughout the novel: she comes ou t to her sympathetic co-worker at the girls school where she works, her lovers father and sister, and consents to hang-out with the Amazon Attic. Her final move towards living as an out lesbian is the implied, but not present, visit to her mothers kitchen table duri ng which a reader of the genre would infer that she finally comes out. However, the novel does not directly represent it. Niall also refuses to come out to anyone except his ther apist, the American in Paris, and the audience, to whom he confides his narrative. As mark of at least the ostensible liberalization of urban Dublins attitudes towards homosexuality, Nialls friends continue to attempt to encourage him to come out to them, but he refuses to integrate both aspects of his life. Although this schizoid


53 approach is not exactly laudable, Niall does refuse completion as a homosexual subject by coming out. The text knows hes gay, as do his friends and everyone who knows him. The return to the grounds of his childhood school in the novels final scene indicate a semblance of psychic integration or wholene ss, a beginning again, but the audi ence is never given the formal satisfaction of the completed queer subject. By refusing this convention, each novels formally communicates that its protagonist is not comple ted but in a continual process of becoming. Beyond the bildungsroman, Hood and The First Verse depict urban and national spaces differently in ways that can be traced to both their protagonists sexual orientation and their proximity to the Celtic Tiger; however, desp ite their differences, both novels emphasize the importance of re-imagining and re-mapping the c ity from a queer perspective. Pens narrative concentrates on writing against the truism in urban sociology (Rothberg) that lesbians do not focus on spatial territories: throughout the stor y, Pen forms a chain of re-imagined spaces through which she can confidently pass: non-heteronormative domestic with Mr. Wall, semipublic with the Amazons, urban via her reimaginings of Phoenix Park, transnational, via her interactions with Caras sister and finally, the implicit coming to terms with the heteronormative domestic space with her mother. Only Phoenix Pa rk is public and, although Pens reclamation is a concealed process, she does reclaim severa l women in them for a specifically lesbian sensibility: female martyrs are re-imagined as impatient warriors (C onstance) and technical virgins (The Virgin Mary). Notably, all of the spaces, except, again, Phoenix Park, involve the renegotiation of relationships as well as spaces For Pen, the two are intimately related; for example, transnational space is rendered navigabl e and more real through the interaction with Caras migr sister. That the foreign, migr si ster mistakes her for dom estic help reveals to what extent the pun on domestic structures Donoghues meditations on space: at the novels


54 start Pen is trapped in the domestic, as well as domestic urban Dublin. As her network of spaces enlarges through her re-imagining and re-purposing, so to does he r experience of Dublin and the Irish nation-state. Niall, on the other hand, perceives space as a literal map of arcane sexual exchanges interchangable with his pursuit of totalizing knowledge via sorties that constitute allegorical mapping of Dublins pla ce within the flows of global capital: urban and transnational spaces are infinitely connected and attempts to perceive their wholeness can be both addicting and personally destructive, leading to a more abstract ed form of the schizoph renia that results when Niall attempts to keep his sexuality divorced from his social and creative lives. He struggles to relate to other people as human beings rather th an objects of desire. By the same token, he also desperately seeks self-annihilation, albeit subconsciously, th rough his pursuit of totalizing knowledge. His body becomes emaciated and he s eems emptied of all previous habits, like studying and sex. As unappealing on a literal leve l as his behavior may be, he does embody the two key tensions in existing as a transnational subject: being lo cal and particular (bodily) and integrating the bodily self-perception within a network or community whose exchanges defy mapping. Dublin in Nialls reckoning is a hub in a network of flows of capital and ideas.


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57 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Em ily McCann graduated from Huntsville High School in Huntsville, Alabama in 2002. She attended Auburn University and graduated summa cum laude w ith a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2004. She will receive her Master of Ar ts in English at the University of Florida in May 2008 and will begin her PhD in the same program in fall of the same year.