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‘… that great swollen belly’: the abject maternal in some recent Northern Irish fiction

Magennis, Caroline



This essay will consider the representation of the maternal in some contemporary Northern Irish fiction written by men. It will examine, using feminist theories of embodiment and subjectivity, the power of the maternal image in Irish literary and critical discourse. The work of Julia Kristeva, Elizabeth Grosz and Mikhail Bakhtin will be employed in this argument. The pregnant body has the power to radically unsettle order, and this essay will explore the way in which men write their fears of this all-consuming imago. Northern Irish men write out their fears of all-consuming national ideology through infanticide and grotesque mother figures and this essay will trace how this figure is complicated through political ideology in Northern Ireland. The texts under consideration will be Ripley Bogle and Eureka Street by Robert McLiam Wilson and Resurrection Man and The Last of Deeds by Eoin McNamee, as well as a glance towards the work of Glenn Patterson as a possible alternative to the hegemonic view of the grotesque or abjected maternal.


Magennis, C. (2010). ‘… that great swollen belly’: the abject maternal in some recent Northern Irish fiction. Irish Studies Review, 18(1), 91-100.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Feb 10, 2010
Deposit Date Jul 30, 2023
Journal Irish Studies Review
Print ISSN 0967-0882
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 1
Pages 91-100