The Child Sex Scandal and Modern Irish Literature

The Child Sex Scandal and Modern Irish Literature

Writing the Unspeakable
Joseph Valente and Margot Gayle Backus, foreword by Fintan O'Toole
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 12/01/2020
Format: Paperback 4 color illus., 16 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-05318-3
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Even though the Irish child sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church have appeared steadily in the media, many children remain in peril.

In The Child Sex Scandal and Modern Irish Literature, Joseph Valente and Margot Gayle Backus examine modern cultural responses to child sex abuse in Ireland. Using descriptions of these scandals found in newspapers, historiographical analysis, and 20th- and 21st-century literature, Valente and Backus expose a public sphere ardently committed to Irish children's souls and piously oblivious to their physical welfare. They offer historically contextualized and psychoanalytically informed readings of scandal narratives by nine notable modern Irish authors who actively, pointedly, and persistently question Ireland's responsibilities regarding its children. Through close, critical readings, a more nuanced and troubling account emerges of how Ireland's postcolonial heritage has served to enable such abuse.

The Child Sex Scandal and Modern Irish Literature refines the debates on why so many Irish children were lost by offering insight into the lived experience of both the children and those who failed them.

Author Bio

Joseph Valente is UB Distinguished Professor in the Department of English at the University at Buffalo. He is author and editor of several books, most recently The Myth of Manliness in Irish Nationalist Culture, 1880–1922. He is also editor of the annotated edition of Dracula by Bram Stoker and (with Marjorie Howes) Yeats and Afterwords: Christ, Culture, and Crisis. Margot Gayle Backus is Professor of English at the University of Houston. She is author of The Gothic Family Romance: Heterosexuality and Child Sacrifice in the Anglo-Irish Colonial Order and Scandal Work: James Joyce, the New Journalism, and the Home Rule Newspaper Wars.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction: The Enigmatic History of Imperiled Innocence
1. "An Iridescence Difficult to Account for": Sexual Initiation in Joyce's Fiction of Development
2. Between (Open) Secret and Enigma: Kate O'Brien, The Land of Spices, and the Stylistic Invention of Lesbian (In)visibility
3. Country Girl: Groomed, Seduced, and Abandoned
4. From the Pits and Ditches Where People Have Fallen: Sex Scandal and the Reinvention of the Irish Public Sphere in Keith Ridgway's The Long Falling
5. Retrofitting Ireland's Architecture of Containment in Tana French's In the Woods
6. "Roaring Inside Me": The Enigma of Sexual Violence in The Gathering
Epilogue: What About Brendan?
Bibliography of Images
Works Cited
Index