Irish Modernism and the Politics of Sexual Health

Irish Modernism and the Politics of Sexual Health

By Lloyd Houston



Irish Modernism and the Politics of Sexual Health explores the politicized role of sexual health as a concept, discourse, and subject of debate within Irish literary culture from 1880 to 1960. Combining perspectives from Irish Studies, Modernist Studies, and the Social History of Medicine, it traces the ways in which authors, politicians, and activists in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Ireland harnessed debates over sexual hygiene, venereal disease, birth control, fertility, and eugenics to envisage competing models of Irish identity, culture, and political community. Analyzing the work of canonical authors (Yeats, Synge, Shaw, Joyce, Beckett, Flann O'Brien) and less often discussed figures (George Moore, Oliver Gogarty, Signe Toksvig, Kate O'Brien) in conversation with medical, scientific, and legal writing on sexual health, it charts how the medicalization and politicization of sex informed the emergence and development of modernism in Ireland. At the same time, by reading this literary material alongside the polemical and journalistic writing of figures such as Arthur Griffith, Maud Gonne, and Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington, it also reveals the ways in which key events in Irish cultural and political history - the Parnell Split, the Limerick Pogrom, the Playboy riots, the passage of the Censorship of Publications Act - were shaped by ongoing debates and dilemmas in the field of sexual health. This book will benefit students, researchers, and readers interested in the history of sex and its regulation in modern Ireland, the impact of sex and medicine on Irish political history, and the nature of modernism's engagement with sex, health, and the body.

ISBN: 9780192889492


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