Gender and Memory: Depictions of Femininity in Irish Revolutionary Art
This paper uses artistic depictions of the allegorical figure, Kathleen ni Houlihan, who represented the personification of Ireland, to analyze the role of gender in the Irish Revolution. Drawing on a number of primary source artistic works from the years surrounding the 1916 Easter Rising, this paper questions the impact highly gendered portrayals of Irish nationalism had on nationalist communities. This paper also relies on primary and secondary sources that highlight the highly gendered environment of revolutionary Ireland, and the hardships faced by nationalist women. In this study, I found that gendered depictions of Kathleen ni Houlihan were rooted in the gendered revolutionary environment, and reflected typical ideas of the roles men and women should play in the independence movement. The figure of Kathleen ni Houlihan offers an excellent case study of the role the arts played in both reflecting and altering Irish revolutionary society. Additionally, these artistic portrayals reflect the strict binaries of Irish society at the turn of the century, and provide insight into the ways women negotiated their positions in the revolution.
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