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By Patricia Coughlan, in Theorizing Ireland, ed. Clare Connolly

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Presentation on theme: "By Patricia Coughlan, in Theorizing Ireland, ed. Clare Connolly"— Presentation transcript:

1 ‘Bog Queens’: The Representation of Women in the Poetry of John Montague and Seamus Heaney
By Patricia Coughlan, in Theorizing Ireland, ed. Clare Connolly. pgs NY: Palgrove, 2003

2 ‘Bog Queens’ Painstakingly discussed, reviewed, summarized, & satirized by Christopher C. Douglas. For Dr. Moloney’s Irish Literature Course, 2005.

3 Favorite Word/Phrase Spade-phallus Phallically Phallic surrogates

4 Two Types of Female-Figures
Beloved or Spouse Figure vs. The Mother Which can, in turn be: “Benign and fertile” or “Awe-inspiring and Terrible” Women are, however, defined by ‘the home.’

5 Heaney’s Two Types of Women
The Passive Woman who is brought pleasure and is explored by a Dominate Male. “Rite of Spring,” “Bog Queen,” “Ocean’s Love to Ireland,” & others. A Woman who “dooms, destroys, puzzles and encompasses the man, but also assists him to self-discovery.” The Mother merged with the Spouse. “The Tollund Man” & “The Grauballe Man”

6 On “Digging” "Digging foreshadows later, explicitly sexual, bog poems, with its all too relevant succession of phallic surrogates -- pen, 'snug as a gun,' spade -- and its sensuously rich material which waits passively to be 'dug'.” This is a case of ‘gender roles’ where Heaney is aligning himself with his forefathers and their phallocentric professions. (I got that word from Lit. Crit. with Dr. Conley)

7 My thoughts on “Digging”
Clearly, brimming with Sexuality.

8 Gender in Celtic Culture
Gender is a “metaphysical concept,” two opposing forces – male/female, much like black/white, north/south. This is different from the World of Today, where gender is tied up on a more individual level, apparently.

9 Sex! Passive sex! The poems “Rite of Spring” and “Undine” both deal with sexual desires, women, and water. The woman/water is ‘tamed’ by ‘farming skill.’ It’s sort of a ‘women are like nature, men are like civilization’ sort of thing.

10 On “Midnight” Language is “erotically enabling.”
“In "Midnight," the eradication of wolves in Ireland is made the sign of both of the seventeenth-century conquest and of emasculation. The poem ends: Nothing is panting, lolling, Vapouring. The tongue's Leashed in my throat. making a symptomatic equation of phallus, speech, predation, and national strength almost too obvious to mention.”

11 My thoughts on “Midnight”
Clearly, very erotically enabling / brimming with sexuality.

12 The Second Type of Woman
“In Heaney, for example, the nature-goddess is simultaneously spouse, death-bringer and nurturer.”

13 On “The Tollund Man” She tightened her torc on him And opened her fen, Those dark juices working Him to a saint’s kept body. “Female energy” is both “inert and devouring.” The woman is “a channel for masculine fear and desire.” The land is feminine, and associated with death. It, like women, is oppressed.

14 The Bog & “Ocean’s Love”
In “Ocean’s Love to Ireland,” the English takeover is seen as a sort of ‘rape’ or seduction of the land. The death-land goddess claiming helpless victims (female force) is countered with the English colonization ‘rape’ (masculine force) in different poems.

15 The Author’s Final Thoughts
“So, must we not conclude that the poetry of Montague and Heaney as a whole is insistently and damagingly gendered?” The poetry reinforces gender stereotypes, and refuses to acknowledge “an autonomous subjectivity in others: a structure common to sexism and racism.”

16 My Final Thoughts “So, must we not conclude that the poetry of Montague and Heaney as a whole is insistently and damagingly gendered?” I answer “No” to your rhetorical question. The author seemed predisposed to seeing penises in everything, especially shovels. I don’t think that a poem about digging potatoes has anything to do with sex. One of us is wrong. I think I know who I agree with. Maybe people would enjoy poetry more if they didn’t go looking for hidden agendas. I wonder if Patricia Coughlan enjoyed the poems.

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