Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Considered by many to be the Irish national poet of the first stage of decolonization, Yeats cautioned in his poetry against the dangers of excessive formalism while also clinging to the disappearing forms and privileges of the Anglo-Irish caste. In her novels, Elizabeth Bowen responds to the formal and national philosophies that Yeats articulated, exploring and fully developing the consequences of clinging to the ossified social forms whose limitations Yeats prefigured but whose security he could not relinquish. Her novels, by their resistance to social, national, and narrative conventions and by their pluralizing performances of gender and nation, envision a more radical liberation than did Yeats‰Ûª poetry. In The Last September (1929), To the North (1932), and A World of Love (1955), Bowen articulates through a series of paired protagonists various strategies of ‰ÛÏperforming‰Û gender and nation. In The Last September, Lois and Laurence deploy ‰ÛÏdandified‰Û performances that work to denaturalize class and gender conventions by their self-conscious and ironic enactment. To the North registers the failures of Cecilia and Emmeline to perform and their consequent inscription in and production of conventional scripts of comic and tragic femininity. A World of Love makes return to the plots, settings, and themes of both earlier novels but with a deep structural shift: their ‰ÛÏconcentric‰Û structures are replaced by a ‰ÛÏcitational‰Û structure that invites and enables Jane‰Ûªs drag performance of gender and nation wherein by ‰ÛÏloving‰Û a ghost she redefines permeability as being both plural and prospective.
Kremer, Katherine, "Theatrics of Invention: Performing Gender and Nation in Three Novels by Elizabeth Bowen" (2011). Honors Theses. 54.