Terror and Irish Modernism

The Gothic Tradition from Burke to Beckett

By Jim Hansen

Subjects: Literary Criticism, Literary History, Postcolonial Studies, British Studies, Nineteenth-century Studies
Series: SUNY series, Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century
Paperback : 9781438428222, 219 pages, July 2010
Hardcover : 9781438428215, 219 pages, October 2009

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Table of contents

1. Gothic Double Binds, Or, Irish Terrorists Confront an Unholy Union
2. The Wrong Marriage: Maturin and the Double Logic of Masculinity in the Unionist Gothic
3. The Revolution Within: Wilde’s Gothic and the Confi nes of Convention
4. Overcoming Allegory: Joyce’s Ulysses and the Limits of the Irish Gothic
5. Engendering a Cartesian Gothic: Generic Form as History in Beckett’s Fiction
The Poetics of Fear: Gothic Inheritance at the End of Modernity

Presents a new genealogy and synoptic overview of modern Irish fiction.


Terror and Irish Modernism offers a synoptic overview of modern Irish fiction. Covering more than two centuries of literary production, Jim Hansen locates the root structure of modern Irish fiction in the masculine gender anxiety of one of the nineteenth century's most popular literary genres: the Gothic. Addressing both the decolonization of Ireland and the politics of literary form, Hansen sheds new light on canonical works by Maria Edgeworth, C. R. Maturin, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and Samuel Beckett by reading them all as part of the generic tradition of the Irish Gothic. He focuses in particular on how the Irish Gothic tradition translated the English Gothic's female-confinement narrative into a story about confined, feminized male protagonists. In reading this male gender-disorientation as the foundational condition of modern Irish political identity, Terror and Irish Modernism provides a thoroughly new genealogy of modern Irish fiction.

Jim Hansen is Assistant Professor of English and Critical Theory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


"Jim Hansen's Terror and Irish Modernism: The Gothic Tradition from Burke to Beckett displays boldness and breadth. It confidently ranges over the Irish Gothic tradition from the eighteenth century to the fiction of Samuel Beckett … Hansen offers more than a few intriguing and resonant insights. " — James Joyce Quarterly

"…a complex reading of how Ireland's political history has informed the tradition of Irish gothic fiction and how that tradition then informed Irish modernist texts … Using Hegelian dialectics, postcolonial hybridity, and abject maternal identity, Hansen chronicles how characters, and sometimes authors, attempt to escape confinement and gain autonomy. " — CHOICE