IN her foreword to this volume, Lia Mills recollects her own experiences in the 1990s of finding an Irish women’s literary tradition where she once believed none existed and highlights the great excitement she felt–both as an academic and as an Irish female author–at this discovery. That the process of unearthing and acknowledging this neglected and imperative aspect of Ireland’s literary landscape continues to be a work in progress three decades later is evidenced most visibly in prevailing popular conceptions of Irish literature. There is, for instance, a well-known poster of Irish writers that showcases, against a sepia background, the names, brief biographies, and photographs of twelve authors who are seen to stand as testament to the quality of Irish literature: J. M. Synge, Flann O’Brien, Oliver Goldsmith, Jonathan Swift, Samuel Beckett, W. B. Yeats, Brendan Behan, Oscar Wilde, Patrick Kavanagh, James Joyce, Sean O’Casey, and George Bernard Shaw. This specifically gendered accumulation of the country’s literati is not altogether surprising: Irish writing has often been conceived in the popular imagination and conceptualised in academic scholarship as a male phenomenon. Although academic interest in redressing the gendered imbalance in literary history has gained conspicuous pace since the 1990s, Irish literary studies for many years lagged well behind its American and English counterparts in challenging such preconceptions....
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