Category: Essays

Temporality & Ulysses: Diachronic Narration in Postcolonial Ireland

By: Zachary Muhlbauer

Ubiquitous to bourgeois realism and traditional accounts of history, the structure of diachronic narration predicates how conventional storytelling transmits knowledge to its listeners. A foundational Western narrative such as The Odyssey, for instance, operates in this manner by constructing a chronological progression of causally dependent events, centralized around Odysseus, its hero, who begins in one location and ends in another. Not without its problems, though, this mode of narration has inhibited the maturation of cultural autonomy in subjugated states such as Ireland, where the temporal logic of postcolonial narratives has manipulated and constricted Irish thought. In an ironic correspondence to the chronological procedures of The Odyssey, furthermore, James Joyce’s Ulysses subverts the historical conventions of diachronic narration in an attempt to isolate Irish consciousness from its historical baggage as a nation. Together with auxiliary material from further episodes, the structural and thematic implications of Stephen’s interior monologue in “Proteus” and Molly’s soliloquy in “Penelope” expressly animate criticism of this narrative practice. Before explicating such textual dynamics, however, it is important that the paralytic influences of Irish postcolonial narratives first be recognized, so that is where we will begin. Read more

Subversion of Masculinity in Joyce’s “Ulysses”

By Ariana DiPreta

This essay won first place in the Diversity Studies category of Geneseo’s Writing Contest of 2016. The award is entitled Jérome de Romanet de Beaune Award for an Essay.

Attitudes towards sexuality, specifically British attitudes, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries reflected the colonial and patriarchal constructions that created repressive sexual codes. Michel Foucault, moreover, argues that gender norms and sexuality are socially constructed and reinforced by the bourgeoisie. This is the result of a patriarchal society that supports monogamous marriages and creates a binary dichotomy between masculinity and femininity. James Joyce’s Ulysses deconstructs strict postcolonial bourgeois modes of sexual normalcy, proliferating sexuality in his portrayal of Leopold Bloom, who represents the feminine male lacking classical “maleness” falsely associated with men. Joyce dismantles the influences of imperial codes of dualistic sexuality, fabricated to substantiate separations of the imperial state and their colony through Bloom and his relationship with Molly. In doing so, Joyce mocks the system of gendered symbols upon which people and his characters operate. Read more