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Between trompe-l'oeil mirrors : contemporary Irish and Ukrainian women's poetry in post-colonial perspective



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The objective of a comparative case study of contemporary Irish and Ukrainian women's poetry is to establish some typological features of decolonizing female poetic discourses targeted to resist dominant cultural systems by decomposing the coherence of master narratives. A comparative study of female and male discourses that determines the frame of reference provides an understanding of the principles and techniques of re-interpretation and appropriation of canonic poetic models and literary stereotypes. Women's revolt against limited personal viewing-space prescribed and controlled by a dominant system of representation is regarded as their struggle for interpretive power. The strategies employed by Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill and Lina Kostenko in re-articulating the symbolic meaning of re-worked texts and in re-textualizing nation/identity formative cultural "archetypes," allow them to establish their poetic genealogies and to write women into history and tradition. Ni Dhomhnaill's negotiations of the ideas concerning identity are carried along the "channels of Irish psychohistory" to Irish warrior-queens and sovereignty goddesses, to traditional landscape imagery of Ireland-as-body, and to the assertion of her personal landscape/inscape of the body. Kostenko's identity quest materializes in a baroque-type martyr-drama of her "imaginative history" of Ukraine, instrumental in rethinking and reseeing the past and common origins and in defining national/personal symbolic lineages. Both poets find liberation from rigid, rationalistic schemes by establishing their synchronic order, opposed to diachronism, where time becomes reversible and disturbingly movable. This is timelessness characteristic of suspension of becoming. Both tap the forces of myth by use of folklore, invigorating and revitalizing dead casts of collective memories and regenerating the phonic umbilical cord with oral tradition. They create their own automythology by opening up traditional, closed structures and thus demystifying them. Both pick up "the end of the line" of female literary tradition to keep it going. The material under consideration might be instrumental in breaking through segregative critical practices, which confine texts and traditions left out of hegemonic literary and critical discourses to a position of inferiority and invisibility.





Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)







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