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‘A Product of the Slums’: The Degenerate Body in Liam O’Flaherty’s The Informer- Talk by Laura Lovejoy
May 18, 2017 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
“Concepts of degeneration came to constitute one of the foremost expressions of state power as Ireland transitioned to a fully independent state with its own constitution between 1922 and 1937. During the Free State period, the framework of degeneration was profoundly manifest in the state’s framing and treatment of issues of moral and social hygiene, and a social preoccupation with the degeneration of Irish culture came to constitute a key aspect of the specific form biopower took in the Irish postcolonial state. In particular, discourses emerged which centred on the human body as a focal point of national degeneration. This talk considers how Liam O’Flaherty’s novel The Informer (1925), a thriller set in the slums of post-revolutionary Dublin, depicts the Irish body in decline. Situating O’Flaherty’s portrayals of the pathological male and female body in the context of Free State fears of moral, cultural, and biological degeneracy, the talk considers how O’Flaherty’s naturalistic reflection of degenerationist cultural anxieties may distinguish him from modernist contemporaries and successors.”