Skip to main content

Inclusions and exclusions in the Irish literary canon in the mid-twentieth century

Kao, Wei-Hung (2004) Inclusions and exclusions in the Irish literary canon in the mid-twentieth century. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86301) (KAR id:86301)

PDF (408485.pdf)
Language: English

Download (23MB) Preview
[thumbnail of 408485.pdf]
This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.
Request an accessible format
Official URL:


This thesis explores how a variety of political, religious and social determinants counterbalanced each other to legitimise a new canon, or canons, in post-Treaty Ireland. 'Participants' to be discussed in the making of the Irish canon included members of the Educational Board, university faculties, clerics, textbook editors and anthologists, historians, creative writers, literary critics, politicians, censors, and so on. The different traditions and perspectives they represent complicate the formulation of the canon through which many antagonistic ideologies give shape to the various versions of Irishness. The thesis also examines how and why some writers did not attract critical attention in mid-twentieth century Ireland, and what kinds of writing were deemed most 'canonical', when political and religious ideologies were more influential than other factors. To demonstrate how the formation of the Irish nation had impacts on the making of an Irish canon, this thesis will discuss relevant issues at institutional and textual levels. The institutional, as the first three chapters will elaborate, will focus on Irish education from primary to tertiary levels. These three chapters will reveal how the teaching of Irish literature might have significantly de-Anglicised Irish pupils, and how it sought to secure an Irish national identity. The latter four chapters, following the demonstration of the success and failure, of educational de-Anglicisation, will draw attention to literary works per se, to see why certain choices of themes would be admitted to, or left out of, the canon, and under what circumstances. Although both anthologists and many creative writers were interested in the topics of Irish history, the latter seemed to be more capable of introducing historical subjects from non-nationalistic or sometimes comic or feminist perspectives -- which caused some of their works to be dismissed from the nationalistic canon. The writers to be discussed in this thesis include Daniel Corkery, J. Q Farrell, Denis Johnston, Mary Lavin, Iris Murdoch, Kate O'Brien, Frank O'Connor, Liam O'Flaherty, and James Plunkett.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Innes, C. Lyn
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86301
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: P Language and Literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:49 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2022 23:53 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
  • Depositors only (login required):


Downloads per month over past year