English and Theatre Studies seminar Dr Matthew McGuire - Another Irish Antigone: Gendering Justice in Seamus Heaney's The Burial at Thebes

Wednesday, May 18, 2016 16:30 - 17:30

The Burial at Thebes, Seamus Heaney's adaptation of Antigone, was first performed at the centenary celebrations of Dublin's Abbey Theatre in 2004. Whilst reviewers read the play exclusively in the context of the post-9/11 war on terror, this paper seeks to relocate Heaney's play within the contemporary Irish context and, in particular, the end of the Troubles. In Heaney's hands, Antigone acts as a metaphor for one of the defining issues of the period: dealing with the legacy of civil war. The Burial at Thebes reveals Heaney's interest in the ways in which female voices have remained silenced and sidelined within mainstream discourses about the legacy of the Troubles. Drawing on the work of Paul Ricoeur, Judith Butler and Bonnie Honig, this paper reads Heaney's play within a series of critical debates about the representation of female victimhood, the role of women in transitional justice, and the ongoing importance of tragedy within the Irish literary imagination.


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4th floor Linkway, John Medley (Building 191)