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- Publication'This Game Plays You as Much as You Play It': Self Reflexivity and Technology in Video Games(University College Dublin. School of English, Drama and Film, 2020)This dissertation is an examination of the progression of video game self-reflexivity as technological affordances have increased since the emergence of the medium as a form of popular entertainment in the 1970s/1980s. During this time digital technological capabilities develop at a rapid pace and occupy an increasingly prominent role in politics, economics, entertainment and areas of day-to-day life such as socialising, employment, financial transactions and commuting, to name but a few. As such I use Karen Mossberger et al.’s definition of digital citizenship to describe the individuals who “participate in society online” and engage in civil, political and social life online. The digital citizen is familiar with how digital technology usually operates and is to some degree aware of its potential failures and conveniences. Coupled with various cultural shifts in dominant ideologies regarding digital technology at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st, highlighted by Y2K, 9/11, WikiLeaks, the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data breach, etc., the digital citizen is encouraged to view digital technology as freeing but also potentially dangerous and frightening. This tension is focalized in self-reflexive moments in video games. These games operate as both escapist fantasy narratives but also interactive digital technologies, and so are in a particularly apt position to speak to an ambivalent attitude towards digital technology. This research defines different modes of self-reference in video games and interrogates particular techno-centric self-reflexivity in case studies from the 1980s onwards, in chronological order. Incorporating relevant media and digital cultural theory, as well as referencing video game studies throughout this period, this dissertation emphasizes the role of video games, and in particular video game self-reflexivity, in the ever-evolving digital world.
- PublicationEntangled in Story: Narrative Ethics of Memory in Contemporary Irish Fiction(University College Dublin. School of English, Drama and Film, 2017)Memory is not a static or innocuous representation of the past, but a continuing struggle over how best to understand, interpret, and communicate past events for present circumstances. This cultural preoccupation with the ethical work of memory has come to dominate the landscape of Irish fiction. Irish novels, written across a wide range of genres in the post-Celtic Tiger years, take on social, political, and cultural concerns about the way the past should be remembered. This thesis aims to investigate the way that conflicts of memory are depicted in contemporary Irish fiction, taking eight novels by eight different authors as case studies. I argue that these novels negotiate a narrative ethics of memory, whereby remembering as part of a community necessitates critical attention to, and responsibility for, the strategies used to construct, communicate, and respond to narratives about the past. The novel, as a complex narrative project, provides the ideal medium for thinking through the interrelation of multiple perspectives on the past, the communicative frameworks within which testimonies are produced and disseminated, and ethical concerns about aestheticizing painful histories. Through such narrative experiments, these authors explore the relationship between ways of telling the past and the creation of ethical environments for the present and future.
- PublicationTwo voices of Seamus O'Kelly : A study of the man and his works(University College Dublin, 1969)Seumas O'Kelly, a minor figure of the Irish literary revival, is said to be neglected. With the exception of a brief period of posthumous enthusiasm, his oblivion was swift, almost total. There had been little proportion in the dramatic burial of this quiet man whose integrity expressed itself in modesty. And subsequent to his death, by a kind of ironic inversion, there has been no proper ratio between O'Kelly's literary reputation and the honest merit of his work. Perhaps the key to both his limitation as an artist and his neglect in literary history lies in this modesty. It was not, to be sure, a mock modesty. "Too manly to be self-deprecatory," Seumas O'Connelly reminisces, "if O'Kelly was growing surer of himself as he progressed in his art, it was a very silent growth in him. He was rather shy than diffident . . . he was the least self-assertive of bards and generous in others' praise. In the witty, competitive Dublin of the early twentieth century where writers struggled not only for literary reputation but contested in the art of self-perpetuation by means of mask and pose, it would seem that Seumas O'Kelly was uniquely without role. He was a man of talent without assumption.
- PublicationBoth the edge and the centre: the politics of understanding music in middle English poetry - an interdisciplinary study(University College Dublin. School of English, Drama and Film, 2016)This dissertation offers an interdisciplinary examination of the uses of music in Middle English poetry through analysis of numerous allusions to music in texts from the late-thirteenth to early-fifteenth century, with particular focus on the works of Geoffrey Chaucer. The position of music as a cornerstone of philosophic thought, perceived as a reflection of the divine harmony of the universe and as sounding number made it central to medieval life. However, music’s abstract connotations also permitted it to inhabit the margins of the medieval universe – the boundaries between human and animal, rational and irrational, nature and artifice, sense and the ineffable. Music was thus both at the edge and the centre of the medieval imagination.The role of music in discourses concerning creativity, religion, and society in Middle English poetry will be considered in relation to the spiritual, social, and artistic implications of “knowing” or making rational judgment – what I term “the politics of understanding”. I divide consideration of the politics of understanding music in dream visions, complaints, bestiaries, religious texts, and romances into three sections: philosophical, spiritual, and political. This division allows me to examine a broad range of texts, beginning with consideration of the literary and philosophical tradition inherited from French influences and Antiquity, then turning to spiritual devotion, moving away from aesthetic to ascetic concerns, and finally considering the secular and more immediate and practical implications.The philosophical implications of understanding music in Chaucer’s dream poems, the Book of the Duchess, House of Fame, and Parliament of Fowls are first considered. I then examine the spiritual dimensions of understanding music in London, British Library, MS Arundel 292 and in Chaucer’s Prioress’s Tale. I conclude with an exploration of the representation of kingly harpers in the romances King Horn and Sir Orfeo, and in Chaucer’s Manciple’s Tale.
- PublicationNot fit to be mentioned: legal ghosts and displaced narratives in the Northanger 'Horrid' novels(University College Dublin. School of English, Drama and Film, 2015)Once thought to be the fictitious creations of Jane Austen, the seven Gothic novels that comprise the ‘Northanger ‘Horrid’ Novels’ have been critically neglected since their rediscovery in the early twentieth century. For, despite repeated scholarship that posits Northanger Abbey as a pedagogical novel, references to the ‘Horrid’ novels have been primarily limited to brief allusions or disregarded entirely within criticism that confines them to hack or pulp writing of inferior quality. This thesis argues for the consideration of the ‘Horrid’ novels in their own right, examining how the presence of ‘temporally displaced narratives,’ that is, narratives which collapse the linear time of the central narrative and which focus exclusively on a minority public, ultimately serve as a signifier of absence. This study reads these texts as representative of authors motivated by an ideological agenda, ones whose narratives engage with the Gothic in order to recover narratives otherwise lost to a specifically male-authored history. The source of ‘terror,’ then, is located not in the traditional engagement of Gothic motifs, but rather, in the realities of eighteenth-century legal discourse. Exploring specific examples of patriarchal violence addressed within the temporally displaced narratives of the ‘Horrid’ novels, this study places particular emphasis upon the ways in which historically absented narratives are ‘recovered’ through the author’s engagement with and subversion of contemporary patriarchal law. These narratives of violent repression, written by both the ‘Horrid’ novels’ male and female authors, suggests that such narratives of subjugation are not exclusive to Female Gothic, and as such, proposes the need for a revision to the existing categorizations of Female and Male Gothic. This thesis ultimately demonstrates that the Northanger ‘Horrid’ Novels are worthy of independent examination, and that connections to Northanger Abbey need not be invoked in order to validate their inclusion within the canon of Gothic literature.