Eimear McBride’s Ireland: A Case for Periodization and the Dangers of Marketing Modernism

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Eimear McBride’s multi-award-winning debut novel A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing (2013) garnered global attention for its invocation of recognizably modernist strategies. Yet there remains a conspicuous lack of analysis surrounding McBride’s modernist project, as well as the wider cultural and political context thereof.
Such a contextual approach may run counter to the recent turn in modernist studies away from periodization, however, in the case of Ireland, it can revealed that the argument for periodization – both past and present – holds true. Given the nation’s 2008 economic crash and resultant identity crisis, as well as its complex relationship with Europe and the UK, Ireland now finds itself in the midst of a second ‘modernist’ moment; one to which writers like McBride are directly responding.
Yet, despite these diagnoses, this essay will conclude by challenging the default ‘modernist’ vernacular which has come to dominate both critical and industry conversations surrounding McBride and her peers. For the gendered implications of these frameworks ultimately risk upholding the historical silencing of experimental women writers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-792
JournalEnglish Studies
Issue number7
Early online date16 Oct 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Oct 2018


  • Ireland
  • Irish Studies
  • Eimear McBride
  • Modernism
  • Metamodernism
  • Periodization
  • Feminism


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