Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


English (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Patrick A. McCarthy

Second Committee Member

Tim Watson

Third Committee Member

Joel Nickels

Fourth Committee Member

Renée Fox

Fifth Committee Member

Joe Cleary


Twentieth-century urban literature of Dublin and Belfast presents Ireland’s alternative modernity as one that is ecumenical, heterogeneous, unique, and autonomous. In “Alternative Ireland: Modernism and Urban Space in Twentieth-Century Irish Literature,” I look to modernism, rather than postmodernism, as the aesthetic mode by which twentieth-century Irish novelists sought to re-think contemporary Ireland’s relationship to history and imagine a modern Ireland alternative to either imperial or provincial modernity. I argue that an alternative Irish modernity articulates a mass culture that not only rejects the mythological past but also recognizes cultural, social, and political possibilities that have been silenced in a traditional Ireland. Focusing on Dublin-born James Joyce and Roddy Doyle and Belfast natives Robert McLiam Wilson and Glenn Patterson, I argue that twentieth-century Irish writers create what I call “experiential maps” to remap their cities in accordance with the contemporary experience of modern Ireland. I define these maps as essential connective webs that redefine space by attempting (if often failing) to negate immobile colonial borders and unite individuals whose voices have been suppressed in a traditional Ireland. When read in conjunction with one another, the literatures of Dublin and Belfast—both capitals of their respective nations and staging grounds for political, civic, and cultural unrest—present fertile ground for the development of cultural forms that more expansively convey what it means to be a modern Irish subject.


James Joyce; Roddy Doyle; Robert McLiam Wilson; Glenn Patterson; Urban Space; Alternative Modernities; Irish Literature; Dublin; Belfast; Modernism