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Gender in Ulysses

Wednesday, September 30, 2009; 07:45 am Leave a comment Go to comments

Schwarze, Tracey Teets. “New Women, Male Pests, and Gender in the Public Eye.” Joyce and the Victorians. Florida: University Press of Florida, 2002. 161-191. Print.

Tracey Schwarze’s essay “New Women, Male Pests, and Gender in the Public Eye” addresses Joyce’s interaction with gender, a topic we seem to constantly return to in class. Schwarze explains that Irish women at the turn of the century were experiencing their public emergence. “By the 1890’s” he writes, “ the urban landscape had been transformed by the presence of increasing numbers of women who worked in a growing variety of professions, shopped in the new department stores, performed in the music halls, or agitated for political and social reform.” (161) This movement culminated in 1911 with suffrage for women. Drastic changes in the public role of women, understandably challenged dominate constructions of femininity and prompted debate on the issue. Ever sensitive to social climate, Joyce could hardly omit his musings on the topic from his great work. Indeed Schwarze references Joyce’s comment that the “revolt of women against the idea that they are the mere instruments of men” incited the “greatest revolution in our time and in the most important relationship there is – that between men and women…” (191) This historical background helps us to situate the comments Joyce makes on Gender. “Joyce gives us the en-gendered contest for public space that characterized his era,” writes Schwarze. (191) Specifically this article attempts to unpack Joyce’s construction of Molly Bloom. It concludes that she becomes a hybrid space where the “’new (manly) woman’ might meet the ‘new womanly man’ – and wave the flag of truce.”(191)

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