• Dress, masculinities and memory: Commemorating the revolutionary body in Ireland

Phelan, Miriam, 2023, Thesis, Dress, masculinities and memory: Commemorating the revolutionary body in Ireland PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

This thesis analyses the commemoration of the Revolutionary Period (1912–1923) in Ireland during the current Decade of Centenaries (2012–2023) by exploring the embodiment of national memory through dress and the body. I question the impact of the commemoration of conflict on constructions of masculine and national identity. I analyse how conflict is interpreted, remembered, and re-enacted on and through the male body as part of the practice of remembrance. Finally, I demonstrate how an analysis of dress and the body can destabilise the history and memory of conflict and force new perspectives on the continual reshaping of material culture through remembrance.

The Revolutionary Period saw a series of violent conflicts and political crises erupt across Ireland, which led to the foundation of the Irish Free State in 1922 and, eventually, the Republic of Ireland in 1949. As of 2012, Ireland entered a period of successive centenary commemorations that have enabled a re-examination of national memory and the re-enactment of history. Throughout this research, I engage ideas of authenticity, myth, and the making of history to analyse how bodies – living and dead, dressed and undressed – move through the time and space of conflict. This research reconciles the history of the Revolutionary Period with the history of commemoration, with a particular focus on how Irish masculinities and nationhood are articulated in history-making and the relationship between embodied memory and dress.

Through an interdisciplinary methodological framework, this thesis engages dress as an embodiment of history and memory to analyse how the Revolutionary Period has been and is being commemorated in museum exhibitions, plays, performances, digital media and as living history. Dress and the body constitute my primary source materials. They complicate Irish national memory and demonstrate the significance of the materiality of war, conflict, and crisis in the process of commemoration and in the cultivation of a national and collective memory.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Other > Historical and Philosophical studies > V300 History by topic > V370 History of Design
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Funders: AHRC (Techne) [1929499]
Uncontrolled Keywords: Design history; dress; masculinities; bodies
Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2023 14:17
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2023 14:17
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/5279
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