Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

McMahon, Timothy G.

Second Advisor

Naylor, Phillip C.

Third Advisor

Guenther, Irene


Led by noted Irish statesman Eamon de Valera, a cadre of former members of the militaristic republican organization Sinn Féin split to form Fianna Fáil with the intent to reconstitute Irish republicanism so as to fit within the democratic frameworks of the Irish Free State. Beginning with its formation in 1926, up through the passage of a republican constitution in 1937 that was recognized by Great Britain the following year, Fianna Fáil had successfully rescued the seemingly moribund republican movement from complete marginalization. Using gendered language to forge a nexus between primordial cultural nationalism and modernity, Fianna Fáil's nationalist project was tantamount to efforts anti-hegemonic as well as hegemonic. At the same time that the party sought to dissolve both the Free State and remnants of British Colonialism, it made concerted efforts to construct a new nation along republican lines.

Responding to a feminized même by its political opposition, Fianna Fáil established political legitimacy by forging a delayed-Enlightenment aesthetic that triumphed reason, democratic values, and pacifistic insurrection. Faced with the challenges of fierce opposition as well as those associated with the creation of a new nation, Fianna Fáil offered a corrective by clearly delineating that which was acceptable in terms of both tradition and modernity, political agency, as well as constructs of femininity and masculinity. In contrast to the public revolutionary feminist, Fianna Fáil established clear frameworks of appropriate womanhood commensurate with its republican ideology. The party offered a varied level of political agency to women as they were to be both consumers and physical embodiments of a Fianna Fáil-based republic. In contrast, yet symbiotically related, de Valera's party confronted the economic challenges of the era by creating a socio-economic aesthetic that heralded the party's masculine, activist economic policy. Having established what was acceptable, the party made a concerted effort to other, or queer, that which did not fit within its nationalistic aims by highlighting their opponents' inability to fit within the party's heteronormative binary.