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Irish Drama and the Other Revolutions

Playwrights, Sexual Politics and the International Left, 1892-1964

Susan Cannon Harris

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Reveals the untold story of Irish drama’s engagement with modernity’s sexual and social revolutions

The first modern Irish playwrights emerged in London in the 1890s, at the intersection of a rising international socialist movement and a new campaign for gender equality and sexual freedom. Irish Drama and the Other Revolutions shows how Irish playwrights mediated between the sexual and the socialist revolutions, and traces their impact on left theatre in Europe and America from the 1890s to the 1960s. Drawing on original archival research, the study reconstructs the engagement of Yeats, Shaw, Wilde, Synge, O’Casey, and Beckett with socialists and sexual radicals like Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Morris, Edward Carpenter, Florence Farr, Bertolt Brecht, and Lorraine Hansberry.

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1. Desiring Women: Irish Playwrights, New Women, and Queer Socialism, 1892-1894
2. Arrested Development: Utopian Desires, Designs, and Deferrals in Man and Superman and John Bull’s Other Island
3. We’ll Keep The Red Flag Flying Here: Syndicalism, Jim Larkin, and Irish Masculinity at the Abbey Theatre, 1911-1919
4. Mobilising Maurya: J. M. Synge, Bertolt Brecht, and the Revolutionary Mother
5. The Flaming Sunflower: The Soviet Union and Sean O’Casey’s Post-Realism
Epilogue: What The Irish Left: Lorraine Hansberry’s The Sign In Sidney Brustein’s Window
Works Cited

About the Author

Susan Cannon Harris is Associate Professor in the Department of English and Keough Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Her book Gender and Modern Irish Drama (IUP, 2002) was awarded the Donald Murphy Prize for a Distinguished First Book and the Robert Rhodes Prize for Books on Literature by the American Conference for Irish Studies. Harris has published on eighteenth century Irish theater, contemporary Irish drama, and modern British fiction.


Susan Cannon Harris’s Gender and Modern Irish Drama firmly established her as one of the most innovative critical voices in contemporary Irish Studies, and this book wonderfully confirms her well-deserved reputation. Its deep engagement with political, gender and queer theories − and its exceptional close readings of plays by Yeats, Shaw, O'Casey and others − makes Irish Drama and the Other Revolutions the most original and important book I have read in a very long time.

- Stephen Watt, Indiana University, Bloomington

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