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Between Worlds: considering Celtic feminine identities in The Secret of Roan Inish

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This article explores the ways in which Celtic oral traditions concerning the 'place' of women are replayed within a contemporary textual form, namely the 1995 film, The Secret of Roan Inish. Through an examination of the representation of gender relations within the film, we address how the incorporation of mythic elements is intended to provide a sense of female 'empowerment'. While the film has been praised for its positive portrayal of Irish Celtic women, we suggest that the various qualities of strength associated with the female lead characters are expressed within the context of a discursive framework that valorizes certain roles and behavior as 'natural' at the expense of other modes of life, and, further, ties the construction of subject identities into a fixed, or essentialist, notion of 'place'. Rather than presume that this filmic vision of Irish Celtic feminine identities is intrinsically regressive, however, we note that in our act of viewing Roan Inish those identities are recontextualized further in, we hope, a progressive, post-structuralist manner.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 1998

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