Too Smart to Be Sentimental: Contemporary Irish American Women Writers / Edition 28

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In a series of critical and biographical essays, Too Smart to Be Sentimental offers a feminist literary history of twentieth-century Irish America. This collection introduces the reader to the works of twelve contemporary Irish American women writers, some of whom are well known, such as Joyce Carol Oates, Alice McDermott, and Tess Gallagher, and some of whom are equally deserving of recognition.

Each chapter focuses on a particular writer, describes and discusses that writer's most important works, contextualizes the discussion with relevant biographical material, and highlights why the writer is representative of the Irish American literary tradition. Too Smart to Be Sentimental —the first critical study of contemporary Irish American women authors—will be invaluable to students and scholars of Irish studies and Irish American literature.


“This book gathers critical essays about Irish-American writers from Mary McCarthy to Erin McGraw. The essays that consider Mary Doyle Curran, Tess Gallagher, Eileen Myles, Mary McGarry Morris, Jean McGarvey, and Erin McGraw are valuable for their introductions to lesser-known writers or to writers who have achieved success but who are not necessarily known as Irish-American writers.” —Maureen O. Murphy, Hofstra University


“These personal, thoughtful, and authoritative essays make an original contribution. They are of significance for scholars in several related disciplines: contemporary American fiction, Irish-American literature, sociology, ethnic studies, Irish studies, and women’s studies.” —Thomas A. Kuhlman, Creighton University

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“The book is a collection of essays that introduce the works of 12 contemporary Irish-American women writers. Some of the writers, like Joyce Carol Oates and Alice McDermott, are well-known, while others, such as Elizabeth Cullinan, whose work is currently out of print, are equally deserving of recognition.” —The Beverly Review

Library Journal

This critical study of contemporary Irish American women writers, the first of its kind, offers a literary history of Irish America in the 20th century from a feminist perspective. Divided into the sections "Women in Irish American Society," "Religion and Ethics," "Oral Traditions," "Sexuality," and "Feminism, Culture and Critique," the essays (with notes) cover 12 authors: Mary McCarthy, Maureen Howard, Maeve Brennan, Elizabeth Cullinan, Alice McDermott, Tess Gallagher, Joyce Carol Oates, Jean McGarry, Mary McGarry Morris, Eileen Myles, Mary Gordon, and Erin McGraw. Recurrent themes include the Irish love of language, the influence of the Catholic Church, and preoccupation with guilt, family life, and traditional women's roles. Editors Ebest (English, Univ. of Missouri, St. Louis; Reconciling Catholicism and Feminism?: Personal Reflections on Tradition and Change) and McInerney (education, Chicago State Univ.) are among the authors of these scholarly and insightful essays. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.
—Denise J. Stankovics

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780268027735
  • Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press
  • Publication date: 1/15/2008
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 28
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Sally Barr Ebest is professor of English at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She is the author and co-editor of a number of books, including Reconciling Catholicism and Feminism? Personal Reflections on Tradition and Change (University of Notre Dame Press, 2003).

Kathleen McInerney is associate professor of education at Chicago State University and professor at the Centers for Interamerican Studies, Cuenca, Ecuador.

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Table of Contents

Foreword   Caledonia Kearns     ix
Acknowledgments     xiii
Introduction: Writing Green Thoughts   Sally Barr Ebest     1
Women in Irish American Society
Mary McCarthy: Too Smart to Be Sentimental   Sally Barr Ebest     27
Maureen Howard's "Landscapes of Memory"   Patricia Keefe Durso     52
Moments of Kindness, Moments of Recognition: The Achievement of Maeve Brennan   John M. Menaghan     81
Religion and Ethics
"Forget about Being Irish": Family, Transgression, and Identity in the Fiction of Elizabeth Cullinan   Kathleen McInerney     97
Alice McDermott's Narrators   Beatrice Jacobson     116
Oral Traditions
Tess Gallagher: A Network of Sympathies and Distant Connections   Mary Ann Ryan     139
"I'm Your Man": Irish American Masculinity in the Fiction of Joyce Carol Oates   Susana Araujo     157
Hardly Sentimental: The "Bad Girls" and Lonely Men of Mary McGarry Morris's Fiction   Patricia Gott     171
Blurring Boundaries: Eileen Myles and the Irish American Identity   Kathleen Ann Kremins     189
Feminism, Culture, and Critique
The World of Mary Gordon: Writing from the "Other Side"   Susanna Hoeness-Krupsaw     201
Jean McGarry:Sojourners Between Dreams and Realities   Amy Lee     220
Erin McGraw: Expanding the Tradition of Irish American Women Writers   Sally Barr Ebest     233
About the Contributors     248
Index     251
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