Shamrocks and Shackles: Irish Women’s Prison Writing during the Civil Rights Movement, 1960s-1990s

NOV 10, 2020 | 6:00 PM TO 7:00 PM



On Zoom


November 10, 2020: 6:00 PM-7:00 PM




The Center for the Study of Women and Society


In this talk, Red Washburn explores women’s contributions to the anti-colonial civil rights movements during the Troubles in the Six Counties of Ireland from the late 1960s to the late 1990s. They connect the work of Irish women leaders and writers by examining their leadership roles, individual voices, and cultural productions. This project analyzes political communiqués and petitions, news coverage, prison files, governmental files, personal letters, poetry and short prose, and memoirs of Irish women. Washburn highlights the personal correspondence, auto/biographical narratives, and poetry of the following key leaders and writers:  Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, Margaretta D’Arcy, Roseleen Walsh, Martina Anderson, Ella O’Dwyer, and Mairéad Farrell. These women address similar themes in their prison writing and work either through direct communication (i.e., political communiqués and personal correspondence) and/or indirect expression (i.e., news coverage and auto/biographical responses to it). Drawing on interviews with selected writers for supplemental data in interpreting their personal histories and writing, Washburn analyzes the politics and prose and poetry of Irish women, documenting moments of prison solidarity among them.

Red Washburn, PhD, is Associate Professor of English and Director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Kingsborough Community College. They also are Adjunct Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Brooklyn College. They are a Research Fellow for the Center for Place, Culture, and Politics at the Graduate Center, as well. Red’s articles appear in Journal for the Study of Radicalism, Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Journal of Lesbian Studies, Theory and Praxis: Women’s and Gender Studies at Community Colleges, and Introduction to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies: Interdisciplinary and Intersectional Approaches. Their poetry collection Crestview Tree Woman was published by Finishing Line Press. They are the co-editor of Sinister Wisdom’s Celebrating the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, Dump Trump: Legacies of Resistance, and 45 Years: A Tribute to Lesbian Herstory Archives. Red is a coordinator at the Lesbian Herstory Archives and of the Rainbow Book Fair, on the board of directors of Sinister Wisdom and the Center for LGBTQ Studies (CLAGS), and a review chair for the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA).

Co-sponsored with the Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC), the Center for LGBTQ Studies (GLAGS), The Feminist Press, and the Public Science Project.