Bernard McKenna

Department of English
Newark, Delaware 19716

Bernard McKenna received his Ph.D. from the University of Miami in 1999. He has published two books: James Joyce’s Ulysses: A Reference Guide (2002) and Rupture, Representation, and the Refashioning of Identity in Drama from the North of Ireland (2003). He served as associate editor for The Dictionary of Irish Literature (1996) and on the editorial board of The Caribbean Writer (2002-2003). He has lived and worked in Ireland and the Caribbean. He came to the University of Delaware in 1995 and has designed and taught courses in textual studies, research methods, and Irish and Caribbean literature. His publications in material studies, print culture, and textual studies include the following:

His current work involves a study of how literary periodicals attempted to influence and in turn were affected by the culture and concept of the Irish nation that emerged during the “Saorstat Eireann/Irish Free State” (1922-1939). A chapter of this book-length project, “Yeats, ‘Leda,’ and the Aesthetics of To-Morrow: ‘The Immortality of the Soul,'” has been published in The New Hibernia Review (Spring 2009). The essay argues that Yeats’ decision to place “Leda and the Swan” in To-Morrow reflects his desire to stress the similarities between Leda and the newly-formed Irish Free State. In the context of the stories and poems in the journal, Leda emerges as not only the victim of a violent assault but also as an individual who internalizes the moral values of her victimizer. The essay argues that the Irish Free State, in Yeats’ view, had also internalized the values of British imperialism and Catholic hegemony.

“This same prehistoric barrow ’tis, the Orangery–Duelling and Dual Communities inFinnegans Wake,” published in  Lit: Literature, Interpretation, Theory  (Summer 1999),  and “‘Soul of the Devil’s Pig': Comedy and Affirmation in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake,” published in Etudes Irlandais, (Spring 2009), consider how textual evidence from foul papers and various drafts of Finnegans Wake, informs a critical reading of the text in relation to Ireland and history.

ImageLines on Irish Linen–An Unrecorded Variation of Yeats’ ‘To a Wealthy Man,'” published Yeats Eliot Review (Spring 1997), explores how Yeats used the material context of a linen handkerchief, sold as a souvenir during an Abbey theatre tour, to subtlety modify the meaning of the poem from a condemnation of wealthy would-be patrons of the arts to a poem celebrating the relatively small monetary contributions of people whose motive is love of the arts.

Hinterland (1996) integrates a critical essay with images from Deirdre O’Connell’s exhibition at the Orchard Gallery in Derry City (North of Ireland):

Image“An Observer wandering through the rooms of the Orchard Gallery is struck by the careful arrangement of the exhibitions elements. Objects that are intentionally placed to relate not only to one another but to the space create the impression of uncovering chambers in a tomb or visiting side chapels in a Medieaval cathedral. “Appalachian Spring” places two casts from gallon plastic water containers coated with rusty oxide on a high shelf connected by rubber hoses to rust/plaster funnels. Rather than implying a large-scale factory, this figure represents an improvised system, not requiring much labor, to produce fresh water. . . . The device implies a clandestine source of forbidden drink. It exists beyond the gaze of the machines and myths of industry, promising rebirth.”