Representation and resistance
: writing gender, ethnonationalism and the working class in the theatre and novels of the ‘Troubles’

  • Ciara McAllister

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis examines the representation of the working class in the theatre and novels of the Troubles (1969-1998), assessing the extent to which narratives of the conflict have colluded in presenting the Troubles as a problem internal to Northern Ireland’s working class. The literature of this period is dominated by working-class communities, characters and issues, and the cumulative effect has been that the Troubles appear as a war between two factions of the working class, with the colonial, political and structural causes of the conflict largely negated. As such, drama and fiction have often bolstered hegemonic narratives that construct Northern Ireland as ‘a place apart’, and representations of the working class bear influence on ideologies of the conflict. Despite their centrality to the literature of this period, however, analysis of class in Troubles literary scholarship has been relatively scant, and a sustained examination of working-class representation across the three decades of the conflict has been largely avoided.

“Representation and Resistance” addresses this omission by identifying the dominant tropes and stereotypes of the working class in Northern Irish drama and fiction, as well as highlighting how writing could serve as a form of resistance to dominant narratives surrounding class and the conflict. In doing so, the thesis is attuned to issues of form, audience and authorship, as well as the intracategorical complexity of the working class, and particularly the role that ethnonationalism and gender play in constructing their representation on the page and the stage. Moreover, because of the attempt to assert the Otherness of Northern Ireland, issues of space and place underpin the analysis carried out here, with focus given to the urban working class, and the corpus made up of twenty texts written by individuals or communities emanating from within its six counties.

Thesis is embargoed until 31 July 2029.
Date of AwardJul 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsAHRC Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership
SupervisorTrish McTighe (Supervisor) & Michael Pierse (Supervisor)


  • literature
  • Northern Ireland
  • Troubles
  • gender
  • working class literature
  • theatre

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