10:00 AM, 23 Feb 2021 - , Online

On the (Fictionalised) Record: Documenting Women’s Experiences through Irish Historical Film

Department of Film & Screen Media – 2021 Research Seminar Series


Tuesday, 23 February 2021, 10 a.m. (on MS Teams)


Dr Abigail Keating (University College Cork)


“On the (Fictionalised) Record: Documenting Women’s Experiences through Irish Historical Film”

While the under-representation of contemporary women in Irish film is shifting steadily, due to broader progress on and domestic production policy centred on gender diversity, one trend since the Celtic Tiger that has provided particularly fertile ground for the analyses of women in contemporary Irish film has been the subgenre of historical drama. Here, it is often the darker complexities and abuses of the past that are confronted, concerning female autonomy and defined gender roles, Irish national independence and identity, and the Church and its powerful position across State affairs for much of the twentieth century. While the cultural value of the fictionalised historical narrative as reflection of the prevailing structures and attitudes of a given time period is well established in our discipline, this seminar seeks to explore the potential of film as retrospective record in the context of un-documented or under-documented events at official level, with specific reference to the mistreatment of women in Irish Church and State care. As case study, a cluster of thematically connected films, from Peter Mullan’s internationally acclaimed The Magdalene Sisters (2002) to Jim Sheridan’s The Secret Scripture (2016), will be explored. Informed by the vast sociopolitical changes brought about by a recently transformed nation, and taking into consideration current public and political discourses on institutional failings, these cinematic confrontations will be unpacked alongside the broader trajectory of investigation, revelation, sense-making, and the processes of redefining Irishness.


Abigail Keating is Lecturer in Film & Screen Media at University College Cork. She is the author of the forthcoming book Women in Irish Film: Identity and Autonomy on the Contemporary Screen (Amsterdam UP, 2021). Recent publications include chapter contributions to The Routledge Encyclopedia of Citizen Media (Routledge, 2020) and The Body Onscreen in the Digital Age: Essays on Voyeurism, Violence and Power (McFarland, 2021).


All welcome. Please note that the seminar will be recorded.

All welcome. Organised by Department of Film & Screen Media

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