Drawing on various theoretical perspectives, these papers explore Deevy’s dramaturgy as evident in both her radio plays and dramatic works. Many thanks to the presenters who offer us much to consider through their analyses and approaches. There are three papers in this section: Dr Emily Bloom (Paper 1); Dr Christa de Brún (Paper 2); Dayna Killian (Paper 3); Professor Willy Maley (Paper 4); and Lorna Grant (Paper 5).
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Title: ‘Blindness and Insight in Teresa Deevy’s Radio Plays’
Dr Emily Bloom
When approaching the radio drama of Teresa Deevy, scholars have often expressed surprise that a deaf writer was able to work in an auditory medium like radio. There are few traces of Deevy’s deafness in the radio plays themselves, which contributes to a belief that she wrote for radio in spite of her deafness and that the medium could only exert a negative influence on her creative process. However, assumptions that radio is a “blind medium” rather than a “deaf medium,” belie the significance of visuality to radio drama and the centrality of disability to popular discourse surrounding broadcasting. In this paper, I will examine how Deevy uses the “blind medium” of radio to stage scenes of revelation that we, the listener, cannot access. In radio plays such as In the Cellar of my Friend and One Look and What it Led To, the action hinges on a scene of visual epiphany that other characters, and by extension, the audience, cannot experience. The tension in these plays rests on the difficulty of putting this experience into words so that it can be shared with others. Deevy depicts characters charged with the need to make a spiritual experience accessible to all and, in so doing, reveals her own conflicted feelings about the limitations of language in translating visual phenomena. This paper ties these two radio plays to a later stage play, Light Falling, to show how radio may have exerted a deeper influence on her dramatic aesthetics than has been previously acknowledged.
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Emily Bloom is the author of The Wireless Past: Anglo-Irish Writers and the BBC, 1931-1968 (Oxford University Press, 2016), which was awarded the First Book Prize by the Modernist Studies Association. Her work focuses on the interrelations between media institutions and transnational literary networks. She has published on the poetry broadcasts of W.B. Yeats, 1950s radio drama, and disability media studies. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.