Deevy in Context

This panel considers the social and cultural context of Deevy’s life and writing. Thank you to Dr Eileen Kearney (Paper 1), Dr Caoilfhionn Ní Bheacháin (Paper 2), and Aaron Kent (Paper 3) for providing such interesting papers for consideration.

To join the conversation, please use the ‘Leave a reply’ section which you can find underneath each paper.

How do I access the recorded papers? Scroll down through the title, presenter’s name, and abstract to the recorded paper link and follow the instructions with regards to closed captions if you wish to switch on captions.

To access the next paper, scroll to the end of each page to select the next page and click on page 2, 3, etc.

Paper 1

Title: “Why would anyone be interested in my old aunt Teresa?”

Dr Eileen Kearney

Abstract:

In this paper, Dr Eileen Kearney reflects on her research undertaken in the early 1980s which includes interviews with friends, relatives and literary contemporaries of Teresa Deevy at a time when very few Irish theatre scholars were familiar with Deevy’s work. Recounting interviews with insightful and enthusiastic Deevy supporters such as John Jordan and Seán Dunne, the paper contextualises attitudes and early scholarship analysing Deevy’s work in the decades immediately subsequent to her death.

How do I access this recorded presentation?

  1. Click on the play button on the image below.
  2. Please note that the captions for this video are included on the recording, so there is no need to switch on the captions.
  3. Press play and enjoy!

Biography

Eileen Kearney has been a leading Irish theatre scholar and director since the 1980s, when her re-discovering playwright Teresa Deevy prompted years of publishing and lecturing about bringing Irish women playwrights into the limelight. She has directed productions and taught university theatre all over the country, including Pomona College, Santa Clara University, Gonzaga University, Webster University, University of Texas in Austin, Texas A&M University, and University of Colorado Denver.  At the playwright Patricia Burke-Brogan’s request, she directed the 2013 American premiere of Stained Glass at Samhain, which addresses the horrific Magdalene Laundries.  She acted in New York and Los Angeles before university teaching.  She has published numerous articles in Irish and theatre journals, focusing on women’s contributions to the field.  A self-proclaimed “yarnaholic,” she has won blue ribbons for knitting and weaving, and for ten years she volunteered her time teaching knitting at The Gathering Place, a day center for homeless women in Denver, Colorado. Her book, Women of Ireland: 20th Century Dramatists, 1908-2001 (co-edited with Charlotte Headrick) was published by Syracuse University Press in 2014, and is now in its second printing. She has been a member of American Conference for Irish Studies since 1985. She is married to Dan Koetting (Yale School of Drama, 1974 M.F.A.). After full careers of university theatre teaching, directing, and set and lighting design, they both are enjoying retirement in Eugene, Oregon, in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. 

23 replies on “Deevy in Context”

Thank you Eileen for a terrific paper. I was one of the lucky students who was inspired by your ground-breaking research on Deevy. Your judgement on the “interpretive ambiguity” of Deevy’s work is really insightful to me. Thanks again, Cathy L.

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Thoroughly enjoyed this lively and informative presentation! Not only did the talk provide fascinating background details on Teresa Deevy’s life and struggles, but it also demonstrated the persistent detective work Dr. Kearney undertook to bring Deevy’s talents into the light. Excellent scholarship and a most entertaining speaker!

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Eileen, I love this presentation (I knew that I would and I was not disappointed)! I did make an audible gasp of shock when you mention the attempt to sell you the Deevy archive materials. You are such an important pioneer in terms of Deevy scholarship and it is wonderful to have your company at the conference. Also, it is wonderful to remember and celebrate the scholarship, kindness and generosity of Sean Dunne and his family.

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Caoilfhionn, this research deserves a major fanfare: the thought that these D.V. Goode plays are not as early as they have been catalogued is fascinating (I loved the architectural history detective work also)! In Deevy’s letters to Jim Cheasty she uses the initials D.V. (God willing) on a number of occasions. Your presentation is so interesting and exciting – makes me want to scurry back to the Deevy Archive and read the plays immediately!  Thank you for an excellent paper.

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Thanks, Eileen, for your very interesting paper. It is wonderful to hear details of your doctoral journey in search of Teresa Deevy and I am thrilled that your thesis will be deposited in the Maynooth Archive. I always wanted to read your thesis having seen it referenced many times, but was unable to locate a copy. I enjoyed learning of your interactions with Sean Dunne, John Jordan and others.

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Aaron – It is great to know you are working on this material and I am looking forward to hearing more as your project progresses. I liked your point about narratives and power… and about independence as a gendered experience in itself. Thanks for sharing your research!

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Dear Eileen, this was a masterful performance as well as being a fascinating talk. I loved hearing about your introduction to Deevy and the way you described the happenstance of your research journey — particularly when you find the thread that seems so promising, only to loose it (through no fault of the researchers!). You painted such a vivid picture of Deevy’s life in Dublin which chimes with the work Úna and I are (slowly) uncovering in her letters to James Cheasty — that she was immersed in a rich cultural and social life there. I am also a believer in the necessity of tea and toast when writing and loved this little culinary fact! Thank you! Kate.

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Caoilfhionn, I absolutely loved your presentation! So interesting, so full of research and critical thinking. A real pleasure to hear your well-presented ideas and see your very helpful slides! Like Una, I want to go back now and read these plays! Thanks so much!

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Aaron, wonderful work! Best of luck to you in your continued research and writing! Thanks so much for a fine presentation!

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laura cuetara says:
18th Feb 2021
An important investigation described with poetic insight, no- nonsense frankness, and engaging wit! This paper seems an enduring time capsule about the ongoing detective nature of dramaturgy and research about (nearly forgotten?) women playwrights, the challenges and slights faced by women theater makers as they have worked in the profession, and the essential nature of the legacy of this enigmatic woman’s voice for our continuing work today.
Dr. Kearney weaves the dimensions of specific obstacles, extraordinary opportunities, and the impact of the jealous mutterings of other artists into a compelling portrait of an artist whose life we yearn to touch and feel ourselves – and to join the author on her journey further into the heart of Deevy’s silent and increasingly spiritual world.

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Dear Caoilfhionn, your paper offers such a great invitation to re-think our assumptions about the placement of these texts in Deevy’s works. The idea of the ‘dramatic fingerprint’ is such an interesting way of approaching and analysing the texts. There are some useful programmes to run this kind of linguistic mapping if you want to go down that road! It’s an evocative phrase as well as I imagine Deevy’s fingerprints literally on those typed pages. The close reading of key exchanges in ‘Let us Live’ is great, particularly the in-joke! Thanks so much, Kate.

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Dear Eileen,

It was fascinating to hear about your research experience and the ‘sloth’ work that it entailed!
Thank you for undertaking this work, it has benefited so much of the research which has followed.

I wonder what Jack Deevy would think of the fact that there is now so much interest in his aunt that there is an academic conference in her honour!

Kind regards

Dayna

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Hi Aaron,
Thanks for the overview of your upcoming research – sounds really exciting. Your comparison of the differences between the ways that Deevy was perceived by her contemporaries versus the perception of her in the ’90s is also something which interests me. In Talia Schaffer’s book, ‘The Forgotten Female Aesthetes’ she makes the point that, ‘In many cases, men and women who had similar status in the 1890s have widely divergent images today […] these writers were rivals, equals, and friends; the gulf between the foremost and the forgotten is our experience, not theirs’ (2000, p.6-7). This suggests that this disparity is quite common.

Kind regards

Dayna

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Hi Caoilfhionn,

This paper was so fascinating. I actually paused the recording to go and quickly read ‘The Firstborn’ (!). What a sharp shock at the end – something I really need to process in terms of Deevy’s overall depictions (or non-depictions) of motherhood in her plays. As you say, it would now seem clear that these plays were written in the 1930s or 40s. Also, from what you say, their inclusion in her oeuvre will alter how Deevy is perceived as a playwright who engages with an encroaching modernity and Irish society.

I just tried to log in to listen to your paper a second time but unfortunately it is no longer available! Do you intend to publish an upcoming article? – If so I will very much look forward to reading it.

Kind regards

Dayna

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Hi Aaron, excellent presentation it’s great to learn what you’re going to be working on. I’m sure you’ll find some real golden nuggets from women playwrights of that era. Best of luck in your endeavours. ⭐️

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Hi Aaron, excellent presentation, really interesting to learn what you are working. I’m sure you will find some golden nuggets, from women playwrights of the era. Best of luck in your PHD,

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Dear Aaron, It was great to see you weave the theoretical work around dominant narrative and counter narratives together and then bring that lens to your analysis of a selection of Deevy’s texts. I thought the timeline visual was an excellent way of presenting key shifts in Irish history, society and culture. It would be interesting to layer onto this visual the dramatic texts you are gathering \,so that another visual timeline exists where texts and key moments intertwine. Thanks so much, Kate

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Hi Dayna, Thanks – ITD in UL were hosting my presentation on their platform so I’d say that they just took it down as I initially specified just one week – I didn’t think to ask them to extend. I will keep you posted on the project anyway – it is still a work in progress. Best of luck with everything.

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Just a note to say I’m glad you left these up a little longer than originally planned. So much to digest. Being in the US, I saw all of the plays at the Mint, and I hope some day to see some performances in Ireland. Go raibh maith agaibh!

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Tá fáilte romhat, Roslyn! We are delighted that you could engage with the materials this week. I think the website will be live for at least another week so do feel free to pass on the website address to anyone you think might be interested. We were very glad to see the recorded Mint performance of Katie Roche and the fascinating version of The King of Spain’s Daughter, too. Thanks for commenting. Kate.

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