Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Lucy McDiarmid

Committee Member

Arthur Simon

Committee Member

David Galef


This thesis paper, entitled Gendered Spaces in James Joyce’s Dubliners, will explore Joyce’s use of the special environment, both public and private. Joyce designed the built spaces in his stories to reflect the way space was gendered in his time. Each space, whether it was the home, the street, the pub, or a church, was indicative of a pattern of power relationships between men and women. Within these gendered spaces, power relationships were constructed, individual consciousness formed, and national identity debated.

In Joyce’s stories, women occupy the space of the home in a way that suggests it is their expected place. However, it is also clear that they exercise the most power here. Conversely, the men have their spaces, too. The workplace and the pubs are where Joyce’s male Dubliners can be found, but whether they have much power in these places is not always clear. The colonial trauma of the English presence in Ireland has had its negative effects on Joyce’s characters, most notably the men. In many ways, it has caused a rift between the genders and a fierce debate on the Celtic Revival, as is shown most vividly in his final story, “The Dead.” The separate spaces men and women occupy speaks also to the unromantic picture of love that Joyce paints.

The spaces that Joyce invites us into—the concert halls, the boarding houses, the dinner tables, the pubs—are all replete with an architectural structure that embodies much significance. The spaces of the built environment show how the amalgam of political, social, and economic conditions that affected the lives of middle class Dubliners are pieced together. Joyce explores the relationship between space and power by showing precisely where characters have it, and where they lack it. He also draws attention to the spaces in between, where the holder of power is unclear, and boundaries between the genders and space are blurred.

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