Focus on Faculty: James Smith

The University of Notre Dame Press has just published Associate Professor of English and Irish Studies Jim Smith’s Ireland’s Magdalen Laundries and the Nation’s Architecture of Containment. The Magdalen laundries were workhouses in which many Irish women and girls were effectively imprisoned because they were perceived to be a threat to the moral fiber of society. Originating in the eighteenth century, they were operated by various orders of the Catholic Church from the post-famine period until the last laundry closed in 1996. The Magdalen laundries have become an important issue in Irish culture, especially with the 2002 release of the film “The Magdalene Sisters.” Focusing on the ten Catholic Magdalen laundries operating between 1922 and 1996, Smith’s book offers the first history of these institutions in the twentieth century. Because the religious orders have not opened their archival records, Smith argues that Ireland's Magdalen institutions continue to exist in the public mind primarily at the level of story (cultural representation and survivor testimony) rather than history (archival history and documentation). Copies can be obtained from the press at Read an Irish Times review of Professor Smith's book here.

No comments: