Catholicism and Ireland have become so interwoven that it is hard to imagine there was a time before a majority Catholic Ireland. Irish culture and gender ideals have built themselves around Catholic ideas of gender, which centers Mary and Eve as the two main archetypes of what women can be. Ireland has been historically Catholic and has used these two archetypes of women as guides for their ideas about gender and gender roles. But Irish perceptions of gender were previously based on Celtic religion and mythology before Catholicism became the main belief system. At this turn, Irish perceptions of gender roles evolved and became much more patriarchal and restrictive. Before this binary of Mary or Eve, Irish women had many different role models to strive to resemble or to fear becoming. This presentation examines the question: how do Catholic ideas around gender compare to ancient Celtic myth and religion ideas about gender?
Keegan Sullivan (she/her) is a senior from Cincinnati, OH graduating with a double major in English and History and a minor in Race and Ethnicity Studies. She has been fascinated by the strength, power, and beauty of young female characters in literature since her first readings of Pride and Prejudice and Little Women, and was astonished in her collegiate journey to learn that academics often do not see what she does and hopes to continue the work of bringing justice to fictional characters post graduation in an English PhD program. She dedicates this project to her professors, classmates, family, friends, roommate, and partner in their endless support of her work but she is most grateful to you, for listening to this presentation and pausing for just a moment to disappear into a world of books.