Barracks and Brothels

Greg Winston

in Bloomsday 100

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780813034027
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038162 | DOI:
Barracks and Brothels

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This chapter explores a cluster of essential but peripheral female figures in James Joyce's novel Ulysses: the streetwalkers. Its detailed investigation of the trade of prostitution in turn-of-the-century Ireland uncovers its peculiar historical dimensions. It shows that imperialism, militarism, and the sex trade were inextricably connected, a fact that was mirrored in the very geography of Dublin, where barracks and brothels tended to be situated in adjacent districts. In Joyce's writings, the chapter argues, the figure of the prostitute is deployed not only to expose the symbiosis of militarism and female sexual labor and the exploitative effects of imperialism but also to undercut the moral pretensions of Irish nativist philosophy, which condemned the sexual diseases spread by prostitution as a foreign import and refused to acknowledge the all-pervasive importance of sexuality and desire in the human constitution.

Keywords: James Joyce; Ulysses; streetwalkers; prostitution; Ireland; imperialism; militarism; barracks; brothels; sexuality

Chapter.  8332 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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