Cathleen ni Houlihan: A Dual Perspective of Disability Studies and Postcolonial Studies


  • Minna Jin Southern Medical University



disability studies, postcolonial studies, Cathleen ni Houlihan, othering, physical disability, mental disability


Disability studies generally registers disability as a social and political phenomenon; as against one of personal affliction, and it aids us in understanding the power and oppression in diverse contexts, whereas postcolonial studies allows for a wider-ranging investigation into power relations as to how they occurred. Recent studies have found, in terms of empowerment and inferiority, there is a notable convergence between disability studies and postcolonial studies. The image of crippled Ireland has been formed in the lengthy history of colonization through the practice of othering, and this image of disempowerment has already been extensively represented in the annals of Irish and British literature. The play Cathleen ni Houlihan, by William Butler Yeats, conveys a national call to promote national identity. The story-line of the play is very dramatic and emotional by the famous transformation of Cathleen, from a feeble old woman to a vibrant young girl, which symbolically manifests a re-establishment of not only Ireland’s youthful vigor, but also its native powers of creativity and capability, as an independent nation state. As the play contains numerous representations of physical and mental disability, an interpretation of the dual perspective of disability studies and postcolonial studies provides a new understanding of how literary works present complex and intricate insights into the politics of disability and provide multifaceted illustrations of the disabled images.

Author Biography

Minna Jin, Southern Medical University

School of Foreign Studies


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