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Classics in Post-Colonial Worlds$
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Lorna Hardwick and Carol Gillespie

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199296101

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199296101.001.0001

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Finding a Post-Colonial Voice for Antigone: Seamus Heaney’s Burial at Thebes

Finding a Post-Colonial Voice for Antigone: Seamus Heaney’s Burial at Thebes

(p.228) 13 Finding a Post-Colonial Voice for Antigone: Seamus Heaney’s Burial at Thebes
Classics in Post-Colonial Worlds

Stephen E. Wilmer

Oxford University Press

The themes of the continually colonial and the neocolonial are prominent in this chapter’s discussion of Seamus Heaney’s Burial at Thebes. The chapter situates the discussion in the context of what it regards as the ‘modern McCarthyism’ involved in the suppression, by the government of the United States, of the academic investigation of post-colonialism. It argues that Heaney’s language in the play relates both to the history of British colonialism in, and oppression of, Ireland, and to the contemporary neocolonialist actions of America and its allies in Iraq. It combines close textual and rhythmic analysis with discussion of the primary sources relating to the commissioning and production of Heaney’s play in 2004 to mark the centenary of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. The chapter suggests that the play takes up the post-colonial trope of gender politics as an analogy for geo-political developments.

Keywords:   Seamus Heaney, Burial at Thebes, colonialism, neocolonialism, post-colonialism, theatre, United States, gender politics, McCarthyism

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