2017 Bloomsday Essay Contest Graduate Student Winner: “‘Greeker than the Greeks'”

The first annual Bloomsday Essay Contest invited graduate and undergraduate students in the tri-state area to submit their best essays on Ulysses or another Joyce text. The winners were announced during the Bloomsday celebration on June 16, 2017.

The 2017 Bloomsday Essay Contest award for an outstanding paper written by a graduate student was presented to Zachary Fruit of the University of Pennsylvania. Zachary’s essay is a provocative, well-written exploration of male bonding, its repressed erotics, and its political potential in Ulysses. The book’s masculine intimacies, says Zachary, create among other things a tactical space for resisting imperial domination.


“Greeker than the Greeks”:
Homosocial Space as a Site of Colonial Resistance in Ulysses

 by Zachary Fruit, University of Pennsylvania

Ulysses displays a fundamental ambivalence regarding both the construction of gender/sexuality and the colonial situation of Ireland. In a grand sense, the motifs of disputed patriarchy and sexual betrayal reveal crucial links between the metaphorical construction of sexuality and the organization of repressive national and international power. As Joseph Valente notes: “Joyce’s uncommon and imperfectly understood grasp of the commerce between gender and colonial politics” seems to have engaged “not only the overdetermined anxieties besetting Irish masculinity, but also the second order, still more intractable aporia of semicolonial manhood” (106). Though he is a central figure in the narrative, Leopold Bloom is depicted as a social outsider, marked by his dubious Jewish ancestry and the emasculating public secret of his wife’s affair. Suzette Henke argues for Bloom’s transexuality, locating his feminization as an investigation of imperial power in the Circe episode. When the brothel madam transforms into Bello she “acquires all the accoutrements of imperialistic power as soon as she dons male trousers and sprouts a moustache (112). Meanwhile Bloom engages in a fetishized transgender experience that relies on his pleasurable loss of patriarchal power. The Circe episode, and Bloom’s experience in the brothel, is indicative of a larger textual project that investigates the potential for resistance of imperial domination in the homosocial nationalism of Irish masculinity. The repressed homosexual/social desire of groups of men can be read as a metaphorical tactic, associated with the necessity for colonized subjects to code political information. Colleen Lamos points out that “both sexual perversion and political subversion function as ‘open secrets,’ officially nonexistent and known only to those who have been initiated into their obscure mysteries” (58). However, the repeated ambiguities surrounding gender and space also seem to celebrate the arena of male homosocial interaction as a possible place of resistance that offers opportunities to operate against dominant forces of productivity and imperial power.[1]

Gregory Castle provides a succinct summary of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s well-known theory of homosocial desire as a social structure in his work on Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The homosocial occurs when the “affective drives of homoerotic desire” are “rerouted from the kinds of transgression that might allow fulfillment” and subsequently “recathected in triangular homosocial relations between two men” where a woman stands as the “putative object for at least one of them” (157). The triangular homosocial structure arises as a result of the “repression of homoeros” and “normative, compulsory hetorosexuality” (157). Women are objectified by the process of homosociality as conduits that “mediate and displace” the “secret of illicit desire of male authority” (158). In addition, male dominance over women becomes crucial in order to guarantee “the reproduction of both homosociality and the repressive mechanisms that maintain the ruse of heterosexuality” (158). Despite the fact that the space of the homosocial is a site of the repression of homosexual desire that derives power from patriarchal constructions of gender, it “is also the space and opportunity for revolutionary (re)action and (re)formation” (158). The ambiguity of homosociality as a repressive/revolutionary formulation is reflected in the complexity of the representation of male camaraderie in Ulysses.

The Eumaeus episode is a productive place to begin to unravel the links between homosocial desire and counter-colonial politics. Michael Lapointe has argued that the episode “illustrates a microscopic view of the personal internalized dynamics of homosocial bonding and homosexual panic shaping Irish subjects and their actions in the  shelter’s patriotic environment” (183). Mirroring this “microscopic view” at a syntactical level, the episode deploys a careful wordiness that communicates a sense of nervous delicacy. This grammatical effect could be read as a result of Blooms nervous desire to befriend and impress Stephen. However, the prolixity can also be read as a dramatization of the atmosphere of sexual and political suspicion in the late night gathering of men. In Joseph Valente’s foundational essay “Thrilled by his Touch,” he notes that Joyce typically “does not speak the name of homosexuality so much as he names the absence of such speech” (47). This tendency is evident in the wordiness of the Eumaeus episode, where codes and signs stand in for the explicit narration of homosexual desire despite the plenitude of text. Sailor Murphy is marked as potentially homosexual by his very presence in the cabman’s shelter, curious because he has recently returned from a voyage of seven years and has not yet gone to see his wife. Bloom can “easily picture” the sailor’s homecoming “after having diddled Davy Jones,” phrasing that links voyages at sea with a sort of errant sexual congress (16.422-4). This suggestion of homosexuality is made more explicit when the sailor tears “open his grey or unclean anyhow shirt with his two hands” in order to scratch “away at his chest on which was to be seen an image tattooed” (16.666-9). Noticing that the men are “all looking at his chest” the sailor “accommodatingly drag[s] his shirt more open so that on top of the timehonored symbol of the mariners hope and rest they had a full view of the figure 16 and a young man’s sideface” (16.674-7). Even without Gifford’s note that “in European slang and numerology the number sixteen meant homosexuality,” the scene is imbued with homosexual overtones by the cruising glances of the anonymous men in the shelter, and the implied sexual history between Murphy and the man tattooed on his chest. Murphy insists his Antonio is Greek, rather than Italian, probably hoping to avoid associations with the potentially homoerotic characterization of Shakespeare’s Antonio in The Merchant of Venice. Although the narration dramatizes Bloom’s discomfort through a faltering syntax as Murphy begins to squeeze the skin on his chest, Bloom himself contributes to the atmosphere of tense homoeroticism when he illustrates a point about Aztecs by “indicating on his companion [Stephen] the brief outline of the sinews or whatever you want to call them behind the right knee” (15.854-5). Furthermore, Sedgwick’s formulation of the triangular nature of homosociality is set to work as the men look first at a “busty” photo of Molly, then a postcard of nude indigenous women from unclear origins, before settling with an uncomfortable proximity on the location of actual desire–Murphys bare chest. Homoeroticism and suspicion are linked in this episode, as subtextual clues couple the sexual thrill of potential deviance with the dearth of opportunity to realize homosexual desires.

The tense sexuality of Eumaeus functions as an analogue to political suspicion. This suspicion is partially generated by the rumor that the mysterious proprietor of the establishment is James “Skin-the-Goat” Fitzharris, a member of the Irish National Invincibles who was (in Ulysses) rumored to have driven the getaway car in the assassination of Lord Cavendish (although the real Fitzharris was rumored to have driven the decoy getaway car). These layers of rumor mirror the erotic uncertainty in the shelter, as discomfort is marked by silence and aggression in the political debate initiated by Fitzharris. Bloom is not convinced by Fitzharris’ invocation of Parnell’s dictum to “stay in the land of your birth and work for Ireland and live for Ireland” in order to capitalize on the natural wealth and surplus of the nation that has been appropriated through British occupation (16.983-1009). Bloom reflects on the likelihood that England “rather concealed their strength than the opposite” and that in the grand scheme of history “the coal seam of the sister island would be played out” so that it would be “highly advisable” to make “the most of both countries” (16.1030-9). Characteristic of Bloom’s more cosmopolitan sensibility, he notes that “Irish soldiers had as often fought for England as against her” (16.1042). Bloom silently advocates a more rational response to English colonial domination, but he does not make his opinion explicit, instead obfuscating his own argument with the same sort of circular language that informs the narration of the episode. Stephen provides a dramatic contrast to this circumspection when he rudely shuts down conversation by claiming that “we can’t change the country. Let’s change the conversation” (16.1045). These multiple varieties of coded and unproductive political discussion open a space of resistance that does not solely operate through in the coarse violence of Skin-the-Goat or the overly moderate justifications of Bloom, but rather in an assemblage of timid and forceful, active and passive, open and secret. This space of political discomfort avoids the myopia of fervent nationalism, foregrounding multiple possibilities rather than an adherence to a single solution. The homoerotic metaphor is extremely useful, as Joyce indicates that colonial resistance cannot operate within the binary that produced the colonial situation. Instead, social structures themselves are subject to reevaluation. Valente notes that “the problem [of Irish masculinity] lies not in the colonial strategies of gender assumption” but rather “in the imperialist gender construct to be assumed” (125). In his more psychoanalytic reading, trauma figures as the unassimilable element of a shared past of domination:

The normative structure of metropolitan manhood is in itself the traumatic structure of (semi)colonial castration. There is accordingly no negotiation of the aporia on the terms given; the terms must be changed. (125)

As a metaphorical schema, homosocial desire illustrates the way that political resistance must be coded and reconstructed in order to operate within an environment of colonial oppression. This reformulation of sexual and political desire ultimately indicates new possibilities for the reformulation of social structures like gender, sexuality, nationality, and race. This exploration of the potential in social aggressions and covert attractions is amplified in the Cyclops episode, where the usefulness of argument (without a productive conclusion) is dramatized in an environment of masculine performance, rather than homoerotic discretion.

The Cyclops episode sets up a very clear juxtaposition between the moderate international rationalism of Bloom and the cartoonish investment in “authentic” manifestations of Irish culture proposed by the Gaelic revivalists. The citizen is a parody of the historical figure Michael Cusack, the founder of the Gaelic Athletic Association. The parodic description of the citizen borrows from the language of the sorts of Irish Legend that the Gaelic revival aimed to reinvigorate in a colonial context:

the figure… was that of a broad shouldered deepchested stronglimbed frankeyed redhaired freelyfreckled shaggybearded widemouthed largenosed longheaded deepvoiced barekneed brawnyhanded hairylegged ruddyfaced sinewyarmed hero. (243)

The brute masculinity of the citizen is aggravated into hostility by Bloom, “the prudent member” who is feminized by his refusal of alcohol, his ethnic difference, and his “flaccid” acceptance of his wife’s affair. Blooms emphasis on the rational disgusts the citizen. The body, rather than the mind, is crucial in his project to masculinize and invigorate Irish nationalism through athletic performances of legendary Irish sport. Valente argues that the “strategic connection” that the citizen imagines between martial and athletic skill lies “in the symbolic equivalence of martial and athletic endeavors as competitive mechanisms for asserting and reproducing a certain fantasy of masculinity” rather than effective modes of resistance (113). This type of equivalence reproduces “masculinity as strength, as energy, as brute mastery” (113). Meanwhile, Bloom operates in the episode “as standard bearer for the spiritual and cerebral component of Irish manhood” which the citizen dismisses flatly as a femininity (113). In this way, the episode dramatizes a transgender negotiation of homosocial masculinity, which relies on the ambiguity of gender as a social construction separate from naturalized understandings of sex. The group can subsequently explore aggressions that are organized around gender without ever dislocating their power by incorporating women into the social formation. The masculine sensibility of the citizen is allowed to engage in conflict with feminine Bloom, without compromising discourses of purity and sensibility associated with “natural” women. Although the dynamic of this homosocial group is antagonistically arranged around masculinity and femininity, the male body is nonetheless the conduit for the process of understanding gender in the context of colonial power.

Whereas the homosociality of Eumaeus is structured around the coded communication of desire, Cyclops depicts repressed homoerotic desire through phallic obsession that is explicitly linked to the violence of colonialism. Lapointe notes that the episode is filled with “colloquial references to penises, as well as terminology concerning sexual prowess and arousal” (183). This sexual obsession is “threaded throughout discussions of politics, hangings, lynchings, floggings, sport, and legal cases” (183). The link between colonial violence and homoeroticism is especially potent in the descriptions of hangings. Discussing the hanging of the revolutionary invincible Joe Brady, Alf notes that “when they cut him down after the drop it was standing up in their faces like a poker” (12:458). Bloom, expectedly, tries to argue for the scientific explanation of the erection, he tenders “medical evidence “ that “the instantaneous fracture of the cervical vertebrae” will “inevitably produce in the human subject a violent ganglionic stimulus of the nerve centers of the genital apparatus” causing the “corpora cavernosa to rapidly dilate in such a way as to  instantaneously  facilitate the flow of blood to the part of the human anatomy known as the penis or male organ” (12:467-77). As clinical as Bloom’s language is, it reveals an intimate interest in the phallic phenomenon. His cerebral description of the erection again contrasts the bodily fascinations of the citizen, who focuses on the erection as evidence of the “ruling passion” that characterizes the carnal vitality of Irish masculinity. The brutality of British punishment is linked for the men with their suspicion of the British naval tradition of flogging, again focusing on the male body when they describe “the bloody backside” of the “poor lad” (12:1345). The inclusion of the newspaper story describing the “Black Beast Burned in Omaha, Ga”  (again coded with phallic language with the adjacent use of the term “deadwood dicks”) registers sympathy from all the men, and helps to establish the fundamental fear of the castration of colonial violence (12:1325). The homoerotic obsession with the phallic can then be read in terms of protection, where homosocial nationalism aggressively guards masculinity. Blooms perceived effeminacy enrages the citizen because it translates to a symbolic surrender to British power, while Bloom fears that the citizen’s blind fervor corresponds to a refusal of reason. Their dialogue concludes with the parodic hurling of the biscuit tin and the subsequent traitorous ascension of Bloom. This episode parodies nationalist efforts to invigorate Irish masculinity, although this derision is tempered with an ambivalence towards the idealism of international rationalism. Again, it is the space that the homosocial generates that has a counter-colonial potential, although this episode is more about the antagonism that results from homosociality than the desire that drives it. The dialogue promotes a deeper understanding of the problems of colonialism, at the level of psychological and social structure. The “options” are shown to be comically useless, but the argument doesn’t seem pointless. Crucially, the usefulness of the homosocial is not coincidental with the production of ideology or capital, but rather with the production of space.

Joyce frequently figures homosociality as a refusal of productivity, and shows the way that homosocial stagnancy and economic paralysis are linked effects of colonial domination. In “The double-bind of Irish manhood” Joseph Valente describes the “normative construct of manhood or manliness in the late Victorian/edwardian period” (96). “Manly men,” a category restricted by class and ethnicity, were “understood to be rationally capable, yet strong, even violent in their passions” while the gentleman was “invested with great and effective moral energy for the restraint, discipline, and redirection of his urgent and brutish desire” (97). The ideal construction of masculinity achieved a balance of brute sexuality and rational control. This type of manhood is obviously linked to British power, as well as to investments in biological and economic productivity. The “true” man must have a great sexual urge in order to reproduce and generate a legacy, but this sexual urge must be reigned in by a rationality that allows for the production of capital, which will then be passed along to his biological products. There is a capitalist and imperialist logic inherent in the construction of masculinity that relies heavily on production. Valente shows how Irish men were always already prevented from access to this type of masculine power. On the one hand “if the semicolonial subject… elected to enact the manly ideal and to demonstrate thereby his capacity for self control” then the action was read “as an acquiescence in the womanly norm of submissiveness to others” (103). On the other hand “if the semicolonial subject elected to assert his masculinity in defiance of the self-regulatory norm or the political regime it served… his course of action would indicate an inability to keep his passions in check” (105). The Irish subaltern has no option for masculine expression outside of “the discourse of simianization” or the “feminizing discourse of Celticism” (102). To negotiate this “double-bind” Ulysses represents a homosocial masculinity that is not engaged in productive interaction with imperial power, where any action will always already be read as a transgression against normative constructions of gender. The space generated by the homosocial incorporates both ends of the spectrum of the Victorian/Edwardian gender binary, but does not produce men who have achieved that delicate balance of the passionate and rational. Instead, the homosocial reroutes the construction of gender into a resistant mode of non-productivity.

In the Oxen of the Sun episode, a drunken group of men are ironically juxtaposed with the “laboring” Mrs. Purefoy. The comparison sets up a clear dichotomy between heteronormative productivity and the somewhat profane transgression of male homosociality. Homosocial, masculine refusals of work are not simply “non-productive,” however. Mulligan’s “fertilising farm” is tremendously productive, although it is only a fantasy that operates within the triangular structure Sedgwick describes. His imagined intercourse with the imaginary multitudes of lustdriven Irish women is fantasized collectively by the group of men as a sort of ironic utopian counter to the heterosexual reproduction that has proven to reinforce British dominance over the increasingly poor Irish (14:685). Once again layering the concerns of productivity into the texture of language itself, the episode uses the conceit of “embryonic development” to enact the history of the progress of the English language from Latin into a global polyglot slang, framing the action within with an ambivalent structure of progress and productivity. Inspired by their setting, the men discuss pregnancy and reproduction, most poignantly when their conversation moves to conjecture on the “vital problem” of “infant mortality”. Bloom reflects on his son’s early death:

She dare not bear the sunnygolden babe of the day. No, Leopold. Name and memory solace thee not. The youthful illusion of thy strength was taken from thee– and in vain. No son of thy loins is by thee. There is none now to be for Leopold, what Leopold was for Rudolph. (14:1073-7)

These ruminations on his aborted patriarchy triangulate Molly in the affective relationship between Leopold and his father. There is an underlying resentment of the power that cannot be totally controlled without women– the ability to reproduce. The homosocial system of maintaining and reorganizing power is threatened by reproduction, and seeks non-productive modes, such as the reflective and deceptively progressive process of language. The men marvel that “so many pregnancies and deliveries go off as well as they do” and conjecture that “a law of numeration as yet ascertained” may govern this phenomenon, as well as “phenomenons of evolution, tidal movements, lunar phases, blood temperatures, diseases in general, everything, in fine, in nature’s vast workshop” (14:1268-72). This mystification of nature seems to originate in an anxiety around femininity and the way that natural processes are gendered feminine. This anxiety indicates an uncomfortable recognition of the non-patriarchal feminine productivity, which is countered by the aggressive laziness of the men in the episode, who do not even think to congratulate Mrs. Purefoy on her successful labor. Production and reproduction is a fraught site of inquiry for men invested in this Irish mode of homosocial resistance of labor.

In the Aeolus episode, the effect of this refusal of productivity is amplified by the atmosphere of mechanistic movement in the hivelike newspaper offices. The printing machines “clank in threefour time” so that Bloom has to “slip his words deftly into the pauses of the clanking” as he reflects that if he “got paralysed there and no-one knew how to stop them they’d clank on and on the same” (98). Despite this rhythm of productivity, the men of the office are statically arranged around Stephen Dedalus, wasting time as they plan to leave for the bar. The men have an uneasy, and occasionally homoerotic, admiration of Stephen, reinforced by his disdain for the work that they offer him. The editor lays “a nervous hand” on his shoulder and asks him to write something for the magazine, (“YOU CAN DO IT” reads the headline) but Stephen is uninterested, even as the men reminisce about inspirational journalism, suggesting that he could join the ranks of men like Gallager (111). Bloom, as is often the case, provides the counterexample to the homosocial gathering in the office, as he attempts to get approval for an ad, while the editor and others belittle his efforts and even the narrative lens abandons his journey across town in favor of a close focus on Stephen. The importance of the newspaper as an engine of counter-colonial opinion frames this episode with greater political significance. The great journalists that the men name are systematically undercut with suspicion, and Stephen only seems genuinely interested in the mention of figures of literary significance. When he learns that Professor Magennis spoke of him with reference to AE he thinks “Speaking about me. What did he say? What did he say? What did he say about me? Don’t ask” (116). This anxiety about the literary society of Dublin, in conjunction with the satirization of the “productivity” of the busy engine of journalism, points towards the most vexed representation of the homosocial and homosexual in Ulysses, in the discourse around literature in the Scylla and Charybdis episode.

The Scylla and Charybdis episode contains derisive descriptions of John Eglington, AE, Lyster, Mr. Best and, ultimately, Bloom, that position homosexulaity as a perverse commitment to passivity. The opening line describes the “quaker librarian” purring (9:1), “quiet” Mr. Best enters “mild” and “light” (9:74). Stephen’s dialogue with this group of men is driven by intellectual contempt and ambition; he sees their opinions as old-fashioned and useless, but he also wants to impress them with his own theory of Shakespeare’s life. This theory relies on the biographical possibility of Ann Hathaway’s affair. In Sedgwick’s construction of homosociality, Hathaway becomes the female figure in the triangle. She is positioned as the object of supposed interest between Stephen and the scholars in the library as well as between Shakespeare and Hamlet as the object of supposed desire who allows for the potential of the homosocial to develop. John Eglington points out this triangulation, accusing Stephen of bringing “us all this way to show us a French triangle” (9:1065) The Odyssean parallel of the episode reflects this triangulation, as a navigation between the the whirlpool (Plato) and the rock of Scylla (Aristotle). The episode is (partially) about setting up relations between binary oppositions and navigating the  space between them, without succumbing to the dangers of full commitment. “Do you even believe your own theory?” Eglinton asks Stephen who “promptly” replies in the negative (9:1067). Commitment and stable opinions do not interest Stephen as much as the dialectical process of generating new thought.

The explicit homosexuality of the scholars in the library seems to represent the sort of lamentable commitment that Stephen seeks to avoid. Their literary convictions and earnest tactics of colonial resistance (like AE’s support of mysticism) are contemptible to Stephen. This contempt can be read as the same sort of panicked repression of homosexual desire that the novel portrays in other episodes, but also as an attraction to the ambiguity of the less concrete structure of homosociality. Stephens vexed relationship to the homosocial is summarized later in the episode through a reflection on the male companions of his life:

Where is your brother? Apothecaries’ hall. My whetstone. Him, then Cranly, Mulligan: now these. Speech, speech. But act. Act speech. They mock to try you. Act. Be acted on. (9:1068-9)

His brother, who is described in Stephen Hero as being “very useful for raising objections” was displaced by his intellectual companion Cranly, around whom Valente centers his argument for the structuring device of homosexual panic in Portrait of the Artist. Cranly is supplanted by Mulligan, but in the Telemachus episode Stephen comes to see Mulligan as a traitorous “usurper.” Vincent Cheng argues that this break with Mulligan results from Stephen’s perception of Mulligan as a “native informant” who is “prostituting himself” and the “image of his race that he thinks will sell” for “English money” (155). “Now these,” thinks Stephen, referring to the men he perceives with so much distaste. The crucial element of his reflection is his commitment to “act” and “be acted on”. His list of male “whetstones” indicates the necessity of perpetual change in the intellectual process. The fraught homosociality of Ulysses does not indicate any celebration of homosexuality, but rather an ambivalent recognition of the potential of the deconstructive space of homoerotic and transgender negotiations.

This recognition of the potential of the homoerotic is corroborated by Blooms homosexual, transgendered characterization. The Scylla and Charybdis episode contains one of these (mis)identifications of Bloom as a homosexual. Mulligan points him out as “Greeker than the Greeks,” implying that he is inclined towards pederasty (9:615). In the conclusion of the episode, Bloom and Stephen pass by one another, as Stephen reflects on the sort of binary negotiation I have been describing: “My will: his will that fronts me. Seas between” (9:1202). Buck Mulligan comically warns Stephen against Bloom:

–The wandering Jew, Buck Mulligan whispered with a clown’s awe. Did you see his eye? He looked upon you to lust after you. I fear thee, ancient mariner. O Kinch thou art in Peril. Get thee a breechpad. Manner of Oxenford. (9:1209-12)

The identification of Bloom as a predatory homosexual can be read as the same type of social derision characteristic of his public reception elsewhere in the novel, but it can also be read more closely in light of Stephen’s list of male companions. As Mulligan senses his loss of Stephen as a homosocial companion and “native object” to sell to Haines, he attempts to undercut potential rivals in order to maintain his position as “whetstone.” The passage also functions as a sort of prophecy. There are already prophetic undertones in Stephen’s visualization of “a creamfruit melon he held to me,” which Bloom will later fulfill (9:1208).  Although Stephen tries the scholars in the library as new intellectual companions, their overt homosexuality reflects a static sort of commitment that he does not find useful. At the same time, it is the rumor of Blooms homosexuality that foregrounds his companionship with Stephen in the second half of the novel. Their homosocial relationship, inflected with overtones of paternality, endorses the ambiguous parallactic space as a site of useful resistance to the overwhelming narratives of nationalism and colonialism. The homosocial climax of their relationship occurs as they discuss Molly in the living room while she sleeps above them. This moment, prophesied in Scylla and Charybdis, generates further territory for an analysis of the difference between homosociality in the domestic space versus in public.

Ulysses contains abundant description of male companionship. Indeed, it is a novel notably bereft of female interlocutors. There is certainly an element of the paralysis Joyce describes in Dubliners in the description of these men. Dublin seems to offer no way for them to engage in acts of productivity, and subsequently they collect in groups around bars, at funerals, in brothels, anywhere that a group of men will not be too easily marked as either queer or revolutionary. The violence of the colonial experience is indicted as a force that undercuts the potential of the men of Ireland. The emasculation of Irish men can clearly be read as an effect of colonial violence, but the homosocial collective can also be read as a tactic of resistance. Similarly, the homosocial can be read as a metaphorical tactic that describes the way political resistance must be coded in secrecy and repression. Within this process of coding the structures of gender, and subsequently power, are opened up to the radical potential for change. Just as Ulysses poses a challenge to the form of the novel, the conception of progressive history, and the techniques of meaning built into language itself, the depictions of groups of men envision a potential resistance to colonial and hegemonic power. This resistance avoids established social structures, which are products and prerequisites for the colonial situation. As an alternative, the homosocial nationalism that Joyce describes is a process that generates space. Inside this delicately constructed space a multiplicity of meanings can proliferate, antagonize one another, and restructure one another outside of the normative organizational logics of colonialism, nationalism, and gender.

[1] Suzanne Keen offers a useful way to think about this kind of space in Victorian Renovations of the Novel. In a chapter on “narrative annexes, social mobility, and class anxiety” Keen argues that spatial and narrative annexes allowed Victorian novelists to negotiate with conventional modes of discourse by giving narrative space to traditionally unrepresented places. In the narrative annex “unexpected characters, impermissible subjects, and plot altering events” are allowed to appear (1). From within these annexes, she argues, narrative resolutions tend to develop. These resolutions often address irresolvable social problems regarding gender, class, and national identity. Ulysses, in some ways, allows the narrative annex to take up more space than ever before.

Works Cited

Cheng, Vincent J. “Ulysses: imagining selves and nations.” Joyce, Race, and Empire. Cambridge UP, 1995. (151-248)

Cheng, Vincent J., “Of Canons, Colonies, and Critics: The Ethics and Politics of Postcolonial Joyce Studies” Cultural Critique, No. 35 (Winter, 1996-1997), pp. 81-104

Duffy, Enda. The Subaltern Ulysses, Minnesota UP, 1994.

Henke, Suzette, James Joyce and the Politics of Desire, Routledge, 1990.

Joyce, James. Ulysses, eds. Hans Walter Gabler et al. New York: Vintage, 1986.

Keen, Suzanne. Victorian Renovations of the Novel: Narrative Annexes and the Boundaries of

Representation. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Lamos, Colleen. Deviant Modernism: Sexual and Textual Errancy in T.S Eliot, James Joyce, and Marcel Proust. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Lapointe, Michael Patrick. “Irish Nationalism’s Sacrificial Homosociality in Ulysses.” Joyce Studies Annual, 2008.2 (2008): 172-202.

Nohrnburg, Peter. ““Building Up a Nation Once Again”: Irish Masculinity, Violence, and the Cultural Politics of Sports in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses.” Joyce Studies Annual 2010.1 (2010): 99-152.

Valente, Joseph. “Joyce’s siren song: “Becoming Woman” in Ulysses.” James Joyce and the Problem of Justice: Negotiating Sexual and Colonial Difference, Cambridge UP, 1995.

Valente, Joseph. “The double-bind of Irish Manhood.” Semicolonial Joyce. Ed. Derek Attridge and Marjorie Howes. Cambridge UP, 2000. 96-127.

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