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Scandal Work

James Joyce, the New Journalism, and the Home Rule Newspaper Wars

Margot Gayle Backus

Publication Year: 2013

In Scandal Work: James Joyce, the New Journalism, and the Home Rule Newspaper Wars, Margot Gayle Backus charts the rise of the newspaper sex scandal across the fin de siècle British archipelago and explores its impact on the work of James Joyce, a towering figure of literary modernism. Based largely on archival research, the first three chapters trace the legal, social, and economic forces that fueled an upsurge in sex scandal over the course of the Irish Home Rule debates during James Joyce’s childhood. The remaining chapters examine Joyce’s use of scandal in his work throughout his career, beginning with his earliest known poem, “Et Tu, Healy,” written when he was nine years old to express outrage over the politically disastrous Parnell scandal.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press


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p. C-C

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

List of Figures

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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xviii

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pp. 1-26

In his youth, James Joyce became fixated on newspapers and newspaper scandals, which in turn inspired his own notoriously scandalous writings.1 This inspiration is obvious; even first-time readers will usually note some of the ways in which Joyce’s work is infused with...

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Chapter 1: Unorthodox Methods in the Home Rule Newspaper Wars

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pp. 27-58

Most of the previous scholarship on the New Journalism to which James Joyce so objected has focused on the London press, suggesting at least tacitly that the British New Journalism arose in isolation, the brainchild of a few well-positioned English newspapermen.1 As ...

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Chapter 2: Investigative, Fabricated, and Self-Incriminating Scandal Work

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pp. 59-86

As outlined in the previous chapter, nineteenth-century changes in British libel law allowed for the emergence of sex scandal as a potent political weapon, a development in many ways fundamental to what has been termed the New Journalism. The Dublin Castle scandal and its attendant fallout unsettled established relations between libel law ...

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Chapter 3: James Joyce’s Early Scandal Work

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pp. 87-116

In both his personal correspondence and his published writing, James Joyce, like many high modernists, deplored the artistically standardizing effects imposed by Britain’s commercialized print culture. Owing at least in part to his position as a déclassé, urban, Irish-Catholic outsider, Joyce found the political and aesthetic constraints ...

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Chapter 4: Reinventing the Scandal Fragment

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pp. 117-138

Although the figure of Oscar Wilde may not frame all of Ulysses in the same fashion Parnell frames Portrait of the Artist,1 his appearance in the early pages of the novel signals the central role that Wilde, as artist and as symbol, will play in this, Joyce’s most extended critique of scandal. In the opening episode, “Telemachus,” Joyce’s artistic alter ...

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Chapter 5: The Protracted Labor of the New Journalist Sex Scandal

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pp. 139-164

In the episodes that follow “Telemachus,” Stephen labors to create an artistic path that neither hides his own dissenting, deviant private life behind a wall of placating, conformist writing nor lays it open to the scandal machinery that was tearing apart so many others who sought...

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Chapter 6: James Joyce’s Self-Protective Self-Exposure

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pp. 165-180

In Part II of Ulysses, Joyce continues to both portray and deploy ambiguous self-exposure as a strategy for flying by scandal’s nets. Whereas in the Telemachiad Joyce had incriminated his younger self by proxy in the person of Stephen, in the following episodes he introduces a second alter ego, Leopold Bloom, a modern Odysseus who...

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Chapter 7: (Re)Fusing Sentimentalism and Scandal

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pp. 181-200

In “Scylla and Charybdis” and several of the following episodes of Ulysses, Joyce continues to employ the artistic strategy Stephen has just discovered: using ambiguous self-exposure to chart his own path through a literary landscape whose borders have been redrawn by the conventions of the New Journalism. In this episode, Stephen must...

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Chapter 8: Dublin’s Tabloid Unconscious

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pp. 201-220

In “Circe,” Ulysses’s famous one-hundred-and-fifty-page tour de force, Joyce transposes Odysseus’s quest to rescue his men, whom the temptress Circe has drugged and turned into swine, into Leopold Bloom’s epic journey through Dublin’s Nighttown, where he will ultimately ...

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pp. 221-226

Although Deasy, the unionist, has more success than either Mulligan or Haines, the bourgeois cultural nationalists, in tangibly subordinating Stephen Dedalus, he ultimately fails to retain his services. In an exchange that recasts Deasy as the disesteemed jester in the court...


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pp. 227-270


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pp. 271-288


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pp. 289-304

Back Cover

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p. BC-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9780268075910
E-ISBN-10: 0268075913
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268022372
Print-ISBN-10: 0268022372

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 8 halftones
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • English newspapers -- Great Britain -- History.
  • Sensationalism in journalism -- Great Britain.
  • Home rule -- Ireland.
  • Joyce, James, -- 1882-1941 -- Political and social views.
  • Sex scandals -- Great Britain -- History.
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