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  • 2019Gregori LabartaPhD

    Final published version, 1.42 MB, PDF document

    Embargo ends: 19/09/24

    Available under license: CC BY: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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Queering the Bull: A common tale for Ireland and Spain

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date19/09/2019
Number of pages344
Awarding Institution
Award date29/04/2019
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


There are two elements to this thesis. The first, a novel in three parts, titled 'The Three Lives of Saint Ciarán', tells the story of saints, mystics, artists and scholars travelling back and forth between two of the most mysterious and isolated countries of Western Europe: Ireland and Spain. The journey begins in the dark times of the Early Middle Ages in Ireland, when a Spanish pilgrim is hunted by an evil warrior queen. With the aid of a magical cow, he will become Saint Chiaráin, the patron saint of cattle and mixed-races, the only one able to speak Cow and milk the bull. The story continues in the turbulent times of the Spanish Second Republic, where artists were gifted bullfighters, women could divorce, poets, such as Lorca, celebrated queerness, and fascism lurked everywhere, with its threat of the bloodiest civil war to ever happen in Spain. It finishes in the city of Neo Dublin: once prosperous, this Catholic theocracy established in the Iberian Peninsula has run out of food and energy, leaving it ill-prepared for survival on a planet of never ending rains. With Europe turned into swamp, this is a time that calls for miracle makers and those ready to do the unspeakable.
The novel is accompanied by a critical essay, also in three parts, that reflects on the creative process behind the novel. Each essay focuses on a particular aspect of the writing process – the gender and faith representations of my characters, the language used in telling the story, and the exploration of genre. These are all areas where I consciously decided to push boundaries and challenge binary concepts, looking for a more hybrid and fluid way to tell stories and communicate with my audience.
Above all, this PhD thesis looks to resist the exploration of cultural identity in terms of ‘difference’, but rather to reconceive different European national identities as underpinned by historic links – links which reach deep into the narrative and symbolic imagination. My project also constitutes a creative response to the current climate of hostility towards migration and the essentialism attached to identity by those resisting migration.