James Joyce and the National Commodity College

In Anne McLintock’s Imperial Leather, she claims that women are the earth that is to be discovered, entered, named, and above all, owned. In the work of James Joyce, particularly Ulysses and Dubliners, he explores women who fit into McLintock’s description: women as commodities. It is not merely individual females who have been commodified, often sexually, but it is also Ireland. The very earth and motherland of Joyce’s characters, she too is subject to ownership and export. Possessing a distinct place in the colonial sphere, Ireland is portrayed by Joyce to be the national woman who is sold through her people and her material goods, whilst simultaneously partaking in the business of buying other nations. The very deepness with which people, object and nation are embedded into commodity culture raises questions of whether or not anything is truly untouched by consumerism in modern times, and ultimately, questions of authenticity.

Joyce places women into the Marxist class of commodity by portraying them in his novels as manifestations of popular culture that can be advertised, commodified, bought or sold. In Ulysses, the episode ‘Calypso’ subtly presents advertising with its increased undertones of marketable sexuality, turning...

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