Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
Mandatory Fields
Holohan, C.
Irish Studies Review
Dreams of Home: Migrant Spaces and Narrative Desire in Felicia’s Journey
Optional Fields
In a 2004 paper, Brian McIlroy draws on Hamid Naficy’s analysis of migrant cinema to discuss several filmic representations of Irish emigrant experience. In particular, he utilises Naficy’s distinction between exilic, diasporic and postcolonial filmmaking in order to categorise Irish emigrant films according to their varying relationships to the Irish homeland. Included in his selection of films is Felicia’s Journey (Atom Egoyan, 1999), in which, he claims, Ireland functions as a traumatic reminder of loss, a feature which it shares with many other films depicting the Irish experience in Britain. Acknowledging that McIlroy’s paper is useful in emphasising the varying relationships to the lost homeland which emigrant films can express, this paper explores further the precise functioning of space within migrant narratives through a close reading of Felicia’s Journey. Whilst critics such as Rosemary George have argued that ‘the search for the location in which the self is “at home”’ drives all narrative quests, questions of homesickness and home-founding necessarily come to the fore within migrant narratives. This paper argues that Felicia’s Journey gives expression to the fantasy spaces which structure migrant experience, alternating between the aspirational search for a new space of belonging and the nostalgic desire for return. It suggests that whilst the desire that drives migrant narratives oscillates between these temporal poles of aspiration and loss, narrative satisfaction can only ultimately be expressed through a tenuous and temporary transformation of everyday space. Despite the dreams of home and permanence that haunt migrant fiction, these narratives can only find resolution in the ephemeral, in forging from moment to moment a habitable space within the inhospitable terrain of exile.
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Humanities in Context