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Abstract

The first female bishop in the Anglican Church of the UK and Ireland was consecrated on November 30, 2013. For many within the Anglican Communion, the appointment of Reverend Pat Storey as Bishop of Meath and Kildare represented the opening of a longawaited new chapter in the history of Anglicanism. It is also potentially an occasion of considerable interest for both Irish historians and discourse analysts. For, although questions of gender and language have been widely considered in recent years, relatively few studies address the intersections of gender, language and religion – and fewer still examine the nexus of gender, language, religion, and power in contemporary Ireland. In this paper, therefore, I analyze news representations of Bishop Storey’s consecration – drawing critically on both the Discourse Historical Approach (DHA) to critical discourse analysis (CDA) and Positive Discourse Analysis (PDA), as well as relevant religious studies literature – with a view to identifying both old and new discursive construals of one of contemporary Ireland’s powerful public female figures. In sum, I observe that news reporting of Bishop Storey is broadly positive, but displays residual gender bias, with repeated references to her marital and parental status, age, education, emotions and other personal behaviours depicting her chiefly as a woman, rather than as the right person for the position. This case study also illustrates my methodological argument that DHA and PDA can be complementary analytical frameworks for investigating underlying ideologies around religious, gender and other social identifications.

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