Origins of the Magdalene Laundries

An Analytical History

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About the Book

The convents, asylums, and laundries that once comprised the Magdalene institutions are the subject of this work. Though originally half-way homes for prostitutes in the Middle Ages, these homes often became forced-labor institutions, particularly in Ireland. Examining the laundries within the context of a growing world capitalist economy, the work argues that the process of colonization, and of defining a national image, determined the nature and longevity of the Magdalene Laundries. This process developed differently in Ireland, where the last laundry closed in 1996. The book focuses on the devolution of the significance of Mary Magdalene as a metaphor for the organization: from an affluent, strong supporter of Jesus to a simple, fallen woman.

About the Author(s)

Rebecca Lea McCarthy is a professor of humanities at Kaplan University. She lives in Tacoma, Washington.

Bibliographic Details

Rebecca Lea McCarthy
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 269
Bibliographic Info: 22 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4446-5
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5580-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

Introduction      7

PART ONE: MARY MAGDALENE AND THE RISE OF MAGDALENISM

One—Mary Magdalene and the Mother Mary      17

Two—The Rhetorical Framing of the Magdalene and Women in the Early Middle Ages      40

Three—Medieval Prostitution, Regulation, and Repentance      64

PART TWO: THE STATE, COLONIZATION, AND THE FEMALE AS CITIZEN

Four—Ancient Irish Law and Women’s Status in Precolonial Ireland      93

Five—The Colonization of Ireland and Her Women      113

Six—The Rise of the Irish Magdalene Laundries      135

Seven—The Rise of the English Magdalenes and the Magdalen-House      168

Eight—The Twentieth Century Magdalene Laundries      196

Chapter Notes      219

Bibliography      247

Index      255