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Irish Literature

ENGL 058.001
instructor(s):
MWF 2-3

This course will function as an introduction to the study of Irish literature in the twentieth century: to do so, it will focus on constructions of and tensions within a notion of "the people." Beginning with the writing of the Irish Revival, we will track how changes in Irish society were represented and complicated by literary figures through the middle of the century. As a unified and unitary sense of the "Irish people" was argued about and, at times, fought over in the political sphere, how did writers add their voices to these debates? How did they respond to the challenges posed by women's suffrage and feminism; the dwindling number of Irish speakers on the island; differentiating the Irish from their British neighbors; migrations to urban centers in a predominantly agricultural and rural society; high rates of emigration; an island partitioned into a twenty-six county south and a six county north; and the bitter legacy of Ireland's struggle for political self-determination? Course readings will be drawn from among the works of the following authors: JM Synge, WB Yeats, Sean O'Casey, James Joyce, Lady Augusta Gregory, Maud Gonne, Elizabeth Bowen, Austin Clarke, Samuel Beckett, Louis MacNeice, Flann O'Brien, Tomás Ó Criomhthainn, Muiris Ó Súilleabhain, Peig Sayers, Mary Lavin, Frank O'Connor, and Seán Ó Faoláin. Background in Irish history or politics is not required. There will be several short writing assignments, a short essay (4-6 pages), and a final essay (7-10 pages). There will not be a final exam.