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Irish Literature

ENGL 063.001
instructor(s):
MWF 1

This course will take a comparative approach to twentieth-century Irish literature, history and culture. Focusing on the period of intense historical, political and artistic change leading up to the declaration of the Irish Free State in 1921, we will consider the legacy of this period in contemporary Irish culture and politics. After a brief overview of IrelandÕs history as an English colony, we will look in detail at the transition from colonialism to post-colonialism, paying particular attention to watershed moments such as the death of Parnell in 1891, the Easter Rising in 1916 and the Civil War in the early twenties. Throughout the course, we will weigh the competing claims of art, religion, myth and history in framing a perennial debate between nostalgic nationalism on one hand, and the push to become Òmodern� on the other. In addition to exploring literary reflections on themes of identity, subjectivity and empire (through poetry, essays, memoirs, drama, novels), we will investigate the unexpected ways in which these themes are taken up in early twentieth-century Ireland by a new and foreign technology, the cinema. Authors to be studied will include W. B. Yeats, Patrick Pearse, Lady Augusta Gregory, Sean O'Casey, J. M. Synge, Douglas Hyde, Maud Gonne, James Joyce and others. Several documentaries and fiction films will be screened. No prior knowledge of Irish history is expected. The class will follow a seminar structure: following a short lecture at the beginning of each class session, our primary emphasis will be on class discussion. Course requirements will include two papers, an in-class oral presentation and short weekly reading responses.