English 217 - Re-Imagining Ireland
COURSE DESCRIPTION AND OBJECTIVES:
Here are some of the questions we will explore: How do these Irish writers employ or interrogate conventional notions of home and country, of individual and national identity? How do they depict the violent and complex legacy of colonialism? How are distinctions between community 'insiders' and 'outsiders' maintained, subverted, or crossed in these works, and to what ends? What conceptions of Ireland, of what it means to be "Irish," and to be an "Irish" writer are at work in these texts?
Other topics include the uses (and abuses) of myth and history, the recurring dialectic between tradition and modernity ("the ever recurrent, never recoverable past"), the history behind the partitioning of the country and the aftermaths of partition, including the conflict in Northern Ireland, reactions to the loss of rural Ireland to urbanization and modernization, the eclipse of the Church in an increasingly secular, multicultural, and global Ireland, changing gender roles and relations, changing conventions surrounding the expression and representation of sexuality and sexual orientations, and contemporary Irish concerns with the prospects for the nation's multicultural (postnational?) future. Many of these themes and developments have been vividly dramatized in recent Irish films, some of which have been singled out for your attention on the syllabus.
Selected short stories (Ronan Sheehan,William Trevor, Eugene McCabe,
Selected poems (John Montague, Seamus Heaney, Eavan Boland,
Selected films (recommended) and film excerpts (to be shown in class)
Excerpts from various historical, biographical, and critical studies
This course may be used to fulfill a skills requirement in oral communication. Contributions to student-led discussions (SLEDDS) are required; active ongoing class participation is also essential. You will often be called upon to read your commentaries and questions aloud and to read aloud from the works assigned for the day. Groups of students also will be responsible for leading class discussion on occasion. If you find it difficult to speak up in class, please come and talk with me as soon as possible. (Don't put it off!)
Please do not e-mail or fax me assignments. Feel free to e-mail or call me (x6238), or to stop by my office (Fletcher 313), if you have questions.
I will rely on e-mail to communicate with the class, using the class lists on my.sbc.edu. These addresses end with "@sbc.edu"; therefore, it is imperative that you check your Sweet Briar account on a regular basis. If you use some other e-mail supplier, it is your responsibility to make arrangements for your Sweet Briar mail to be forwarded to that address.
Approximate breakdown of final grade: Portfolios = 20%; group-led class discussions = 30%; class attendance and participation = 25%; midterm portfolio audit = 10%; final retrospective audit = 15%. To be eligible for a passing grade in the course, you must submit the audit reports and the portfolio and participate adequately in your SLEDDS and in regular class discussions.
Normally, deadlines will be extended and absences will be excused only in the case of involvement in official College business, an urgent personal problem, a family emergency, or a serious illness or contagious disease, verifiable, if necessary, by the Dean. Absences will limit what you can gain from the course and what you can contribute. More than two absences (excused or unexcused) may lower your final grade. If you are an athlete, within the first two weeks of class (earlier, if you have to miss class for a game before then), email me a schedule delineating the specific days you will be absent. If you do have to miss class for a game or for other official College business, you need to submit in advance any work that comes due on the dates you miss. In other words, an excused absence is not an automatic extension.
Late work for which no extension has been granted will receive an "F." The individual weekly commentaries and questions are not graded. Instead, they will be marked "+" (excellent), "√" (good), or "-" (fair). The portfolio you submit at the end of term with your commentaries and questions will receive a letter grade. Note that weekly commentaries or questions that are submitted late will receive an "F", since their primary purpose is to help you to contribute to our discussions. (An "F" is better than nothing, though, so do get them in, regardless.) You are allowed two absences (excused or unexcused), but never on days when your group is responsible for leading discussion. Missing your SLEDD will result in an individual zero for your grade for that SLEDD and an automatic 1/2 letter reduction from your final grade.
JANUARY 17 Introduction
22 "A Very Short History of Ireland" (xerox distributed in class); Ronan Sheehan, "Paradise"; William Trevor, "The News from Ireland"
24 William Trevor, "Kathleen's Field"; Eugene McCabe, "Music at Annahullion" [+ Audio recordings]
29 Eugene McCabe, "Music at Annahullion" (cont.); John McGahern, Amongst Women
12 The Wind That Shakes the Barley [From Irish Studies: A Glossary – Easter Rising; Ango-Irish War; Anglo-Irish Treaty;
19 Readings for 2/14 (cont.) + Selected Poems by Seamus Heaney. Video: Reading by Seamus Heaney
26 Selected Poems by Derek Mahon. Video: Reading by Derek Mahon. BBC: Northern Ireland Poets.
18 Boland and Ni Dhomhnaill interviews; Boland, "The Lost Land"; John Montague, "Demolition Ireland" and "Last of the House."
25 Deirdre Madden, One by One in the Darkness. "Conflict & Hope in Northern Ireland: A PBS Special."
15 Excerpts from film version of Breakfast on Pluto. Claire Keegan, "Night of the Quicken Trees." Group 3 SLEDD
22 Emma Donoghue, "Going Back"; Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, "Irish, Irish, and Only Irish" and "The Girls Discuss the North of Ireland Question" from The Dancers Dancing. Group 4 SLEDD
29 Conclusions. Course evaluations. Portfolio and Final Retro Entry due in Class!