"Ireland is a strange country. It's a very, very old country; yet, it's a new country, too."
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 ongoing 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. We will watch some film clips in class, and the films will be on reserve, should you like to see them in their entirety. I also hope to arrange for a session of live, traditional Irish music, if our local musicians, Laura Pharis and Joe Malloy, can find the time.
Selected fiction or nonfiction prose by James Joyce, Eárnán O'Malley, Frank O'Connor, Elizabeth Bowen, William Trevor, Seamus Deane, Mary Beckett, John McGahern, Roddy Doyle, Joseph O'Connor, Emma Donoghue, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, and Declan Kiberd
John Goodby, ed. Irish Studies: The Essential Glossary (selected entries)
This course may be used to fulfill an oral skills requirement. You are expected to contribute regularly to class discussions. Active participation includes introducing ideas, raising questions, and building upon or helping to clarify the responses of others. You will often be called upon to read your biweekly commentaries aloud and to read aloud from the poems and stories assigned for the day. 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!) Groups of students also will be responsible for leading class discussion on occasion. We will periodically review guidelines for evaluating oral communication skills to make sure that the objectives for these activities are clear.
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Site created and maintained by Cheryl Mares, English Department, Sweet Briar College.
Last updated 4 April 2005.