Irish 326 / 626: Seminar in Modern Irish Literature
Summer 2005
Professor John Rickard


Meets in Carnegie 109, TR 1:00-4:22 pm

Office Hours: TR, 4:30-5:00 pm and W 1:00 - 2:00 pm, and by appointment
Office: Carnegie 202
Office Phone: 570-577-1424
E-mail address:

Please obtain the editions listed below, so that we can all work with the same texts and pagination. If you have a problem obtaining any of these texts, please let me know. Texts are referred to by parenthetical abbreviations in syllabus:

Modern Irish Drama. Ed. John P. Harrington. Norton Critical Edition, 1991

ISBN: 0393960633

Abbreviated as MID below


William Butler Yeats. Selected Poems and Four Plays. Fourth Edition.Ed. M. L. Rosenthal. Scribner, 1996

ISBN: 0684826461

Abbreviated as WBY below


James Joyce. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Penguin

ISBN: 0140186832


Patrick McCabe. The Butcher Boy. Dell/Cutting Edge

ISBN: 0385312377


COURSE OBJECTIVES: This course will attempt provide a general introduction to "Irish Studies" and to explore more specifically the complex relationships between political nationalism and culture in modern Ireland. We will focus on some central questions about the relationship between politics and language, the varieties of "revolution" in Irish culture, the question of what it means to be an "Irish" writer in the 20th century, the relation between the Irish present and the Irish past, and what kinds of "narrative" modern Ireland needs and wishes to construct about itself.


CLASS FORMAT: Although at times I will lecture in order to present background information, I do expect class participation in discussion and in other in-class activities. I will occasionally ask you to do in-class writing, some of which I will collect. I expect you to keep up with the reading and to prepare for class.



This is a provisional syllabus; changes will be discussed and announced in class. We may decide we need to spend more time on some things and less on others. You are responsible for learning of and responding to syllabus changes during the summer.

Tuesday, June 14

Introduction to course--Irish history, mythology, and cultural nationalism

Handout on Early Irish Poetry

FILM (Suggested): The Secret of Roan Inish

Thursday, June 16

The Irish National Theatre Movement

READ: Lady Gregory, The Rising of the Moon, MID 54-63; Synge, Riders to the Sea, MID 63-73 and 447-451; Yeats, Cathleen ni Houlihan, MID 3-12 and MID 406-420; and drama manifestos in MID 377-398

BACKGROUND READING: Selections from Lady Gregory's myths (Online): Read Yeats's Preface, "The Boy Deeds of Cuchulain," "The Only Son of Aoife," "The Death of Cuchulain," "Note by W. B. Yeats," "Notes by Lady Gregory," and any others you care to look at (Suggested: "The War for the Bull of Cuailgne" and "Fate of the Sons of Usnach")

Tuesday, June 21

John Synge and W. B. Yeats

READ:  Playboy of the Western World, MID 73-119 and 451-459; and WBY, 1-27 (especially "The Stolen Child," "To Ireland in the Coming Times," and "The Song of Wandering Aengus")

(Suggested): Man of Aran

Response paper on Playboy of the Western World

Thursday, June 23

William Butler Yeats

READ: WBY, 28-92 (especially "Adam's Curse," "No Second Troy," "The Fascination of What's Difficult," "Upon a House Shaken by the Land Agitation," "September 1913," "A Coat," "The Wild Swans at Coole," "In Memory of Major Robert Gregory," "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death," "Easter  1916," and "The Second Coming")

Response paper on early Yeats

Tuesday, June 28

 William Butler Yeats

READ: WBY, 102-213 (especially "Sailing to Byzantium," "Leda and the Swan," "The Mother of God," "Among School Children," "Crazy Jane Talks with the Bishop," "Beautiful Lofty Things," "Under Ben Bulben," "The Circus Animals' Desertion," and "Politics"; also Purgatory, in WBY 225-232)

FILM (Required): Michael Collins

Response paper on late Yeats

Thursday, June 30

James Joyce

READ: "Araby" (Handout) and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Chapters I and II

Response paper on Joyce

Tuesday, July 5

James Joyce

READ: Finish A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Response paper on Joyce

FILM: Waiting for Godot (Required)

Thursday, July 7

Sean O'Casey and Samuel Beckett

READ: Juno and the Paycock, MID 204-255 and 509-512; and Krapp's Last Tape, MID 311-318 and 532-550

Response paper on O'Casey and/or Beckett

Tuesday, July 12

Patrick Kavanagh and Brian Friel

READ: Kavanagh handout, including excerpts from "The Great Hunger," and Friel, Translations, MID, 319-374 and 551-570

FILM: In the Name of the Father (Suggested)

Response paper on Friel or Kavanagh

Due: First draft of Final Paper, in class

Thursday, July 14

Northern Ireland and "The Troubles"

READ: Northern Irish Poetry Handouts (Seamus Heaney, Ciaran Carson, Paul Muldoon); and Bernard
MacLaverty, "Walking the Dog"; Fiona Barr, "The Wall Reader"; and Brenda Murphy, "A Social Call"

Response paper on Northern Irish writing

Tuesday, July 19

Contemporary Poetry: Eavan Boland and Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill

READ: Poetry handouts and essays

FILMS: Mother Ireland (in class) and The Magdalene Sisters (Suggested)

Response paper on Boland and Ni Dhomhnaill

Thursday, July 21

Patrick McCabe, The Butcher Boy

FILM (Suggested): The Butcher Boy

Response paper on McCabe

DUE: Final Paper


Papers: (1) five short response papers (two pages each).  Response paper topics are listed above on the syllabus; you must turn in one response paper per week, beginning with the second week; in each, you must react to questions and suggestions I give you related to the literature we are reading or focusing on your own interpretation of a character, critical problem, crucial passage, or a comparison of various readings; (2) a final essay, approximately 10-12 pages in length, incorporating researched sources to support an argument about one or more of the works we've read; you will turn in a first draft of this essay on Tuesday, July 12th.

Oral Presentation: Each student will present one oral presentation to the group, on one of the following topics:

The Easter 1916 Rebellion -- Thursday, June 23

Censorship in modern Ireland -- Thursday, July 7 -- Courtney

The Field Day Movement -- Tuesday, July 12

The Northern Irish Peace Process -- Thursday, July 14 -- Christine

Women's Rights in Ireland -- Thursday, July 14 -- Jamie

The "Industrial Schools" and the Irish Church -- Tuesday, July 19 -- Cindy

The Irish Language in Ireland Today -- Tuesday, July 19 -- Christophe

Your oral presentation should be no shorter than ten minutes and no longer than fifteen minutes.  You will be graded on presentation style, as well as content.


Response papers -- 25%

Final paper -- 40% (including grade on first draft, which will account for 10% of grade)

Oral presentation -- 15%

Class participation, attendance, and in-class writing -- 20%

**There will be no final exam for this class**


Class participation is an important part of your grade for this course.  Everyone must participate for a class to work well; excessive absences will lower your grade in this course.  When you miss a class, you must contact me or another student in the seminar to find out what you missed and what assignments might be due the next week.  Given the intense schedule of Bucknell's Summer School, missing more than two classes will result in a drastic lowering of your grade in ENGL 326 / 626.