English 250

Research Seminar: A Small Place �Irish Fictions, 1890-2005

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
4 Spring 2008 Rubenstein, Michael
Rubenstein, Michael
Thurs. 3:30-6:30 201 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Gregory, A.: selected plays; Joyce, J.: Dubliners and Ulysses; Beckett, S.: First Love and selected other works TBA; Synge, J.M.: The Aran Islands; Yeats, W.B.: selected poems and prose TBA; O�Brien, F.: The Third Policeman and selections from The Best of Myles TBA; Bowen, E.: The Last September; McGahern, J.: Amongst Women; O�Neill, J.: At Swim Two Boys; a required course reader, with selections of critical essays, plays, poems and short stories


This course is a survey of Irish literature and culture from the Celtic Revival (1890-1930) to the Celtic Tiger (1990s-present). The Celtic Revival was an upsurge of nationalist sentiment that resulted in the creation of an Irish Republic in defiance of Great Britain . The Celtic Tiger was a surge of transnational capital investment that transformed Ireland from one of the poorest to one of the richest of European countries: once marked by emigration and decline, now by prosperity, population growth, and an influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe , Africa , and Asia . Such reversals of fortune and the relative recentness of their manifestation make Ireland a unique locus of study for the experimental application of postcolonial theory, world-systems theory, and theories of nationalism, race and ethnicity. In Irish Studies the debate between postcolonialists (and nationalists) on the one hand and historical revisionists on the other is lively and occasionally brutal. Then there is the literature, which Pascale Casanova has described as itself a kind of �Irish miracle.� Looking at well-known modernists like Gregory, Yeats, Synge, Joyce, O�Brien, and Bowen, we�ll study the connections between the cultural revival, formations of national literature, and modernist formal innovation, following closely on recent theories of modernism that relocate its genesis from the metropole to the periphery. From there we�ll look at what�s happened since: fictions dealing with the partition of Ireland (the Belfast poets, The Field Day Theatre Company); fictions dealing, in the midst of the new prosperity, with the traumas of famine, emigration, civil war, stagnation, state censorship and isolation (The Field, The Butcher Boy, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Korea, At Swim Two Boys); and finally fictions of the Celtic Tiger (�Riverdance,� Aqua, Intermission, The Snapper, etc.). The course is designed to appeal to anyone interested in Irish Studies, modernism, postcolonial theory, and sociological theories of literature (Bourdieu, Casanova et al.). We�ll also be screening a few films in the class, though the theory of film won�t be rigorously covered. Required are one or two in-class presentations (depending on enrollment), a project proposal for the final paper, and one final 20-30 page research paper of publishable quality.

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