English 139

The Cultures of English: Irish Drama

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2010 Banfield, Ann
Banfield, Ann
TTh 11-12:30 122 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Beckett, S.: Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Happy Days and a few shorts from the Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett; O'Casey, S.: The Plow and the Stars; Murphy, T.: Bailegangaire; Keane, J. B.: “The Field” in Three Plays; Shaw, G.B.: Pygmalion; Sheridan, J.: The Field (1998); Asquith, A., and Howard, Leslie: Pygmalion (1938); Lloyd, D.: The Press; Gregory, A.: The Rising of the Moon; Friel, B.: Translations; Yeats, W. B.: The Death of Cuchulain & The Countess Cathleen in Eleven Plays of W.B. Yeats; Yeats, W.B., and Gregory, A., W. B.: Cathleen ni Hoolihan ; Wilde, O.: The Importance of Being Ernest & Salomé; Synge, J.M.: The Playboy of the Western World & The Well of the Saints


This course concentrates on Irish Drama from the late 19th century to the present. Among the questions the course will raise: What is specific to the Irish dramatic tradition? Why were certain of the plays on the syllabus the subject of intense controversy and protest in Ireland? What role did the earlier imposition of English on an Irish speaking population and the later movement to revive Gaelic play in the development of an Irish theater? in plays whose language is highly marked, e.g., as poetry? Why is it so closely associated with modernism? Why was its modernism bound up with its being by and large a theater for small audiences? How does Beckett, some of whose most important plays were written and performed first in French and few of whose plays were performed in Ireland in his lifetime, fit into this tradition? Since the works we will be reading were meant ultimately to be performed, we will look at some film productions of the plays read and dvd's of the Druid Theatre's Synge and of Beckett plays. (Note: many of these plays are quite short.)

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