English 190

Research Seminar: Another Day in Purgatory: Irish Literature and the Afterlife


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Fall 2017 Creasy, CFS
MW 3:30-5 301 Wheeler

Book List

Beckett, Samuel: Echo's Bones; Beckett, Samuel: More Pricks than Kicks; Bowen, Elizabeth: The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen; Joyce, James: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Joyce, James: Dubliners; O'Brienn, Flann: The Third Policeman; Stoker, Bram: Dracula; Yeats, Jack B.: The Aramanthers

Other Readings and Media

A course reader that may include excerpts from Sheridan Le Fanu, Lady Wilde (Speranza), Lady Gregory, W.B. Yeats, Jack B. Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Samuel Beckett, Hester Dowden, Seán O'Casey, John M. Synge, and others.

Description

Life is full of death; the steps of the living cannot press the earth without disturbing the ashes of the dead—we walk upon our ancestors—the globe itself is one vast churchyard.
                —Charles Maturin

This class will focus on a series of Irish writers who, in the period of crisis culminating in the establishment of an independent Irish nation (roughly, from about 1890 to about 1940), all seem to organize their works with recourse to notions of the afterlife—the purgatorial, the ghostly, the vestigial. We will attend to this recurring idea as both a theme and a trope; in other words, we will seek to understand how and why these writers are concerned with representing a purgatorial world, but also how the afterlife structures their works as a set of formal literary devices for thinking through a complex social and historical crisis. We likewise will take the opportunity to learn a little bit about the history of Ireland in the period, particularly in its relationship to Great Britain: first as a colonial territory, then as a Free State racked by civil war, and then as a fledgling nation whose autonomy is threatened by being drawn into the international conflict that becomes World War II.

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