HNRS 190: Diving into the Wake
#44796 2:30- 4:30PM T

Professor Katie Conrad (202 Nunemaker, office hours 1-2 Tuesdays and by appointment Thursdays)


James Joyce's Finnegans Wake is perhaps the least-read best-known works of English literature. Dismissed by some as a complex joke, Joyce nonetheless spent a decade and a half working on it, with the assistance of friends such as writer Samuel Beckett, and worked on it even after his eyesight had almost completely failed. The book (for to call it a "novel" would be stretching the idea of a "novel" past its breaking point) contains a bizarre language comprised of dozens of foreign languages, very few of which are simple English words. It contains multi-level puns, complex structures, odd punctuation, and is considered by many, even its fans, to be "unreadable." And we're going to read it! Actually, over the course of our half-semester, we will hardly get through more than a handful of pages of it, and those will likely give you a headache. But in the course of that time, you will be introduced to James Joyce, to the most challenging book of (post-) Modern literature, and to an experience of literary interpretation that itself will require a great deal of creativity on your part. At the very least, you will learn at least one rousing Irish drinking song.


Course website, with Joycean resource links, at Blackboard,

This document at



Class attendance; reading; in-class presentation on your selections from the Wake; written interpretation of your selection; group work on symposium project. This course is pass/fail.



James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

Recommended but not required:

Roland McHugh, Annotations to Finnegans Wake

William York Tindall, A Reader's Guide to Finnegans Wake




8-26 Introduction.

          Read pp. 3-7.

          Find your name in Finnegans Wake; be prepared to tell us where and how you found it.

(no presentations)

9-9 No class. Start exploring the Wake.

Pick your readings (1-5 pages each).  E-mail me your selected page numbers by 9-12.



          Hayley 612 (Thud!)-614 (Forget!)

          Breanna 230

          Mary 196-7



          Julia 138

          Cherae 420-425

          Mitchell 414 (I apologuise) - 418 (Haru!)



          Kate 309

          Konnel 407-408

          Derek 219-221



          Jonathan 261-263

          Anastasia 593-5

          Hahna 126-7



          Chris 245-246

work on symposium project
6 pm: tutorials symposium