Irish Writing
Twentieth-Century Irish Writing
4019 Wescoe Hall
Mondays, 7-9:50 pm
Fall 2006

Course website:
Blackboard component:

Professor Kathryn Conrad
Office hours:  Nunemaker 202, Tuesdays 1-3 pm; other days by appointment only
Office phone: 4-3314
E-mail (best way to reach me): kconrad at

NEW:  Note the texts that are fair game for the identification portion of the final are marked with an asterisk (below) and are in bright orange and boldface.

Skip directly to [Texts & Requirements] [Resources] [Plagiarism Statement] [Reading and Assignment Schedule]


Irish theater critic Stephen Gwynn said of W. B. Yeats's play Cathleen ni Houlihan, "I went home asking myself if such plays should be produced unless one was prepared for people to go out to shoot and be shot." His comment proved prophetic: many of the Irish men and women who fought in the 1916 Easter Rising spoke of Yeats's play as their inspiration. As this anecdote suggests, writing and politics have been--and still are--closely and explicitly intertwined in Ireland. In this course, we will look not only at the literary and political responses to Ireland's history of British colonial rule, but also the challenges to contemporary Irish politics and culture articulated by contemporary writers. We will explore a variety of genres and artists, including some music and film. 

Our basic goals for the course will be to think critically about the relationship among Irish and Northern Irish literature, history, politics, and culture; to examine the relationship between writing and the wider culture; to think about the significance of different forms and genres; and to learn to write in the annotated bibliography and literary-critical essay genres.       

Enrollment (from University timetable) :

Students may neither add nor change sections in any English course after August 22, 2006, without departmental permission. For courses numbered above 200, instructor's permission is required to add or change sections.

The Department of English reserves the right to terminate administratively the enrollment of any student who misses two consecutive class meetings during the first two weeks of the semester. Should an emergency situation cause the student to miss two consecutive class meetings, the student should contact the instructor(s) or the English Department, 864-4520, immediately. Students are expected to submit promptly requests to drop should they decide to disenroll from English classes.

Course texts:


Attendance will be taken in this course, and regular attendance is particularly important given that the class only meets once a week. More than 3 unexcused absences, counting from the first day of your enrollment in this course, will result in failure of this course. Work in other classes, away games (unless you are an athlete with documentation and have approved your absences with me at the start of the semester), hangovers, vacations, and sniffles do not count as excused absences. If you are in doubt, ask me. Excused absences require either notification of me on or before class date (by e-mail, preferably), or official documentation shortly after the absence. The rest of your participation grade includes in-class participation and occasional small group work.  Students are required to have a registered e-mail account and to access the course website for updated information, assignments, and discussion blogs, available on the Blackboard site.
You will be expected to write 3 papers of 1500 words each, and one annotated bibliography from the Spencer Research Library's collection.  Paper topics will be available under Readings & Assignments on the Blackboard site. You will also be required to participate in online blogs through Blackboard.  See the schedule for due dates.
newNote:  See Blackboard under Paper Topics for the new staged research paper assignment.  The new schedule is reflected below.
There will a final exam for the course (identification and short essay). 

I reserve the right to give reading quizzes (generally unannounced, and worth 5 points each).

Other resources:
Plagiarism is stealing and passing off someone else's ideas or words as one's own or using information from another's work without crediting the source. Any detected cheating offense--including but not limited to plagiarism; the unauthorized use of crib sheets, texts, or other materials during an examination or quiz; the copying of another student's work (even with the permission or aid of that student, who is thereby culpable); the use of prewritten essays (the student's own or someone else's); the uncredited adoption of another writer's interpretation of a work; or the unauthorized use of work written for another assignment or class--will be reported to the University. A record of each verified offense will be kept throughout the student's association with the University (Adopted from FSE statement).

Plagiarism is not a game, nor is it simply a "shortcut" when time presses.  It is a very serious form of academic misconduct and will be treated as such in this class. When you consult outside sources for ideas--through published or unpublished essays, interviews, the Internet, conversation, etc.--you must cite those sources in your work. I understand that academic work can be daunting: if you are struggling with an assignment, are unclear about my expectations, or are behind on your work, please consult me. There is always a better path than plagiarism; I can work with you to help you find your own voice while incorporating others' ideas appropriately. If after reading the statement above, you are still unclear about what constitutes  plagiarism, ask me BEFORE turning in an assignment.

A plagiarized  assignment will result in failure of the assignment (no credit given); it also impacts your larger course grade more than a paper that merely receives an F, and will usually result in failure of the course. The Department of English has a zero-tolerance policy on plagiarism. Formal records are currently kept by the Department of English and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. I may also send a copy of the plagiarism form to the home department of any student who is found to have plagiarized.

Reading and Assignment Schedule
This schedule is subject--and likely--to change; check this site for current syllabus, where changes will eventually be reflected.  The best way to know what we're doing is to be in class and write down all changes. All assignments are required unless specified as "recommended." Bracketed items will be presented in class and require no preparation. Italicized items are presented for your information.  Online items, whenever possible, should be printed out and brought to class. Required blog postings are listed; there will also be an open blog for comments, discussions, and questions.
IW:  Irish Writing in the Twentieth Century, ed. Pierce.
Go directly to... [September] [October] [November] [December]

INTRODUCTION:  Cultural revolution.
Background:  [British stereotypes of the Irish]; manifesto for the Irish literary theatre (handout).
Blog posting before 8/28: does Cathleen ni Houlihan fit with the aims of the Irish literary theatre?

The Irish Renaissance
*Yeats, Cathleen ni Houlihan (play, IW, 98); "Red Hanrahan's Song About Ireland" (poem, online:
Daniel Corkery, "The Aisling" (essay, IW, 289)
Blog posting due.

More background to the Irish literary renaissance:
D.P. Moran, "The Battle of Two Civilizations" (essay, IW, 32).
Yeats, "The Literary Movement in Ireland" (essay, IW, 38)
George Russell (AE), "Nationality or Cosmopolitanism"?" (essay, IW, 44).
Anon., "Lecture by Mr. W.B. Yeats" (essay, IW, 49).
John Eglinton, "The De-Davisization of Irish Literature" (essay, IW, 70).

Blog posting before 9/11: post your guess at why their were riots at the first performances of Playboy.

[September 7    Last Day to drop on-line; courses will be cancelled and not appear on the transcript]

Riots and representation(s)
*Synge, The Playboy of the Western World (play, IW, 171).
J. M. Hone, "Yeats, Synge, and The Playboy" (essay, IW, 213).
Blog posting due.
Paper 1: Annotated bibliography. Due Sept. 25.

Political revolutions.
Patrick Pearse:   (if you want to examine all of the texts together: )
    O'Donovan Rossa Graveside Panegyric (online, Blackboard)
     poems: "Why do ye torture me?," "Renunciation," "Christ's Coming,""Christmas 1915,"  *"The Mother."  (poems, online, Blackboard)
    The Singer (play, online:
[The 1916 Easter Rising (in-class lecture).]

Blog posting before 9/25.

Recommended: The BBC Easter 1916 website,

Political revolutions: the aftermath.
G. B. Shaw, "The Easter Week Executions" (essay, IW, 239).
Sean O'Casey, "High Road and Low Road" (essay, IW, 548)
James Stephens, from The Insurrection in Dublin (essay, IW, 235)

*Yeats:  "Easter, 1916" (poem, IW, 2710);
    "Sixteen Dead Men"; "The Rose Tree"; "The Leaders of the Crowd" (poems, online, Blackboard)
Blog posting due.
Annotated bibliography due.

Recommended: The BBC Easter 1916 website,

Visions and Revisions: Joyce's Dubliners
*Joyce: "The Sisters," "An Encounter," "Araby."
Different views of Joyce:  Stanislaus (his brother), & Brian O'Nolan (Flann O'Brien), IW 609-618

Lorcan Collins lecture.  7 pm, Parlor ABC, Kansas Union.  Required:  attendance will be taken.

Visions and Revisions
Joyce: *"Two Gallants," "Eveline," "The Boarding House."
Blog posting before 10/23.

Reminder: Research plan due Oct. 30.

Visions and Revisions
Joyce:  *"A Mother," "A Little Cloud," "Counterparts."
Blog posting due. 

Visions and Revisions
Joyce, "Ivy Day in the Committee Room," *"The Dead"
Recommended:  Yeats: "The Great Day," "Parnell," "The Second Coming" and "The Man and the Echo", 
Research plan due.

Gender and Irishness 
Ailbhe Smyth, "Declining Identities (lit. and fig.)" (essay, IW, 1118).
*Nuala ní Dhomnaill, "Caitlín/Cathleen" (poem, IW, 1174). English only!
Eavan Boland, "Mise Éire" (poem, IW, 1064)
[Alice Maher images (in class).]

Reminder:  draft of research paper and revision strategy due Nov. 20.

[November 13    Last Day to withdraw from a course with an instructor signature; a grade of WF (withdraw/failing) or WP (withdraw/passing) will be posted on the transcript). No withdrawals permitted after November 13 through the end of the term.]

Language and representation
Douglas Hyde, "The Necessity for De-Anglicizing Ireland" (essay, IW, 2-11)
Nuala ní Dhomhnaill, "Ceist na Teangan/ The Language Issue" (poem, IW, 1164); "Why I Choose to Write in Irish, The Corpse That Sits Up and Talks Back" (essay, online, Blackboard).
*Brian Friel, from Translations (play excerpt, IW, 975-83)
Ian Duhig, "From the Irish" (poem, IW, 1174)

Northern Ireland
[background lecture, in class]

*Ciaran Carson, "Belfast Confetti" (poem, IW, 1063); "Brickle Bridge" (essay, IW, 1155)
Muldoon, Heaney, Anderson poems 
(online, Blackboard)
*Muldoon, "Anseo"
Robert McLiam Wilson, from Eureka Street (novel excerpt, IW, 1233)

Draft of research paper and revision strategy due.

Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland in film:  Bloody Sunday
Discussion of final: identifications.
Blog posting before 12/4.

Note:  bring ideas for final exam questions to class December 4.

Reminder: final draft and questionnaire due Dec. 11.

Discussion of final:  essay questions.

Northern Ireland: popular visions

Music and lyrics (Bring lyrics to class): "Sunday Bloody Sunday," U2 (online:
*"Unfinished Revolution," Peter Cadle/Christy Moore (online:
*"Alternative Ulster," Stiff Little Fingers (, or, to print out, probably

Paul Hewson (aka Bono), "Bono:  The White Nigger" (essay, IW, 935).
Blog posting due.


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