The primary topic of the course is Irish literature in English – a body of writing based on the turbulent history of a nation on the Western edge of Europe which suffered the impact of a more powerful neighbour, England, and evolved a method of cultural retaliation culminating in some of the masterpieces of modern literature in the language of the colonial master. This extraordinary transaction was accompanied by a constant spirit of resistance which sought to revive the native language, Gaelic, and which resulted in the creation of a modern national state by force of arms in the period 1919-21. The history of that struggle and the nature of the new state are unavoidable strands in the narrative associated with the literary history of the island and are therefore part of the wider context dealt with in this course.
As far as possible all classes will be divided between Lectures and Practicals, allowing for the nature of the material in hand at any time. In the first half (periods 3 & 4 in the UFRN horario), classes will be conducted in the form of transmitted information by the teacher. In other words, the teacher will talk. In the second (periods 4 & 5), the time will be largely occupied with critical work on specific texts involving the maximum of participation on the part of students. Evaluation will be project-based for Units 1 & 2 and test-based for Unit 3. In 1 & 2, for example, each student – working either singly or in pairs and groups – might take a task such as ‘biographical report’, ‘historical context’, ‘description of form’, ‘listing of vocabulary’, or ‘commentary on poem’, the mark to be arrived at by the consensus of the class. The allotment of dates and topics may vary according to progress made or varying levels of work involved in the proper treatment of each and I reserve the right to vary the list of writers treated at any point.