EN 513.01                                                                                                                                       Fall, 2005

Contemporary Fiction: Britain and Ireland                                                  Jim Smith

Cushing 335                                                                                                                                  T, Th 9:00-10:15

 

Course Description:

This course offers a survey of recent British and Irish fiction in the context of an emerging post-national cultural politics.  Both the United Kingdom and the Irish Republic have undergone significant transformations in the second half of the twentieth century, e.g. the dismantling of Britain’s overseas empire, membership in the European Community, the Thatcher dynasty, the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’, Scottish and Welsh devolution, and Ireland’s booming ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy.  Given EU directives promoting increased regional government on the one hand and trans-national bodies on the other, it is increasingly likely that England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will face challenges and reap rewards from new social, political and cultural relationships.  In light of this post-nationalist paradigm, this course examines contemporary fiction to evaluate significant cultural shifts in these societies.  The course begins by questioning definitions of national identity (be that Englishness, Irishness, etc.) and by seeking to locate where such definitions break down in the contested terrain represented in the narratives we examine.  We then move to discussions of regionalism, multi-ethnic British culture, the rise of suburbia and class struggles, gender and sexuality, political and sectarian conflict, and global capitalism.

 

Course Materials:

Boston College Bookstore

Roddy Doyle, Paddy Clarke, Ha Ha Ha (Penguin, 1993)

Anne Enright, What Are You Like (Grove, 2000)

Janice Galloway, The Trick is to Keep on Breathing (Knopf, 1997)

Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day (Vintage, 1993)

Bernard MacLaverty, Grace Notes (Norton, 1997)

Deirdre Madden, One by One in the Darkness (Faber,  2003)

Andrew O'Hagan, Our Fathers (Harcourt, 2001)

Caryl Phillips, Cambridge (Vintage, 1991)

Zadie Smith, White Teeth (Vintage, 2001)

Colm Tóibín, The Blackwater Lightship (Scribner, 2000)

 

O’Neill Reserve

Houston Baker et.al. (eds.), Black British Cultural Studies Reader: A Reader.  (University of Chicago Press, 1996)

T. M. Devine, The Scottish Nation: A History 1700-2000. (Viking, 1999)

Liam Harte and Michael Parker (Eds. & Intro.), Contemporary Irish Fiction: Themes, Tropes, Theories. (St. Martin’s, 2000).

Jeffers, Jennifer M.  The Irish Novel at the End of the Twentieth Century: Gender, Bodies, and Power.  New York: Palgrave, 2002

Richard Kearney, Postnationalist Ireland: Politics, Culture, Philosophy.  (Routledge, 1997).

Madden, Deirdre.  “Looking for Home: Time, Place, Memory.” Canadian Journal of Irish Studies 26.2/27.1 (2000:Fall/2001: Spring): 25-33.

Tom Nairn, After Britain: New Labour and the Return of Scotland.  (Granta Book, 2000)

Moira Maguire, "Foreign Adoptions and the Evolution of Irish Adoption Policy, 1945-52." Journal of Social History 36, 2 (2002): 387-404.  BC Library, Online Journals

Kwesi Owusu (ed.), Black British Culture and Society: A Reader.  (Routledge, 2000)

Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991. (Granta, 1991)

Gerry Smyth, The Novel and The Nation: Studies in the New Irish Fiction.  (Pluto Press, 1997)

 

 

 

Course Guidelines -- READ CAREFULLY:

I)              Classes will generally be a mixture of discussion and informal lecture. For that reason attendance is essential. More than three unexplained absences will result in an automatic grade reduction on the next assignment due. Each absence beyond the first five will lower your final course grade by one letter grade.  I will take attendance.

II)            Class begins at 9:00 a.m. sharp.  Please arrive on time.  Being more than 10 minutes late to class will count as an absence, as will repeated tardiness.  Coffee encouraged.

III)          The grade for this class will be determined as follows:

i) reading assigned texts before class and regular (active) participation [10%].  You must contribute in meaningful ways on a consistent basis to attain the highest grade in this course.  No participation can result in a failing grade, and occasional or impromptu contributions can result in a mediocre participation grade.

ii) Two Presentations. Beginning with the classes on Colm Tóibin's The Blackwater Lightship (9/20), students will (first as part of a group, and later in the semester individually) summarize and evaluate criticism on the assigned text, prepare and pre-circulate a set of questions/discussion points, and assume a leadership role in discussion. Students will meet with me in office hours (please plan on this in advance), and they will examine and incorporate additional critical readings into class discussions.  The pre-circulated report must include the following two elements:

Š          A summary, an evaluation, and a list of a major issues explored in the critical literature

Š          Some questions we should consider before class to prepare for discussion [10 %]

iii) two written assignments --

                                    a.              Short essay.  Due October 20 (8 pages)  [20%]

b.                    Final Research Project & Presentation.  Due December 1 (15 pages approx.)[40%]

iv) Final Exam (20 %)

Papers must be typed and should follow the MLA Handbook format. 

 

If necessary, short quizzes and/or in-class writing exercises may be given at any time. Except for written medical excuses, there are no extensions on papers.  Similarly, there are no make-up exams.  Communication is key — speak to me BEFORE a due date if you anticipate a problem.

IV)         Please bring this syllabus to every class.  It is your guide to where we are at any given time during the semester and I will refer to it frequently. 

V)                  My office is located at 301 Connolly House, 300 Hammond Street.  Office hours this semester will be Tuesday and Thursday 1:30-3:30 p.m., and by appointment.  I strongly encourage students to come and speak to me concerning any aspect of the course during these times. My office phone number is 617-552-1596 and my home phone is 617-333-9898 (before 10:00 p.m.). I welcome students communicating with me by email, and my address is smithbt@bc.edu

 

CLASS SCHEDULE & ASSIGNMENTS:

Sept. 6

Introductions.  Review syllabus. Profile.

 

 

Sept. 8

Post-National Ireland?

Richard Kearney, Postnationalist Ireland: Politics, Culture, Philosophy.  (Routledge, 1997). Introduction, 1-12.

Sept. 13 & 15

Roddy Doyle, Paddy Clarke

Smyth, Gerry. The Novel and the Nation: Studies in the New Irish Fiction.  London: Pluto Press, 1997. “Roddy Doyle and the New Irish Fiction,” 65-97, esp. 65-8, “Paddy Clarke,” 79-81.

Sept. 20, 22 & 27

Colm Tóibín, The Blackwater Ligthship

Jeffers, Jennifer M.  The Irish Novel at the End of the Twentieth Century: Gender, Bodies, and Power.  New York: Palgrave, 2002. “The Blackwater Lightship,” 80, 112-19. (R)           

Sept. 29 & Oct. 4

Anne Enright, What Are you Like

 

Moira Maguire, "Foreign Adoptions and the Evolution of Irish Adoption Policy, 1945-52." Journal of Social History 36, 2 (2002): 387-404

Oct.  6 & 11

Deirdre Madden, One By One in the Darkness

Madden, Deirdre.  “Looking for Home: Time, Place, Memory.” Canadian Journal of Irish Studies 26.2/27.1 (2000:Fall/2001: Spring): 25-33. (R)

Oct. 13, 18 & 20

Bernard MacLaverty, Grace Notes

Harte, Liam & Michael Parker.  “Reconfiguring Identities: Recent Northern Irish Fiction.” Contemporary Irish Fiction: Themes, Tropes, Theories.  New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000. 232-54, esp. 232-3, 234, 242-50. (R)

Oct.  20

First Formal Paper Due

 

Oct. 25

Blair's Britain

 

Tom Nairn, After Britain.  Ch. 1,“Blair’s Britain”

Nov. 1  & 3

Janice Galloway, The Trick is to Keep Breathing

T.M. Devine, The Scottish Nation, “Part Four: 1939-2000”

Nov.  8 & 10

Andrew O'Hagan, Our Fathers

Tom Nairn, After Britain, Ch. 2, “The Return of Scotland.”

Nov. 15 & 17

Caryl Phillip's Cambridge

Owusu (ed.), Black British Culture and Society: A Reader.  Ch. 1, “The 1951-1955 Conservative government and the racialization of Black immigration.”

Nov. 22 & 29

Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day

Baker et.al. (eds.), Black British Cultural Studies Reader: A Reader.   Ch. 7 “New Ethnicities,”

Dec. 1 & 6, & 8

Zadie Smith, White Teeth

Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands, “The New Empire within Britain.”

Dec. 1

Second Formal Paper Due

 

 

TBD

Final Examination

 

 

 


 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHIC RESOURCES

 

Working Bibliography of Background and Critical Material:

Houston Baker et.al. (eds.), Black British Cultural Studies Reader: A Reader.  (University of Chicago Press, 1996). (on Reserve)

Ian Baucom, “Mournful Histories: Narratives of Postimperial Melancholy,” Modern Fiction Studies 42.2 (1996): 259-288

Ian A. Bell (ed.), Peripheral Visions: Images of Nationhood in Contemporary British Fiction.(University of                 Wales Press, 1995)

Tessa Blackstone, Bhikhu Parekh & Peter Sanders, Race Relations in Britain: A developing agenda.  (Routledge, 1998)

D. George Boyce, Decolonisation and the British Empire, 1775-1997. (St. Martin’s Press, 1997)

Malcolm Bradbury, The Modern British Novel. (Penguin Books, 1993)

Malcolm Bradbury & David Palme, The Contemporary English Novel. (Holmes & Meier Publisher, INC, New York, 1980)

James M. Cahalan, Double Visions: Women and Men in Modern and Contemporary Irish Fiction.  (Syracuse University Press, 1999)

Peter Childs,  Contemporary novelists : British fiction since 1970 (New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).

Ethel Crowley & Jim MacLaughlin (eds.), Under the Belly of the Tiger: Class, Race, Identity and Culture in the Global Ireland.  (Irish Reporter Publications, 1997)

Tom. M. Devine, The Scottish Nation. (Viking, 1999). (on Reserve)

Theo D’haen and Hans Bertens, British Postmodern Fiction.  Postmodern Studies 7. (Rodopi, B.V.,1993

Andrzej Gasiorek, Post-War British Fiction: Realism and After.  (Edward Arnold, 1995)

Simon Gikandi, Maps of Englishness: Writing Identity in the Culture of Colonialism.  (Columbia                   University Press, 1996)

Paul Gilroy, ‘There Ain’t No Black In The Union Jack’: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation.  (The University of Chicago Press, 1991)

Douglas Gifford & Dorthy McMillan (eds.), A History of Scottish Women’s Writing. (Edinburgh University Press, 1997)

Susan Hagemann (ed.), Studies in Scottish Fiction: 1945 to the Present.  Scottish Studies Vol. 19.  (Lang, 1996)

Liam Harte & Michael Parker.  “Reconfiguring Identities: Recent Northern Irish Fiction.” Contemporary Irish Fiction: Themes, Tropes, Theories.  New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000. (on Reserve)

Christopher Harvie, Scotland and Nationalism: Scottish Society and Politics 1707-1994.                   (Routledge, 1994)

Christina Hunt Mahony, Contemporary Irish Literature: Transforming Tradition.  (Macmillan, 1998)

Aileen Christianson and Alison Lumsden (eds.), Contemporary Scottish women writers. (Edinburgh : Edinburgh University Press, c2000).

Ian Jack (ed.), What Happened To Us: Britain’s Valedictory Realism.  Granta 56 (Winter, 1996).

Jeffers, Jennifer M.  The Irish Novel at the End of the Twentieth Century: Gender, Bodies, and Power.  New York: Palgrave, 2002. (on Reserve)

Richard Kearney, Postnationalist Ireland: Politics, Culture, Philosophy.  (Routledge, 1997) (on Reserve)

Peter Kravitz (ed.), The Vintage Book of Contemporary Scottish Fiction.  (Vintage Books, 1999)

Richard Lane, Rod Mengham, and Philip Tew (eds.), Contemporary British fiction (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press; Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2003).

Alison Lee, Realism and Power: Postmodern British Fiction.  (Routledge, 1990)

A. Robert Lee (ed.), Other Britain, Other British: Contemporary Multicultural Fiction.  (Pluto Press, 1995) (on Reserve)

David T Lloyd (ed.),  Writing on the Edge: Interviews with Writers of Wales. Costerus New Series 112.  (Rodopi B.V., 1997)

Madden, Deirdre.  “Looking for Home: Time, Place, Memory.” Canadian Journal of Irish Studies 26.2/27.1 (2000:Fall/2001: Spring): 25-33. (on Reserve)

Moira Maguire, "Foreign Adoptions and the Evolution of Irish Adoption Policy, 1945-52." Journal of Social History 36, 2 (2002): 387-404.  BC Library, Online Journals

Rod Mengham, An Introduction to Contemporary Fiction: International Writing in English since 1970.  (Polity Press, Cambridge, 1999)

Tariq Modood & Richard Berthoud et al. (eds.), Ethnic Minorities in Britain: Diversity and Disadvantage.  ((Policy Studies Institute London, 1997)

Tom Nairn, After Britain: New Labour and the Return of Scotland.  (Granta Book, 2000). (on Reserve)

Íde O'Carroll & Eoin Collin (eds.), Lesbian and gay visions of Ireland: towards the twenty-first century . (Cassell, 1995).

Fintan O’Toole, The Lie of the Land: Irish Indentities.  (Verso, 1997).

Kwesi Owusu (ed.), Black British Culture and Society: A Reader.  (Routledge, 2000). (on Reserve)

Linden Peach, The contemporary Irish novel : critical readings. (New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2004)

Daniel Pipes, The Rushdie Affair: The Nove, the Ayatollah, and the West. (A Birch Lane Press Book, 1990)

Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991. (Granta, 1991). (on Reserve)

Bill Schwarz (ed.), The Expansion of England: Race, ethnicity and cultural history.  (Routledge,                 1996)

Gerry Smyth, The Novel and The Nation: Studies in the New Irish Fiction.  (Pluto Press, 1997). (on Reserve)

Smyth, Lisa.  “Narrative of Irishness and the Problem of Abortion:  The X Case 1992.”  Feminist Review  60 (1998):61-83.

Christine St. Peter, Changing Ireland : strategies in contemporary women’s fiction. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000)

Ray Ryan, Ireland and Scotland: literature and culture, state and nation, 1966-2000 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

Randall Stevenson, A Reader’s Guide to the Twentieth-Century Novel in Britain.  (The University Press of Kentucky, 1993)

Philip Tew, The contemporary British novel. (London ; New York : Continuum, 2004).

Richard Todd, Consuming Fictions: The Booker Prize and Fiction in Britain Today.  (Bloomsbury, London, 1996).

Gavin Wallace & Randall Stevenson (eds.), The Scottish Novel Since the Seventies.  (Edinburgh University Press, 1993).

Éibhear Walshe (ed.), Sex, Nation and Dissent in Irish Writing.  (Cork University Press, 1997).

Christopher Whyte,(ed.), Gendering the Nation: Studies in Modern Scottish Literature.  (Edinburgh University Press, 1995)

 

 

Journals and Data Bases:

In addition to checking for reviews of novels that you are working on, you will need to do an extensive search of relevant journals and biographical indexes to gather material for your project:

 

For Newspapers (general articles, book reviews, social and political commentary), utilize Lexis-Nexus (available on-line at O’Neill — go to Library Homepage, to “Online Databases,” to Lexis-Nexus: URL: http://web.lexis-nexis.com/universe

 

For Literary/Critical/Theoretical articles, search “Abell,”  “MLA Bibliography” and “Project Muse” indexes (also available at O’Neill, go to “Online Databases”:  URL: http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/ulib/ref/Onlinenew.html#L

 

You might also want to check out the “Book Review Digest,” “Contemporary Authors,” “Contemporary Literary Criticism Select,” indexes (also available at O’Neill, go to “Online Databases”:  URL: http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/ulib/ref/Onlinenew.html#L

 

In terms of useful Literary Homepages, you might want to check out some of the following:

Andrew Crummy’s excellent Scottish Writers homepage, URL: http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~crumey/scot.html

 

The Voice of the Shuttle (VoS) English Literature Main Page (Directions to Contemporary British Literary Links, Single Author Literary Links, Scottish, Irish, Welsh and Subcontinental (great Rushdie information) literary links; URL: http://vos.ucsb.edu/shuttle/english.html

 

Philip Casey’s Guide to Irish Writers (emphasis on Twentieth Century), URL: http://irishwriters-online.com/

 

Irish Studies Homepages, follow Links from American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS) homepage at URL: http://www.acisweb.com/

and/or the International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures (IASIL) Homepage, at URL:

http://www.ulst.ac.uk/faculty/humanities/lang+lit/iasil/