EN 181.01                                                                                                                                                         Fall, 2007

Irish Literature Survey-Twentieth Century                                                                     James Smith

Carney 204                                                                                                                                                      MWF  11:00-11:50




This course offers an introduction to literature and culture from Twentieth Century Ireland.  Early in the semester we will read key literary figures, including William Butler Yeats, John Millington Synge, and James Joyce.  Then we will quickly turn our attention to post-Revival authors, including Patrick Kavanagh, Kate O’Brien, Seamus Heaney, Eavan Boland, and Roddy Doyle.  Throughout the semester, the class will discuss significant social, political and cultural developments, e.g., the formation of an Irish identity for the newly independent nation, the importance of the ‘Gaelic’ language and problems with translation, women’s role in post-independent Ireland, Church-State relations, the urban/rural divide, and Northern Ireland.  We will also view a number of films and documentaries (including The Dead and The Magdalene Sisters). No prior knowledge of Irish history is expected; short historical essays will be provided periodically throughout the semester.


Course Materials:

Required Texts:

Burke Brogan, Patricia                Eclipsed

Crotty, Patrick (ed.).                      Modern Irish Poetry: An Anthology (Dufour, 1997) M.I.P.

Doyle, Roddy.                                                      The Woman Who Walked Into Doors (Viking Penguin, 1996)

Harrington, John P (ed.).           Modern Irish Drama  (Norton 1991) M.I.D.

Joyce, James.                                       Dubliners  (Viking, 1993)

O’Brien, Kate.                                   Land of Spices (Viking, 1990)

Yeats, William B.                            Early Poems (Dover Publication, 1993)

Yeats, William B.                            Easter 1916 & Other Poems (Dover Publications, 1997)


Reserve Reading Materials – O’Neill Library Reserve Room and Online Reserves for articles

Brown, Terence. Ireland: a social and cultural history, 1922 to the present.

Corcoran, Neil. After Yeats and Joyce: reading modern Irish literature.

Deane, Seamus (Gen. Ed.).  The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing. Vols. 1-3.

Deane, Seamus. Celtic revivals : essays in modern Irish literature1880-1980.

Grene, Nicholas. The politics of Irish drama : plays in context from Boucicault to Friel.

Haberstroh, Patricia Boyle. Women creating women : contemporary Irish women poets.

Innes, C. L. Woman and nation in Irish literature and society, 1880-1935.

Jeffers, Jennifer. The Irish Novel at the End of the Twentieth Century

Johnston, Dillon.  Irish poetry after Joyce.

Kiberd, Declan. Inventing Ireland.

Murray, Christopher.  Twentieth-Century Irish Drama: Mirror up to the Nation

Richards, Shaun. The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth Century Irish Drama

Pilkington, Lionel. Theatre and State in Twentieth Century Ireland: Cultivating the People

Murray, Christopher.  Twentieth-century Irish drama: mirror up to nation.

Yeats, W. B. Yeats' poems.  Edited and annotated by A. Norman Jeffares ; with an appendix by Warwick Gould.


Film Materials – O’Neill Media Room

The Magdalene Sisters. Dir. Peter Mullan.(Momentum Pictures,2002), 114 mins.

The Dead. Dir. John Houston. (Vestro Video, 1988). 82 Minutes



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 in 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 11:00 am.  Please arrive on time.

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

i) reading assigned texts before class and regular (active) participation [10%].

ii) a group presentation addressing one of the subjects listed on the syllabus.  Each presentation group will be primarily responsible for the secondary critical material (in the right-hand column of the schedule below). This requires 2 specific tasks:

a.  creating a summary, an evaluation, and a list of a major issues explored in each of the critical essays.  This should be emailed to the class the night before the presentation class.

b. creating a set of questions we should consider before class to prepare for the group discussion. This can be circulated on the day of the group presentation.

Each group is required to meet with me during office hours at least 2 weeks prior to the group presentation date.  Each group must also write-up an outline of the presentation and submit it together with a bibliography of additional sources.  Typed outlines are due at the beginning of the subsequent class. [10 %]

iii) two short essays (6-8  pages), due October 15 and November 19 [20% each].  Papers must be typed and should follow the MLA Handbook format.

                  iv) an in-class mid-term exam on October 19 [20%]

                  v) a final exam, date TBD [20 %]


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. The grading system consists of twelve categories, as follows: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, F.  A is excellent; B is good; C is satisfactory; D is passing but unsatisfactory; F is failure.

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. Please note that there are no classes on Wednesday, Nov. 21 due to the holiday, but there will be class on Monday, Nov. 19 when your second paper is due.  Please plan accordingly.

V)            Please review the “Boston College Statement on Academic Integrity,” part of the University Code of Student Conduct, at www.bc.edu/integrity. Please ask any question(s) you have; it is your responsibility, as a member of the academic community, to uphold its principles.  PLAGIARISM could result not only in your earning an F in this course, but also in your dismissal from the university.

VI)               My office is located in Connolly House, 300 Hammond Street.  The Office Number is 301. Office hours this semester will be Monday noon-1:15 and Wednesday noon-2:30p.m.  I strongly encourage students to come and speak to me concerning any aspect of the course during this time. 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 Reading

Background and Presentation Reading

W. Sept. 5

Introductions, Review Syllabus, Profiles

F. Sept. 7

Edward Said’s, “Yeats and Decolonization”  (Online Reserves)


M. Sept. 10

Douglas Hyde, "The Necessity for De-Anglicising Ireland" (Online Reserves)


W. Sept. 12

Lady Gregory, “Our National Theatre,” Yeats’s “An Irish National Theatre,” and John Eglinton’s “What Should Be the Subjects of National Drama?  M.I.D.

Terence Brown, "Cultural Nationalism, 1880-1930." The Field Day Anthology of Irish Literature, V.11, 516-20 (Online Reserves)

F. Sept. 14

Yeats’ Early Poems


M. Sept. 17

Yeats’  “Cathleen Ni Houlihan.” M.I.D.

Deane, “Yeats and the Idea of Revolution,” (CR 38-50) (Online Reserves)

W. Sept. 19

John Millington Synge, The Playboy of the Western World M.I.D.

Declan Kiberd, “J.M. Synge – Remembering the Future.” (II 166-190) (Online Reserves)

F. Sept. 21

John Millington Synge, The Playboy of the Western World M.I.D.


M. Sept. 24

Yeats’ “Easter 1916” & Other Poems

Declan Kiberd, "Uprising," Inventing Ireland Ch. 11, 196-218

W. Sept. 26

Yeats’ “Easter 1916” & Other Poems


F. Sept. 28

Student Presentation(s)

“Cultural Nationalism, the West, and the Abbey Theatre”

M. Oct. 1

James Joyce Dubliners

Seamus Deane, "Joyce the Irishman," Cambridge Companion to James Joyce, 31-55. (Online Reserves)

W. Oct. 3

James Joyce Dubliners

Marjorie Howes, "Goodbye Ireland I'm Going to Gort,"Semicolonial Joyce, 58-77. (Online Reserves)

F. Oct. 5

James Joyce Dubliners

Screening of John Houston’s The Dead


W. Oct. 10

James Joyce Dubliners


F. Oct. 12

Student Presentation

“Joyce’s Dublin”

M. Oct. 15

Post-Independent Ireland


W. Oct. 17

Yeats’s Speech on Divorce (1927) and Daniel Corkery “from: The Hidden Ireland [Both on Reserve]

Terence Brown, Ireland: A Social and Cultural History, Ch. 1, 13-36 (Online Reserves)

F. Oct. 19


M. Oct. 22

Austin Clarke’s Poetry M.I.P.

Neil Corcoran, "Lyrical Fields and Featherbeds," After Yeats and Joyce, Ch.3, 57-99 (Online Reserves)

W. Oct. 24

Patrick Kavanagh’s Poetry  M.I.P.

Jonathan Allison, “Patrick Kavanagh and antipastoral,” The Cambridge Companion to Contemporary Irish Poetry, 42-58. (Online Reserves)

F. Oct. 26

Patrick Kavanagh’s Poetry  M.I.P.

Neil Corcoran, “Lyrical Fields and Featherbeds…,” After Yeats and Joyce, 57-99 (Online Reserves)

M. Oct. 29

Kate O’Brien, Land of Spices

Read Mary Breen’s “Something Understood?: Kate O’Brien and The Land of Spices (Online Reserves)

W. Oct. 31

Kate O’Brien, Land of Spices


F. Nov. 2

Kate O’Brien, Land of Spices


M. Nov. 5

Student Presentation

“Rural Life and Post-Independent Ireland”

W. Nov. 7

Patricia Burke Brogan, Eclipsed

** Evening Screening of The Magdalene Sisters

F. Nov. 9

Patricia Burke Brogan, Eclipsed

James M. Smith, "The Magdalen Sisters: Evidence, Testimony … Action?" (Online Reserves)

M. Nov. 12

Seamus Heaney’s Poetry M.I.P.

Dillon Johnston, “Violence in Seamus Heaney’s Poetry,” The Cambridge Companion to Contemporary Irish Poetry, 113-32. (Online Reserves)

W. Nov. 14

Seamus Heaney’s Poetry M.I.P.

Seamus Deane, “Seamus Heaney: The Timorous and the Bold,” (CR 174-86) (Online Reserves)

F. Nov. 16

Brian Friel, Translations M.I.D.

Field Day Theatre Company “Program Notes,” Seamus Heaney’s “Review,” and Richard Kearney’s “Translations” M.I.D.

M. Nov. 19

Brian Friel, Translations M.I.D.

Declan Kiberd, “Friel Translating,” Inventing Ireland. Harvard UP, 1996. 614-23. (Online Reserves)




M. Nov. 26

Student Presentation(s)

“Northern Ireland and Identity Politics”

W. Nov. 28

Eavan Boland, and Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin M.I.P.

Patricia Boyle Haberstoh, “Eavan Boland.”  Women Creating Women, 59-92 (Online Reserves)

F. Nov. 30

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Paula Meehan M.I.P.

Patricia Boyle Haberstoh, “Nuala NiDhomhnaill.”  Women Creating Women, 161-96. (Online Reserves)

M. Dec. 3

Roddy Doyle, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors

Read Gerry Smyth, “Roddy Doyle and the New Irish Fiction,” 65-97, esp. 65-8, “The Woman Who Walked into Doors,” 84-88. (Online Reserves)

W. Dec. 5

Roddy Doyle, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors

Jeffers, Jennifer M. “The Woman Who Walked Into Doors,” 48-64. (Online Reserves)


F. Dec. 7

Student Presentation(s)

“Irish Women and Cultural Representation”

M. Dec. 10

Make Up Day and Review



Final Exam