Charles Explorer logo

Irish Culture and Politics

Class at Faculty of Arts |

This text is not available in the current language. Showing version "cs".Syllabus

Week 1 (22/2)

Introduction, Medieval Ireland no preliminary reading  

Week 2 (29/2)

Guest Lecture: Dr. Ken Ó Donnchú (University College Cork)  

Week 3 (7/3)

The English Involvement in Ireland (pre-1601)

Reading: Gerald of Wales, The Topography of Ireland (Distinction III: On the Inhabitants of this Country, chapters X, XI, XIX-XXVIII, to be found on pages 68-79); Edmund Spenser, A View of the Present State of Ireland (excerpts); Muireadach Albanach Ó Dálaigh, “An Irritable Genius”

Questions: What are the Irish like according to Gerald of Wales?  

What reproachable customs of the Irish does Spenser list? What are the causes of the degeneration of the Old Irish? What measures does he propose to pacify Ireland? What goal does Ó Dálaigh pursue in his poem?  

Week 4 (14/3)

The Collapse of Gaelic Ireland

Reading: Aogán Ó Rathaille, “Gile na Gile”; Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill, “Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire

Questions: What is the woman in Ó Rathaille’s “Gile na Gile” like and what is her situation?  What themes are treated in Ní Chonaill’s lament?   

Week 5 (21/3)

The 1798 Rebellion

Reading: Stewart Parker, Northern Star

Questions: How does the play present the United Irishmen? Comment on the (very unusual) structure of the play.    

Week 6 (28/3)

No class (Dean’s holiday, Irish Studies Workshop)  

Week 7 (4/4)

Home Rule and Language Revival

Reading:  James Joyce, “Ivy Day in the Committee Room” (from Dubliners); Douglas Hyde, “The Necessity of De-Anglicising Ireland”; J.M. Synge, “Can We Go Back into Our Mother’s Womb?”  P.H. Pearse, “About Literature”

Questions: How is fire used as a symbol in “Ivy Day”? Why should Ireland be “de-anglicised” according to Hyde and what steps does he propose? Why does Synge object against the work of the Gaelic League? What opinions does Pearse hold about modern Irish-language literature?  

Week 8 (11/4)

Celticism and Cultural Nationalism

Reading: James Macpherson, Fragments of Ancient Poetry (Fragment V, VIII, XIII); Ernest Renan, The Poetry of the Celtic Races (Introduction and Part I); Matthew Arnold, On the Study of Celtic Literature (Introduction, Preface, Part IV); The Irish Literary Theatre ‘manifesto’

Questions: List 3 principal qualities/features of Macpherson’s fragments. List 3 reasons why Renan suggests that Celtic poetry should be studied. List 5 principal features of the Celtic races according to Arnold.    

Week 9 (18/4) Guest Lecture: Tomás Finn (University of Galway)

Lost decades or decades of change? Mid 20th-century Ireland  

Week 10 (25/4)

From the Easter Rising to the Irish Free State

Reading:  W.B. Yeats, Cathleen Ni Houlihan; Patrick Pearse, “Fornocht do Chonac”; Sean O’Casey, The Plough and the Stars

Questions: What is the nature of the old woman’s complaint in Cathleen Ni Houlihan? What does the speaker renounce in “Fornocht do Chonac” and why? What do the basic shortcomings / failures of the Easter Rising consist in according to O’Casey’s play?  

Week 11 (2/5)

The Free State and the Republic

Reading: Elizabeth Bowen, “Sunday Afternoon”, Mairéad Ní Ghráda, An Triail

Questions: How is nature (weather, plants, etc.) used in Bowen’s story? Why does the protagonist call the young woman “Miranda”? For what is Irish society put on trial in Ní Ghráda’s play?  

Week 12 (9/5)

The “Troubles”

Reading:  Anna Burns, Milkman (Chapters 1-2)

Questions: Comment on the nature of the society depicted in the novel – how is political conflict described? Comment on the novel’s distinctive style. In what ways does the novel address issues of gender?  

Week 13 (16/5)

Celtic Tiger and Beyond

Reading: Sally Rooney, Normal People

Questions: The novel is often read as an expression of the mentality of the current generation in Ireland and far beyond. Do you agree with this reading? List the reasons why / why not. What problems in Irish society are addressed in the novel?    


Attridge, Derek,  ed.. The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Brown, Terence, Ireland: A Social and Cultural History 1922-1985. London: Fontana, 1985.

Connolly, Claire, ed.. Theorizing Ireland. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

Deane, Seamus. Strange Country. Modernity and Nationhood in Ireland since 1790. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998.

Eagleton, Terry. Heathcliff and the Great Hunger. Studies in Irish Culture. London: Verso, 1995.

Foster, John Wilson. Fictions of the Irish Literary Revival. A Changeling Art. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1987.

Foster, R.F.. Modern Ireland 1600-1972. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1989.

Grene, Nicholas. The Politics of Irish Drama. Plays in Context from Boucicault to Friel. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Howes, Marjorie and John Kelly. The Cambridge Companion to W.B. Yeats. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Kelleher, Margaret and Philip O’Leary, eds. The Cambridge History of Irish Literature. 2 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Kelly, Fergus, A Guide to Early Irish Law (Dublin: Institute for Advanced Studies, 1988).

Leerssen, Joep. Mere Irish and Fíor-Ghael: Studies in the Idea of Irish Nationality, Its Development and Literary Expression Prior to the Nineteenth Century. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1997.

Leerssen, Joep. Remembrance and Imagination: Patterns in the Historical and Literary Representations of Ireland in the Nineteenth Century. Cork: Cork University Press, 1996.

Markus, Radvan. Echoes of the Rebellion: The Year 1798 in Twentieth Century Irish Fiction and Drama. Bern: Peter Lang, 2015.

Mc Cormack, W.J.. From Burke to Beckett: Ascendancy, Tradition and Betrayal in Literary History. Cork: Cork University Press, 1994.

Ní Bhrolcháin, Muireann. An Introduction to Early Irish Literature. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2009.

O’Leary, Philip. Prose Literature of the Gaelic Revival, 1881-1921: Ideology and Innovation. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994.

Ó Tuama, Seán and Thomas Kinsella. An Duanaire 1600-1900: Poems of the Disposessed. Mountrath, Portlaoise: The Dolmen Press, 1985.

Pilný, Ondřej. Irony and Identity in Modern Irish Drama. Praha: Litteraria Pragensia, 2006.

Williams, J.E. Caerwyn and Patrick K. Ford, The Irish Literary Tradition. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1992.          

This text is not available in the current language. Showing version "cs".Annotation

The course examines a selection of significant periods in Irish history from the Middle Ages up to the late twentieth century. On the background of the socio-political context, it focuses on a variety of literary reflections of the given periods, paying special attention to their relevance for contemporary notions of Ireland and Irish identity.

The course is supplemented by a selection of audiovisual material. moodle link:

Study programmes