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Modern Irish Literature II: Contemporary Drama

Class at Faculty of Arts |


M.A. Special Programme: Irish Studies (basic course), British Literature and Commonwealth Cultural Studies (extension course).

Note: Attendance at a Modern Irish Literature I course is not a prerequisite for this course.


The course charts the vibrant territory of Irish drama and theatre of the last four decades. It examines the nature of the Irish dramatic canon and the features of what has, until very recently, typically passed for an “Irish play”; it then proceeds to discuss the radical changes that have occurred in Irish writing for the stage and in theatre practice since the 1990s. Principal issues to discuss within the context include the gradual shift from re-negotiations of collective identity towards a focus on the individual in the 1990s; the influence of British and American drama on the one hand and of innovative international theatre practice on the other; the shift in the politics of Irish theatre from the context of the nation towards a critique of social injustice and various forms of discrimination; the nation-wide discussion of gender inequality in the arts triggered by the Waking the Feminists (2015-16) initiative; and last but not least, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on theatre.

SCHEDULE 1. (23 Feb) Introduction 2. (2 Mar) Brian Friel, Translations 3. (9 Mar) Tom Murphy, The Gigli Concert 16 Mar – no class 4. (23 Mar) Frank McGuinness, Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching towards the Somme 5. (30 Mar) Martin McDonagh, The Cripple of Inishmaan 6. (6 Apr) Marina Carr, The Mai 13 Apr – no class 7. (20 Apr) Arthur Riordan & Bell Helicopter, Improbable Frequency 8. (27 Apr) Amy Conroy, I ♥ Alice ♥ I 9. (4 May) Louise Lowe and ANU Productions, The Boys of Foley Street 10. (11 May) David Ireland, Cyprus Avenue 11. (18 May) Enda Walsh, Medicine


Grene, Nicholas and Chris Morash, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Theatre. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Jordan, Eamonn and Eric Weitz, eds. The Palgrave Handbook of Contemporary Irish Theatre and Performance. London: Palgrave, 2018.

Murray, Christopher. Twentieth-century Irish Drama: Mirror up to Nation. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997.

Lonergan, Patrick. Theatre and Globalization. Irish Drama in the Celtic Tiger Era. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Roche, Anthony. Contemporary Irish Drama. 2nd ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

Jordan, Eamonn. Dissident Dramaturgies: Contemporary Irish Theatre. Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2010.

Grene, Nicholas. The Politics of Irish Drama. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Maguire, Tom. Making Theatre in Northern Ireland: Through and Beyond the Troubles. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2006.

Wallace, Clare. Suspect Cultures: Narrative, Identity and Citation in 1990s New Drama. Prague: Litteraria Pragensia, 2006.

Jordan, Eamonn, ed. Theatre Stuff: Critical Essays on Contemporary Irish Theatre. Dublin: Carysfort Press, 2000.

Bolger, Dermot, ed. Druids, Dudes and Beauty Queens: The Changing Face of Irish Theatre. Dublin: New Island, 2001.

Weitz, Eric. The Power of Laughter: Comedy and Contemporary Irish Theatre. Dublin: Carysfort Press, 2004.

Pilný, Ondřej. The Grotesque in Contemporary Anglophone Drama. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.

CREDIT REQUIREMENTS consist of 1. Regular attendance and active participation in debates (based on the assigned reading). A maximum of 2 unexplained absences is allowed. 2. Oral presentation of 20 min duration. 3. A final essay. Final essays for Credit (Záp.) should be 2500-3000 words. Students who wish to earn also an exam grade (Zk.) in the subject must sign up for this separately in the SIS and submit an additional research paper of 4500-5000 words. The topic of any essay must be consulted with the course instructor in advance. Essays must include full bibliographical references and footnotes for all works cited or paraphrased (in accordance with the Notes and Bibliography Chicago style). Students are advised not to use Internet sources in place of adequately researching texts available in print or in academic digital collections. Plagiarism will not be tolerated and will result in a fail grade. Essays are submitted by e-mail to the course instructor (as an MS Word/Open Office document). Deadline for all essays: 8 June 2022. Any rewrites must be submitted by 2 September 2022.