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Irish Literature I: Irish-Language Literature from the Middle Ages to the 18th Century

Class at Faculty of Arts |

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The course gives an overview of the most remarkable Irish-literary works and narrative traditions since the beginning of literacy in Ireland until the 18th century. It highlights the productive dynamics between native pagan influences and Christianity, very prominent in early Irish writing, and takes into account literary, cultural and political resonances of the works in later periods. The originals of the works are in various forms of Irish from Old to Modern. Knowledge of any of these forms is welcome, but not necessary for the course as translations to English will be available. In the discussion of the individual texts, salient linguistic and formal features of the original will be highlighted, followed by a discussion of the social, historical and literary contexts of the works.


CREDIT REQUIREMENTS 1. Regular attendance and active participation in debates. A maximum of 2 unexplained absences is allowed. 2. Adding responses or questions to moodle based on the assigned reading. 3. A final essay (2500-3000 words) submitted by e-mail in MS Word format (or compatible). Deadline for essays: 31 January. Students wishing to be awarded an additional exam grade (písemná práce) in the course are required to submit, instead of the essay, a graded research paper (min. 4500-5000 words). Unless students are able to deal with originals, they are advised to focus on modern English-language reflections of the Irish texts (history of translations, literary or political use etc.).

PLEASE NOTE: Essays must include full bibliographical references and footnotes for all works cited or paraphrased (in accordance with the Chicago “notes and bibliography” style – consult “essay guidelines” on the department website). Plagiarism will not be tolerated and will result in a fail grade.

SCHEDULE 5 Oct – No class 12 Oct – Introduction: Historical, Linguistic and Literary background 19 Oct – Early Irish Lyrics

Read: Early Irish Lyrics (selection) 26 Oct – Táin Bó Cuailnge and the Ulster Cycle

Read: Táin Bó Cuailnge (selection) in Ciaran Carson’s translation 2 Nov – Cath Maige Tuired and the Mythological Cycle

Read: Cath Maige Tuired (trans.) 9 Nov – Guest lecture: Peter Mackay 16 Nov – The Fenian Cycle

Read: Acallamh na Senórach (selection), Bodach in Chóta Lachtna, Agallamh Oisín agus Phádraig 23 Nov – Buile Shuibhne (The Frenzy of Suibhne)

Read: Buile Shuibhne (trans. Seamus Heaney – Sweeney Astray) 30 Nov – Irish Adventure and Voyage Tales

Read: Immram Brain (text and translation on Irish Sagas Online, or Czech translation in Bájné plavby do jiných světů) 7 Dec – The Sovereignty Myth in Irish-language literature

Read: Mis agus Dubh Ruis (trans. Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill), Echtra Mac nEchan Muigmedóin (Irish Sagas Online), a selection of poems 14 Dec – Early Irish parody

Read: Aislinge Meic Conglinne / The Vision of Meic Conglinne (trans. Lahney Preston-Matto) 21 Dec – The Irish Keening Tradition

Read: A selection of Irish keens in translation (Angela Bourke, Doireann Ní Ghríofa) 4 Jan – Cúirt an Mheán-Oíche (The Midnight Court)

Read: Brian Merriman: Cúirt an Mheán-Oíche (Ciaran Carson’s translation) 11 Jan – On reserve