English 5350: Modern British Writers: The Dynamics of English/Irish Modernism (Professor Tom Shea, Fall 2016)
This survey will examine the colonial and postcolonial dynamics of English and Irish literatures, histories, and cultures during the first third of the twentieth century. The fulcrum for the course will be the interplay of modernism and political upheavals coinciding with England’s engagement in World War I, Ireland’s fledgling independence as the Irish Free State, and the beginning of the end of the British Empire.
Disunited Kingdom: Post-war British Drama and the State (Professor Mary Burke, Spring 2017)
This seminar will examine 20th– and 21st-century British Drama. We will begin with the radical drama of the early 20th-century, give the bulk of our attention to the post-war and progressively post-Empire period, and conclude with the current multicultural and devolutionist moment. We will trace a tradition of subversion emanating from the geographical and ideological peripheries of Britain that encompasses Wilde, Shaw, Osborne, Orton, Arden, Murphy, Pinter, Stoppard, Brenton, Churchill, Duffy, McGuinness, Kay, McDonagh, and Williams, among others. Our readings will emphasize how such voices successively challenged mainstream British identity and values, and will highlight the successive historical, political, and cultural contexts of the drama. Contexts will include the querying of Empire in Victorian and Edwardian drama, the post-war/post-Empire Welfare State and its relationship to the emergence of working-class, black, and geographically “marginal” voices in a variety of arts from the 1950s onward, the links between the decriminalization of homosexuality and the abolition of theatre censorship in the 1960s, the rise of Thatcherism, the interrogation of the patriarchal/nuclear family, and the emergence of feminist and queer drama into the 1980s, the rise of “Irish theatre” as a deterritorialized brand on the London stage in the recent “Celtic Tiger” period (1990s) within the context of post-war emigration to Britain from the former colonies, and − in light of issues such as the Northern Irish “Troubles” and the 2014 Scottish independence referendum − the ongoing staging of a Disunited Kingdom.
ENGL 6700: Henry James and Oscar Wilde: Varieties of Irish identity in 19th-century America and Ireland (Professor Burke)
The U.S. coinage “Scots-Irish” refers to Presbyterians of Scottish descent from the northern Irish province of Ulster who settled in the American colonies. By 1790, one half of the 400,000 U.S. residents who were commonly labeled “Irish” descended from Ulster alone. Nevertheless, the “Irishness” of these immigrants ultimately recedes, and the identity does not fit within the current popular understanding of Irish-Americanness, which is implicitly Catholic, urban, and post-Famine. This course will consider “Irishnesses” in relation to Henry James and Oscar Wilde by examining writings by and about the authors and through the lens of Colm Tóibín. We will do so by reading marginal and period texts by and about the Protestant Irish from both sides of the Atlantic comparatively (which I will provide).
ENGL 6575: Seminar in Women Writers: Contemporary Irish Women’s Fiction (Professor Lynch)
This course will examine a broad representative selection of recent and contemporary Irish women’s long and short fiction, running from Edna O’Brien’s early work to novels and short stories published within the last couple of years. The focus of the course will be on the narrative voices we encounter and on the social and cultural milieus from which these voices speak. How are these characters and milieus represented (or occasionally misrepresented), and why? For example, Edna O’Brien and many of the short story writers have been both praised for unsparing honest and blamed for offering up a victimology of Irish womanhood in which men are consistently portrayed negatively or simply not taken seriously. We will address this and the many other issues arising from these texts, including the Irish women’s loneliness and anonymity and what Eavan Boland describes as the “silence” surrounding her; her “place” in her society; the constraint of – and suffering engendered by – laws forbidding choice; national and religious identity; past, present, and future; destructive family dynamics and domestic violence; poverty and hardship balanced by endurance, self sufficiency, and strength. Our authors (Catholic and Protestant; from the North and the South of Ireland) take us from mid-twentieth-century Ireland to the end of the Tiger Years. Requirements: one 15-20 minute “conference paper” class presentation intended to provoke discussion, one short summary and analysis of a relevant recent article or chapter on one of our writers, to be presented in class, and one research paper (20+ pgs.), due at the end of the semester. Tentative texts: Edna O’Brien, Country Girls Trilogy and Down By The River; Emma Donoghue, Hood and Landing ; Mary Dorcey, A Noise From the Woodshed; Molly Keane, Good Behaviour and Time After Time ; Jennifer Johnston, The Old Jest, Foolish Mortals, and Grace and Truth; Deirdre Madden, Hidden Symptoms, One by One in the Darkness, and Molly Fox’s Birthday; and Eilis Ni Dhuibhne, The Dancers Dancing.
ENGL 5350: Modern British Writers (Professor Burke)
This seminar will examine Modern Irish and British Drama from the immediate pre-Revival period to the close of the twentieth century. Plays by, among others, Shaw, Wilde, Arden, Murphy, Brenton, Friel, McGuinness, McDonagh and McPherson will be considered. The course will emphasize the historical, political and cultural contexts of the relationship between the two traditions, both before and after 1922, when the island of Ireland was partitioned into an independent Republic of Ireland and the UK-constituent Northern Ireland. Our starting point will be an examination of the reasons why playwrights of Irish origin such as Shaw and Wilde were long categorized as British but have been relatively recently “repatriated” by critics. Conversely,in the contemporary globalized theatre scene, certain Irish-born playwrights who have had little success in Dublin are constituted as successful “Irish” dramatists on the London stage. We will also consider the complexities inherent in certain contemporary British-born playwrights’ claiming of Irish identity (e.g. Martin McDonagh and John Arden) and the debates generated in Ireland and Britain by the perceived political allegiances of contemporary Northern Irish and British playwrights who depict the Northern Irish Troubles (e.g. McGuinness and Brenton). Tentative Reading List: Shaw, John Bull’s Other Island; Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest; Murphy, A Whistle in the Dark; Pinter, The Homecoming; Orton, What the Butler Saw; Stoppard, Travesties; Arden, Live Like Pigs; Friel, Translations and Making History; McDonagh Beauty Queen of Leenane; McPherson, The Weir; McGuinness, Observe the Sons of Ulster; Brenton, Romans in Britain; Stewart Parker, Northern Star and Pentecost
ENGL 6700: Seminar in Major Authors: James Joyce (Professor Hogan)
A careful consideration of Ulysses that sought to gain a solid understanding of this complex work. Course concentrated on the psychology of the work, its narrative and stylistic techniques, and a few prominent themes largely related to colonialism.
ENGL 5360: Irish Literature (Professor Burke)
Survey course which considered a variety of literatures from Ireland from the eighteenth to the early twenty-first century. There was a strong emphasis on canonical late nineteenth and twentieth-century writings by Wilde, Yeats, Synge, O’Brien, Heaney, McCabe, McDonagh and Carr, the course also included eighteenth century Scots dialect poetry of the Ulster Weaver Poets alongside near-contemporaneous Irish language poetry from the province of Munster (in translation) and close by looking at the literature of contemporary Irish minority communities, including a novel by an Irish Traveller (“Gypsy”) writer and Roddy Doyle and Irish-Nigerian playwright Bisi Adigun’s rewriting of Synge’s Playboy of the Western World from the Celtic Tiger-era immigrant perspective.
ENGL 6360: Irish Studies Special Topics Seminar: Representations of the “Troubles” (Professor Lynch)
This course consisted of the study of portrayals of the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland. This turbulent period has spawned a rich creative output from writers and film-makers across the political, religious, and ideological spectra. Texts included a selection of short stories, novels, plays, and films with a focus on the “Troubles,” grappling with both content and historical context. Central to the course was an interrogation of the communication gaps engendered by the “Troubles”: gaps between Catholics and Protestants, men and women, Northerners and Southerners.
The Learned Contexts of Literature in Medieval Ireland and Wales (2010 Charles A. Owen, Jr. Visiting Professor in Medieval Studies, Paul Russell of University of Cambridge)
This course set out to explore the complex network of connections between so-called ‘learned’ texts in medieval Ireland and Wales, such as glossaries, laws, exegetical texts, triad-collections, etc., and the literature produced in those countries ranging from ca AD 650 to the poetry of Dafydd ap Gwilym in the mid-fourteenth century in Wales.
ENGL 6360: Seminar in Irish Literature: The Dialogue of British and Irish Drama from Shaw to McDonagh (Professor Burke)
This seminar examines Modern Irish and British Drama from the immediate pre-Revival period to the close of the twentieth century. Plays by, among others, Shaw, Wilde, Arden, Parker, Murphy, Brenton, Friel, McGuinness, McDonagh, and McPherson were considered. The course emphasizes the historical, political and cultural contexts of the relationship between the two traditions, both before and after 1922, when Ireland was partitioned into an independent Republic of Ireland and the UK constituent Northern Ireland.
HST 5373: Europe in the 17th Century: Early Modern Britain and Ireland (Professor Kane)
This course examined the interconnected histories of Britain and Ireland in the “early modern” period, a period of momentous change which is thought to have marked the bridge from the “medieval” to the “modern.” We read widely in the history of the region’s “four nations” – England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland – and explored topics such as religious change and plurality, the development of new political forms and theories, overseas expansion, cultural contact and conquest (“internally” as well as overseas), and the construction of national identities. To the extent that it was possible we explored these subjects from an integrative rather than comparative perspective.
ENGL 6360: Seminar in Irish Literature: “Irish Literature From the Peripheries” (Professor Shea)
This seminar focused on authors more on the “fringe,” of traditional Irish culture, offering more opportunities for students to develop their knowledge and their professional credentials “beyond the pale” of canonical figures such as Yeats and Joyce.
ENGL 6700: Two Contemporary Irish Novelists: Roddy Doyle and Edna O’Brien (Professor Lynch)
This course focused on two of Ireland’s best known and admired contemporary writers — Edna O’Brien and Roddy Doyle. Through their work we explored the many facets of life in Ireland from 1950 (and in one case even earlier) until the present. Both writers show particular concern with family dynamics and with women’s situations and status in contemporary Ireland, including women’s loneliness and what Eavan Boland describes as the “silence” surrounding them; their “place” in their society; the constraint of—and suffering engendered by—laws forbidding choice; national and religious identity; past, present, and future; destructive family dynamics and domestic violence; poverty and hardship balanced by endurance, self-sufficiency, and strength. Both writers also engage with politics. However, Doyle’s chief arena is the city while O’Brien frequently focuses on a more rural environment.
ENG 497: Irish Literature and Exile (Professor Shea)
This course centered on Irish literature from World War I to the present by writers who, for a multitude of reasons, write about Ireland from a position of exile. “Exile” was considered a volatile term throughout our studies as we explored how migration, expatriation, displacement, and tropes of banishment affect various authors’ senses of cultural identity and their literary texts. Authors included James Joyce, Elizabeth Bowen, Samuel Beckett, Liam O’Flaherty, Edna O’Brien, Patrick McGinley, Eamonn Wall, Eavan Boland, Colm McCann, and Paul Muldoon.
ENGL 496: Seminar in Major Authors: Oscar Wilde (Professor Burke)
This course approached Wilde as a canonical figure of both Irish and British literature, and covered a variety of his plays, poems, poems in rose, critical dialogues, children’s stories, aphorisms, and his novella. This seminar focused on the contexts of Wilde’s work and reputation, on Wildean intertexts, and on the literary influence of those in Wilde’s immediate circle.
ENG 365: Irish Fiction from the Big House to the Closet (Professor Lynch)
This course traced the development of Irish fiction from Castle Rackrent until the present time. We explored prevalent classic and contemporary subjects and themes, including The Big House, nation and gender, and the emergency of gay and lesbian fiction. Authors included Maria Edgeworth, Somerville and Ross, Elizabeth Bowen, Liam O’Flaherty, Brian Moore, Molly Keane, Jennifer Johnston, Edna O’Brien, Patrick McCabe, Colm Toibin, Emma Donoghue, and a selection of short stories.
ENGL 497: Recent and Contemporary Irish Women’s Fiction (Professor Lynch)
This course examined a broad representative selection of recent and contemporary Irish women’s long and short fiction, running from Edna O’Brien’s early work to novels and short stories published within the last couple of years. The focus of the course was on the narrative voices we encounter and on the social and cultural milieus from which these voices speak.
ENGL 497: The Abbey Theatre (Professor Burke)
This course examined the drama of dissent, tracing a tradition of subversion emanating from the geographical and ideological peripheries of Britain that encompasses Wilde, Shaw, Beckett, Osborne, Orton, Arden and D’Arcy, Walcott, and McDonagh, among others. Our readings emphasize how such voices successively challenged mainstream British identity and values.
ENGL 365: Irish Literature (Professor Shea)
This course centered on Modern and Contemporary Irish Literature from the turn of the century through the present. We studied writers from the following list: Oscar Wilde, John Millington Synge, Lady Gregory, William Butler Yeats, Sean O’Casey, James Joyce, Flann O’Brien, Samuel Beckett, Brian Friel, Julia O’Faolain, Nuala niDohmnaill, Patrick McGinley, Edna O’Brien, Roddy Doyle, Paul Muldoon, Martin McDonagh, Colm McCann, Colm Toibin, Marina Carr, and Seamus Heaney.
ENGL 497: Special Topics in Language and Literature: Translation of Irish-Language Literature (Professor Burke)
This was the first ever Irish-language course offered at the University and prompted the creation of UConn’s Irish Language Club. The course balanced Irish language instruction with a thorough discussion of the politics translation including hands-on practice.