HUMS 639
A Terrible Beauty: How Irish Writers Transformed Modern Literature and Change the Way We See the World

Daniel Burt   

Modern Irish Literature is an ideal subject for an immersion. Rich in subject matter, modern Irish literature is crucially important for an understanding of the shape and method of drama, poetry, and fiction. We will begin by establishing the historical imperatives that formed the modern Irish literary response and follow it be day-long sessions on each of the four literary genres: drama, poetry, short story, and the novel. Lecture and discussion will be supplemented by screening of various films.

Reading List

Yeats, Cathleen ni Houlihan, Selected Poems
Lady Gregory, The Rising of the Moon
Synge, The Playboy of the Western World
O’Casey, The Plough and the Stars
Beckett, Waiting for Godot
Friel, Translations
Heaney, Selected Poems
Boland, Selected Poems
Joyce, Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses (episodes 1, 4, 6, 10, 17, 18)
Doyle, The Barrytown Trilogy

Course Calendar
Day 1

History, Consciousness, Landscape, and the Creation of Modern Irish Literature           

            Am: A Survey of Irish History and the background of the Irish Literary Revival
            Pm: Consideration of key documents, including Yeats’ Cathleen Ni Houlihan

Screenings:  The Field and The Wind that Shakes the Barley

Day 2

Modern Irish Drama           

            Am: The Abbey Theatre Dramatists: Yeats, Lady Gregory, Synge, and O’Casey
            Pm: Beckett and Friel 

Screenings:  Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Brian Friel’s Philadelphia, Here I Come

Day 3

Modern Irish Poetry           

            Am: Yeats
            Pm: Heaney and Boland 

Screenings:  Poetry Reading by Seamus Heaney and Bloody Sunday

Day 4

Modern Irish Short Story           

            Am: Joyce’s Dubliners
            Pm: The Post-Joyce Irish Short Story 

Screenings:  The Dead and Joyce to the World

Day 5

Modern Irish Novel           

            Am: Portrait of the Artist and Ulysses and the creation of the Modern Novel
            Pm: The Post-Joyce Irish Novel 

Screenings:  Bloom and The Commitments