A Terrible Beauty: How Irish Writers Transformed Modern Literature
and Changed the Way We See the World
|June 28||Introductions and Preliminaries|
|June 30||Irish Drama I: Yeats and Synge|
|July 5||Irish Poetry I: Yeats|
|July 7||Irish Fiction I: Joyce: Dubliners|
|July 12||Irish Poetry II: Yeats|
|July 14||Irish Fiction II: Joyce: Portrait and Ulysses|
|July 19||Irish Fiction III: Joyce: Ulysses|
|July 21||Irish Drama II: O'Casey|
|July 26||Irish Drama III: Beckett|
|July 28||Irish Poetry III: Heaney|
|August 2||Irish Drama IV: Friel|
|If you must miss a class, please contact me ahead of time by phone or e-mail. More than two unexcused absences require a withdrawal from the course. Deadlines for submission of work and presentations are serious, and grade reductions will be made for any unexcused missed deadline. Please see me ahead of the due date to discuss any problems you may have. Each class meeting will include a 10-minute break. I don’t mind your bringing something to eat or drink to sustain you through our discussions, provided you are unobtrusive, and sharing would be nice!|
|Students are advised to keep a reading journal recording your reaction to your reading throughout the term and come to class with a critical questions and tentative answers on each class’s reading. Each student will lead a discussion on a selected poem by Yeats or Heaney or a story from Dubliners and distribute a “lesson plan” for you presentation to the class. A final critical essay on one of the works below and a take-home final exam will be due on August 12.|
|Works for Final Critical Essay|
Works for Final Critical Essay
You should select one of the works listed here as the subject for a critical review (5-7pp) that attempts to place the work in the wider context of Modern Irish Literature and with the other works on the reading list.
Malcolm Brown, The Politics of Irish Literature
James M. Cahalan, Irish Novel: A Critical History
Neil Corcoran, After Yeats and Joyce: Reading Modern Irish Literature
Seamus Deane, Celtic Revivals; A Short History of Irish Literature
Denis Donoghue, We Irish
Douglas Dunn, Two Decades of Irish Writing
Michael Etherton, Contemporary Irish Dramatists
Richard Fallis, The Irish Renaissance
Robert F. Garratt, Modern Irish Poetry: Tradition and Continuity from Yeats to Heaney
Seamus Heaney, Preoccupations: Selected Prose; The Place of Writing
John Hilderbidle, Five Irish Writers
Robert Hogan, After the Irish Renaissance: A Critical History of the Irish Drama Since “The Plough and the Stars”
Herbert Howarth, The Irish Writers, 1880-1940: Literature and Nationalism
Rudiger Imhof, The Modern Irish Novel
A.N. Jeffares, Anglo-Irish Literature
Johnston, Dillon, Irish Poetry after Joyce
Hugh Kenner, A Colder Eye: the Modern Irish Writers
Declan Kiberd, Inventing Ireland; Irish Classics
Benedict Kiely, Modern Irish Fiction
Augustine Martin, Anglo-Irish Literature
D.E.S. Maxwell, A Critical History of Modern Irish Drama
Vivian Mercier, Modern Irish Literature: Sources and Founders; The Irish Comic Tradition
Conor Cruise O’Brien, The Politics of Literature
William Trevor, A Writer’s Ireland: Landscape in Literature
G.J. Watson, Irish Identity and the Literary Revival
Robert Welch, Changing States: Transformations in Modern Irish Writing
John Ardagh. Ireland and the Irish
J.C. Beckett, The Making of Modern Ireland
Mark Bence-Jones. Life in an Irish Country House
Terence Brown. Ireland: A Social and Cultural History, 1922 to the Present.
Thomas Cahill. How the Irish Saved Civilization.
Sean Duffy, ed. Atlas of Irish History.
R.F. Foster. Oxford History of Ireland; Modern Ireland
Theodore Hoppen. Ireland Since 1800.
Richard Killeen., A Short History of Ireland.
James Lydon. The Making of Ireland.
F.S. Lyons. Ireland Since the Famine; Culture and Anarchy in Ireland, 1870-1939
Cormac McCaffrey. In Search of Ancient Ireland.
Sean McMahon. A Short History of Ireland.
T.W. Moody. The Course of Irish History.
John Ranelagh. A Short History of Ireland.
Conor Cruise O’Brien. A Concise History of Ireland; States of Ireland
Michael J. O’Kelly. Early Ireland.
Douglas Roy. Ireland Since 1690: A Concise History,
Peter Somerville-Large. The Irish Country House.
Charles Townsend. Ireland: The 20th Century.
Fintan Vallely. The Companion to Irish Traditional Music.
Cecil Woodham Smith. The Great Hunger.
W. B. Yeats
Richard Ellmann, Yeats: The Man and the Mask; The Identity of Yeats
R.F. Foster, W.B. Yeats: A Life
A.N. Jeffares, W.B. Yeats: Man and Poet
Philip I. Marcus, Yeats and the Beginning of the Irish Renaissance
David Pierce, Yeats’s Worlds: Ireland, England and the Poetic Imagination
Peter Ure, Yeats the Dramatist
Donna L. Gerstenberger, John Millington Synge
Nicholas Grene, Synge: A Critical Study of the Plays
Declan Kiberd, Synge and the Anglo-Irish Drama
David M. Kiely. John Millington Synge
Alan Price, Synge and Anglo-Irish Drama
Ann Saddlemyer, J. M. Synge and Modern Comedy
Harry Blamires, The New Bloomsday Book: A Guide Through Ulysses
Frank Budgen, James Joyce and the Making of Ulysses
Richard Ellmann, James Joyce
A. Nicholas Fargnoli and Michael Patrick Gillespie, James Joyce A to Z: The Essential Reference to the Life and Work
Harry Levin, James Joyce: A Critical Introduction
A. Walton Litz, James Joyce
Bernard Benstock, Sean O’Casey
Robert Hogan, The Experiments of Sean O'Casey
Garry O’Connor, Sean Casey, a Life
Jack Mitchell, The Essential O'Casey: A Study of the Twelve Major Plays of Sean O'Casey
Ronald Gene Rollins, Sean O'Casey's Drama: Verisimilitude and Vision
B. L. Smith, O'Casey's Satiric Vision
Anthony Cronin, Samuel Beckett: The Last Modernist
John P. Harrington, The Irish Beckett
Hugh Kenner, A Reader’s Guide to Samuel Beckett; Samuel Beckett: A Critical Study
James Knowlson, Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett
Eoin O’Brien, The Beckett Country
Alan Simpson, Beckett and Behan and a Theatre in Dublin
J. Bemporad, Seamus Heaney: Life and Works
Robert Buttel, Seamus Heaney
Neil Corcoran, The Poetry of Seamus Heaney
Catharine Malloy and Phyllis Carey, Seamus Heaney—The Shaping Spirit
Arthur E. McGuinnes, Seamus Heaney: Poet and Critic
Helen Vendler, Seamus Heaney
Elmer Andrews, The Art of Brian Friel: Neither Reality nor Dreams
Ulf Dantanus, Brian Friel: The Growth of an Irish Dramatist
D.E.S. Maxwell, Brian Friel
George O'Brien, Brian Friel
Alan J Peacock, The Achievement of Brian Friel
Richard Pine, Brian Friel and Ireland's Drama
|Ireland: A Selective Timeline|
9th century, B.C. Arrival of first settlers.
3100 B.C. Construction of Newgrange Passage Tomb, Boyne Valley
c. 300 Arrival of the Celts.
c. 400 Introduction of Christianity.
c. 432 St. Patrick begins his mission, by tradition establishes church in Dublin.
795 First Viking raids.
841 First Viking settlement in Liffey valley
917 Vikings established Dublin as a permanent settlement..
1014 Battle of Clontarf that curtails Viking power. Death of Brian Boru, king of Munster.
1166 Dermot MacMurrough, king of Leinster, is driven overseas and seeks help of Henry II, initiating British control of Ireland.
1170 Siege and capture of Dublin by Anglo-Norman forces. Marriage of Norman warlord Strongbow to Dermot’s daughter Aoife.
1366 Statutes of Kilkenny forbidding Irish and Norman intermarriage.
1534 Silken Thomas rebellion.
16th-17th centuries During the reign of Elizabeth I, England crushes a series of rebellions by Irish chiefs and tries to impose the Protestant Reformation on Ireland. James I (who ruled 1603-1625) offers large tracts in the northern counties of Ulster, Antrim, and Down to over 100,000 Protestant settlers from the Scottish Lowlands to develop plantations there.
1592 Trinity College founded by Elizabeth I.
1649 Arrival of Cromwell in Ireland and bloody sieges of Drogheda and Wexford.
1689 Derry, an English outpost, withstands a 100-day siege by the forces of James II, a Catholic, who had been driven from the throne of England in 1688 by William III of Orange.
1690 On July 1, William III leads an army of 36,000 men across the Boyne River near Drogheda, routs the Catholic forces and prompts the flight of James II to France. Irish Catholics hold out for more than a year before the capture of Limerick crushed their resistance. (The anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne is celebrated annually by the Orangemen of Northern Ireland as a decisive victory for the Protestant cause.)
1695 The first Irish Penal Laws forbid Catholics to keep weapons, own horses, to be educated overseas, and to teach or run schools in Ireland. Catholic clergy and public Catholic worship banished.
1704 New penal laws forbid Catholics to buy land, inherit land from Protestants, take leases for longer than 31 years, practice law, hold political office, or serve in the armed forces.
1728 Catholics lose the right to vote.
1782 Grattan’s Parliament establishes legislative independence.
1791 The Society of United Irishmen, founded by Wolfe Tone (1763-1798), and others, urges Catholics and Protestants to cooperate in seeking constitutional independence for Ireland as a republic on the model of the United States and France.
1795 The United Irishmen shift from a constitutional to a revolutionary approach and seek French aid for Irish rebellion. Rural rioting between Catholics and Protestants leads to the foundation of the Orange Order.
1798 United Irish rebellion. In County Wexford the uprising is brutally is crushed by the English on June 21, commemorated in songs like “The Croppy Boy. In the fall, to revive the rebellion, a small expeditionary force of about 1,000 French soldiers lands in Killala on the north coast of County Mayo. When an Irish force fails to materialize, the French are forced to surrender. Fighting alongside the French, Wolfe Tone is captured at sea and sentenced to death for high treason. Imprisoned in Dublin, he commits suicide.
1800 The Act of Union dissolves the Irish parliament in Dublin. Ireland becomes part of Great Britain and is governed directly from Westminster.
1803 Robert Emmet (1778-1803) leads an assault on Dublin Castle, but it fails when aid from Napoleon and Emmet’s Irish allies fails to materialize. After hiding out for month, Emmet is captured and publicly executed.
1823 Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847) forms the Catholic Association to work for Catholic emancipation.
1829 Catholic Emancipation Act passes, removing many civil restrictions imposed on Catholics since 1695. Catholics permitted to sit in parliament. Introduction of “national” system of elementary education and suppression of the Irish language.
1840 O’Connell founds the Repeal Association to work toward repeal of the Act of Union supported by a series of “monster meetings” throughout the country.
1845-48 Great Potato Famine in which nearly a million Irish die and some two million emigrate.
1848 Young Ireland rebellion rejects O’Connell’s non-violent strategy.
1858 James Stephens organizes secret society known as the Irish Republican Brotherhood with an American counterpart, the Fenian Brotherhood (named for a professional military corps of ancient Ireland in the service of the high kings), bent on the violent overthrow of British rule.
1867 Attempted Fenian rebellion is suppressed.
1873 Home Rule League founded.
1875-1889 Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-1891) enters the British Parliament and becomes the leader of the Irish Home Rule movement.
1879 National Land League founded by Michael Davitt (1846-1906) and Parnell. The League will encourage the use of boycotts as a form of civil disobedience.
1881 The National Land League achieves passage of the Land Act, which grants relief to tenant farmers by ensuring fair rent, fixity of tenure, and freedom from sale.
1882 On May 6, Lord Frederick Cavendish, the new chief secretary of Ireland, and Thomas Henry Burke, an undersecretary in Dublin Castle, are stabbed to death in Phoenix Park, Dublin, by the Invincibles, a splinter group of Fenians organized in 1881 for the purpose of assassinating key members of the British government in Ireland.
1884 Gaelic Athletic Association founded.
1885 Poems by W.B. Yeats first published in Dublin University Review. Dublin Hermetic Society formed with Yeats presiding.
1886 First Home Rule Bill defeated in House of Commons.
1888 Anthology, Poems and Ballads of Young Ireland, edited by Yeats and others.
1889 News of Parnell’s affair with married woman Kitty O’Shea breaks.
1890 Irish M.P.s repudiate Parnell’s leadership of Irish Parliamentary party. Yeats’ first book, The Wandering of Oisin.
1892 Irish National Literary Society founded by Yeats and others. Opening programs: George Sigerson’s “Irish Literature” and Douglas Hyde’s “The Necessity for the De-Anglicising of the Irish Nation.” Yeats, The Countess Kathleen and Various Legends and Lyrics.
1893 Gaelic League founded by Douglas Hyde to revive use of Irish language. Yeats, Celtic Twilight. Yeats addresses the Irish National Literary Society on “Nationality and Literature.” Hyde, The Love Songs of Connacht.
1894 Yeats, The Land of Heart’s Desire.
1895 Yeats, Poems and articles on “Irish National Literature.”
1897 Yeats meets with Lady Gregory and Edward Martyn to form an Irish theater. Yeats, The Secret Rose; The Tables of the Law and The Adoration of the Magi. Stoker, Dracula (greatest best-selling book by an Irish writer).
1899 Boer War (-1902). Queen Victoria visits Dublin. Irish Literary Theatre debuts with Yeats’ The Countess Cathleen and Martyn’s The Heather Field. Yeats. The Wind Among the Reeds. Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest. Hyde, A Literary History of Ireland. The United Irishman, edited by Arthur Griffith, appears (through 1906) and becomes the most influential voice for political change.
1902 End of Boer War. Irish National Theatre Society established. Yeats, Cathleen ni Houlihan. Lady Gregory, Cuchulain of Muirthemne.
1903 Wyndham Land Act provides cut-rate loans for tenants who wish to buy land and offers bonuses to landlords willing to sell. Orange Order (Unionist) founded. Yeats, In the Seven Woods. George Moore, The Untilled Field.
1904 Abbey Theatre opens. AE (George Russell), ed. New Songs. Shaw, John Bull’s Other Island. Synge, Riders to the Sea. Yeats, On Baile’s Strand. Lady Gregory, Spreading the News.
1905 Arthur Griffith (1872-1922) founds Sinn Féin (“We Ourselves”) as a political movement for Irish national independence based initially on strategy of passive resistance. Shaw’s John Bull’s Other Island rejected by the Abbey. Synge, In the Shadow of the Glen and The Well of the Saints.
1907 Riots at the Abbey Theatre to protest Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World. Gregory, The Rising of the Moon. Joyce, Chamber Music. Synge, The Aran Islands. Yeats, Deirdre.
1909 First movie theatre, the Volta, opens in Dublin with James Joyce as manager.
1910 Irish made compulsory matriculation subject for the National University (established 1908). Yeats, The Green Helmet and Other Poems.
1912 Third Home Rule Bill debated. Beginning of military organization in Ulster to protest Home Rule for Ireland. Ulster Volunteers formed. Joyce’s final visit to Dublin.
1913 Third Home Rule Bill passes the House of Commons but is rejected by House of Lords. The Great Lockout and strike in Dublin. Irish Citizen Army founded by James Connolly. AE (George Russell), Collected Poems. First important studies of Irish literary revival: Lady Gregory’s Our Irish Theatre, Cornelius Weygandt’s Irish Plays and Playwrights, and Katherine Tynan Hinkson’s Twenty-five Years.
1914 Home Rule Bill is passed but is then suspended by the outbreak of the Great War. Irish Parliamentarian Party pledges support for England for the duration. Joyce, Dubliners. Yeats, Responsibilities .Curragh “Mutiny” in which British troops refuse to hinder raids for arms by Ulster Volunteers. Arms landed at Larne for Ulster with no opposition. A similar arms landing at Howth for the Irish Volunteers results in troops’ firing on Dublin crowd.
1915 Patrick Pearse delivers the funeral oration for the burial of Fenian leader Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa: “life springs from death, and from the graves of patriotic men and women spring living nations.”
1916 Easter Rising followed by executions of 15 of its leaders, deportation of 1,700 to English prisons, and trial and execution of Roger Casement. Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Yeats, At the Hawk’s Well.
1917 De Valera elected President of Sinn Féin and Irish Volunteers. Yeats, The Wild Swans of Coole.
1918 Agitation in Ireland against conscription. Sinn Féin electoral triumph. Joyce, Exiles.Ulysses begins to appear in Little Review.
1919 Anglo-Irish War (-1921). First Dail meets in Dublin and declares independence, electing de Valera president. Raid on Royal Irish Constabulary opens war. De Valera escapes from prison. Sean O’Casey, The Story of the Irish Citizen Army.
1920 Increasing violence with arrival of “Black and Tans.” Anti-Catholic riots in Belfast. Terence MacSwiney, Lord Mayor of Cork, dies on a hunger strike. Michael Collins directs counterespionage. “Bloody Sunday”: thirteen men killed by IRA in Dublin, eleven of whom were British intelligence officers; reprisal killing of twelve people at a football match in Croke Park. English Parliament passes Government of Ireland Act, providing for two Irish parliaments, one in Belfast over the six northern counties, and one in Dublin for the 26.
1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty in December that gains southern part of Ireland dominion status and partition with Northern Ireland remaining part of Britain. The treaty falls short of the republic desired by many. Debate over the treaty splits the Dail and sparks the Civil War. Yeats, Michael Robartes and the Dancer; Four Plays for Dancers.
1922 Treaty ratified (64-57) establishing the Irish Free State; de Valera resigns presidency. Civil War (-1923). Southern Ireland divided among four governments: the Dail (Griffith president), the allied Provisional government under Michael Collins; the disaffected Republicans under de Valera, and the army under Rory O’Connor, whose troops seize Four Courts as headquarters in April. Four Courts attacked in June, and Republicans are defeated in Dublin; guerilla combat continues throughout the country. Michael Collins is killed. Campaign of terror against government leaders with assassinations and house-burnings, followed by reprisal executions. Joyce, Ulysses. Yeats, Later Poems.
1923 Continuing internment of republicans. Cease-fire. De Valera confined for a year without trial. Censorship of films introduced under Free State Law. Yeats wins Nobel Prize. O’Casey, The Shadow of a Gunman.
1924 O’Casey, Juno and the Paycock. Daniel Corkery, The Hidden Ireland.
1926 De Valera forms Fiana Fail (“men of destiny”). O’Casey. Plough and the Star. Yeats, Autobiographies.
1928 The Gate Theatre opens. O’Casey’s The Silver Tassie is rejected by the Abbey. Yeats, The Tower.
1929 Censorship of Publication Act.
1932 Fianna Fáil under De Valera wins the general election (in power until 1948).
1933 Yeats, The Winding Stair.
1934 Lord Craigavon refers to Northern Ireland as “a Protestant Parliament and a Protestant State.” Beckett, More Pricks than Kicks. Sean O’Faolain, A Nest of Simple Folk. Robert Flaherty, Man of Aran.
1935 Sale of contraceptives prohibited. Beckett, Echo’s Bones.
1936 Patrick Kavanagh, Ploughman and Other Poems.
1937 New constitution abolishes the Irish Free State and establishes Eire as a “sovereign independent democratic state.”
1938 Douglas Hyde becomes first President of Eire (holds office until 1945). Beckett, Murphy. Elizabeth Bowen, The Death of the Heart. Yeats, New Poems; Purgatory.
1939 Death of W.B. Yeats. Ireland declares neutrality in Second World War. Joyce, Finnegans Wake. Flann O’Brien. At-Swim-Two-Birds.
1940 Yeats, Last Poems.
1941 Death of James Joyce. O’Brien, The Poor Mouth.
1942 Rationing introduced. Kavanagh, The Great Hunger.
1944 Joyce Cary, The Horse’s Mouth. Joyce, Stephen Hero.
1949 Easter Monday, April 14, the Republic of Ireland created, severing allegiance to the British Crown and the Commonwealth of Nations. Ireland Act at Westminster guarantees status of Northern Ireland.
1951 De Valera elected Taoiseach. Beckett, Molloy. Abbey Theatre burns down.
1952 Beckett, Waiting for Godot.
1953 Beckett, Watt and Malone Dies.
1954 Brendan Behan, The Quare Fellow. Christy Brown, My Left Foot.
1955 Ireland admitted to the United Nations. J.P. Donleavy, The Ginger Man. Brian Moore, Judith Hearne.
1956 IRA Border Campaign begins (1956-1962)
1957 IRA attack on Brookeborough police barracks in Northern Ireland. Beckett, Endgame.
1958 Beckett, Krapp’s Last Tape. Behan, Borstal Boy.
1959 De Valera elected President (until 1973).
1960 Edna O’Brien, The Country Girls. Kavanagh, Come Dance With Kitty Stobling.
1963 John McGahern, The Barracks. Richard Murphy, Sailing to an Island.
1964 O’Brien, The Dalkey Archive. William Trevor, The Old Boys. Kavanagh, Collected Poems. Brian Friel, Philadelphia Here I Come. The Chieftains’ first album.
1965 McGahern, The Dark. John B. Keane, The Field.
1966 Fiftieth Anniversary of Easter Rising. Nelson’s Pillar in Dublin destroyed in explosion. New Abbey Theatre opens. Seamus Heaney, Death of a Naturalist. Austin Clarke, Mnemosyne Lay in Dust.
1967 O’Brien, The Third Policeman.
1969 People’s Democracy march ambushed by militant Protestants at Burntollet. British troops move into Northern Ireland.
1970 Split between Provisional and Official IRA. Provisionals embark on campaign of violence.
1971 First British soldier killed in Northern Ireland. Internment without trial introduced.
1972 Bloody Sunday in Derry. British Embassy in Dublin burned. Mary Lavin, A Memory and Other Stories. Heaney, Wintering Out. John Montague, The Rough Field. Thomas Kinsella, Notes from the Land of the Dead and Other Poems.
1974 IRA bombs kill 21 people in Birmingham. Loyalist bomb kills 25 people in Dublin. IRA bomb in Guilford kills four members of British Army.
1975 Heaney, North.
1979 Lord Mountbatten murdered by IRA. Heaney, Field Work.
1980 Hunger Strikes by republicans in Maze Prison. Field Day Theatre Company founded by Brian Friel and Stephen Rea. Friel, Translations.
1984 IRA bomb nearly kills Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Heaney, Station Island.
1985 Anne Devlin, Ourselves Alone. Frank McGuinness, Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme.
1990 Mary Robinson elected President of Ireland. John McGahern, Amongst Women. Roddy Doyle, The Snapper. Friel, Dancing at Lughnasa.
1992 Clare Boylan, Home Rule. Patrick McCabe, The Butcher Boy. Colm Tóibín, The Heather Blazing.
1993 Doyle, Paddy Clarke, Ha Ha Ha.
1994 IRA ceasefire.
1996 IRA renews campaign of violence with bombs in London and Manchester. All-Party talks revived under chairmanship of US Senator George Mitchell.
1997 IRA new ceasefire. Mary McAleese elected President. Conor McPherson, The Weir.
1998 Northern Ireland Peace talks lead to Good Friday Agreement. Heaney, Open Ground.