Representing Ireland - Literature and Film

University of Galway

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Representing Ireland - Literature and Film

  • Host University

    University of Galway

  • Location

    Galway, Ireland

  • Area of Study

    Celtic Studies, Film Studies, Literature

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    This course cannot be taken at the same time as SU 406 Negotiating Identity: Irish Traditional Music and Dance

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview


    Fiction, poetry, drama and film have all been used to represent ‘Ireland’ and ‘Irishness’. This course analyses the varied ways this has been done in English-language media. The course is structured around themes like the representation of ‘The West’, the contrast between city and country, the politics of theatre, gender identity, and the meaning of nationality. We examine works from writers like W.B. Yeats, James Joyce, Augusta Gregory, J.M. Synge, Frank O’Connor, Brian Friel, Seamus Heaney, Eavan Boland, Patrick McCabe and Claire Keegan. We also view and discuss movies directed by American and Irish film-makers.


    Week 1 Introductory Lecture – Imagining the Nation

    • Irish National Theatre – WB Yeats, Lady Gregory, JM Synge (one-act plays)
    • Selected poetry of WB Yeats
    • Irish Cinema 1

    Week 2 Short Fiction & the Free State

    • James Joyce – The Dubliners
    • Frank O’Connor, Sean O’Faolain & Elizabeth Bowen (short stories)
    • Irish Cinema 2

    Essay 1 due

    Week 3 Burdens of Cultural Nationalism

    • Contemporary Poetry I – Writing the Troubles (Montague, Heaney, Longley & Mahon)
    • Contemporary Poetry II – Gender & the Nation (Ní Chuilleanain, Boland & Ní Dhomhnaill)
    • Irish Cinema 3

    Week 4 Brian Friel - Translations

    • Patrick McCabe - The Butcher Boy
    • Claire Keegan – Small Things Like These
    • Irish Cinema 4 & 5


    Essay 2 due In-class

    Final Exam


    • J. Harrington (ed.): Contemporary and Modern Irish Drama (Norton paperbacks).
    • J. Joyce: Dubliners (Penguin paperbacks).
    • W.B. Yeats: Selected Poetry (Penguin paperbacks).
    • Patrick McCabe: The Butcher Boy.
    • Claire Keegan: Small Things Like These (Faber & Faber)

    Additional material will be supplied as handouts. Films will be available for viewing in the University Library. Films to be viewed will include The Quiet Man (1952), The Butcher Boy (1992), The Dead (1987), Michael Collins (1996) and The Guard (2011).


    • Seamus Deane, A Short History of Irish Literature
    • Declan Kiberd, Inventing Ireland
    • David Cairns and Shaun Richards, Writing Ireland
    • Terence Brown, Ireland: A Social and Cultural History, 1922-2002 (Harper Perennial)
    • Lionel Pilkington, Theatre and the State in 20th Century Ireland
    • G. J. Watson, Irish Identity and the Literary Revival
    • Lance Pettitt, Screening Ireland
    • Kevin Rockett, John Hill and Luke Gibbons, Cinema and Ireland
    • Martin McLoone, Irish Film: The Emergence of a Contemporary Cinema


    1. Attendance and participation in all regularly scheduled lectures and seminars.
    2. Two essays of 1,200 words each on topics assigned by the Course Director in Representing Ireland: Literature and Film.
    3. In-class final exam (open book).

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits are converted to semester credits/quarter units differently among U.S. universities. Students should confirm the conversion scale used at their home university when determining credit transfer.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations


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