English 125 - Spring, 2016

Topics in Irish Literature

Class Information

Instructor: Dobbins, Gregory
Time: TR 10:30-11:50
Location: 1309 Surge III


    In the last week of April 1916, beginning on the day after Easter, armed members of Irish socialist and nationalist organizations took control of the central city of Dublin in an attempt to inspire a revolution against British rule. The rebellion was quickly suppressed by the British military, but both it and the aftermath (in which several people associated with the movements involved were executed over several weeks that summer) did indeed inspire a revolution, culminating in the arrival of Irish independence in 1922. Today the Easter Rising of 1916 is considered a definitive moment both in Irish history and the history of global anti-imperialist struggle. It was also a peculiarly literary event, as many of the participants in the event were themselves writers, and a wide range of writers went on to make it a focus of their works. One way to understand the Irish Literary Revival-- that explosive moment in Irish literary history in which a number of important writers like Yeats, Synge, and Joyce first came to attention-- is that it created the cultural possibilities that served as a foundation for the political changes brought about by the Easter Rising.

    This class will coincide with the one hundredth anniversary of the Easter Rising, and it will be the central event around which this introduction to twentieth-century Irish literature will be organized. While literary depictions of the Easter Rising will serve as the core of the course, we will spend a considerable amount of time reading the works which created the imaginative possibilities for the revolt; we will also spend a lot of time interrogating the manner in which writers responded to the aftermath of the Easter Rising and the political changes it brought about.


    Two papers, short writing assignments, final exam.


    selected poetry and plays, W.B. Yeats
    Riders to the Sea, J.M. Synge
    Playboy of the Western World, J.M. Synge
    selected plays, Lady Gregory
    Dubliners, James Joyce
    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, James Joyce
    The Plough and the Stars, Sean O'Casey
    The Last September, Elizabeth Bowen
    At Swim-Two-Birds, Flann O'Brien