ENGL 314 A1: Postcolonial Literature and Culture: Irish Writing

R. Brazeau

This course examines the status of the nation and nationalism for the contemporary Irish writer. Reading the work of both Protestant and Catholic writers, as well as writers from the North and the Republic, this course will analyze what Conor Cruise O'Brien has polemically referred to as the "unhealthy intersection" of art and politics. Specifically we will survey both late-Modern and contemporary work that self-consciously debates the efficacy and end of nationalism as a cultural and political force. Beginning with the movement known as cultural nationalism, and progressing through W.B. Yeats's explicit mobilization of poetry within partisan debates, we will read the work of both well and lesser known figures like Donagh McDonagh, Clare Keegan, Seamus Heaney, Sean O'Casey, James Joyce, and Elizabeth Bowen. Our discussion will draw on the theoretical debates that shape the study of Irish writing, and essays by prominent critics Luke Gibbons, Claire Connolly, and Terry Eagleton will help us formulate insights regarding the place of literature within modern and contemporary Ireland.