English and Film Studies

Hunger, Mysticism, and the Celtic Revival

R. Brazeau

This course will take a cultural materialist approach to nineteenth and early twentieth-century Irish literature, with a focus on the emergence of the Celtic Revival, a literary and artistic movement that flourished between 1889 and 1922: 1889 saw the publication of Yeats’s The Wanderings of Oisin and 1922 effectively ended the Revival with the founding of the Free State (now the Republic) of Ireland. Ultimately, the aim of the course is to consider the ramifications on Irish literature and culture of the forms of agrarian and economic mismanagement that led to the Irish Famine (1845-1850) and then to reflect on the refraction of the Famine into Irish literature in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. We will read works spanning the period 1801-1939 (when both Yeats and Joyce stop publishing), with a focus on the mid-century Irish Gothic and its occult dimension as a way to figure the various ways in which the Irish Famine becomes what Eric Santner has called (in another context) a “stranded historical object,” coordinating, if frequently in muted ways, Irish culture as it emerges from the nineteenth century into late colonial modernity.