- Course Number: ENGL 150
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- Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 150
- Quarter: Spring 2023
This course will consider how a series of wishes, lies, and dreams, and about the Irish were invented and read. Ireland, like California, is a territory on the western edge of a continent about which many mythologies have grown up. In Ireland’s case, these mostly have to do with the supposed mystery of the place, its romance and mythic past, or its violence, or its long bitter history. Who invented these versions of the place, and whose interests do they serve? Why do people continue to believe them? How have they changed?
We will consider how one small country has been imagined as “other” –as wild, strange, dangerous, fanatic — and how the Irish in their literature, speak back to that. In Irish
literature, they reinvent Irishness. Doing so, they appeal to the passions of people everywhere. What is the message of Irish culture to the world? How do Irish writers wrestle with questions of modern life, bearing witness to truth, and knowing themselves, that appeal to people of many different cultures? We will examine how some of the most important Irish writers — W.B. Yeats in his intense and heroic poetry, James Joyce in the greatest and most controversial novel in English, Ulysses, J.M. Synge in “The Playboy of the Western World” ; Eavan Boland in her poems to her daughters, all the way to the young writer Sally Rooney in Normal People, –have questioned what it means to be Irish, and, in so doing, resonated with readers around the planet.