Concordia University

Current course offerings

Courses offered in Fall 2019

Introduction to Canadian Irish Studies / IRST 203 AA (3 credits)
Prof. Jane McGaughey / Thursday 18:00 – 20:15
This course is a multidisciplinary introduction to the field of Canadian Irish Studies, a discipline that embraces a broad range of historical and contemporary issues as they have manifested themselves on the island of Ireland, in Canada and throughout the world. In particular, questions related to individual and national identities in the context of history, language, culture, landscape, and religion are explored and debated.

The Irish in Montreal
/ IRST 205 A / HIST 213 (3 credits)
Prof. Jane McGaughey / Monday, Wednesday 10:15 – 11:30
Drawing on a diversity of historiographical materials, this interdisciplinary course examines the story of the Irish in Canada with a particular emphasis on Quebec, from the French colonial period through the City of Montreal's golden era of mercantile prominence in the mid-19th century to the break-up of its older Irish neighbourhoods a century afterwards. Starting with the demographics of Irish immigration and settlement, it devotes special attention to social and cultural relations between the Irish and other ethnic groups.
NOTE: Students who have received credit for HIST 213 or for this topic under a HIST 398 number may not take this course for credit.

Highlights of Irish Literature
/ IRST 209 A /ENGL 298 A (3 credits)
Prof. John McCourt / Monday, Wednesday 11:45 – 13:00
Ireland is home to an exceptional number of fascinating and influential writers. With four winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature (Yeats, Shaw, Beckett and Heaney), Ireland boasts a uniquely rich literary tradition which continues to develop into the present. Many of Ireland’s writers have been instrumental in the development of literary movements and genres such as romanticism, realism, modernism, postmodernism, avant-garde theatre, satire, and the gothic, and have contributed to innovating the novel and poetic forms. This course introduces students to some of the best-known and most influential Irish writers. It will engage in close readings of major Irish texts and place them in their cultural and literary contexts.  

The course will study works from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which examine the relationship between Ireland and Britain (Jonathan Swift, Maria Edgeworth, Anthony Trollope) before moving on to the literature of the early twentieth century which gave such impetus to the redefinition of Irish identity and the formation of the Irish State (W.B. Yeats, J.M. Synge, James Joyce). The course will look at mid-twentieth century writers such as Patrick Kavanagh and Brendan Behan, before engaging in readings of more contemporary figures from Seamus Heaney to Paula Meehan and Anne Eimear McBride.

History of Ireland
/ IRST 211 A / HIST 211 (3 credits)
Prof. Gavin Foster / Tuesday, Thursday 14:45 – 16:00
After establishing some broader historical context, this survey course traces modern Irish history in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Special attention is given to the development of Irish nationalism and relations with Great Britain.

The Great Irish Famine / IRST 312 A / HIST 330 A (3 credits)
Prof. Gavin Foster / Tuesday, Thursday 10:15 – 11:30
This course examines the social, political, economic, and cultural dimensions of the Great Irish Famine. Beginning with a thorough examination of society and politics in the pre-Famine period, the course explores the causes and course of the 1845-50 Famine, with emphasis on social conditions, mass mortality, emigration, and British government responses to conditions in Ireland. The outcomes and long-term consequences of the Famine for Irish society, politics, Anglo-Irish relations, and the Irish Diaspora are also explored. Some attention is also given to historiographical debates and Famine memory.
NOTE: Students who have received credit for HIST 330 or for this topic under a HIST or IRST 398 number may not take this course for credit.

Irish Traditional Music in Canada / IRST 373 A / ANTH 398 D / SOCI 398 D / HIST 398 B (3 credits)
Prof. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin / Monday, Wednesday 13:15-14:30
Canada has enjoyed a long historical relationship with Ireland and the Irish, in various religious, socioeconomic and political guises, which have made a substantial contribution to the evolution of Canadian culture since the late seventeenth century. The cultural history of Irish traditional music in Canada is inextricably linked to a complex matrix of Irish immigration and settlement that began in the late 1600s and stretched from Newfoundland to the Yukon, from the Hudson Bay to the Great Lakes. Evidence of this diaspora continues to echo through the prismatic soundscape of traditional music played by Irish, French, Scottish, and First Nation communities across Canada today. Exploring the music history of the Irish in the Atlantic provinces, Lower and Upper Canada, and the Western provinces, this course draws on analytical models in history, anthropology, and cultural studies, as well as ethnomusicology, and music criticism.

James Joyce / IRST 398 A / ENGL 355 A (3 credits)
Prof. John McCourt / Monday, Wednesday 14:45-16:00
The course offers students the chance to read the greatest novel of the modernist movement, James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922). Having briefly outlined its difficult publishing history and early reception, the course will lead students through the main plot events and describe the work’s overall structure and its challenging odyssey of styles. Particular attention will be paid to the social, cultural and political forces in Ireland and Europe, which shaped the writing. The course will deal with the 18 episodes of the novel in different ways; some will be discussed in detail in class through close textual analysis, others will be reported on by groups. Central to the course will be discussion of Joyce as a modernist whose fiction explores a range of narrative, stylistic and formal experiments.

Irish Literary Revival / IRST 398 AA / ENGL 357 AA (3 credits)
Prof. Keelan Harkin / Tuesday 18:00-20:15
This course will explore how Irish culture at the beginning of the twentieth century underwent a profound change, producing in W.B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, J.M. Synge, Eva Gore-Booth, and Sean O'Casey some of the most influential writers of their time. The period was one of the most intense, creative and contentious in Irish cultural history, while its meanings and legacy are still the subject of intense debate. To explore this very exciting time in Irish cultural and political life, the course will use a variety of different approaches, so that students can appreciate the various forces in Irish society which contributed to this extraordinary rejuvenation in Irish life. The following are among the possible forms of participation students will be invited to undertake: assume roles and make presentations reflecting the various social groups as reflected in a literary text; view videos of selected plays and then, with a group of fellow students, adapt a scene or passage from a play that reflects their overall response to the text;  examine the examples of Christmas cards and cultural pamphlets used by those involved in the Literary Revival, and then work on their own or with several others students to create materials that reflect a contemporary literary or cultural project they would like to promote.  These and other approaches will be used to explore the nature, importance and legacy of the Irish Literary Revival, which led to the revitalization of Irish society and -- some would claim – an awakening of national consciousness which lead to Irish independence.  In the process, the Irish Literary Revival produced some of the most important literary texts of the twentieth century.

The Irish Short Story / IRST 398 C / ENGL 356 A (3 credits)
Prof. Keelan Harkin / Tuesday, Thursday 13:15-14:30
With strong connections to the traditions of oral storytelling, the Irish short story has gained international recognition for the complexities of its forms and themes. This course will provide students with an overview of the key formal features of the short story genre while also prompting questions about the “Irish tradition.” What makes a short story Irish? How might a national framework influence the way we read a short story? Students will approach these questions through a wide range of writers, from modernists like James Joyce to contemporary voices like Sally Rooney.  The course will also explore the work of writers such as Frank O’Connor, Kevin Barry, Eimear McBride, Colm Tóibín and others


Courses offered in Fall 2019 / Winter 2020 semesters (full-year)

The Irish Language and Culture I / IRST 233 (6 credits)
Prof. Gemma Lambe / Monday, Wednesday 18:15 – 19:30
The aim of this course is to provide students with a general and exciting introduction to Irish linguistic and cultural practices of contemporary Irish society. It will explore the principles of the Irish language as encountered in everyday life in the Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) areas of the West of Ireland and as taught in the many Gaelscoileana (Irish language schools) throughout the country. The objective of the course is to introduce students to the unique manifestations of the language expressed in song, poetry narratives, and other cultural traditions so that they can become familiar with the linguistic principles found in oral practices. The course will draw on a wide range of cultural forms (texts, audio, digital, visual) as a means of facilitating the process by which students can develop the basic ability to access the rich cultural traditions embodied in the Irish language. Students should have a keen interest in Irish culture and language.

The Irish Language and Culture II / IRST 333 (6 credits)
Prof. Gemma Lambe / Tuesday 18:00 – 20:15
Prerequisite: IRST 233, MIRI 290, or permission of the department.
This six-credit course is for those who have a basic understanding of the Irish language or who have taken the Introduction to the Irish Language and Culture course. The course will provide students with a unique opportunity to enhance improve and develop the linguistic skills that they have already developed in the language. It will draw on student’s previous knowledge of the language to encourage them to improve their skills in both linguistic and cultural practices as encountered in everyday life in contemporary Ireland. The course will draw on a wide range of linguistic forms (texts, audio, digital, visual) as a means of facilitating the process by which students can develop the ability to access the rich cultural traditions embodied in the Irish language.

Courses offered in Winter 2020

The Irish in Canada / IRST 210 A / HIST 212 A (3 credits)
Prof. Jane McGaughey / Monday, Wednesday 11:45 – 13:00
From 17th-century fishermen and traders arriving in Newfoundland to displaced victims of the Famine in the 19th century, to contemporary immigrants from Ireland, the Irish have had a presence in all parts of Canada from the earliest days of settlement. This course examines the emigration and settlement patterns of Irish immigrants in the various regions of Canada across a period of three centuries, paying particular attention to their role in the social, economic, political, cultural, and educational development of Canadian society. The course explores the various strategies by which Irish immigrants both adapted to and transformed the particular host society in which they found themselves, and looks at other immigrant communities as a means of understanding the special contribution of the Irish to Canada.
NOTE: Students who have received credit for HIST 212 or for this topic under a HIST 398 number may not take this course for credit.

Celtic Christianity
/ IRST 228 / THEO 228 (3 credits)
Offered online through eConcordia
This course follows a historical line to show the connections of the pre­Christian Celtic beliefs with the early Christian Church of Celtic countries. It focuses on the spirituality of the Celtic people in the context of Celtic history and culture. This course is offered entirely online through eConcordia. Students enrolling in this course should have off-campus access to a computer with reliable internet connectivity. To access your online course visit the eConcordia website at
Please contact eConcordia at 514-848-8770 or 1-888-361-4949 if you have any questions regarding the online section of this course.

Research Methods in Irish Studies / IRST 300 A (3 credits)
Prof. Gavin Foster / Wednesday 13:15-16:00
Intended for students who have completed some previous coursework in Irish Studies, this small seminar-style course will sharpen your understanding of Irish Studies as a cutting-edge interdisciplinary field that addresses a host of compelling questions about Irish history, culture, identity, memory, and politics, to name a few. Additionally, this course is designed to provide students with critical tools and skills necessary for cross-disciplinary research, analysis, synthesis and forms of presentation – written, oral, and visual – that can be of enormous benefit beyond Irish Studies. Course approaches and activities will include: readings and discussions around some of the key debates that have shaped Irish Studies; guest presentations by Irish Studies faculty that highlight the methods of research and analysis used in their own areas of study; research activities and projects that combine reading and research across two or more disciplines; and training in the rudiments of scholarly research – from effective library research and field work, to research project development, to essay writing or other research outcomes.

Sexualities in the Irish Diaspora / IRST 304 A / ANTH 398 C / SOCI 398 C / HIST 398 B (3 credits)
Prof. Jane McGaughey / Tuesday, Thursday 11:45-13:00
This course investigates the rich history that sex and sexual identities have played in shaping the Irish Diaspora over the past two hundred years. Representations of Irish sexualities and gendered expectations have been a controversial constant in the story of the Irish abroad and their descendants in the global Irish Diaspora. Key themes may include marriage and divorce, homosexuality, asexuality, racism, virginity, media scandals,heroism, alcoholism, sexual assault, nationalism, propaganda, punishment, gender-bending, and religion.
NOTE: Students who have received credit for this topic under an ANTH 398 , HIST 398, IRST 398 or SOCI 398 number may not take this course for credit.

The Troubles in Northern Ireland / IRST 315 A / HIST 398 C (3 credits)
Prof. Gavin Foster / Tuesday, Thursday 10:15-11:30
After surveying the historical roots of the divisions in Northern Irish society, the course traces the successive phases of the prolonged “Troubles” (1968 to 1998): the Catholic civil rights movement; the period of armed conflict between the IRA, loyalist paramilitaries, and security forces; and the recent peace process, as well as post-conflict issues including power-sharing, peace and reconciliation, and constitutional change. Attention is also given to cultural expressions of the Troubles and its legacies.

Classics of Irish Theatre / IRST 344 A / ENGL 398 H
Prof. Keelan Harkin / Monday, Wednesday 16:15-17:30
This course traces a colourful history from the mid-19th century to the present, exploring, amongst other works, the melodramas of Dionysius Boucicault; the pithy plays of Oscar Wilde; the arguably propagandistic work of W B Yeats and Augusta Gregory; the existentialism of Samuel Beckett; the Hiberno-Greek tragedies of Marina Carr; and the Tarantino inspired comedies of Martin McDonagh. Illuminating the politics – national, postcolonial, gendered and global – present in Irish theatre, this course shows that when theatre holds a mirror up to the Irish nation, a wider world is reflected back.

Irish Cultural Traditions in Quebec / IRST 371 A / SOCI 398 E / ANTH 398 E / HIST 398 D (3 credits)
Prof. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin / Monday, Wednesday 11:45-13:00
For over three centuries, the Irish have played a seminal role in the political, economic, religious, and cultural life of Quebec. During the eighteenth century, Irish Wild Geese soldiers arrived in New France as part of the French military and colonial establishment. A century afterwards, Irish ideologues, journalists, and revolutionary figures helped shape the political contours of both patriotic Quebec and the emergent Canadian confederation, while victims of the Great Irish Famine added a new and tragic chapter to the history of the province. Throughout the twentieth century, Irish communities continued to flourish in rural and urban Quebec, while individual Quebecers of Irish origin made formidable contributions to the life of the province. Drawing on historical, ethnographic, musical, and literary sources, this course will explore the story of the Irish in Quebec since the early 1700s, from small community settings in the Gaspé peninsula and the Gatineau Valley, to larger working class and mercantile enclaves in metropolitan Montreal, Quebec City, and Sherbrooke. Particular attention will be given to Irish commemorative practices in Quebec and the manner in which Irish communities have shaped and maintained their own sense of cultural memory and historical place in La Belle Province.

Contemporary Irish Literature / IRST 398 E / ENGL 353 A
Prof. Keelan Harkin / Tuesday, Thursday 13:15-14:30
This course examines a selection of Irish literary texts reflecting the social, economic, political, and cultural transformations in both the North and the South, written since 1960. The course will feature novels, memoirs, and personal essays from writers such as Edna O’Brien, John Banville, Roddy Doyle, Anne Enright, Emilie Pine, and Anna Burns.​

The Modern Irish Novel / IRST 498 A / ENGL 498 D (Department permission required)
Prof. Keelan Harkin / Friday 13:15-16:00
The Irish novel has risen to national and international prominence at a time when Ireland has undergone immense social and political changes. By examining works from writers such as Kate O’Brien, John McGahern, Edna O’Brien, and Anne Enright, this course will ask students to explore how the modern Irish novel has reflected and anticipated shifts in the social and political imagination of Ireland. To lend a specific focus, each novel will be studied alongside sections of the Irish Constitution and the course as a whole will trace developments in the Irish novel alongside a history of constitutional amendments.

Complete list of Irish Studies courses

For an entire list of possible Irish Studies courses, please view our list of other possible course offerings

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