Concordia University

Current course offerings

Courses offered in Summer 2017

Evolution of the Irish Cultural Landscape: 1600-2017 / IRST 498 / ENGL 498 / ENGL 603 / GEOG 498 / HIST 498 / HIST 670 Sec. GA

Dr. Kevin Whelan / Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 18:00 - 22:00 – August 14-24

Prerequisite: This course is intended for undergraduate students in their final year and graduate students.  Special permission of the School or relevant department is required.

This course will use the Irish landscape as a text to explore the evolution of Ireland from the early modern period to the present day. It will be interdisciplinary in focus, with a concentration on the interaction among geography, history and literature. Environmental themes will include vernacular housing, bogs, woodlands and settlement. The course will explore the Irish language dimension embedded in the landscape, ranging from placenames to Irish traditional music.  The course will also cover how the Irish landscape has been represented in arts and film. Historical topics examined will include colonialism, landlordism, the Famine, emigration, and the Troubles. Among writers addressed will be Jonathan Swift, Maria Edgeworth, W.B. Yeats, James Joyce, Brian Friel, Edna O’Brien, John McGahern, Seamus Heaney and Alannah O'Kelly. 


Courses offered in Fall 2017

Introduction to Canadian Irish Studies / IRST 203 AA (3 credits)
Prof. Emer O'Toole / Thursday 18:00-20:15
This multidisciplinary course will introduce the key events, personalities and issues in contemporary Irish Studies through the study of Ireland’s complex history and rich culture, and will also touch on the Irish experience in Canada. The study of Ireland and its Diaspora provides opportunities to explore wider academic issues related to cultural nationalism, linguistic preservation, rebellion and civil war, partition and political re-alignment, national affiliation and sectarian identities, changing gender roles, famine and emigration. The various themes we will focus on will therefore offers case studies for a range of issues that go beyond Irish Studies and are relevant for students whose primary interest is in other areas.

The Irish in Montreal / IRST 205 A / HIST 213 A (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 Montreal from the French colonial period through the years of expansion in the mid-19th century after the Irish Famine to the breakup of its older Irish neighbourhoods a century afterwards. Starting with the demographics of Irish immigration and settlement in Quebec, it devotes special attention to the social and cultural relations between the Irish and other ethnic groups in Montreal over the past two centuries.

Highlights of Irish Literature / IRST 209 AA / ENGL 298 AA (3 credits)
Prof. Maureen Murphy / Tuesday 18:00-20:15
Ireland is home to some of the greatest and most influential writers in the world. With four winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature (W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney), Ireland boasts a disproportionally large number of influential writers. Such 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 influential Irish texts, placing them in their cultural and literary backgrounds and exploring their resonances through to the present day. Texts will include such classics as Gulliver’s Travels and Dracula, plays by Samuel Beckett and Oscar Wilde, fiction by Elizabeth Bowen and Maeve Brennan as well as the innovations of more contemporary writers such as Kevin Barry and Anne Enright.

History of Ireland / IRST 211 A / HIST 211 A (3 credits)
Prof. Gavin Foster / Tuesday, Thursday 10:15-11:30
This survey course traces the history of Ireland from the earliest times to the present, with emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries. Special attention is given to the development of Irish nationalism and relations with Great Britain.

Celtic Christianity / IRST 228 EC / THEO 228 EC (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.

Irish Mythology and Folklore / IRST 230 A / ANTH 298 B
Prof. Maureen Murphy / Monday, Wednesday 11:45-13:00
This course explores Irish culture through folklore and myth — in particular, their manifestations in Irish music, literature, performing arts, and cinema. It addresses the significance of myth and folklore in written and oral history, traditions, and iconography. The course focuses on the forms, functions, and influences of Irish legends, myths, and folktales that attract learned and popular interest in Ireland and abroad.

The Troubles in Northern Ireland / IRST 315 A / HIST 398 C (3 credits)
Prof. Gavin Foster / Tuesday, Thursday 13:15-14:30
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 B / PERC 398 A (3 credits)
Prof. Emer O'Toole / 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 WB 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 / HIST 398 D / SOCI 398 A / ANTH 398 A (3 credits)
Prof. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin / Monday 13:15-16:00
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.

The Irish Literary Revival / IRST 398 G / ENGL 357 A (3 credits)
Prof. Kate Bligh / Wednesday 13:15-16:00
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 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. Meanwhile, James Joyce began to emerge as a modernist writer who did not believe in the aims of the revivalists. The important of the Literary Revival is still hotly debated: What does it mean to ‘revive’ a literature and language? Was the Revival a deadening if elegant exercise in cultural nostalgia or, as some scholars now argue, a unique and vital instance of colonial modernism? This course will explore such issues by examining some of the most important literary texts of the twentieth century.

Sexualities in the Irish Diaspora / IRST 398 B / HIST 398 E / ANTH 398 B / SOCI 398 B (3 credits)
Prof. Jane McGaughey / Tuesday, Thursday 11:45-13:00
This course will investigate the rich history that sex and sexual identities have played in shaping the Irish Diaspora over the past two hundred years.  From racist caricatures in Punch and the scandals of Oscar Wilde, Roger Casement and Charles Stewart Parnell to the Kennedys, Catholic missionaries, Hollywood sirens, and The Crying Game, images of Irish sexualities abroad have driven cultural expectations for incoming Irish immigrants and their descendants around the world.  By exploring a variety of case studies – including Canada’s Persons Case, the artwork of Georgia O’Keeffe, the anti-heroism of Australia’s Ned Kelly, and the hyper-masculinity of John Wayne – we can see that Irish sexualities and gendered expectations have been a controversial constant in the story of the Irish abroad.  Key themes will include marriage and divorce, homosexuality, racism, women’s suffrage, media scandals, athleticism, heroism, alcoholism, addiction, propaganda, gender-bending, and religion.

The Irish Home:  Food, Space and Agency / IRST 398 C / DART 398 C
Prof. Rhona Richman Kenneally / Tuesday 13:00-15:45
In The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard argues that our house "is our first universe, the real cosmos in every sense of the word…” This course will look at the Irish home—past and present—as a case study to explore the dynamic interactions between the architecture and material culture of domestic space, and the humans and other vibrant beings that live(d) within them.  Themes to be addressed include women’s roles and agency in the home; the evolution of the experience of everyday life in the face of changing domestic technologies; and social, cultural, and ecological implications of the house as part of an urban or rural landscape. Special attention will be given to food—to the reciprocal impact of food systems and networks on the house and its inhabitants, and specifically, to food-related performances of cooking, growing, producing, eating, and storing edibles.


Courses offered in Fall 2017/Winter 2018

The Irish Language and Culture I / IRST 233 (6 credits)
TBA / 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)
TBA / 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 2018

The Irish in Canada / IRST 210 / HIST 212 (3 credits)
Prof. Jane McGaughey / Tuesday, Thursday 10:15-11:30
Four million Canadians claim Irish ancestry today. Arriving in Newfoundland as early as 1536 and migrating across the country as the agricultural and industrial frontier moved west, the Irish attained a numerical strength second only to French-Canadians by the time Canadian Confederation was passed in 1867. By then, Quebec had a higher proportion of Irish-born residents than anywhere else in North America. From Canadian politics and economics, to culture and religion, the trails and footprints of the Irish are everywhere to behold - in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, and the Canadian West. While this course will focus on the micro histories of the Irish in each of the Canadian provinces, special emphasis will be given to key demographic movements and historic events that highlight the contribution of the Irish to Canadian history - the migration of Irish ‘wintermen’ to Newfoundland, Irish mercantile entrepreneurs in Quebec, the Great Famine, Irish rural pioneers in New Brunswick and Ontario, Irish working classes in urban Canada.

Celts to Tudors: History of Early and Mediaeval Ireland / IRST 298 A / HIST 398 A
Prof. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin / Wednesday 13:15-16:00
Learn about Early Irish and Mediaeval archaeology, protohistory and history from Mesolithic and Neolithic times, through the Celtic, Early Christian, Viking and Norman eras up to the Tudor conquest that radically altered the destiny of Gaelic Ireland

Research Methods in Irish Studies / IRST 300 (3 credits)
Prof. Gavin Foster / Thursday 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.

Contemporary Irish Theatre / IRST 347 AA / PERC 398 AA (3 credits)
Prof. Emer O’Toole / Thursday 18:00-20:15
This course offers a panorama of Ireland’s vibrant contemporary theatre landscape. It puts the exciting experimental developments of recent years under the spotlight, engaging with Irish drama that blurs the line between reality and fiction, that immerses its audiences in morally challenging worlds, and that pushes the boundaries of theatre as a medium. From the collectively devised works of Charabanc to Verbatim plays about the Northern Irish troubles, from activist theatre to street theatre, this course explores what happens when theatremakers step outside of conventional spaces and working methods to make art for our mediatized, technologized and globalized era.

Irish Film Studies / IRST 398 D / FMST 398 A (3 credits)
Prof. Emer O'Toole / Tuesday 18:00-22:00
This course takes an Irish filmic stereotype as its start and end point, while the weeks in-between delve into nuances of Irish history, politics, sexuality and culture. Through analysis of a set feature each week, we will explore how film consistently tackles the thornier dimensions of Irish life. The course examines the oeuvres of key Irish directors, including Neil Jordan, Pat Murphy and Jim Sheridan. Engaging with – among other themes – Ireland’s treatment of its Travelling Community, the Northern Irish ‘Troubles,’ and Dublin’s gangland culture, it offers students images of Ireland both picturesque and gritty, both mythologized and human.

Nationalism and Unionism in Scotland and Ireland / IRST 398E / HIST 398 C (3 credits)
Prof. Gavin Foster / Monday 13:15-16:00
This course compares the ‘awkward marriage’ of Scotland and England/Wales at the beginning of the eighteenth century with the even more inauspicious union of Ireland and ‘Great Britain’ a century later. For both Scotland and Ireland we’ll examine political and economic conditions on the eve of union; contemporary arguments for and against incorporation; the social configurations of pro- and anti-union opinion; how and why the union treaties were passed; and the political, social and cultural consequences of an increasingly ‘United Kingdom.’ Among the big questions to be explored in the course: Did a distinct Scottish national identity survive union with England? Similarly, what were union’s implications for English national identity? Why did Anglo-Scottish Union prove to be so durable and, by many measures, successful, while Ireland’s fraught relationship to Britain under the union ended dramatically in revolution, partition, and independence? What is the historical meaning of the longstanding tension between unionism and nationalism in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland in light of late twentieth-century British decolonization and the breakup of the U.K. heralded by more recent developments such as post-Troubles momentum towards a united Ireland; Scottish independence referenda; and the momentous ‘Brexit’ vote?  

Intercultural Ireland: Film, Theatre & TV / IRST 398 F / ANTH 398 D / SOCI 398 D / FMST 398 D / PERC 398 C
Prof. Emer O’Toole / Monday, Wednesday 16:15-17:30
At the turn of the 21st Century, Ireland experienced an unprecedented economic boom. Prosperity attracted inward migration, and the island rapidly transformed from a homogenous to a multicultural nation. This course will examine the Theatre, Film and TV that arose from this unique and fascinating socio-political situation. We’ll engage theoretically with discourses of race, nation, multiculturalism, postcolonialism and globalization. We’ll analyse – amongst other case studies – the race politics of John Michael McDonagh’s action comedy The Guard; representations of Ireland’s Travelling Community in the Reality TV Series My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding; and the provocative work of Arambe, Ireland’s first African theatre company.

Rebellions in Ireland & the Canadas / IRST 412 / HIST 498 A / HIST 670 A
Prof. Jane McGaughey / Wednesday 10:15-13:00
This seminar explores the traditions of rebellion that strikingly marked the histories of Ireland and Canada. The Irish Rising of 1798 and the 1837-38 Rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada involved class struggles, religious tensions, and attempts to define the democratic futures of both nations. Through a variety of readings about the rebellions, students explore their similarities and differences, consider their respective historiographical controversies, investigate the transatlantic links that existed between Irish and Canadian insurrectionists, and reflect upon each rebellion’s historical legacy.


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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