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Current course offerings

Courses offered in Fall 2021

Introduction to Irish Studies / IRST 203 AA (3 credits)
Prof. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin / Thursday 17:45-20:15
Note: This course will be offered remotely.
Mention of Ireland conjures up diverse cultural images - from shamrocks, St. Patrick’s Day parades, U2, and Riverdance, to Great Famine emigrants, the IRA, and the ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy. While this course will help you make sense of these and other key aspects of Irish history and culture, it will also demonstrate the relevance of Irish Studies to other academic disciplines. The course is organized around seven key themes: Archaeology, History, Geography, Diaspora Studies, Literature (in Irish and English), Music and Folklore - all of which contribute to a transdisciplinary and multidisciplinary overview of the present state of Irish Studies. Treating complex issues of identity, globalization and transformation in contemporary Ireland, the course also will focus particular attention of the constituent communities of the Irish diaspora worldwide (a network of 70 million people scattered across North America, Europe and Australasia). Through lectures, readings, discussions and performances, students will learn how Irish culture has left and continues to leave unique footprints around the world, and how it continues to renew itself in the landscape, language and creative life of Ireland. Students will discover that to study Ireland is to study the world.

Highlights of Irish Literature / IRST 209 A / ENGL 298 A (3 credits)
Prof. Keelan Harkin / Monday, Wednesday 14:45-16:00
Note: This course will be offered in-person.
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.  

History of Ireland / IRST 211 A / HIST 211 (3 credits)
Prof. Gavin Foster / Tuesday, Thursday 14:45-16:00
Note: This course will be offered remotely.
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.

Irish Mythology and Folklore / IRST 230 A / ANTH 298 A (3 credits)
Note: This course will be offered remotely.
Prof. Máirtín Coilféir / Monday, Wednesday 13:15-14:30
This course introduces students to the vast and varied body of Irish myth and folklore, its practices and its practitioners. It features stories of the fairy kind (the sí people), famous figures such as the banshee, mythological characters like Fionn Mac Cumhaill and Cú Chulainn, songs, material culture, social customs and religious observances. Our class material includes digitised primary sources, accounts of early collectors, historical surveys, theory and modern versions of traditional tales. Students will also have the chance to investigate and present on their own choice of topic in class, as well as to engage with others in discussion on research findings.

Irish Traditional Music: A Global Soundscape / IRST 270 A / HIST 298 A / ANTH 298 B (3 credits)
Note: This course will be offered in-person.
Prof. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin / Tuesday 11:45-14:30
Covering a tapestry of cultural history from the ancient Celts to modern mega shows like Riverdance, this multidisciplinary course focuses on Irish traditional music performed in Ireland, as well as throughout the world. Drawing on historiographical and ethnomusicological theory, the course uses recordings and documentary films to explore how globalization has interfaced with this traditional genre to create a thriving transnational arena of performance and creativity.

Sexualities in the Irish Diaspora / IRST 304 A / ANTH 398 C / SOCI 398 C / HIST 398 C (3 credits)
Note: This course will be offered in-person.
Prof. Jane McGaughey / Thursday 11:45-14:30
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 D (3 credits)
Note: This course will be offered in-person.
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.

Contemporary Irish Literature / IRST 398 AA / ENGL 353 AA
Note: This course will be offered in-person.
Prof. Keelan Harkin / Tuesday 17:45-20:15
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.​

Irish Film Studies / IRST 398 D / FMST 398 B (3 credits)
Note: This course will be offered in-person but will also be live-streamed.
Prof. Patrick Brodie / Friday 13:15-17:15
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.

Course offered in Fall 2021 / Winter 2022 (full-year)

Introduction to Spoken Irish / IRST 299 AA (6 credits)
Prof. Máirtín Coilféir / Monday, Wednesday 16:15-17:30
Note: For the Fall 2021 semester, this course will be offered remotely. A decision about the Winter 2022 semester will be made later in the term.
This class is a highly interactive introduction to the oldest written vernacular of western Europe: Gaeilge, the Irish language (also known as Gaelic). Special emphasis is put on the spoken word, realistic conversation and essential vocabulary. The first portion of this year-long course is devoted to oral communication, with classwork and homework based on phonetic learning and English/French cognates. The second portion of the course introduces students to the written word, the orthography of Irish, and children’s literature in the Irish language. Students can expect to learn words and phrases very quickly, with refreshers provided in the form of audio files.

Courses offered in Winter 2022

The Irish in Canada / IRST 210 A / HIST 212 A (3 credits)
Prof. Jane McGaughey / Monday, Wednesday 14:45-16:00
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.

What’s that Tune? A Music Appreciation Course in Irish Traditional Music / IRST 298 A (3 credits)
Prof. Kate Bevan-Baker / Tuesday, Thursday 14:45-16:00
Irish traditional music is a defining feature of Irish culture and is appreciated by audiences across the globe. This music appreciation course is dedicated to understanding Irish traditional music performance and performance practices. Throughout the course, students will develop music appreciation skills by examining the repertoire, instruments, playing techniques, and performance practices of this complex genre, which is both ancient and contemporary. Interactive learning and teaching will be emphasized through in-class demonstrations and guest performances. Students will acquire an understanding of Irish traditional repertoire by identifying various tune types and by comparing different versions of the same tune/song. Three critical domains of Irish traditional music will be explored—ethnomusicological, spatial and compositional. The course will emphasize academic and performance aspects of Irish traditional music by critiquing performance contexts and cross-fertilization among performers, teachers, composers, and listeners. Moving beyond the music itself, the course will also explore perspectives such as revival, innovation, and globalization in Irish traditional music, song and dance. No prior knowledge of music is necessary to take this course.

Research Methods in Irish Studies / IRST 300 A (3 credits)
Prof. Gavin Foster / Wednesday 11:45-14:30
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.

The Global Irish / IRST 303 AA / HIST 398 CC (3 credits)
Prof. Jane McGaughey / Tuesday 17:45-20:15
This interdisciplinary course examines the Irish experience of emigration, exile, resettlement, and diaspora, emphasizing the Great Famine and its legacy in shaping Irish communities in Canada and elsewhere. It highlights debates about the impact of the Famine, the significance of Grosse Île in Irish and Irish Canadian cultural memory, the relationship between Irish emigration and nationalism, immigrant women and how Irish communities adopted a self image of exile.

The Great Irish Famine / IRST 312 A / HIST 330 A (3 credits)
Prof. Gavin Foster / Thursday 11:45-14:30
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.

Ireland in the Atlantic World / IRST 398 E / HIST 398 C
Prof. Ted McCormick / Tuesday, Thursday 10:15-11:30
Modern Irish historiography has often focused on ideas about the Irish nation and on the formation of the modern Irish state, as well as on empire and diaspora in modern Irish experience. This course examines Ireland before the nineteenth century from a wider geographical perspective, setting it in the context of the early modern Atlantic world. Building on recent research that both compares and connects Irish and other histories, it pursues several themes: Ireland as a site of colonization and resistance from the later middle ages onward; Ireland as a model or "laboratory" for early modern imperial expansion elsewhere; Ireland as a part of larger Atlantic economic, political, and cultural systems and networks; and Irish people and groups as historical agents in Atlantic Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

Indigenous Language and National Literature in Ireland / IRST 398 F / ENGL 398 D
Prof. Máirtín Coilféir / Tuesday 11:45-14:30
This course examines the debates on languages, nationalities and cultural authenticity in Ireland from the nineteenth century to the present day. Taking as its focus the contact and conflict between the island’s indigenous language, Irish, and its lingua franca, English, students will explore the many ways in which language can reflect and shape art, politics, culture and identity. With an emphasis on the discourse of indigeneity in Ireland, students will consider in particular the roles of poetry, prose, journalism, oral literature, and the media in sustaining a modern language. By drawing on their own linguistic experiences, especially in the context of Montréal/Québec, students will be expected to augment course discussion on topics such as minoritised languages, bilingualism, government policy, indigenous culture, and the politicisation of speech.

Irish Materialities: critical perspectives on spaces, places, and things
 / IRST 398 H / DART 398 B / GEOG 398 A
Prof. Molly-Claire Gillett / Tuesday, Thursday 16:15-17:30
This introductory interdisciplinary course will examine a series of Irish ‘things’ – objects or spaces including craftwork and other designs, geographical regions or elements of the built environment, for example urban spaces.  It will focus on one particular thing each week – for example, an illustrated manuscript; an uncompleted housing project or ‘ghost estate’ which became prevalent during the Irish recession of the late 2000s; a bog (wetland) as a cultural as well as natural ecosystem; and a piece of lace, tracked from its maker in rural Ireland to the body of Queen Victoria. Rather than using these spaces, places and things simply to illustrate the history of Ireland, this course will explore how they played (and play) an active role in framing and determining that narrative. Weaving together scholarship from materiality studies and cultural geography, craft studies, design theory, ecocriticism and more, it will consider each thing within its historical and cultural context, but also in the sense of its ‘vibrant materiality’ – its origin, materials, life cycle, and agency. These case studies will present an opportunity to look closely at issues such as vernacular architecture and sustainability, design as a political instrument, materiality and memory in the diaspora, and the use of material interventions into ‘Irishness’ to forge a more inclusive plurality of Irish identities. Students will be encouraged to draw on their own disciplinary backgrounds, both for in- class discussions and for their final assignment. The latter will focus on one Irish ‘thing’ of their choice and may be submitted either as an essay or as a research-creation work.

The Irish Troubles in Film & TV / IRST 398 I / FMST 398 E
Prof. Patrick Brodie / Friday 13:15-17:15
This course will introduce students to the complex film and media landscape around the Northern Ireland conflict. Rather than using media representations to “tell the story” of the conflict, the course will invite students to understand how the conflict and the media interacted in more dynamic ways. Many argue that it was the international news media coverage of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry, where 14 civil rights protestors were killed by the British military at a peaceful protest, that put global eyes on the country and initiated what would be a long and extensively covered peace process. The conflict thus became a global event, although the experience of the conflict was often far from eventful – people lived their lives, albeit under the fearful and restrictive parameters of an ongoing, normalized conflict. This course will analyze the contrasts and textures of the conflict by showing and discussing diverse film and media texts, including looking at how news media and documentaries have presented the many sides of the struggle, analyzing Hollywood representations of nationalist and loyalist communities during the conflict, learning the role of political solidarity through film and media, interrogating the conflict through artists’ and experimental films, and finally questioning the recent increased media focus on the Northern Ireland conflict (and its aftermath) due to its implications for Brexit.

Irish Songs of Exile in North America / IRST 498 A
Prof. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin / Monday 11:45-14:30
Department permission required. This course examines the role of music and music makers as carriers of Irish cultural memory in North America since the early nineteenth century. An advanced interdisciplinary seminar, it will draw on new theoretical and methodological currents in memory studies, historical anthropology, space-place, and soundscape studies. It will focus on the eclectic lifeworlds of musicians, singers, dancers, and collectors who facilitated the dispersal of Irish soundscapes from Newfoundland to California, and the interlocking ethnoscapes, technoscapes, mediascapes, ideoscapes and financescapes that framed them. 


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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