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Current course offerings

Courses offered in Winter 2024

The Irish in Montreal / IRST 205 A / HIST 213 A (3 credits)
Monday, Wednesday 14:45-16:00
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 later. 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.

What’s that Tune? A Music Appreciation Course in Irish Traditional Music / IRST 298 A (3 credits)
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 (3 credits)
Thursday 14:45-17:30
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 L
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.

Sexualities in the Irish Diaspora / IRST 304 A / HIST 398 M / SOCI 398 D / ANTH 398 D
Monday 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.

Contemporary Irish Theatre / IRST 347 A / PERC 398 A (3 credits)
Monday, Wednesday 10:15-11:30
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 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. We’ll study autobiographical plays about Irish transgender experiences; “post-dramatic” mash-ups of Greek Drama; “documentary” or “verbatim” pieces about Ireland’s troubled past; and “site-specific” performances that bring sinister histories lurking in Dublin’s architecture to life. Note: This is a practical theatre course.

Irish Traditional Music in Canada: A Cultural History / IRST 373 A / HIST 398 P / SOCI 398 E / ANTH 398 E
Tuesday, Thursday 10:15-11:30
The cultural history of Irish traditional music in Canada is inextricably linked to a matrix of Irish immigration and settlement that began in the late 1600s and that stretched from Newfoundland to the Yukon, from Hudson Bay to the Great Lakes, evidenced in 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.

Inhabiting the Irish Landscape: Irish Cultural Geography / IRST 398 AA / GEOG 398 AA
Monday 17:45-20:15
How have people inhabited, interacted with, and shaped the Irish landscape over time? This course investigates the relationship between people and the Irish landscape across Ireland’s four provinces: Leinster, Ulster, Munster, and Connacht. Students will examine lived environments through core themes in cultural geography, including urbanity and rurality, gender and sexuality, migration, and identity. Lectures will draw on a range of materials to explore and learn about Ireland’s cultural geography, including relevant documentaries and films, music records, and podcasts, as well as virtual maps and online walking tours. Students will have opportunities to communicate their knowledge of Irish cultural geography in multiple ways, such as through visual/sonic analysis of maps and independent research. Some interactive aspects of this course:

  • Guest visit from Irish-Canadian artist whose work was featured in the Museum of Fine Art’s Du Musée Avenue last year (
  • Walking tour of Irish Montreal
  • Film screenings at J.A. DeSève Cinema

Cultural Geographies of the Irish Night / IRST 398 BB / GEOG 398 BB
Wednesday 17:45-20:15
The Irish night is shaped by cultural, political, and economic forces. Drawing on the emerging field of ‘night studies’, this course considers the contemporary development of ‘night space’ in Ireland. This includes the night-time economy (for example, policies on closing times, gig-economies, transportation, and extended closures of cultural spaces during the Covid-19 pandemic) as well as ‘night culture’ (for example, the development of major nocturnal events, including Ireland’s ‘Culture Night’, as well as night-time street art galleries and music festivals). We’ll examine how systems of power operate within the Irish night, asking how access – and at times lack of access – to night spaces shape geographic processes, including gentrification, migration, gender (in)equity, and employment. The course will draw on a range of multi-media materials and diverse case studies, as well as virtual and in-person visits from night studies scholars and community activists. As part of the course, students will attend Montreal en Lumiere, to examine how nocturnal culture is presented, experienced, and shaped in different urban environments. Some interactive aspects of this course:

  • Involvement in Montreal’s Nuit Blanche city-wide event
  • Guest talks from Irish key speakers, including the activist group ‘Give us the night’, organizers of Culture Night Dublin and a Night Major from Ireland
  • Visit and talk in an Irish pub
  • A haunted walk in Montreal

The Gaelic Literature of Ireland  / IRST 398 E / ENGL 398 E (3 credits)
Wednesday 11:45-14:30
Through the medium of English translation, this course explores more than 1,500 years of stories, songs and poems composed in the Indigenous language of Ireland, Gaeilge. We will read inscriptions on stone carvings, lyrics written by monks, bardic poems, heated essays and all sorts of fiction, as well as listening to folk song in the Irish language and looking at films based on important books. Taking as its starting point the contact and conflict between the island’s native tongue, 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, song and film 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.

Contemporary Irish Literature / IRST 398 F / ENGL 353 A
Monday, Wednesday 14:45-16:00
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 Horror / IRST 398 G / FMST 398 C
Tuesday, Thursday 11:45-13:00
This course digs into folklore, mythology, film, theatre, literature, social media, and TV to excavate ancient and contemporary Irish fears. We’ll look at how beliefs about the Tuatha dé Danann or good people persist in the Irish psyche, at the supernatural in storytelling traditions, at contemporary horror films, and ghostly literature. And, most importantly, we’ll create some horrifying art of our own.

Writing the Cold War in Ireland / IRST 498 B / ENGL 498 A
Friday 11:45-14:30
Special permission required. Intended for students in their final year. Spies, economic futures, nuclear Armageddon: how did Irish writers imagine and depict the impact of the Cold War in Ireland? In part because of Ireland’s longstanding official position of neutrality when it comes to global conflicts, Irish writing has rarely been read with this question in mind. Building on recent historical reappraisals of Ireland and Cold War politics, this seminar asks students to re-imagine how the global conflict between two ideologically opposed superpowers influenced Irish writers from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Students in this course will read novels, short stories, essays, poetry, and plays that engage with several subjects pertinent to Cold War writing, including espionage, nuclear warfare, diplomacy, communism, and global capitalism. Rather than emphasizing the national interests normally associated with Irish literature published in the mid-to-late twentieth century, this course will consider the international outlook of major Irish writers such as Dorothy Macardle, Samuel Beckett, Maeve Brennan, Seamus Heaney, John McGahern, John Banville, and Éilís Ní Dhuibhne.

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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