Current course offerings
Courses offered in Fall 2020
Introduction to Irish Studies / IRST 203 AA (3 credits)
Prof. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin / Thursday 17:45-20:15
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.
The Irish in Canada / IRST 210 A / HIST 212 A (3 credits)
Prof. Jane McGaughey / Tuesday, Thursday 13:15-14:30
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.
History of Ireland / IRST 211 A / HIST 211 (3 credits)
Prof. Gavin Foster / Monday, Wednesday 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 Irish Revolution, 1913-23 / IRST 316 A / HIST 398 A (3 credits)
Prof. Gavin Foster / Monday, Wednesday 10:15-11:30
This course explores the political, military, social, and cultural dimensions of the turbulent period in Irish history that dissolved over a century of Anglo-Irish Union and established two new states. The course necessarily focuses on Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Army's efforts to achieve independence from Britain, but considerable attention is also given to Ulster Unionist resistance to separatism. Additionally, other forces and dynamics that shaped this seminal period are explored, such as sectarian violence in Northern Ireland; conflict between rival nationalist factions in the south; labour and socialist agitations; agrarian discontents; and the women's suffrage and feminist movements.
NOTE: Students who have received credit for this topic under a HIST 398 number may not take this course for credit.
Irish Short Story Tradition / IRST 398 A / ENGL 356 A
Prof. Keelan Harkin / Thursday 14:45-17:30
This course will deal with varieties of expression within the Irish Short Story tradition, examining a range of writers from the twentieth century. This course will begin with a focussed discussion of James Joyce’s ‘Araby’ both to establish some of the rhetorical and narrative features of the genre in general and to explore the ‘epiphanic tradition’ within Irish short stories. In exploring the changing concerns, evolving narrative strategies and range of subjects to be found in Irish stories written over an extended period, this course will consider how such texts provide windows into, and simultaneously embody the profound social, political and cultural changes which have taken place in Ireland during this period. This course will consider what impact, if any, the oral storytelling tradition of Gaelic culture as well the dual linguistic heritage in Ireland have had on the Irish short story. Irish Short Story Tradition will also examine how various critical theories can be usefully applied in our reading of specific stories.
NOTE: Students have received credit for this topic under an ENGL 359 or IRST 398 number may not take this course for credit.
Early Ireland (10,000 BCE to 1014) / IRST 398 B / HIST 398 B (3 credits)
Prof. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin / Monday, Wednesday 11:45-13:00
Humans first set foot in Ireland during the early stone age and continued to leave archaeological and historical evidence of their presence ever since. This course will survey the history and archaeology of pre-Christian and Early Christian Ireland. Focusing on the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods, the Iron Age, Early Christian Ireland, and the Viking Invasions, it will devote particular attention to the Brehon laws, ecclesiastical and secular literature, art and architecture, Irish monasticism, Viking cities, and the role Irish scholars played in saving European civilization during the ninth and tenth-centuries. The course will conclude with the rise of the Dál gCais and the heroic figure of Brian Ború, the only political leader to unite the whole island of Ireland under one overlord.
Politics of Northern Ireland / IRST 398 C / POLI 376 A (3 credits)
Prof. James Kelly / Tuesday 11:45-14:30
As a divided society organized along an ethno-religious cleavage, this course considers the governance and political institutions of Northern Ireland through three distinct state structures: the Stormont Parliament and majoritariansim, 1921-72; Westminster and direct rule, 1972-1998; and the Northern Ireland Assembly and power sharing, 1998-present. Focusing principally on the political and governmental institutions of Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement enacted as the Northern Ireland Act 1998, this course considers the Unionist/Nationalist cleavage and how the institutional and societal structures of Northern Ireland have attempted to reflect and accommodate this pivotal societal division.
Course offered in Fall 2020 / Winter 2021 semesters (full-year)
Introduction to Spoken Irish / IRST 299 AA (6 credits)
Prof. Máirtín Colféir / Monday and Wednesday 17:45-19:00
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 2021
The Irish in Montreal / IRST 205 / 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.
Irish Mythology and Folklore / IRST 230 A / ANTH 298 B (3 credits)
Prof. Máirtín Colféir / Tuesday, Thursday 10:15-11:30
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.
What’s that Tune? A Music Appreciation Course in Irish Traditional Music / IRST 298 B (3 credits)
Prof. Kate Bevan-Baker / Tuesday, Thursday 10:15-11:30
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 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.
Independent Ireland from the Civil War to the Celtic Tiger / IRST 314 A / HIST 398 G (3 credits)
Prof. Gavin Foster / Tuesday 11:45-14:30
This course examines political, social and cultural life in the post-revolution southern Irish state formed by the Anglo-Irish Treaty (1921) and Irish Civil War. Key themes include state formation and post-civil war politics; Fianna Fáil and “the republicanization” of society; church and state; Irish neutrality and Anglo-Irish relations; the political and social character of “De Valera’s Ireland”; post-war economic and social change; external relations and influences; the Republic’s responses to Northern Ireland and the post-1968 Troubles; globalization and the rise and fall of the Celtic Tiger economy.
NOTE: Students who have received credit for this topic under a HIST or IRST 398 number may not take this course for credit.
Classics of Irish Theatre / IRST 344 A / ENGL 398 F
Prof. Kate Bligh / Wednesday, Friday 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 / HIST 398 F (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.
James Joyce / IRST 398 E / ENGL 355 A (3 credits)
Prof. André Furlani / Tuesday, Thursday 14:45-16:00
The course will serve as an introduction to James Joyce’s Ulysses, and will pay particular attention to the social, cultural and political forces in Ireland and beyond which shaped his writing. Because of the limited time available, this course will deal with the sections of the novel in different ways; some will be discussed in detail in class, others will be reported on by groups. This course will examine Ulysses in its literary, cultural, historical and mythical contexts, and do a close textual analysis of representative sections so that a general appreciation of the novel can be achieved. Central to the course will be discussion of Joyce as a modernist whose fiction explores a range of narrative, stylistic and formal experiments. By the end of the course, students should have a solid sense of Joyce’s accomplishments in this work, and should feel competent to re-examine his works with confidence and authority.
Norman and Tudor Ireland: 1169-1607 / IRST 398 G / HIST 398 B
Prof. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin / Thursday 11:45-14:30
By the twelfth-century, Ireland had enjoyed eight thousand years of human settlement. In the late 1160s, however, the English invasion of Ireland began. This invasion would change the course of Irish history forever. This interdisciplinary course will focus on the first four centuries of English settlement in Ireland—beginning with the Normans and ending with the Tudors. The course will examine society and politics in pre-Norman Ireland; kings and kingship following the invasion; trade, town life, castle building and material culture in Norman Ireland. It will focus particular attention on Norman bureaucracy, the Bruce Invasion, the rise and fall of the Geraldine federations, and the eventual eclipse of the Gaelic lordships by the Tudors.
Rebellions in Ireland & the Canadas / IRST 412 / HIST 498 A / HIST 670 A
Prof. Jane McGaughey / Monday 13:15-16:00
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.
Take a course as an elective
Note: Many Irish Studies courses are cross-listed with other departments and can be taken as electives in programs in those departments with Academic Advisor approval. These departments include English, History, Theatre, Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, and Theological Studies.