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Current course offerings

Courses offered in Fall 2023

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.

Highlights of Irish Literature / IRST 209 A / ENGL 298 A (3 credits)
Prof. Keelan Harkin / Monday, Wednesday 16:15-17:30
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 Irish in Canada / IRST 210 A / HIST 212 A (3 credits)
Prof. Jane McGaughey / Monday, Wednesday 10:15-11:30
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 A (3 credits)
Prof. Jérôme aan de Wiel / Thursday 11:45-14:30
This course explores Irish history through the centuries. It begins with the roots of the Anglo-Irish conflict, namely the arrival of the Normans in Ireland in the 12th century and especially the English plantations in the sixteenth century, and ends in the 2000s with the Celtic Tiger, years of exceptional economic growth and different societal issues. Wars, conflicts and the shaping of nationalist (pro-independent) and unionist (pro-British) identity are analysed, including case-studies of key events such as the Act of Union of 1800, the Easter Rising of 1916 or Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland in 1972. Also included are topics such as Catholic emancipation in the nineteenth century, the Great Irish Famine (1845-1850), the relations between State and Church in the Irish Free State and later Republic of Ireland and the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

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.

Irish Mythology and Folklore / IRST 230 A / ANTH 298 A (3 credits)
Prof. Máirtín Coilféir / Monday 11:45-14:30
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.

Classics of Irish Theatre / IRST 344 A / ENGL 398 C / PERC 398 C (3 credits)
Prof. Emer O’Toole / Monday, Wednesday 14:45-16:00
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.

The Making of the Irish Landscape / IRST 398 A / GEOG 342 A (3 credits)
Prof. Katie Young / Monday, Wednesday 8:45-10:00
This course focuses on the evolution of the Irish landscape. We will examine the physical, political, social, economic and attitudinal processes that have shaped Ireland’s landscape from prehistoric times to the present. Students will be introduced to the fundamentals of physical geography in Ireland, including rivers and canal systems, glaciers, bogs, islands, lakes, and mountain ranges. The course draws important connections between physical and social, economic, and political geographies through case studies across Ireland’s four provinces. Students will consider the intersections between key contemporary human and physical processes shaping the Irish landscape, including weather, climate, tourism, and migration.

20th Century Ireland in Europe and the World / IRST 398 B / HIST 398 C (3 credits)
Prof. Jérôme aan de Wiel / Wednesday 11:45-14:30
For decades the history of Ireland and continental European countries during the twentieth century has been ‘grossly neglected’ in the words of a prominent historian, the focus of historiography being strongly Anglocentric. And yet there can be no doubt that Ireland had strong connections with the European continent and that its relations with the continent shaped its identity on the international stage. This course will explore Ireland’s participation in events such as the First World War, the Second World War, the Cold War, European integration, international institutions, and humanitarianism.

Irish Film Studies / IRST 398 C / FMST 398 B (3 credits)
Prof. Emer O’Toole / Thursday 8:45-12:45
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.

The Politics of Northern Ireland / IRST 398 D / POLI 376 A (3 credits)
Prof. James Kelly / Tuesday 8:45-11:30
This course focuses on the political evolution of Northern Ireland over three distinct periods: the Stormont Parliament (1921‑1972); direct rule by Westminster (1972‑1998); and devolved government after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. Topics may include constitutional politics and partition, religion and politics, political parties, sectarianism, the “Troubles,” the Good Friday Agreement, and the post‑1998 power‑sharing institutions.

Contemporary British and Irish Writing by Women / IRST 498 A / ENGL 498 B
Prof. Cynthia Quarrie / Monday 14:45-17:30
Special permission required. This course is intended for students in their final year. The theme of this course is the “Bildungsroman”— from the German for “education” or “formation” and “novel”—which is a genre that narrates the intellectual, spiritual, ethical, and social formation of a young person into an adult. We more commonly think of the contemporary “coming-of-age” novel as about psycho-sexual development, and of coming into adulthood in those terms.
    In this course we will read five “coming-of-age” novels by contemporary British and Irish women writers, as well as a number of scholarly articles that attempt to define, examine, and challenge the genre of the “Bildungsroman.” We will be especially interested in how these novels challenge the form from feminist, queer, racialized, and economically precarious positions.
    There will be lots of reading — one novel every two weeks! Milkman by Anna Burns; Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss; A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride; White Is For Witching by Helen Oyeyemi; and Three Rooms by Jo Hamya. Every other week is supplemented by a critical article, which we will unpack together. Students will be expected to stay on top of the reading and participate fully by means of short class presentations and consistent participation in class discussion. I’m hoping that these novels and articles are interesting enough that you’ll all feel like you have plenty to say!

Course offered in Fall 2023 and Winter 2024 (full year)

The Irish Language and its Culture I / IRST 233 A (6 credits)
Prof. Máirtín Coilféir / Tuesday 14:45-17:30
This course provides a general introduction to Irish linguistic and cultural practices in modern and contemporary Ireland. It explores the principles of the Irish language and introduces students to the language through folklore, song, poetry, film, drama, and storytelling. Note: this course will focus more on written Irish.

Courses offered in Winter 2024

The Irish in Montreal / IRST 205 A / HIST 213 A (3 credits)
Prof. Raymond Jess / 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)
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 (3 credits)
Prof. Gavin Foster / 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
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.

Sexualities in the Irish Diaspora / IRST 304 A / HIST 398 M / SOCI 398 D / ANTH 398 D
Prof. Jane McGaughey / 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)
Prof. Emer O’Toole / 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
Prof. Kate Bevan-Baker / 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
Prof. Katie Young / Monday 17:45-20:15
How have people inhabited, interacted with, and shaped the Irish landscape overtime? 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.

Cultural Geographies of the Irish Night / IRST 398 BB / GEOG 398 BB
Prof. Katie Young /  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.

The Gaelic Literature of Ireland  / IRST 398 E / ENGL 398 E (3 credits)
Prof. Máirtín Coilféir / 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
Prof. Keelan Harkin / 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
Prof. Emer O’Toole / 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
Prof. Keelan Harkin / 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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