Faculty of Arts


Postcolonial Memory: Ireland


What happens when the cultural memory of poverty, oppression and colonialism is, ostensibly, at variance with lived experience? What forces does the past exert on the present, and how do writers navigate and express those relationships? This course explores the influence of postcolonial memory on the cultural imaginary (that shifting set of ideas and imaginings of place, people and cultural identity).

Irish literature and the Irish cultural imaginary form our case study for an exploration of globally significant issues of cultural memory, identity and postcolonial inheritance. Ireland – a country approaching its first centenary of independence – has had a contentious relationship with postcolonial representations of identity and experience. This is compounded by Ireland’s accelerated rate of social and economic change in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Debates about memory and “the postcolonial” guide our navigation of twentieth and twenty-first century Irish novels, plays, poetry and short stories. Conversely, through our literary navigations, we interrogate postcolonial representations of identity across shifting contexts. 

The course is structured around the dynamics of literary and cultural inheritance. We explore texts that stimulate debate about Ireland’s relationship with postcolonial frameworks. We interrogate issues of authenticity and hybridity, ethical memory, postcolonial haunting and indigenous language, and explore the treatment of women as agents of postcolonial experience. We close with considerations of the relationship between multiculturalism and postcoloniality.

Learning Aims

  • To develop students’ ability to think critically about texts and cultural contexts
  • To advance students’ close reading and analytical skills in relation to multiple genres
  • To develop students’ ability to engage with and apply theoretical concepts of global significance from the fields of postcolonial and Irish studies
  • To develop students’ ability to construct and effectively express reasoned arguments and interpretations using appropriate evidence


Coursework: 60%

Exam: 40%

Availability 2020

Semester 1


Lecturer(s) Dr Jan Cronin


  • Sebastian Barry, The Steward of Christendom [play]
  • Seamus Deane, Reading in the Dark [novel]
  • Roddy Doyle, The Deportees [short stories]
  • Claire Keegan, Walk the Blue Fields [short stories]
  • Brian Friel, The Home Place [play]
  • Patrick McCabe, Winterwood [novel]
  • Martin McDonagh, The Cripple of Inishmaan [play]
  • Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, The Fifty Minute Mermaid [poetry]
  • Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, The Dancers Dancing [novel]
  • Selected poetry of W.B Yeats (available electronically) 


Coursework: 60%

Exam: 40%


ENGLISH 217: 15.0 points


30 points at Stage I in English


ENGLISH 266, 316, 361

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