Faculty of Arts


Reinventing Ireland


“Reinventing Ireland” provides an opportunity to explore globally relevant issues of memory, identity and the burden of the past through the study of Irish literature and cultural experience.

Throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Ireland serially reinvented its social and political realities. Unsurprisingly, cultural narratives of "Irishness" remain in a perpetual state of revision and reconfiguration. This course combines historical and theoretical frameworks to explore reinventions of Ireland and "Irishness" through a range of novels, plays, short stories and poetry.

Between the early 1990s and the present, Ireland has seen an unprecedented acceleration of social and cultural change. Our focus is the retrospective negotiations of Irish history and identity that characterise Irish literature of the 1990s and the 2000s and the treatment of contemporary Ireland in Irish literature since 2000.

Our explorations are based around two nodes, which reflect the dynamics of reinvention: "Retrospective Negotiations" and "The New Ireland (?)".

"Retrospective negotiations" initially pairs early twentieth century literary imaginings of Ireland with contemporary literary reinventions of late nineteenth and early twentieth century Ireland and Irishness. We then explore contemporary reworkings of mid-late twentieth century Ireland and the emergence of Ireland as a postcolonial nation.

"The New Ireland (?)" reflects on Ireland’s rapidly changing identity since the millennium. We examine the collision between alternatively imagined communities, and the relationship between postcoloniality and multiculturalism in contemporary Irish literature.

Course objectives

  • To introduce students to Irish literature and Irish historical and cultural contexts
  • To enhance students’ close reading, analytical and communication skills
  • To develop students’ ability to think critically about their own cultural inheritance through study of Irish literature

Expected learning outcomes

  • Advanced close reading skills in relation to multiple genres as demonstrated in lectures and practised in tutorials
  • Ability to think critically about texts and culture
  • Ability to engage with theoretical concepts of global relevance from the field of Irish studies
  • Ability to construct and effectively express reasoned arguments and interpretations using appropriate evidence

View the course syllabus

Availability 2019

Semester 1


Coordinator(s) Dr Jan Cronin


Sebastian Barry, The Steward of Christendom [play - contained in the Methuen Drama Anthology of Irish Plays (2008)]
Elizabeth Bowen, The Last September [novel]
Seamus Deane, Reading in the Dark [novel]
Roddy Doyle, The Deportees [short stories]
Brian Friel, The Home Place [play]
Claire Keegan, Walk the Blue Fields [short stories]
Patrick McCabe, Winterwood [novel]
Martin McDonagh, The Cripple of Inishmaan [play - contained in the Methuen Drama Anthology of Irish Plays (2008)]
Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, The Fifty Minute Mermaid [poetry]
Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, The Dancers Dancing [novel]
JM Synge, The Playboy Of The Western World [play - e-text through library]

Selected poetry of W.B Yeats available through "Reading Lists" on Canvas


Coursework only


ENGLISH 361: 15.0 points


30 points at Stage II in English



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