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Irish Literature

ENG 306 (Not currently offered)

Irish Literature
(Not currently offered)

Description and Objectives

The Irish Literature Course will offer an introduction to the significant contributions that Irish writers have made to the English language.  We will begin with studying foundational Irish myth and then see how these myths were a fount of inspiration for later writers, especially those of the Irish Literary Renaissance, the period of the flowering Irish literary talent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Our coursework will involve the select study of poetry, drama, and short stories that capture Irish wit and wisdom.  The heralded Irish poets we will study include Thomas Moore, W. B. Yeats, Katherine Tynan, Patrick Kavanaugh, Seamus Heaney, and Michael O’Siadhail.  The masterful Irish playwrghts we will read include Oscar Wilde, Lady Gregory, Padraic Colum, Sean O’Casey, and Brian Friel.  Beyond poetry and taking the stage, Ireland has also produced some of the world’s most celebrated sort stories.  Therefore we will also delve into and appreciate the insights of the short story gems from the likes of Sean O’Faolain, Frank O’Connor, Mary Lavin, Maurice Walsh, and Paul Vincent Carroll.  


  • An Anthology of Irish Verse: The Poetry of Ireland from Mythological Times to the Present, edited by Padraic Colum
  • 101 Poems, by Seamus Heaney
  • Modern and Contemporary Irish Drama, edited by John P. Harrington
  • W. B. Yeats and the Learning of the Imagination, by Kathleen Raine

Course Requirements

Students can expect to be quizzed at least once weekly on the assigned reading material. Quarterly, students can expect several in-class writing assignments as well as a couple of formal, typed compositions.  There will be a cumulative midterm examination of the course material.

All homework is due at the beginning of class. Late work will be penalized one letter grade down for each day that the assignment is late. 

Successful Students

Successful students will have a mature approach to their teacher, their peers, and the coursework. 

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” 

– William Butler Yeats

 “I can’t think of a case where poems changed the world, but what they do is they change people’s understanding of what’s going on in the world.”

– Seamus Heaney