Contemporary Irish Writing - EN659

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19
Canterbury Spring
View Timetable
6 30 (15) DR D Kavanagh




Not available as wild



Much Irish writing in the 20th and 21st centuries has been torn between tradition and innovation, between the need to define a national identity in opposition to Britain and the desire to transcend national boundaries and embrace a cosmopolitan modernity. With four nobel laureates in the 20th century (Yeats, Shaw, Beckett, Heaney), modern Irish literature has gained international recognition. In recent years, Irish Literature has undergone surprising changes in theme and content, moving from the insularity of parochialism to the emergence of the 'Global Irish novel". The charting of this development will provide an important framework for the discussion in this module of recurrent issues in Irish writing, such as history, cultural memory, violence and society, queer sexualities and gender relations, national and cultural identities, and the negotiation of what the historian Roy Foster has called the 'varieties of Irishness'. The module will consider a broad variety of Irish writing from 1975 to 2014: sampling significant developments in poetry, drama and prose.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

10 x weekly two-hour seminars plus 5 x bi-weekly two-hour workshops

Method of assessment

100% Coursework: 10% seminar performance, 90% two 3000-word essays (45% each)

Indicative reading

Eavan BOLAND, 'Outside History' (1990)
Emma DONOGHUE, 'Room' (2010);
Louise O'NEILL, 'Asking For It’ (2015)
Oona FRAWLEY, 'Flight' (2014)
Brian FRIEL, 'Translations' (1980)
Seamus HEANEY, 'North' (1975)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to demonstrate the following subject specific learning outcomes:

• read and respond critically to a range of Irish poetry, drama and fiction
• learn to situate and discuss literary texts in their historical, cultural, and theoretical contexts
• explore the specific connection between literature and history in Irish writing
• explore a range of theoretical approaches to literary texts, including postcolonial perspectives
• develop an ability to interrogate and understand contemporary Irish culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries

On successful completion of this module students will be able to demonstrate the following generic learning outcomes:

• develop their ability to analyse texts critically and make comparisons across a range of reading
• develop their command of written and spoken English and their abilities to articulate coherent critical arguments
• understand and interrogate various critical approaches and the theoretical assumptions that underpin these approaches
• develop their abilities to carry out independent research
• develop their presentational skills

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