Topics in Irish Lit:


This course examines the textual force-fields of similarity and difference in the writing of racial and ethnic identities in the Atlantic World. It begins by considering works of Irish writers who engaged with Atlantic slavery and the sympathetic and testamentary discourses within abolitionism in the late 18th century; authors discussed include Hugh Mulligan, Mary Ledbetter, Edmund Burke, Thomas Brannigan, and Denis Driscoll. The course then examines the over-lapping traces of radical and revolutionary memory in American slavery and in Irish politics, concentrating on the roles of Irish figures in the writings of Frederick Douglas and Black figures in the writings and speeches of Daniel O’Connell. The mid-19th century explosion of writing about race and ethnicity following the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin will be explored in relation to the many imitations of Stowe’s novel that sought to explain post-famine Ireland. The course then considers the proliferation of texts that sought to understand the antinomies of desire and prohibition surrounding persons of mixed race, reading works by Mayne Reid, Dion Boucicault, and Charles Chestnutt. Texts that convey the fusion of African-American and Irish cultural forms will be discussed, including Blackface, Minstrelsy, and Dance. After consideration of the use of race in the development of anti-Irishcaricature (via readings of English (Punch) and American (Thomas Nast and the Nativists) cartoonists), the course will conclude by looking at shared and divergent textual and political strategies in writers of the Irish and Harlem Renaissances, concentrating on the ambivalence of dialect writing (Finley Peter Dunne, John Synge, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Claude McKay), and the limits of modernist primitivism (Eugene O’Neill’s “The Emperor Jones”). The course will conclude with a discussion of the politics of memory along and across the color line in contemporary Irish and American public life. Primary readings will be supplemented by theoretical and critical texts, including works by Paul Gilroy, Ian Baucom, Eric Lott, Robert Young, Perry Curtis, Marx, Freud, and Foucault.

Emphasis varies by semester; designed to allow flexibility in course offerings from visiting scholars and specialists in particular fields. Past examinations have included contemporary Irish fiction and poetry, Irish women writers, and Northern Irish poetry.






Fall 2018

John P Waters
TR: 9:30 AM - 10:45 AM ERIN 101
Kelly Elissa Sullivan
TR: 2:00 PM - 3:15 PM ERIN 101