Course Description

Spring Semester 2016

M. D'Arcy

B.A. Seminar: 20th Century Irish Theatre

(Mon. 15.15 - 16.45)

This B.A. seminar shall examine how 20th century Irish drama chose to portray provincial and agricultural Irish communities residing outside the capital city of Dublin. More specifically, W.B. Yeats' Cathleen ni Houlihan, John Millington Synge's The Playboy of the Western World, John B. Keane's The Field and Brian Friel's Philadelphia, Here I Come! will be used to examine how different playwrights chose to dramatize the identity and aspirations of the people who populated these communities. In the course of our analysis of these themes of identity and aspiration we will consider some of the public reactions within Ireland provoked by these dramatizations. Students will thus be offered the opportunity to reflect on contemporary critical and audience reactions whilst in the course of forming their own critical opinions of authors and play-texts. In addition to the four plays being studied, students will be required to read very short excerpts of Peig Sayers autobiography, Peig, and Brian O'Nolan's An Beal Bocht (both in English translation on photocopies which shall be provided to the students on the first day of the seminar.) The raison d'être of this background reading is to equip students with some insight into how the Irish have reacted to artistic portrayals of themselves and to show how these reactions have become, in turn, articulated through new works of literature.

Credit requirements are regular attendance, active participation, class presentations, and an end of term paper of 3000 words.

This B.A. seminar will introduce students to some of Ireland's most influential and popular dramatists of the 20th century. Studentswill acquire the critical and theoretical vocabulary with which to approach and analyse these texts. They will also learn how to use this vocabulary to articulate their own close readings of the plays. Students who successfully complete this seminar will be equipped with a sense of how to begin to orientate their own future research interests (should they so wish) within the body of texts that constitute 20th century Irish theatre.

Recommended editions are:

Keane, John B. The Field. Ed. Ben Barnes. Blackrock: Mercier Press, 1991.

Friel, Brian. Philadelphia, Here I Come! London: Faber and Faber Limited, 2000.

Synge, Millington John, William Butler Yates, and Sean O'Casey. The Playboy of the Western World and Two Other Irish Plays. Penguin Twentieth Century Classics. London: Penguin Books Limited, 1987.

All texts are available at Librophoros at a discount. Note that photocopies of W.B. Yeats' Cathleen Ni Houlihan will be provided to students on the first day of the seminar.