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EN980 - Writing Ireland, Writing England (1780-1830)

(Module not available 2013-14)

Dr David O'Shaughnessy

Ireland and England had - perhaps endured - a particularly intense relationship period at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century. The 'Irish question' was to the fore in British politics even at a time when it was engulfed by the Napoleonic Wars. Ireland was a country uniquely in a position to support or distract England at a difficult time in its history and it loomed large in the English cultural imagination.

Complicating the issue of Ireland for the English was the sense that, one the one hand, the Irish were imagined as vulgar, at best, or barbaric, at worst, in order to justify the moral certitude of occupation. Conversely, particularly around the time of the French Revolution, the Irish were simultaneously imagined as stalwart supporters of Britain so as to discourage Irish dissent and the possibility of French invasion via Ireland. In the event the Irish rebelled, there was an Act of Union, and a long difficult march towards Catholic Emancipation in 1829.

The history of Anglo-Irish relations from this period is fascinating. In this module we will explore how literary and visual culture responded to historical events and political currents across the period. We will concentrate on four major events: the French Revolution in 1789, the Irish Rebellion of 1798, the Act of Union 1801, and Catholic Emancipation 1829. We will look at the work of Irish Catholic, Anglo-Irish 'Ascendancy', and English writers across the period and consider the extent to which these works from different traditions cohere. How did these different traditions respond to each other? How did novelists, journalists, dramatists, and artists respond to the period's tumultuous events? Was it possible to be both proudly Irish and loyal to the Crown? And how did Ireland figure in the imagination of English writers, particularly those we now consider Romantic? To use Homi Bhabha's phrase, this module will measure the extent to which the Irish were 'almost the same, but not quite' and the degree which this slippage provoked cultural production across the period.


Week 1 Ireland and England 1780-1830: history and politics

Week 2 The novel, the theatre, journalism, and visual culture 1780-1830

Week 3 Irish 1: Irish in London: Edmund Burke, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and James Barry

Week 4 Irish 2: Brian Merriman, The Midnight Court (17??); Charlotte Brooke, Reliques of Irish Poetry (1789); Thomas Moore, Memoirs of Captain Rock (1824)

Week 5: Irish 3: The Stage Irishman in John O'Keeffe, The Poor Soldier (1783), The World in a Village (1793) and Richard Lalor Sheil, Adelaide; or, The Emigrants (1814)

Week 6: Irish 4: John and Michael Banim, Tales from the O'Hara Family (1825)

Week 7 Anglo-Irish 1: Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent (1801); The Absentee (1812)

Week 8 Anglo-Irish 2: Lady Morgan, The Wild Irish Girl (1806/7); Charles Maturin, The Wild Irish Boy (1808)

Week 9 English 1: Charles Lucas, The Infernal Quixote (1801); William Godwin, Mandeville (1817)

Week 10 English 2: Ireland in the Romantic Imagination (Shelley, Coleridge, Wordsworth)


Deane, Seamus, Strange Country: modernity and nationhood in Irish writing since 1790 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)

Foster, R.F., Modern Ireland 1600-1972 (London: Allen Lane, 1988)

____ Paddy and Mr Punch: Connections in Irish and English History, 2nd edition (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1995)

Gibbons, Luke, Edmund Burke and Ireland: Aesthetics, Politics and the Colonial Sublime 1750-1850 (Cambridge: Camburdge University Press, 2003)

____ Gaelic Gothic: Race, Colonialism and Irish Culture (Galway: Arlen House, 2004)

Kiberd, Declan, Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation (London: Jonathan Cape, 1995)

Leersen, Joep, Mere Irish and Fíor-Ghael: studies in the idea of Irish nationality, its development, and literary expression prior to the nineteenth century, 2nd edition (Cork: Cork University Press, 1996)

____ Remembrance and imagination: patterns in the historical and literary representation of Ireland in the nineteenth century (Cork: Cork University Press, 1996)

Makdisi, Saree, Romantic Imperialism: Universal Empire and Culture of Modernity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)

McCann, Andrew, Cultural Politics in the 1790s: Literature, Radicalism, and the Public Sphere (Basingstoke: Macmillan Press, 1999)

Richardson, Alan, and Sonia Hofkosh, eds, Romanticism, Race, and Imperial Culture, 1780-1834 (Bloomington and Indianapolis, 1996)

Taylor, George, The French Revolution and the London Stage: 1789-1805 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000)