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EN255 Anglo-Irish Literature

(Dr. Liz Barry/Dr David O'Shaughnessy)

This module will not be running in 2012-13.

Please contact Dr Barry by email with any questions regarding this module for 2010/2011. (See below)



This module looks at the role played by literature and theatre in the founding of the new Irish Republic in the early twentieth century, and the literary response to the attendant violence and social change. It concentrates on the experience of the Anglo-Irish: the Protestant settler class whose uneasy existence, guilty relationship with the land, and eventual violent unseating expresses itself in some of the greatest work of twentieth-century Ireland. There is a great variety of kinds of writing involved, including the myth and legend of Yeats's early poetry, the offbeat social comedy of Shaw's play John Bull's Other Island, the evocative modernist prose of Elizabeth Bowen's novel The Last September and the ghostly minimalism of Beckett's late play Footfalls. The module will cover the besieged Anglo-Irish identity as described in the Big House novels, the Celtic Revival and writings preparing the ground for and responding to the Easter rebellion of 1916, the birth of the Irish National Theatre, and the different manifestations of the Irish Gothic in theatre and prose fiction. You are encouraged to read beyond the syllabus and suggestions are to be found in the links to the side of this page.



For a list of set texts, follow the Syllabus and Editions link to the left of this page. It is strongly recommended that you familiarize yourself with the history relevant to the course. A recommended introductory history is Senia Paseta, Modern Ireland: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press), which is available in paperback. If you want more detail, Roy Foster's Modern Ireland: 1600-1972 (Penguin) is also good (but a bit less instantly readable). It is also crucial that you make a start on reading the novels which we will cover in the first few weeks, in particular Maria Edgeworth's Castle Rackrent (1800) [OUP] and Somerville and Ross, The Big House of Inver (1925) (Rowman and Littlefield).


The module is assessed 50% by coursework (one 5000-word essay) and 50% by a 2-hour summer examination: this is assessment route (C); or by 100% coursework (two 5000-word essays). Essay titles can be found via the link to the left or here.


Text books

You need to buy one anthology: Modern Irish Drama, ed. John Harrington (Norton, 1991). I would also advise that you buy Irish Writing: An Anthology of Irish Literature in English 1789-1939 (Oxford World's Classics), which has a lot of useful and relevant extra primary reading, although this is not a requirement.


Please EMAIL ME (Dr Liz Barry) at if you are intending to follow the course and have not heard from me already.