In nineteenth-century Irish fiction, the Irish countryside, as a symbol of complex cultural concerns, became the prime focus. This interest was increasing towards the end of the nineteenth century when writers of the so-called Irish Literary Revival focused on the lives and customs of the Irish country people in order to abandon prevalent English stereotypes. The Irish 'peasant' was thus imagined to embody an ancient Irish culture by writers such as William Butler Yeats, George Moore and John Millington Synge.
In the seminar, we will explore the different ways in which the peasant figure was reconceptualised in literature to represent an idealised Ireland. For this purpose we will read and discuss Yeats' Cathleen Ní Houlihan (1902), Synge's The Playboy of the Western World (1907), Moore's "Julia Cahill’s Curse" (The Untilled Field, 1903) and James Joyce’s "The Dead" (Dubliners, 1914). (The reading effort is not as extensive as it seems – only about 100 pages in total!)
The texts allow us to engage in close reading activities, literary analysis and interpretation in the context of Irish literary and cultural history and in the context of theory. Hence, the seminar will build upon your Grundkurs-knowledge with three major aims: 1) to deepen your skills in analysing and interpreting literary texts, 2) to practise working with secondary literature, and 3) to develop your own research questions and thesis claims in preparation for the Hausarbeit.