List of Current Classes Offered

Fall 2021

ENGL 196: 20th Century Irish Literature

Revolution and Independence; Colonization and Decolonization; Nationalism and Disillusion; Development and Underdevelopment—the history of Ireland in the twentieth century is the history of the world writ small. Irish literature of the twentieth century has, not coincidentally, played a central part in the global library, and in this course we will engage with the complex interactions between politics and aesthetics that produced a rich tradition of writing in Ireland.This will be a survey course, covering the best of Irish writing from 1900 to the present. The course will cover prose, poetry and drama, giving a sense of the full range of literary production across genres. Authors will include W.B. Yeats, Augusta Gregory, James Joyce, J.M. Synge, Seamus Heaney and others. Our approach to the literature will be broadly postcolonial, and guided by the pairs of abstract nouns above, which is to say that we will be thinking about how Irish literature in the twentieth century responds to the global legacy of colonialism. While the course title and reading list gesture towards the nation, we will venture into this material remembering always that the frame of the nation, which has so often defined how we organize courses in literature, might not always be sufficient or appropriate. We will look with a skeptical eye on nation and nationalism.

THEO 165 – The Vatican and Ireland

Gerard Mannion (1970-2019), co-founder of the Global Irish Studies program at Georgetown University, understood that Ireland is not just an island, but a global community. Professor Mannion also understood that the Vatican is not just a city, but in the words of Oliver Plunkett, Archbishop of Armagh, and Primate of Ireland in 1661, “Rome is a great book.” This class will explore through the lived experience of the Irish people both in Ireland and in the global Irish diaspora the relationship between the Vatican and Ireland, especially as manifested in Irish Catholicism. Developing a theological lens formed through the last 1500 years of historical experience, we will attend to several key social and cultural issues of today such as the sexual abuse scandal in Ireland, Protestant-Catholic relations post 1998, the impact of Brexit, the contribution of Irish Catholics in the diaspora (especially the USA), and how the Vatican has responded to all these issues. At the end we will ask whether Irish Catholicism is a world religion in its own right.


Spring 2022

THEO 018 – Religion & Irish Revolution

This class is offered in memory of Professor Gerard Mannion (1970-2019). The revolutionary period that runs from 1913 through 1923 is one of the most significant periods in Irish history. It was not the first period of violent upheaval that Ireland had gone through, and in many ways the Revolution of 1913 through 1923 remains unfinished. This class will explore the realities of revolution in Ireland through one of the lesser explored factors that permeates the entire history of Ireland: religion. We will start by looking at some of the issues involved with studying history and religion in Ireland, with a refresher course in Irish history that will take us from the ancient days prior to the arrival of Christianity to the beginning of the twentieth century. We will pay particular attention to times of turmoil such at the Anglo-Norman conquest in the twelfth century, Henry VIII’s imposition of the Anglican church in the sixteenth century, Cromwell’s brutal invasion in the seventeenth century, the long struggle for Catholic freedom in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the closely related issue of the revival of Irish language and culture. Against this background we will look at the Irish Revolution and in attention the role played by religion (Roman, Catholic, Anglican, Protestant). Questions of church-state relations and the manner in which the Irish diaspora has impacted both church and state in the twentieth century will also explored. A key question guiding us through the entire class will be how and religion has been such a divisive force in Ireland, and what have been some of the contributions of Irish thinkers to religious and theological scholarship, especially concerning violence. 


Irish-related classes on offer in other semesters

THEO 153 – Irish Theo & Spirituality

Recent years have seen a burgeoning interest in Celtic theology and spirituality that springs from Ireland. This class will explore historical aspects of this Irish Celtic tradition and some of its contemporary ramifications for theology and spirituality more generally. By the end of the class students will have a better understanding of Irish theology and spirituality and why it is an important resource for our world today. 

HIST 445: Culture of Conflict-N.Ireland (GU-Qatar Campus)

Through an analysis of music, popular films, and literature, this class will explore the cultural construction of the “Troubles” in 20th century Ulster and examine the historical, ethnic, psychological and social realities from which this culture of conflict ensues.

ENGL 381 -Lit in the Time of Empire

The British Empire was the dominant world power for much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In this course we will study six English-language writers of diverse national and geographical backgrounds whose texts show a distinct awareness of the Empire as a political and cultural force. Beginning with a brief consideration of the literary representation of empire in previous eras, we will turn our attention to the prose and poetry of Alfred Tennyson (born in England), Joseph Conrad (born in Ukraine), Rudyard Kipling (born in India), W.B. Yeats (born in Ireland), T.S. Eliot (born in USA), and Derek Walcott (born in St. Lucia, West Indies), to see how the cultural power of England and the English language figure variously in their works.

ENGL 106: Heroes and Vikings

Heroes and Vikings come down to us in the present as exceptional characters–good and bad, violent, wise, fated, driven, flawed, poetic, and fascinating. The nature of heroism in the early medieval period differs in many ways from our current views. This introductory course will focus on early medieval materials from Anglo-Saxon/Old English and Norse prose and poetry, supplemented at times with texts from other early cultures such as the Irish. We will focus on examining heroes male and female and the societal values and costs of heroic warrior societies. Studies may include Beowulf, The Saga of the Volsungs and various Eddic poems related to that hero and dragon story, Norse mythology, the Anglo-Saxon female heroes Judith, Juliana, and Elene (Helena, finder of the True Cross), and a variety of shorter sagas and poems from Icelandic sources. Where useful, we will look at artifacts and the material record to augment our studies, for example, looking at swords to consider their roles and cultural significance. Students should expect to write several response papers and short essays throughout the term and to engage with scholarship and critical conversations about these texts.

ENGL 145: 19th Century British Novel

This course will position a number of representative British novels of the nineteenth century within a literary and historical context that stresses the relationship of narrative literature to the broader social and political issues that engaged England’s attention in the course of the century. Some of those issues are race and national identity, the changing nature of social classes, marriage and the family, and Britain’s relationship to its own colonial structure. Throughout the entire course, we will devote particular attention to the ways that the novels formulate “Britishness” itself, whether that notion is constructed in relationship to society, culture, race, gender, or history; in particular, we will think about how British writers articulated their relationship to Scottish, Irish, Jewish, Indian, African and Continental cultures and identities. Texts will include Sydney Owenson’s The Wild Irish Girl, Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Rudyard Kipling’s Kim, in addition to theoretical and critical accounts of literary and cultural representations of national formation and identity. Regular analytic writing, group presentations, and participation in class discussion will be required, as well as a final exam.

ENGL 375: Modern Irish Novel

Ulysses: In this course we will read just one novel: James Joyce’s Ulysses. We will move slowly and deliberately through one of the best and most difficult of modernist novels, paying close attention to its form, style, historical and philosophical contexts, and more. A range of class visitors will help us to understand the novel’s resonance in present-day critical and cultural debates.

GERM 230: Catholic-Protestant Conflict

Four centuries after Luther famously nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, literary and artistic representations of the Catholic-Protestant conflicts that shook Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are more popular than ever. From Hilary Mantel’s bestseller Wolf Hall to popular TV series such as Reign and The Tudors, dramas that chronicle the confessional conflicts of early modern Europe continue to fascinate audiences all over the world. This course will explore and compare representations of confessional and sectarian conflict in works of literature, films, and other media from the seventeenth century to the present day, focusing in particular on Germany and Central Europe, Ireland and Great Britain, and North America. Class discussions will emphasize the following themes and questions: Religion: How are religious differences between Catholicism, Protestantism, and other faiths defined in these texts? What theological issues do they address, and what are the real-life consequences of those issues? How are they connected with other aspects of identity such as gender, race, and class? What possibilities for reconciliation or coexistence are depicted?Mythmaking: How do these texts contribute to the process of mythmaking (e.g., through depictions of martyrs and military heroes)? What myths are undermined or debunked? Politics: In what ways are representations of confessional conflict used to work through questions about legitimation, rule of law, democracy, and the modern state? Aesthetics: How do these texts link Catholicism and Protestantism with specific aesthetic regimes, visual and auditory cultures, and art forms? Do these associations reflect actual historical and theological practices or simply the biases of the authors? Genre: How do these texts exploit, expand, or subvert literary and cinematic genres (e.g., historical fiction, the costume drama)?

IPOL 241: Gender and Conflict

In the late 1990s and the beginning of the millennium, women have become more visible in politics and started to get important roles in international organizations. Various countries have elected women politicians and leaders at key positions of domestic and international politics. From Condoleezza Rice to Hillary Clinton, from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Nancy Pelosi and many more in the United States; from Theresa May in the UK to Angela Merkel in Germany, Christina Lagarde at the head of the International Monetary Fund to Navanehtem Pillay as the High Commissioner for Human Rights within the UN, women have taken an unprecedented role in world affairs.Yet, this was not the only domain where women began to have a word. Alongside these visible gains for women in the realm of high-powered leadership, women also continue to fill the ranks of conflict victims and targets of sexual violence. They take roles in the international, regional or domestic conflicts, mostly joining rebel groups or even terrorist organizations in insurgencies or civil wars; areas which were once seen as the preserve of male fighters. For this obvious reason, the relation and interaction between gender and conflict requires attention and understanding. This course will analyze this interaction within the framework of various comparative cases: From Nicaragua to Kurdistan, from Syria to Northern Ireland, from Columbia to Sri Lanka, from Africa to Latin America; the reasons which lie behind the emancipation of women and women’s movements, as well as their participation in conflicts will be the topic of this course.

JUPS 342: Justice After War

How does the legacy of violence, atrocities, genocide and mass human rights violations impact individuals and societies? What is remembered, erased and forgotten? Can seeking accountability, truth and justice impact the future of peace? Are there clear categories of victims, perpetrators, deniers and witnesses? In this course, we will explore history, theories, models and practices that have shaped the widely popular field of transitional justice. This includes learning the various forms of memory activism, tribunals, truth telling, monuments, virtual memory museums and reparations. Using a comparative approach starting with Nuremberg, Latin America, Bosnia, South Africa, Northern Ireland and Rwanda we explore mechanisms aimed at accountability, justice and reconciliation. We use literature on peacebuilding, collective memory as well as findings from trials, oral history, testimonies of survivors, photography as witness, artistic work and written narratives

THEO 170: Religion and Conflict

This course is an examination and appreciation of the extent and depth of the African religious heritage of the Americas: from Brazil to the Caribbean to the United States. Students will be required to carry out extensive library research on a particular people of African descent in order to discuss such topics as the ideas of God and Spirit; spiritual growth through divination, initiation, sacrifice and trance; the magical and medical uses of spiritual forces; and the role of religion in the struggle for freedom and justice