Ireland in History and Memory

Fall 2013, Winter 2014 and Spring 2014 quarters

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This yearlong program explores Ireland and Irish America through the lenses of history, literature, politics, spirituality, language, film and the arts. In fall quarter, we begin with Irish ways of understanding the world, focusing on the roots of pre-Christian spirituality and traditional culture. We will examine the blend of pre-Christian and Christian cultures in the first millennium C.E., and move forward to the layered impact of the Vikings, Normans and English. We end fall quarter with the Celtic Revival (Yeats, Joyce and others) at the turn of the 20th century. In winter quarter, we shift to Irish America for four weeks, then return to Ireland for the 20th century and into the present.

Most weeks will include lectures, seminars, small group work, songs, play reading out loud, instrumental music practice, poetry, and a film. Short pre-seminar papers will be required to focus your attention on each week's texts. In fall quarter, three papers are required (on ancient Ireland, the English conquest, and the Celtic Revival). In winter, two large papers are required (on Irish America and contemporary Ireland). At least one work of visual art will be required in each quarter. The last week of fall and winter quarters will focus on collaborative student productions. Students will learn to cook Irish food for a food-and-music gathering once each quarter.

Every student is expected to work intensively with the Irish-Gaelic language all year; no exceptions. Our work will include frequent lessons and short exams in grammar and pronunciation, as well as the application of those lessons to Gaelic-language songs and poetry. If you cannot handle Gaelic study or do not take it seriously, do not sign up for this program. Similarly, you will be expected to learn to sing and play Irish music on a musical instrument if you cannot already play one. We will practice this music each week, and we will be bringing musical instruments to Ireland.

Early spring quarter, we will travel to the small village of Gleann Cholm Cille in Donegal, the northernmost county of the Republic. Students will spend four weeks improving their language skills, learning traditional skills (singing, dancing, poetry writing, drumming, tin whistle playing, weaving, knitting) and exploring the region, which is rich in archaeological features like standing stones and dolmens. Students will also have the opportunity to spend two weeks doing individual learning in Ireland; that project will become part of their final work. Upon their return at the end of May 2014, students will write a significant integrative essay, combining the theory of Irish Studies with what they have learned in the practice of living and studying in Ireland.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

Irish studies, ethnomusicology, cultural studies and history.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


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Online Learning

No Required Online Learning

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Special Expenses

All students are expected to bring a musical instrument to class in fall and winter quarters; pennywhistles cost approximately $15. Students will also be asked to participate in the Sean-nós Northwest Festival weekend on campus in winter quarter; registration is approximately $75 per person.

Study Abroad

In spring, students traveling to Ireland will be responsible for approximately $3,000 for 6-week study abroad (airfare, local instructional fees, room and board).

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Fall); 16 (Winter); 16 (Spring)

Class standing: Junior–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 25


Signature Required

Students must submit a short (one page) essay explaining their reasons for wanting to become a member of the program. There is no right answer; this is about understanding student interests, and about assessing student writing. Being of Irish heritage does not guarantee enrollment! Because the program includes a study abroad component, it is expected that most students enrolled in the program will go to Ireland in spring quarter. Essays must be sent by e-mail to Sean Williams ( before June 1, 2013 to receive priority.

Course Reference Number

Jr - Sr (16 credits): 10118

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Enrollment Closed

Course Reference Number

Jr - Sr (16 credits): 20108

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Enrollment Closed

Course Reference Number

Jr - Sr (16 credits): 30107

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