Ireland in History and Memory

Fall 2019
Winter 2020
Spring 2020
OlympiaStudy Abroad
Olympia +
study abroad option
Class Size: 25
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

Sean Williams Square

This is an upper division program in the humanities and performing arts, with a focus on Irish history, expressive traditions, Irish-Gaelic language, and culture. 

At the beginning of the program students receive a basic introduction to Ireland and to issues of liminality, historiography, and distinctions between linear and cyclic thought. Students then spend several weeks on the culture of ancient Ireland, focusing on indigenous local culture, bardic traditions, and gender issues. The second major segment deals with the development of Christianity and the English conquest of traditional Ireland, including a week on the Famine and subsequent evictions and political unrest. The final three weeks of fall quarter are about the National Irish Literary Revival and the urbanized political chaos of turn-of-the-century Dublin. Winter quarter begins with post-colonial Ireland and continues with a month of studies on Irish America. An exploration of the Troubles in Northern Ireland follows, and the quarter concludes with the contemporary cultural explosion from the final decades of the 20th century into the present.

In spring quarter, we travel to the village of Gleann Cholm Cille in County Donegal, Ireland. Everyone will participate in daily intensive classes in the Irish language. The classes feature work on conversational skills and the enhancement of what they will have already learned, culminating in daily use of all the irregular verbs in conversation. Students will also attend weekly seminars and classes on linguistic, political, and economic issues in the Donegal Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking district). In addition to these classes, students are expected to participate in a wide variety of classes led by local artists and specialists, including archaeology, bodhrán  (Irish frame drum), instrumental music, weaving, poetry writing, dancing, singing, traditional spirituality, herbology, and others. We will spend two days in Northern Ireland, visiting both the contested city of Derry/Londonderry and the Giants’ Causeway, and will visit multiple archaeological sites in County Donegal. Please note that all of our work in Ireland will include traveling on very uneven ground, climbing hills, and being in places where accessibility is a challenge. 

Program activities will include lectures, seminars, films, readers’ theatre, Gaelic language lessons, poetry, music, reading texts, and group discussions. Two integrative papers about ancient Ireland are required in fall quarter. In winter quarter, students will write a longer integrative essay focused on the Irish in America. At the end of spring, each student will develop a significant integrative essay (20-30 pages) detailing the links between the theory of Ireland – on the page and stage – and the practice of Ireland in real life. Lastly, the students will divide into small groups to create collaborative performances for the final week of each quarter; they are the main expressive assignment beyond singing, playing musical instruments, and performing in readers’ theatre events.

Study abroad:

1.              Special Expenses: $2,300  (Estimated expenses students will cover themselves for airfare, food, lodging, and local transportation when students are on their own)

2.              Required Student Fee: $1700  (Fee covers group expenses for services organized by college)

3.              Administrative Fee:$400  (Nonrefundable deposit to cover administrative costs of running study abroad)


This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

writing, academia, anthropology, Irish studies, and ethnomusicology.


Credits per quarter

Online learning:
  • No Required Online Learning - No access to web tools required. Any web tools provided are optional.
Class Standing: Junior–Senior
Class Size: 25

Scheduled for: Day

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Monday, January 6, 2020 - 12:30 pm
Com 408 - Design Lab

Located in: Olympia

May be offered again in:


2019-09-23removed signature requirement
2018-11-09Study Abroad information updated