School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics

MHY7081 - Topics in Irish History

MHY7081 - Topics in Irish History

Module Focus

Topics in Irish History is designed to introduce you to the study of Irish history at an advanced level, through an exploration of selected topics spanning the period from the late middle ages to the present day.  The topics chosen are deliberately diverse, taking in issues in politics, religion, culture, gender and the history of private life, as well as a critical examination of the role of history itself as a cultural and political instrument.  The reading lists give you an opportunity to engage with primary as well as secondary sources.  The assessment scheme allows you to focus on a selected area, negotiating an essay topic relevant to your historical interests.  At the same time you are expected, in seminar discussion and in a course assignment, to think about wider questions concerning the Irish past and the way it should be studied, and this will form the basis of a final, short assessment.

Key Themes

The interaction of religion, culture and political identity;  gender and the history of private life; post-colonial, catastrophist and normalising interpretations of the Irish past; the uses of history as a cultural and political instrument.

How will the module be taught?

The course is taught in weekly seminars, led by Irish historians in their areas of research specialism. A provisional list of topics  includes ethnic and political identity in late medieval and early modern Ireland, Jacobitism and patriotism, Presbyterian politics and the rebellion of 1798, the politics of O’Connellism and Young Ireland,  women and the public sphere, gender and sexuality, the rising of 1916, and interpretations of the Northern Ireland conflict.

How will the module be assessed?

The module is assessed by an essay of 4,500-5,000 words (70%); a course assignment (20%) and seminar participation (10%).

What can I read in advance?

There is no core text for this course.  Vincent Comerford,  Ireland: inventing the nation (London: Arnold, 2002) is a lively and provocative thematic survey that will help you to start thinking about many of the issues we will be exploring.  David Cairns and Shaun Richards, Writing Ireland: Colonialism, Nationalism and Culture (Manchester: MUP, 1988) is a short study full of new ways of looking at the interaction of culture, literature and politics.  For two radically different conceptions of what Irish history is all about compare Declan Kiberd, Inventing Ireland: The literature of the modern nation (London: Cape, 1995) and Liam Kennedy, Unhappy the land:  the most oppressed people ever, the Irish? (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2016).  If you have not previously given much thought to gender as an issue in Irish life, then read Mary O’Dowd, A history of women in Ireland 1500-1800 (London: Pearson Longman 2005).