LITT08009 2017 Contemporary Irish Writing

General Details

Full Title
Contemporary Irish Writing
Transcript Title
Contemporary Irish Writing
80 %
Subject Area
LITT - Literature
COMP - Computing & Creative Practices
08 - NFQ Level 8
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2017 - Full Academic Year 2017-18
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Mr. John Kelleher, Tom Weir, Rhona Trench, Una Mannion
Programme Membership
SG_HENGL_H08 201700 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Humanities in Joint Major: English and Psychology SG_HWRIT_H08 201700 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Writing and Literature SG_SOSCJOIN_H08 201800 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Social Sciences in Joint Major: English and Spanish SG_HWRIT_H08 201900 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Writing and Literature SG_HWLIT_H08 202000 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Writing and Literature SG_HENGL_H08 202100 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Humanities in Joint Major: English and Psychology

This module introduces students to contemporary Irish writing through a consideration of the Irish short story and novel written in the new millennium. Short stories and novels will be considered in their cultural contexts and within the framework of genre. Learners will interrogate how form and narrative strategies respond to cultural and aesthetic pressures such as globalisation and postmodernism. Learners will read contemporary books journalism and cultural criticism and engage in these practices through essay and review writing.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Identify recurring themes and concerns in contemporary Irish writing


Analyse the influence of larger historical, social and cultural movements on fiction form and language


Create original literary analysis of contemporary Irish writing, incorporating and citing relevant scholarship according to academic conventions


Identify relevant scholarly and journalistic sources in analysing new Irish writing


Organise and persuasively present research to others in formal presentation


Engage in original critical assessment of new writing, applying conventions of books journalism

Teaching and Learning Strategies

The teaching and learning strategy in this module aims to foster a student-centred approach to teaching, learning and assessment. Mixed modes of delivery are used including lectures, seminar discussions, visiting writers, student presentations and vibrant, inclusive discussion.

Module Assessment Strategies

The assessment strategy is directly related to the learning outcomes outlined for this module. This module is 100% Continuous Assessment. Each assignment provides learning opportunities for students directly related to the module learning outcomes. The assessments promote independent research, encourage originality and teach academic conventions. Academic Essay (40%), Critical review of new Irish writing publication (30%) and presentation of new Irish writing and original analysis and critique (30%)

Repeat Assessments

Students will be assigned repeat projects in the event that they have failed the module. The module is 100% continuous assessment.

Indicative Syllabus

Introduction to Contemporary Irish Writing

  • Overview of Irish writing in late 20th century in context of Irish modernism and emigration. Themes and concerns of Irish writing in the new millennium. Writers might include Kevin Barry, Colin Barrett, Claire Keegan, Colm McCann, Anne Enright, Sara Baume, Donal Ryan, Sebastian Barry, Mike McCormack, Emma Donoghue, Joseph O’Connor, Edna O’Brien, Colm Toibin, Dermot Bolger, Danielle McLaughlin, Eimear McBride, Lisa McInearney and others.

Theories of the Irish Short Story

  • Theories of the short story form considered in context of Irish materials and Irish development of the form. Students will be introduced to early Irish theorists of the form from Frank O’Connor’s The Lonely Voice to John Kenny and Heather Ingram. Overview of contemporary practitioners of the form and vision of collected anthologies.

Theories of the Irish Novel

  • Introduction to the Irish novel. A consideration of the Irish novel’s form and concerns in the late 20th century: emigration, exile, nationhood, postmodernity, globalisation. In 2001, Fintan O’Toole remarked on the “angular, discontinuous, spliced-together nature of Irish contemporary reality.” Consideration given to the novel form and the conflicted and fractured nature of contemporary Irish experiences and identities, drawing specifically on Liam Harte’s work Reading the Contemporary Irish Novel: 1987-2007.

 Gender and Nation in Contemporary Irish Writing

  • Exploration of gender in relation to national and personal identities in both short story and novel form. Will also consider new wave of Irish women writing and anthologies that redress the Irish canon such as Sinead Gleeson’s The Long Gaze Back.

Irish Writing in the Celtic Tiger

  • The Celtic Tiger is a cultural signifier that is inextricably bound to the early years of the 21st century when Ireland experience seismic changes in the economic and social landscape. We will look at what the Celtic Tiger has meant culturally and how writers have responded to or written out of these years, particularly in the work of Anne Enright, Colm McCann, and other writers who started writing during this period.

Post-Boom Narratives

  • In 2013 The Irish Times ran a competition entitled Legends of the Fall, inviting readers to write a story between 1,500 and 3,000 words. The story had to be inspired by the events of the previous five years. The response was overwhelming. We will consider the stories of writers whose work is a response to the economic crash including Danielle McLaughlin, one of the shortlisted writers in the competition, who explores the emotional and psychic fall out and Colin Barrett whose collection Young Skins provides a portrait of a town in post boom Mayo.

Irish Writing and the Postmodern

  • Irish writers are renowned for their innovation of literary forms. This section will focus on the postmodern exploration of form and language in writers such as Kevin Barry, There are Little Kingdoms (short story collection), Dark Lies the Island (short story collection) and Beatlebone (novel) and Eimear McBride’s A Girl is Half Formed Thing.

The Cultural Construction of Identity

  • Exploration of what it means to be Irish in contemporary Irish writing and how writing since 2000 challenges fixed notions of nation or Irishness. Will consider works by Sara Baume, Mary Costello, Lisa McInearney, Donal Ryan, Louise O’Neill and others.

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
100 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Academic Essay Continuous Assessment Essay 40 % Week 12 1,2,3,4
2 Review New Writing Continuous Assessment Assignment 30 % Week 5 1,2,3,4,6
3 Presentation Continuous Assessment Assignment 30 % Week 7 1,2,3,4,5,6

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Seminar Flat Classroom Class 3 Weekly 3.00
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 3.00 Hours

Module Resources

Non ISBN Literary Resources

Barry, Kevin (ed). Town and Country: New Irish Short Stories, Faber & Faber, 2013.

Bracken, Claire and Susan Cahill. Anne Enright: Irish Writers in their Time. Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2011.

Cahill, Susan. Irish Literature in the Celtic Tiger years 1990 to 2008: Gender, Bodies, Memory. London: Bloomsbury, 2011

Carroll, Patricia King. Ed. Ireland and Postcolonial Theory. University of Notre Dame Press, 2003.

Cairns, David and Shaun Richards, Writing Ireland: Colonialism, Nationalism and Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, 1988.

Cleary, Joe and Claire Connolly (eds). The Cambridge Companion to Modern Irish Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Conrad, Kathryn A. Locked in the Family Cell: Gender, Sexuality & Political Agency in Irish National Discourse. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004.

Enright, Anne (ed). Granta Book of the Irish Short Story, 2010.

Gleeson, Sinead (ed). The Long Gaze Back: An Anthology of Irish Women Writers, New Island Press, 2015.

Gonzalez, Alexander. Irish Women Writers. Westport CT: Greenwood Press, 2006.

Harte, Liam and Michael Parker (eds.), Contemporary Irish Fiction: Themes, Tropes, Theories. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000. 163-73.

Harte, Liam. Reading the Contemporary Irish Novel 1987-2007. John Wiley, 2013.

Hooper, Glenn and Colin Graham (eds). Irish and Postcolonial Writing: History, Theory, Practice. Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.

Hopper, Keith and Neil Murphy (eds), Writing the Sky: Observations and Insights on Dermot Healy. Dublin: Dalkey Archive Press, 2016.

Ingram, Heather. A History of the Irish Short Story. Cambridge, Cambridge UP, 2009.

Jeffers, Jennifer M. The Irish Novel at the End of the Twentieth Century: Gender, Bodies, and Power. New York: Palgrave, 2002.

Kearney, Richard. On Stories: Thinking in Action. London: Routledge, 2002.

Kenny, John. “Inside Out: a Working Theory of the Irish Short Story,” in H. Lennon (ed) Frank O’Connor: New Critical Essays. Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007.

Kiberd, Declan Inventing Ireland. Harvard UP, 1996.

Kirkpatrick, Kathryn. Border Crossings: Irish Women Writers and National Identities. University of Alabama Press, 2000.

Lennon, Joseph. Irish Orientalism: A Literary and Intellectual History. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse UP, 2004.

Lynch, Claire. Cyber Ireland: Text, Image, Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

McWilliams, Ellen. Women and Exile in Contemporary Irish Fiction. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

McGahern, John. "What is My Language," Irish University Review 35, 1(Spring/Summer, 2005): 1-12.

Peach, Linden. The Contemporary Irish Novel: Critical Readings. Palgrave McMillan, 2003.


Ray Ryan (ed.), Writing in the Irish Republic: Literature, Culture, Politics 1949-1999. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.

St. Peter, Christine. Changing Ireland: Strategies in Contemporary Irish Women’s Fiction. Palgrave Macmillan, 2000

Gerry Smyth, The Novel and the Nation: Studies in the New Irish Fiction. London: Pluto Press, 1997.

Walshe, Eibhear (ed.), Sex, Nation, and Dissent in Irish Writing. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997.

Walshe, Eibhear, Anne Fogarty & Eilis Ni Dhuibhne (Ed.). Imagination in the Classroom. Teaching Creative Writing in Ireland: Imagination in the Classroom. Teaching Creative Writing in Ireland Imagination in the Classroom. Teaching Creative Writing in Ireland. Dublin: Four Courts, 2013.