Minor in Irish Studies

The Minor in Irish Studies is available to students in all degree programs. It allows the student to structure and focus various electives into a unified program of study within the student's overall degree goals. Fifteen credits are required to complete the minor, of which six are core requirements.

The Minor also allows the student to see the art, literature, language, and history of modern Ireland from this perspective of the continuum of culture.  In addition, each Spring semester the Charles A. Heimbold Chair in Irish Studies hosts an Irish Writer-in-Residence. The chair holder offers two courses of his/her own design.

Many study-abroad programs are available in Ireland on a semester or year-long basis.   During the Summer in Ireland Program, six Irish Studies courses are available in Literature (2), History, Sociology, Archeology and Music and Dance.  All of these may count toward the Minor in Irish Studies.


Major in Irish Studies

Irish Studies offers a major as a specialization of a Global Interdisciplinary Studies (GIS) major.  The major in Irish Studies provides an interdisciplinary and comparative approach to deepen students' understandings of the history, culture, religion, politics, literature, and society of Ireland.  Students may sign up for the major and choose their Irish Studies specialization through the Department of Global Interdisciplinary Studies in 36 Garey Hall.  The GIS Chair and the  Program Director of Irish Studies will work closely with each student to develop their individual interests, abilities, and career goals while fulfilling the requirements for their major. 

Please see the GIS page for more information on the Major/Specialization in Irish Studies.

AAH 0299: The Art of Ireland

Dr. Tina Waldeier-Bizzarro
This course seeks to stimulate an interest in and love of the visual culture of Ireland.  This survey will run from the Stone Age through the Middle Ages, including:  the megalithic dolmens and passage graves of Co. Meath, metal- and stone-work as well as ring- and hill-forts of the Bronze and Iron Ages, the Golden Age of manuscript illumination and metalwork of the Early Christian period, and the later medieval churches and monasteries of the 11th and 12th centuries.   We will “visit” and study monuments such as the medieval monasteries at Glendalough and Skellig Michael, the Books of Kells, Durrow, and Lindisfarne, Newgrange Passage Grave, round towers, high crosses, and much, much more.   Join us!  3.00 credits.


ENG 1975-017; Coming of Age in Ireland

TR 1:00-2:15PM - Dr. Mary Mullen
This class will consider what it means to come of age—to grow up—in Ireland.  As we track how characters mature and fail to mature, how readers are treated like innocent children and all-knowing adults, how Irish settings and histories shape characters’ trajectory of growth, we will ask big questions about constructions of childhood and adulthood, literature and place, gender, and development as a social, historical and economic process. We will read short stories and novels by Maria Edgeworth, Kate O'Brien, James Joyce, Edna O’Brien; poetry by Eavan Boland and Seamus Heaney, and Brian Friel’s play, Translations.  This class is a writing intensive course, and will teach strategies for making interesting, convincing, and unified arguments about literary texts.  3.00 credits. 


ENG1975-14: Narratives of Belonging in Contemporary Irish Literature

TR 11:30-12:45PM - Core Literature & Writing Seminar - Jennifer Joyce            
What does it mean to belong? In what ways is it fundamental to the human experience? How might the act of belonging influence understandings of personal, familial, and national identities? In the 20th and 21st Century, Irish writers continue to explore expressions of belonging, and in contrast, separation and isolation, in narratives throughout multiple genres. This English Core Literature and Writing Seminar will analyze and respond to modern and contemporary Irish short stories, novels, drama, and poetry in an effort to uncover the inextricable link between the vital experience of belonging and what it means to be Irish. Texts will range from Seamus Heaney, James Joyce, and Colum McCann, to Stacey Gregg and Claire Keegan, among others, which will offer tremendous occasion for critical thinking about the intersections of identity, nationhood, class, gender, and power in Ireland and within the global context.  3.00 credits


ENG 2450-001: Irish Epics, Visions, and Hauntings  (Core course)

TR 10:00-11:15AM - Dr. Joseph Lennon
We will read classic Irish epics, vision tales, gothic stories, and poems about Irish rebellion.  A main goal is to study the changes in Irish literature from its early medieval origins to the modern period in the nineteenth century.  We begin with the Old Irish saga Táin Bó Cuailnge (Cattle Raid of Cooley) and the satiric middle Irish vision text, Aislinge Meic Conglinne.  Readings follow through selections of bardic poetry that survived colonial incursions and the collapse of Gaelic social order in the seventeenth century.  Two eighteenth century Irish language works,  Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire (Lament for Art Ó Laoghaire) by Eileen O’Connell and Cúirt An Mheán Oíche (The Midnight Court) by Brian Merriman, are read alongside works by Anglo-Irish authors Jonathan Swift and Oliver Goldsmith, with an eye toward understanding conflicts between Gaelic and Anglo cultures in Ireland.  In the last third of the coures, we read works by cultural nationalist and gothic writers during the nineteenth-century when the Great Famine of 1845-50 occurred, including Maria Edgeworth, Thomas Moore, William Carleton, James Clarence Mangan, and Sheridan Le Fanu.  We will read across genres and trace how Ireland has been imagined over time as twice-told tales. parodies, imperial critique, and ghost story.  Fulfills the core English requirement for the Irish Studies Minor.  3.00 credits.


ENG 3615-001 James Joyce

TR 1:00-2:15PM - Dr. Megan Quigley
Tackling James Joyces’s Ulysses

What is Ulysses?  It’s just a story about an advertising salesman wandering around Dublin one day in June 1904 (and worrying that his wife may be cheating on him).  Or it’s the novel to end all novels, a novel that makes us wonder why we write novels, how we think in and through language, and the ways that we tell ourselves stories about our families, our communities, and our countries.  How do you read a big novel like Ulysses, the master novel that is always atop the greatest novel ever lists?  Why is it so controversial?  What approach should you take to best understand and to enjoy this novel?   This course will take many different approaches—using films, music, audio recordings, graphic novels, guidebooks, Joyce’s letters—as we learn to “read” Ulysses. Is it a story about immigration?  Leopold Bloom is the son of a Hungarian Jewish emigrant and a Protestant Irishwoman who encounters the young brainy Stephen Dedalus. In Stephen, Bloom may find the son he lost and the connection to Ireland he always wanted. Or is it the story of a nation?  We will learn about James Joyce’s life and the ways that Irish History and the Catholic church marked his epic of the modern Irish people.  Or is it a story about music, the imagination, and love?  We will consider the idea that Molly Bloom may be the actual hero of the novel, who responds yes even in the face of disillusionment and loss. 

We will begin the course by reading two stories from Joyce’s Dubliners and the novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in order to learn about some of the characters in Ulysses.  We will then launch into Ulysses, taking the parallels to Homer’s Odyssey less as directing the plot than influencing the style of each chapter.  Our course will include a field trip to the Rosenbach Library in downtown Philadelphia in order to see the Ulysses manuscript, a wonderful opportunity with the help of the Rosenbach curatorial staff.  And at the end of our class, you will have read Ulysses, having found your own unique approach to understanding Joyce’s masterpiece.  3.00 credits.


IS 1111-001 Introductory Irish Language I            

MWF 8:30-9:20AM, R 8:30-9:45AM Fulbright FLTA
Groundwork in Irish (Gaelic), including oral proficiency, aural comprehension and reading knowledge; for students beginning the study of the language. Supplementary language laboratory work on Irish culture and practicing spoken Irish.  Successful completion of the course sequence, IS 1111 and IS 1112, satisfies the language requirement for the CLAS.  Taught by a Fulbright language instructor from Ireland.  4.00 credits. 


IS 1111-002 Introductory Irish Language I   

MWF 1:30-2:20PM, TR 2:30-3:45PM - Fulbright FLTA
Groundwork in Irish (Gaelic), including oral proficiency, aural comprehension and reading knowledge; for students beginning the study of the language. Supplementary language laboratory work on Irish culture and practicing spoken Irish.  Successful completion of the course sequence, IS 1111 and IS 1112, satisfies the language requirement for the CLAS.  Taught by a Fulbright language instructor from Ireland.  4.00 credits.


HIS 3216-001 Ireland Since 1800  (Core Course)

TR 11:30AM-12:45PM - Dr. Craig Bailey
The Making of Modern Ireland -- Ireland is now a prosperous country. It has a buoyant economy, it is a player on the international stage, its cities are vibrant cultural centers, and its population is becoming increasingly cosmopolitan. But these are recent developments; even a generation ago the picture was not quite so rosy. This course charts the path of Irish history from its marginal place as one of the poorest countries on the fringe of Europe at the turn of the nineteenth century, to the rise of the “Celtic Tiger” in the 1990s. Among the major topics to be covered are the United Irishmen and the Act of Union, Catholic Emancipation, famine, migration, nationalism, women in Irish society, sectarianism, civil rights and the “troubles” of the last quarter of the 20th century.  Fulfills the core Irish Studies requirement for History.  3.00 credits.


PHI 2990-001: Irish Thought and Literature

MW 1:30-2:45PM - Dr. William Desmond
Ireland is well known for its poets and writers but what of its thinkers? In the past Ireland has also been called “the island of saints and scholars” but again what of its thinkers? Thomas Duddy’s recent book A History of Irish Thought (2002) offers us helpful resources to address this question. This course will explore some of the main thinkers in the Irish tradition. It will consider whether there is a distinctive style (or perhaps styles) of Irish thought, whether there is a plurality of traditions that yet exhibit distinctive marks. The relation of reason (science) and religion is a major concern in Irish tradition(s). So also is the importance of poetry for the Irish mind. Thinkers to be considered will include Scotus Eriugena, John Toland, George Berkeley, Edmund Burke. We will also look at the explorations of thought in some writers of literature, figures such as Jonathan Swift, James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney.  The course will conclude with a consideration of some recent Irish thinkers in the 20th century, including Iris Murdoch, William Desmond, and Richard Kearney. Themes to be explored in selected texts include: (e)migrant thought; intimate/local knowing and universal reason; exile and home; the condition of “being between”; broken tradition(s); losing a language and finding a voice; the sacred and thought; Irish poetry and reflection; laughter/comedy and Irish thought.  3.00 credits.


SOC 4000-02 Cultural Anthropology: Ireland and the Diaspora

MWF 12:30-1:20 PM - Dori Panzer
What is cultural identity and why does it matter?  What does it mean to be “Irish,” “American,” or “other”?  Who gets to choose the label? How and why?  How do notions of nationhood & citizenship impact identity?  What legacies of the past remain significant today?  How do people of a Diaspora differ from the “home” country?  Using an anthropological perspective, we will explore questions like these to better understand how humans make sense of their world and how they organize their lives. Our focus will be Ireland and its Diaspora, but we will sample research of other cultures as well.  3.00 credits.

Every year a Fulbright language instructor comes to Villanova through the Fulbright FLTA program.

For 2017-2018 we have Ciara Heneghan (Ní É) who received her MA from the University College Dublin and her BA from Trinity College Dublin.  Her email address is ciara.heneghan@villanova.edu.

The two courses below will count toward the concentration in Irish Studies. A minor in Irish Studies will require three courses in addition to the two listed below. At least one from the English Department (ENG 2450 or 2500) and one from the History Department (HIS 2286 or 3216) will be required.

IS 1111:  Introductory Irish Language I
Groundwork in Irish (Gaelic), including oral proficiency,aural comprehension, and reading knowledge; for students with no prior knowledge of Irish. Supplementary language laboratory work and oral drills.  4.00 credits

IS 1112 Introductory Irish Language II
Groundwork in Irish (Gaelic), including oral proficiency,aural comprehension and reading knowledge; for students with one semester of Irish study completed. Supplementary language laboratory work and oral drills.  Students should have completed IS 1111 or equivalent.  4.00 credits

IS 1121 Intermediate Irish Language.

Offered either in the Fall or Spring semester, Intermediate Irish I, is a lower level intermediary course designed for students who have already completed the equivalent of one year of university-level Irish. The main objectives of this module are to consolidate, and expand the language and communicative skills acquired in introductory level courses and to build cultural competencies. The learner interacts and collaborates with classmates while creating with the language in meaningful, realistic contexts

Required Courses:

Two of the following courses, one from each field: 

Literature survey course:

  • ENG 2450 - Irish Epics, Visions & Hauntings OR
  • ENG 2500 - Irish Revival

History survey course:

  • HIS 2286 - Irish-American Saga OR
  • HIS 3216 - Ireland since 1800

Elective Courses:

Any three of the following:

  • AAH 3007 - The Art of Ireland
  • ENG 1975:  Irish Literature and Memoir
  • ENG 1975:  Irish Otherworlds
  • ENG 2450 - Irish Literature to 1880
  • ENG 2460 - Irish Poetry since Yeats
  • ENG 2470 - Modern Irish Drama
  • ENG 2490 - Topics in Irish Studies: 
    • Irish Film
    • Religion and Nation
    • Irish Fiction after 1900
  • ENG 2500 - Irish Revival
  • ENG 3615 - James Joyce
  • ENG 3616 - Irish American Drama & Film
  • ENG 5000 - Memory in Irish Literature
  • HIS 2286 - Irish-American Saga
  • HIS 3214 - Eighteenth Century Ireland
  • HIS 3200 - Medieval Britain and Ireland
  • HIS 3216 - Ireland since 1800
  • HON 3600 - Heimbold Chair of Irish Studies courses
  • IS 1111 - Introductory Irish Language I
  • IS 1112 - Introductory Irish Language II
  • IS 1121 - Intermediate Irish Language
  • PHI 5000 - Irish Thought
  • SAR 3030 -  Irish Music: 1800-Present

Study Abroad

Study options are available at major Irish universities on a semester or year long basis. In addition, students may take part in a six-credit Villanova-in-Ireland summer program at University College Galway.

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