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  Ireland: Living Between Worlds


Welcome to Irish Studies at The Evergreen State College! This website is the current central location for students enrolled in the program titled "Ireland: Living Between Worlds." Irish programs are taught at Evergreen approximately every three years, and generally include a spring quarter visit to Ireland.

Program Description:
This two-quarter program (with a spring quarter option of travel to Ireland) comprises a study of Ireland through its history and many modes of expression: songs, poetry, Gaelic language, stories, film, drama, literature. In focusing on pre-Christian and early Christian nature-based spirituality and expressive culture during fall quarter, we will set the stage for understanding Irish reactions to English colonialism, the Famine, and the social upheavals taking place at the beginning of the 21st century. Our work is quite interdisciplinary: you will be welcome in this program whether your personal passion is directed toward the peace process in Northern Ireland, literary giants such as Joyce and Yeats, theater, or traditional music. By examining Ireland through the lenses of orality and literacy, philosophies involving cycles and seasons, language and cultural identity, and men and women, we will attempt to gain a holistic picture of the many facets of experience in Ireland.

The faculty of this program expect a great deal from themselves, and from the students. We will participate in two seminars each week, lectures and workshops, films, weekly writing assignments, reader’s theater events, essay-based exams each quarter, and focused reading. In addition, we expect all students to participate, one way or another, in performances of play readings, poetic recitation, and song performance in a supportive and safe environment. We expect you to learn enough basic Gaelic to use it as small talk in seminars and outside of class. You should also expect to develop your skills incritical analysis to explore theoretical issues verbally and in writing. Prior to enrolling in this program, we ask only that you carefully read the syllabus and program covenant, assess your own capabilities, and be certain that you see yourself as a good match for this important work.

Potential source material for this program includes Joyce’s Dubliners, Condren’s The Serpent and the Goddess, McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, The Táin, Collins’ The Cultural Conquest of Ireland, and poetry by W.B. Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Eavan Boland, Cathal O Searcaigh and many others. We will also be viewing such seminal films as The Field, The Molly Maguires, The Last Hurrah, The Dead, and The Secret of Roan Inish. In the context of the European Union and the post-Riverdance world, it is only appropriate that we focus in winter quarter on the tremendous upheavals in Irish culture.

In spring quarter, selected participants from this program will have the opportunity to study traditional language and culture in Ireland at the Oideas Gael institute in Gleann Cholm Cille, Donegal; it is one of the few regions where Gaelic is still spoken in Ireland. Participation will be determined by the student’s record of work in the first two quarters of the Ireland program, the submission of a preparatory essay based on two books about Gleann Cholm Cille, and a non-refundable deposit of $1000 by February 1, 2004. The two required texts are Occasions of Faith: An Anthropology of Irish Catholics (Lawrence J. Taylor) and Father McDyer of Glencolumbkille: An Autobiography (Father James McDyer). Students should plan to arrive in Donegal by April 16, 2004, and to complete their work in Ireland by May 25, 2004.

We will begin our studies in Ireland during the second week of the program, starting with a week of focused study in Gaelic language, song, poetry, and dance. For several more weeks we will study language and aspects of traditional culture, including the options of archaeology, tapestry weaving, singing, dancing, and playing music. Students will also have the opportunity to work closely with local poets, artists, and musicians, and to witness first-hand the dramatic impact of the European Union on traditional culture. Field trips may include visits to Northern Ireland, the Burren traditional law conference in County Clare, Dublin, the Strokestown Famine Museum, and selected locations in County Donegal.

The faculty for this program expect dedicated participation in all activities, appropriate behavior for small-town Ireland, cooperation with hosts and host families, and strict adherence to the travel dates and essay deadlines. Students who do not follow these guidelines will be sent home at their own expense. All students must return to Evergreen by the end of the ninth week of spring quarter. A major summative and reflective essay will be due by the end of the tenth week of spring quarter.

Last Updated: 02/27/2004