Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Undergraduate Course: Poetry and Northern Ireland (ENLI10340)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course appraises poetry in the North of Ireland from the 1930s to the present. It includes the Troubles period and its aftermath but also takes a look at how earlier poets dealt with the ongoing upheaval of the twentieth-century more broadly. So while political violence in Northern Ireland since the 1960s is one key concern of the course, there is also an examination of how the pressures of war, the rise of Fascism and Stalinism, urbanisation and modernity impact upon poetry and its role in society. In terms of form, the course appraises the pressure put upon the lyric "I" in times of social convulsion and change, the use or appropriation of traditional forms such as the sonnet in poetry from the North of Ireland, the search for appropriate models by which to express or understand the context in which poems are written, and the transnational influences upon the poets covered. The role of the poet is discussed in relation to whether this is a private or public concern, as well as the capacity of poetry to stray from conventional wisdom. Attention is given to how poetry and politics may or may not approach one another. Thematically the course also focuses on issues such as pastoral and urban aesthetics, identity and pluralism, gendered subjectivities, and history and myth.
Course description Seminar Schedule

Week 1
Louis MacNeice

Week 2
John Hewitt

Week 3
Seamus Heaney

Week 4
Derek Mahon

Week 5
Michael Longley

Week 6
Paul Muldoon

Week 7
Medbh McGuckian


Week 9
Ciaran Carson

Week 10
Alan Gillis

Week 11
Leontia Flynn; Miriam Gamble (selections provided via Web CT)
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Literary Studies 1A (ENLI08020) AND Literary Studies 1B (ENLI08021) OR English Literature 1 (ENLI08001) OR Scottish Literature 1 (ENLI08016) AND Literary Studies 2A: English Literature in the World, 1380-1788 (ENLI08024) AND Literary Studies 2B: English Literature in the World, post-1789 (ENLI08025) OR Scottish Literature 2A (ENLI08022) AND Scottish Literature 2B (ENLI08023) OR English Literature 2 (ENLI08003) OR Scottish Literature 2 (ENLI08004)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements For students who took First Year courses prior to session 2021-22, a pass in English Literature 1 (ENLI08001) or Scottish Literature 1 (ENLI08016) is an acceptable equivalent
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) a mid-semester coursework essay of c. 2,000 words (30%);

and a final essay of c. 3,000 words (70%)
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Students will acquire an understanding of how poetry deals with the demand to "say something" in a public manner in times of social unrest. Students will gain an awareness of how specific poetic forms are deployed in a Northern Irish context and students will therefore develop their ability to understand how and why particular forms accrue meanings and resonances in certain contexts.
  2. Students will be able to analyse the ways in which poets on the course balance the demands of personal creativity and public obligation; in so doing, students will be able to articulate their views on whether poetry should have such public obligations.
  3. Students will gain knowledge of debates about whether poetry should be the mouthpiece of a society or its critical conscience; students will be able to enhance their sense of the interplay between politics and aesthetics.
Reading List
Primary Texts
Paul Muldoon, ed. The Faber Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry
Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
Ciaran Carson, The Ballad of HMS Belfast
Alan Gillis, Hawks and Doves

Secondary Reading
Brandes, Rand. 'The Dismembering Muse: Seamus Heaney, Ciaran Carson, and Kenneth Burke's "Four Master Tropes"' in John S. Rickard, ed. Irishness and (Post)Modernism (London: Bucknell University Press, 1994), pp.177-94.
Brown, Terence. Ireland: A Social and Cultural History 1922-79 (Glasgow: Fontana, 1981).
Brown, Terence. Ireland's Literature: Selected Essays (Gigginstown: Lilliput Press, 1988).
Cleary, Joe. Literature, Partition and the Nation State: Culture and Conflict in Ireland, Israel and Palestine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).
Clyde, Tom, ed. Ancestral Voices: The Selected Prose of John Hewitt (Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1987).
Corcoran, Neil. After Yeats and Joyce: Reading Modern Irish Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997).
Corcoran, Neil. Poets of Modern Ireland (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1999).
Corcoran, Neil. Seamus Heaney (London: Faber, 1986).
Coughlan, Patricia. '"Bog Queens": The Representation of Women in the Poetry of John Montague and Seamus Heaney' in Toni O'Brien Johnson and David Cairns, ed. Gender In Irish Writing (Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 1991), pp.88-111.
Deane, Seamus. Celtic Revivals: Essays in Modern Irish Literature 1880-1980 (London: Faber, 1985).
Deane, Seamus. General ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing Vol.1-3 (Derry: Field Day, 1991).
Docherty, Thomas. 'Ana-; or Postmodernism, Landscape, Seamus Heaney' in Anthony Easthope and John Thompson, eds. Contemporary Poetry Meets Modern Theory (London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991), pp.68-80.
Eagleton, Terry. Crazy John and the Bishop and Other Essays on Irish Culture (Cork: Cork University Press, 1998).
Eagleton, Terry. Heathcliff and the Great Hunger: Studies in Irish Culture (London: Verso, 1995).
Frawley, Oona. Irish Pastoral: Nostalgia in Irish Literature (Dublin: Irish Academic Press).
Gillis, Alan. 'Ciaran Carson: Beyond Belfast' in Nicholas Allen and Aaron Kelly, eds. The Cities of Belfast (Dublin: Four Courts, 2003), pp.183-98.
Graham, Colin. Deconstructing Ireland (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2001).
Heaney, Seamus. The Government of the Tongue (London: Faber, 1988).
Heaney, Seamus. Preoccupations: Selected Prose 1968-1978 (London: Faber, 1980).
Kearney, Richard. Postnationalist Ireland (London: Routledge, 1996).
Kearney, Richard. Transitions: Narratives in Modern Irish Culture (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988).
Kendall, Tim. Paul Muldoon (Bridgend: Seren Books, 1996).
Kennedy, Liam. 'Modern Ireland: Postcolonial society or Postcolonial pretensions?', Irish Review 13 (Winter 1992/1993), pp.107-21.
Kirkland, Richard. Identity Parades: Northern Irish Culture and Dissident Subjects (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2002).
Kirkland, Richard. Literature and Culture in Northern Ireland since 1965: Moments of Danger (London: Longman, 1996).
Lloyd, David. Anomalous States: Irish Writing and the Post-Colonial Moment (Dublin: Lilliput Press, 1993).
Lloyd, David. Ireland After History (Cork: Cork University Press, 1999).
Longley, Edna. The Living Stream: Literature and Revisionism in Ireland (Newcastle: Bloodaxe, 1994).
Longley, Edna. Poetry in the Wars (Newcastle: Bloodaxe, 1986).
McDonald, Peter. Mistaken Identities: Poetry and Northern Ireland (Oxford: Clarendon, 1997).
O'Donoghue, Bernard. Seamus Heaney and the Language of Poetry (London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1994).
Pelaschiar, Laura. 'Transforming Belfast: The Evolving Role of the City in Northern Irish Fiction', Irish University Review 30.1 (Spring / Summer 2000), pp.117-31.
Pelaschiar, Laura. Writing the North: The Contemporary Novel in Northern Ireland (Trieste: Edizioni Parnaso, 1998).
Wills, Clair. Improprieties: Politics and Sexuality in Northern Irish Poetry (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993).
Wills, Clair. Reading Paul Muldoon (Newcastle: Bloodaxe, 1998).
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information One Seminar: 2 hours per week for 10 weeks;
plus 1 hour per week attendance at Autonomous Learning Group - at time to be arranged.
KeywordsContemporary Poetry
Course organiserDr Aaron Kelly
Tel: (0131 6)50 3071
Course secretaryMr Iain Harrison
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information