Subject to colonial rule for more than four centuries, its land largely expropriated by a foreign power from its residents, its cultural, religious, legal, and language institutions ruthlessly suppressed, Ireland presents a classic example of imperialism and/or colonialism in action. For decades, a popular culture image has been created in the United States that is often at variance with the reality of life in the “Emerald Isle.”
Colonialism, its practices and impacts, constitute a global issue that continues to resonate as once-colonial nations exercise their freedom and face challenges, sometimes with roots in exploitation and divide-and-conquer tactics of the colonial power once controlling them. Ireland presents a classic example of the policies, tactics, and actions that Great Britain would use in other countries around the globe.
This class will examine the history and culture of Ireland through motion pictures and lectures, focusing on broad themes such as the impacts of colonialism, resistance both violent and political, the social pressures unleashed by a combination of repressing, mass starvation, and mass migration and how popular culture, especially film, has created, maintained, or in some cases undermined “traditional” views. Students will be encouraged to use ethical reasoning in considering these and other issues raised in the course.
Among the films to be viewed are: “Michael Collins,” “The Wind That Shakes the Barley,” “Bloody Sunday,” “The Matchmaker,” “The Hanging Gale,” “The Commitments,” “The Quiet Man,” “The Informer,” “The Boys and Girls from County Clare,” “Waking Ned Devine,” “The Run of the Country,” “The Boxer,” “The Irish R.M.,” “Omagh,” “Once,” “War of the Buttons,” and “The Snapper.”
In discussions following lectures and films, students will deal with the issues raised and consider the fundamental issues that have both divided and united the Irish people, spawned their Diaspora, and shaped their response to challenges both in Ireland and abroad. In these discussions, students will be encouraged to approach the questions raised by use of ethical reasoning.