The Irish Identity: Independence, History, and Literature - Season 1
1902: Yeats's play Cathleen ni-Houlihan debuts in Dublin, spreading a mythic story that inspires Irish nationalists. 1916: A group of rebels takes over key landmarks throughout Dublin in a failed attempt to spark a revolution across the country. 1916: James Joyce publishes A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, a deeply personal reflection of his own exploration of identity, mirroring Ireland's struggle to define its national identity. 1921: Michael Collins returns from England with a treaty by which the transition to an independent Ireland can finally begin, but back home, nationalists are extremely displeased. These are just a few of the monumental occurrences and artistic events that rocked the world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as Ireland gradually shook off the shackles of British rule. Alongside a long and painful political process arose one of the greatest flourishings of literature in modern times-a spirited discourse among those who sought to shape their nation's future, finding the significance of their bloody present intimately entwined with their legendary past. As nationalists including Charles Stewart Parnell, Patrick Pearse, and Michael Collins studied their political situation and sought a road to independence, writers such as W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, J. M. Synge, Lady Gregory, and many others took a close look at the emerging Irish identity and captured the spirit of the nation's ongoing history in their works. The Irish Renaissance-or Irish Revival-that occurred around the turn of the 20th century fused and elevated aesthetic and civic ambitions, fueling a cultural climate of masterful artistic creation and resolute political self-determination reminiscent of the Italian Renaissance. Delve into this remarkable period with The Irish Identity: Independence, History, and Literature. Over the course of 36 enthralling lectures, Professor Marc Conner of Washington and Lee University reveals the multifaceted story of the Irish Renaissance through an exploration of its complex history and remarkable literature. After laying the groundwork of ancient Irish history and centuries of British rule-from the Norman invasion in the 12th century through the brutal Penal Laws and the Great Famine-Professor Conner brings you inside the Irish Revival, when a group of writers began taking a keen interest in the uniquely Irish culture, from its language to its art to its mythology. This fascination fed into the growing demand for Irish nationhood, for the arts, culture, and politics of the time are inextricable. Uncovering Ireland's mythic cultural history worked in tandem with promoting the power of a nationalist political movement. As a consequence of British rule, the Protestant Ascendancy had become the dominant land-owning and political class, leaving Catholics and Irish country folk to nurture their identity, history, and myths under strong-often brutal-oppression. As you'll discover in these lectures, the formation of the Irish identity in the early 20th century was a fierce struggle-a story clearly captured in the literature of the era. See How Art Meets Politics in the Irish Revival The Irish Revival was a literary and cultural movement in which the Irish celebrated their history and heritage through sports, language, and literature. The movement emerged in parallel with the Home Rule efforts to free Ireland from British dominion. You'll see how politicians such as O'Connell and Parnell pushed for reforms and championed Irish nationalism. Meanwhile, writers including Yeats and Lady Gregory were rediscovering myths and heroes such as Cuchulain and Finn MacCumhaill and bringing them to the center of national consciousness through poetry and plays. The result is some of the world's most dazzling literature-with Irish political history never far below the surface.