"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. Professor Conner unpacks a wealth of deep insights from this great literature: - Go inside George Bernard Shaw's determination to dominate the London stage, and see how he used his platform to satirize British social classes. - Trace the development of W. B. Yeats, who is certainly the greatest Irish poet of the era, from his early explorations of Irish mythology to his later complex Modernism. - Find out why Lady Gregory is one of the period's truly great masters-and consider how she reconciled her background in the Protestant Ascendancy with her love for Irish folk life. - Visit the Aran Islands with J. M. Synge and encounter the beauty and wonder of Ireland's rural life that so captivated him-and then find out why Dublin theatergoers were not enamored of his portrayals of Irish country folk. - Survey the life and career of James Joyce, from his early mastery of the short story to his enigmatic Finnegans Wake. Discover a way into even his most complex works. - Witness the founding of the Abbey Theatre and see how a national theater empowered playwrights such as Synge, Sean O'Casey, and many others. - Meet Patrick Kavanagh, Seamus Heaney, and other post-Revival poets who understood the intricacies of Irish history but who had different views of national identity that in some cases ran completely against the project of Yeats. Great art is historical, and while this survey of great writers goes deep into both ancient myths and the modern aesthetic, this course presents historical context you wouldn't find in an ordinary literature class. Likewise, this literary vantage presents a unique view of history that facts and figures alone wouldn't cover. Survey the Political and Aesthetic Quest for an Irish Identity One central tension Irish writers faced was what language to write in. Did they express national solidarity by writing in Irish, and risk a career of provincial obscurity? Or did they choose to reach a wider audience in English, the language of the conqueror? This choice is fraught with complex political questions about freedom and identity-a long and complicated battle over many decades. Here, Professor Conner unpacks the quest for an independent identity and introduces you to many of its key figures. - Meet Wolfe Tone and the other early revolutionaries who saw independence as a worthy goal. - Encounter Daniel O'Connell as he succeeded in achieving Catholic emancipation but failed to secure a repeal of the Act of Union. - Follow the rise and fall of Charles Stewart Parnell and his Home Rule Bill. - Witness James Connolly, Patrick Pearse, and other revolutionaries stage the Easter Rising of 1916. - Watch as Michael Collins led a guerilla campaign culminating in a treaty that laid the groundwork for a free Ireland. - Find out how Eamon de Valera re-entered politics after the Irish Civil War and eventually led the country to a complete break with Britain. The literature of the period presents a unique window into this captivating story, because while the political leaders and revolutionaries were acting to carve out an Irish identity on the world's stage, poets, playwrights, and novelists were creating the Irish identity in their works and capturing the essence of this epic struggle. For instance, Yeats's great poem "Easter 1916" contains the famous lines, "All changed, changed utterly: / A terrible beauty is born." Find out what Yeats meant and how he viewed the political turmoil of his day. Another masterful Irish author, James Joyce, spent his career largely in exile and is often viewed as a primarily European-Modernist writer. But as you'll discover in this course, it is impossible to separate his Irish identity from his fiction. The struggle for independence underlies all of his great works, from the citizens' paralysis in the stories of Dubliners to the domestic concerns of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man to his new notion of heroism in Ulysses. Stepping into the events contemporary with their writing deepens our understanding of these books, and engaging with these books deepens our understanding of history. Gain New Appreciation for the Irish Identity The course of Irish history is often a story of conflict, but it is also the story of endurance. The people of Ireland persevered through a centuries-long pursuit of independence, and the culmination of their political fight for self-determination also coincided with the flowering of their quest to define cultural identity. Whether you're studying the Dublin lockouts and Bloody Sunday or re-thinking the definition of heroism in Ulysses (written against the backdrop of World War I), the Irish Renaissance is a powerful, complex period-and Professor Conner's unique approach in The Irish Identity: Independence, History, and Literature brings this riveting history to life. About Your Professor Dr. Marc C. Conner is the Jo M. and James M. Ballengee Professor of English at Washington and Lee University. He earned degrees in English and Philosophy at the University of Washington, followed by master's and doctorate degrees in English at Princeton University. Dr. Conner is a specialist in modern literature, particularly Irish and American literature. He is a regular presenter at the major Irish studies gatherings, including the Lady Gregory Autumn Gathering in Galway, the Yeats International Summer School in Sligo, and the Trieste Joyce School. He has created a spring study-abroad program in Ireland, in which he leads 24 students every other year on a four-week immersive learning experience in the west of Ireland and Dublin. He has also led multiple adult education programs to Ireland and other Celtic lands. Dr. Conner has received the Outstanding Teacher Award at Washington and Lee University, as well as the Anece F. McCloud Excellence in Diversity Award. With a scholarly focus on 20th- and 21st-century narrative and poetry in several national traditions, his books include The Aesthetics of Toni Morrison: Speaking the Unspeakable; The Poetry of James Joyce Reconsidered; The New Territory: Ralph Ellison and the Twenty-First Century; and the forthcoming Screening Modern Irish Fiction and Drama. His other Great Course is How to Read and Understand Shakespeare. "