ATS3316 - The emergence of modern Ireland - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

Literary Studies

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Chris Murray


Dr Chris Murray

Unit guides



  • First semester 2019 (On-campus)


Twelve credit points of second-year Arts units.


The unit explores the emergence of a modern Anglo-Irish literary canon, from the years preceding the foundation of the Free State in 1922 to contemporary works. Writers have felt compelled to define Irish identity in response to crises, from the agitation to achieve independence from British rule, and reactions to the exertion of power by the Catholic Church, to the more recent financial collapse, and debate over reproductive rights. Under such pressures, authors innovated in diverse ways. Yeats sought a mystical system of symbols, while Beckett turned to the absurd. Joyce interrogated the possibilities of language, while Mhac an tSaoi articulated the affinity between the artist's struggle with tradition and the challenges faced by women in Irish society. Heaney and Kinsella were among those who both responded to contemporary events explicitly and reached into ancient legend for material to help ascertain what type of narrative might be considered characteristically Irish. Considering this search for identity in literary forms such as poetry, drama, the short story, and the essay - and addressing receptions of this heritage in film, popular song, and graphic novels - the unit explores a century of self-definition in a culture that constitutes a significant area of literary studies, and that has a rich tradition of exchange with Australia.


Upon successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. explain and critique the modern Anglo-Irish literary canon;
  2. apply various critical perspectives on Anglo-Irish literature to a range of literary works;
  3. examine texts in different literary forms within an evolving cultural tradition;
  4. critically analyse fundamental Irish historical/political contexts, and how authors engaged with these;
  5. critically read and interpret literary texts.


Within semester assessment: 100%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study