The intricate and ever-present relationship between language and political power will be demonstrated in this course through a series of vignettes from the history of Ireland, a country (supposedly an island nation) which provides some of the most pronounced examples and metaphors for the intersection of language and power in world history.
Introduction: How have language and power historically intersected and interacted in Ireland? Real and false parallels with Central and Eastern Europe.
After an outline of the medieval history of Ireland, the course gives a detailed account of the English plantations of Ireland under King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I, the influence of Oliver Cromwellĺs campaign in Ireland as well as the Williamite settlement in the late 17th century. Threafter, the Protestant Ascendancy and the incorporation of Ireland in the United Kingdom in 1801 will be discussed. The interaction between British and Irish politics, the end of discrimination against Roman Catholics, the Home Rule movement and debate, the increasing militancy of separatism towards the end of the 19th century, the role of cultural revivalism in politics in Ireland, the sources and nature of the conflict in Northern Ireland, the 'Troubles', and the road to a negotiated peace in our own time will be the further focal points of this series of lectures. Irish national consciousness and the desire to achieve self-government took various forms and degrees of intensity from the 18th to the 20th centuries. The course emphsises the strong interplay between the cultural and political strands of the struggle for national freedom in Irish history. Another underlying feature will be recurrent emphasis on the metahistorical nature of much of Irish historical discourse. Centuries of internecine conflict, external involvement and localised interests have produced a set of ingrained and self-sustaining mythologies that have historically made up much of the contrasting canonical versions of Irish history. The imagined pasts have reinforced themselves through the political agendas that they had themselves created. A series of authors, commentators and public intellectuals in Ireland and the UK have, in the wake of the success of the peace agreement in Northern Ireland, embarked on the process of disentangling truth from imagination in the Irish historical narrative. The competing visions of the past and their impact on political choices will be discussed widely during the course.
Bardon, Jonathan. A History of Ulster, Belfast: The Blackstaff Press, 1992.
Bew, Paul. Ireland: The Politics of Enmity 1789-2006, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Curtis, Edmund. A History of Ireland,  London: Routledge, 1995.
Kee, Robert. The Green Flag, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1972.
Foster, Roy F. Modern Ireland, 1600-1972, London: Allen Lane, 1988.
Rumpf E. and A.C. Hepburn. Nationalism and Socialism in Twentieth Century Ireland, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1977.
The Story of Ireland. Written and presented by Fergal Keane, BBC DVD, 2011
This is a general course which, nonetheless, presumes a fair degree of pre-existing knowledge of British history. Regular attendance, early access to set texts are required for successful performance at the two written examinations, which will take the form of in-class essays.