Studying abroad can be a more meaningful and invigorating learning experience than at home—both inside and outside of the classroom. You may be more curious and alert than you usually are so use this heightened energy to enhance your studies as well as your cultural and geographical explorations. You may also encounter different teaching styles and course processes; be prepared to adapt and to learn.
Deepen your academic experience by turning the optional Dublin Tour into a one-credit field study by completing additional academic requirements (readings, research, written assignments, reports, etc.) focusing on the sites and history of the Irish War of Independence. Students who enroll in this one-credit course will keep a journal and answer a series of questions about the sites visited. Upon arrival in Galway, the field study course will be completed with follow-up meetings with a professor and submitting a short final project.
Local faculty teach most USAC courses; however, the following US professor is also teaching as a Visiting Professor.
Vincent F. Biondo, III is Associate Professor and Chair of Religious Studies at Humboldt State University in Northern California. He studied Buddhism at SOAS, researched Islam in Manchester, and was Fulbright Scholar at Cardiff University. He co-edited Religion and Culture for Fortress Press and directed the NEH California Pluralism project.
Dublin Field Study: Exploring the Sites of 1916 and the War of Independence
Summer (History; 200-level; 1 credit)
In 2012 Ireland entered what is generally referred to as the Decade of Commemoration or Decade of Centenaries, and began a series of commemorative events to mark those fateful years (1912-1922) when Ireland prepared and fought for sovereign independence from Britain. This field study course is designed to enhance the benefits of your Dublin visit by providing a solid historic, political and cultural base for understanding Ireland’s War of Independence (1916-1921) and the complexities of its remembrance and commemoration.
Over the initial few days of the Dublin tour, several of the key sites in Dublin City centre will be visited including City Hall, Dublin Castle, the National Library of Ireland, the Abbey Theatre, St Stephens Green, the General Post Office (GPO), Collins Barracks, the Four Courts and Arbour Hill. Connecting with these places will give you a privileged insight into how to read the urban landscape in terms of its revolutionary heritage and how the politics of the past is ever present in the contemporary setting.
Requirements include the completion of a study guide and a brief illustrated journal describing your walk through revolutionary Dublin. In Galway you are expected to attend the screening of The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006).
In Search of Irish Roots: Tracing Your Family Genealogy
Summer (Anthropology, History; 100-level; 1 credit)
Many students who come to Ireland do so because of some ancestral attachment to the country. However, this connection is often hazy: a long-dead family relation, a dusty artefact such as a diary, letter or photograph, or some strong cultural trace that is manifest, for example, in a proficiency in Irish music and dance or active membership in an Irish community abroad. Ireland has a long and distinct history of emigration to every corner of the globe. This one credit course will help you excavate the archaeology of Irish family history by orientating you towards some of the rich repositories of information about the past which help explain why, how and when the Irish moved, where they moved to and what happened to them once they’d moved. Each class will help you navigate your way more deeply into the matrix of on-line records, which has turned genealogy and family history into an exciting pursuit requiring forensic skills and the instinct of a good detective.
You will learn something of the cultural and political differences which distinguish different waves of emigration from pre-Famine times to the successive generations who left Ireland in the 1920s, 1950s, 1980s. You will discover how to read family history through the physical landscape by way of maps, graveyards and rural and urban landscapes. Finally, you will find out something of the context which led to different forms of the Irish diaspora in different times.
The course overlaps with several aspects critical to other field-trips. Visits to Dublin and to areas of the West devastated by famine, including Connemara and Co. Mayo, will each be enhanced by a deeper knowledge of and connection to the emigrant experience.
Introduction to the Gaelic Language
Summer (Gaelic; 100-level; 3 credits)
The Irish language (Gaelige) has both a rich history and a strong ongoing presence in contemporary Irish society. Over the millennia, it has played a crucial role in shaping Irish identity and culture. Today, Galway and NUIG play important roles in sustaining and preserving the rich scholarly and artistic legacies of the Gaelic language and draw greatly from the vitality of the language in the nearby gaeltacht (or Irish-speaking) regions of Connemara and the Aran Islands. This course is meant to give you a better sense of that linguistic heritage and provide opportunities for richer contacts with the Irish-language speakers, performances, and aspects of every-day life one encounters around Galway. The class will provide a basic preface to the structure of the language with the aim of developing some elementary conversational, grammar and reading skills in modern Irish.
Irish Music - Performance, Transmission and Practice
Summer (Music; 400-level; 3 credits)
Traditional Irish music and dance have made the transition from pre-modern, through modern, and into the global society that we occupy. This course will trace the substantial changes in performance, transmission and practice of cultural expression through music (including song) and dance. Class readings will illustrate various aspects of the tradition, both historical and contemporary, beginning with the tradition’s bardic origins and its change and development since the Belfast Harp Festival of 1792. The North American Diaspora’s role in transmitting and developing the music will form an important element of discussion. Historical and current performance practice will be examined, exploring the emergence of modernity in the tradition. Ideologies of preservation and innovation, sometimes in conflict will be examined and discussions of the readings will be supported by both audio and visual material in class.
Modern Irish Literature: From Celtic Twilight to Celtic Tiger
Summer (English; 400-level; 3 credits)
Irish writing, especially in the last hundred years or so, has constituted a marvelous literary trove made all the more remarkable by the fact that it finds its root in such a small island. Yet, despite the huge acclaim that has been won by many of its writers, Irish writers are often considered in isolation from each other and/or assimilated into a broader canon of “British” literature. This course seeks to provide an opportunity for you to develop greater familiarity with the rich diversity of Irish writing from this period while at the same time affording you the means for locating that writing within explicitly Irish contexts.
Re-Staging Irishness: Pasts, Presents, and Futures of Irish Theatre
Summer (English, Theater; 400-level; 3 credits)
In this course, we will read a selection of Irish plays from across the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. We will explore the history of theatre in Ireland and the roles of such institutions as the Abbey Theatre at the turn of the twentieth century and the Field Day Theatre Company, the Druid Theatre and local theatre companies formed from the late twentieth century onwards. In our explorations, we will consider a series of key questions. What does it mean to form an Irish national theatre? How can drama contribute to forging a national consciousness and identity, and should it serve that function? How does a national theatre sustain its mandate in the decades after Irish national independence? What roles do a national theatre and other independent theatre companies play as a new state becomes a 100-year-old one? We will examine these works within their social, cultural, and political contexts and in relation to issues such as class, gender, language, identity, Irish myth, the Irish west, the nation and nationalism, and the colonial legacy.
The Changing Face of Religion in Contemporary Ireland
Summer (Religious Studies, Sociology; 300-level; 3 credits)
Ireland is home to proud folk and Catholic heritages. Recent global factors of immigration, inter-marriage, and women in leadership are transforming religion in Ireland. How in particular are diaspora, hybridity, and femininity impacting politics, ethics, and culture? Are more people converting, becoming “spiritual, not religious” or atheist, experimenting with neopaganism, or joining new religious movements, and if so, why? What is the Catholic Church doing to respond to changing demographic realities? What are the major religions, worldviews, and ideologies in Ireland today? Which factors influence hate crimes and discrimination or peaceful cooperation and civic engagement?
Troubling the Past: The Place of History in Ireland’s Modern Emergence
Summer (History; 400-level; 3 credits)
Focusing on the last century of Irish history, this course will trace the main social, political, economic and intellectual changes defining Ireland from the cultural revival, through the Easter Rising and the War of Independence, to the 1922 Treaty and the Civil War. Consideration will be given to the constitutional development of two Irelands: a twenty-six county republic and a six-county statelet in the North that is still part of the United Kingdom.
The period 1970-2000 will focus on ‘the Troubles’ and the emergence of a discourse of peace leading to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, the sharing of power and the joint executive. Analysis of the last decade will show how Ireland’s relationship to Europe and strong ancestral ties to America led to a development boom and the confidence of the Celtic Tiger, ending with the present downturn in the global economy and the bail out of Irish banks.
In the background to Ireland’s modern emergence as a progressive European country, you will also be asked to reflect on the nature of ‘History’ as a theatre for continued division and as a political instrument of ‘legitimacy’. A walking tour of the ruins and restorations of ancient Galway and a field trip to various ruins and sites of the Burren National Park