From our earliest poetic texts to the last moments of the Gaelic order in the 1700s, Irish literature presents us with a vast wealth of material in a wildly diverse variety of genres. This course will focus tightly on the famous sagas of the Ulster and Finn Cycles as well as on the lyrical texts of "nature," praise and, at the end of the tradition, Bardic poetry, but we will also give a panoramic view of the range of early Irish genres from history, genealogy, law, satire, gnomic literature, as well as philology, prosody, medicine, hagiography, etc. not to mention the translations of Greco-Roman epic. Of concern will be the theoretical orientation of our readings: how does the literature in its early phases exhibit the techniques of oral story-making? What theoretical models for analyzing these texts have developed in recent thinking? How have other textual traditions affected the texts themselves and our understandings of what they might mean? Are terms like "lyric" or "epic" helpful or not? What is the place of early Irish literature in the newly emergent conceptions of "World Literature?"
Student work will include a few short quizzes, 1 short midterm and a final; 1 short paper and a term paper.
The course will be presented as a series of lectures with plenty of room for discussion.