Home

 

Courses


Please note faculty leaves for academic year 2016-17:
Fall Term, Natasha Sumner; Spring Term, Catherine McKenna

Fall Courses 2016

Celtic

Primarily for Undergraduates.

Celtic 91R. Supervised Reading and Research. Catherine McKenna, Joseph Nagy Hours to be arranged.

Instruction and direction of reading on topics not treated in regular courses of instruction.

For undergraduates and graduates

Celtic 137. Celtic Mythology.
Joseph Nagy
MWF at 12

 

Medieval Irish and Welsh texts reflect underlying story patterns, characters, and motifs that are rooted in pre-Christian tradition and in some cases witnessed in the archaeological evidence and in the ethnographic writings of ancient Greek and Roman authors. We will examine these texts in translation and track the reconstruction of the “pagan past” undertaken by medieval Celtic writers, as well as the new mythologies they developed to suit the evolving ideological agenda of their world, from ca 600 to 1500 CE.

Celtic 300. Reading and Research.
Catherine McKenna, Joseph Nagy

Celtic 305. Preparation of Doctoral Dissertation.
Catherine McKenna, Joseph Nagy

Freshman Seminar

Ireland Rising.
Catherine McKenna
Th 4-6

2016 marks the centenary of the violent, short-lived rebellion of Irish nationalists against English rule that is known as the Easter Rising. Unpopular and ineffectual in itself, the Rising marked a turning point in Irish politics that ultimately led to the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 and the Republic of Ireland later on. As Nobel laureate William Butler Yeats wrote of “Easter 1916”, “A terrible beauty is born.” This seminar will concentrate on the development of a sense of “Irishness” in the fifty years or so leading up to the Easter Rising—in music, literature and the visual arts, in athletics, in language, in fascination with traditional Irish folklore—as well as on the politics of nationalism and the causes and consequences of violent rebellion. We’ll find our way back into the 1916 moment and beyond, to the cultural revival that enabled it, by examining writers and storytellers of the period—including Yeats, Lady Gregory, Douglas Hyde and James Joyce--images and objects in the Harvard Art Museums, documentary films, hurling matches, music, and more. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of violent revolution as the means by which a colonized people “summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom,” to quote the Proclamation of the Irish Republic of April 24, 1916. And we will explore the range of cultural practices that defines a people and a nation.

Irish

For undergraduates and graduates

Irish 132. Introduction to Modern Irish.
Catherine McKenna
MTuWF at 1

An introduction to Irish as it is spoken and written today. Class work is participatory, and includes conversational role play and games as well as grammar study and drills. Audio and audiovisual resources reinforce pronunciation and aural comprehension. Songs, proverbs, and poems are an integral part of the course, introducing students to the vibrant oral and literary tradition of Gaelic Ireland.                                                

Irish 205r. Readings in Early Irish Prose:
Joseph Nagy.
W 3-6

Readings in selected texts. Topic for 2016: Mesca Ulad

Welsh

For undergraduates and graduates

Welsh 128. Introduction to Modern Welsh.
Catherine McKenna
MTuWF at 11

Introduction to the Welsh language as spoken and written today, designed for those with little or no prior knowledge of this vibrant Celtic language. Intensive conversation practice is provided, and students learn to write fluently. Internet, audio and video exercises using dialogue, music and film augment a contextualized grammatical survey, and use of authentic literary texts increases as the course progresses.

Welsh 225a. Medieval Welsh Language and Literature.
Catherine McKenna
TuTh at 2

Introduction to the language and culture of medieval Wales, with particular attention to narrative prose literature and its Celtic, Welsh and Norman contexts. By the end of the term we will have read in the original one of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi and selections from other texts.

Spring courses 2017

Celtic

For undergraduates and graduates

Celtic 106. The Folklore of Gaelic Scotland.
Natasha Sumner
TuTh at 10

An introduction to the oral traditions of Gaelic Scotland and Nova Scotia, including tales and song. The process of collecting is explored, and various folkloristic theories and approaches applied in order to gain a deeper understanding of the material. No knowledge of Scottish Gaelic required.

Celtic 120. Food and Fantasy in Irish Tradition.
Joseph Nagy
MWF at 12

Many aspects of food—growing, cooking, eating, drinking, and distributing it--have served as powerful cultural symbols in Irish oral and literary tradition from medieval to modern times. A survey of the environmental, historical, and economic background to food and its production in Ireland of the early Middle Ages will lead to the close reading of medieval texts (in translation) such as “News about Mac Dathó’s Pig,” “The Vision of Mac Conglinne,” and “The Battle of Mag Tuired,” in each of which the “what,” “why,” and “how” of eating determine the outcome of the story. In addition, we will examine the lively symbolism of food as perpetuated in Irish legend and folktale, and also in post-medieval Irish literature.

Celtic 187. Literature of the Dispossessed: Gaelic Ireland, c.1600-1900.
Natasha Sumner
MWF at 10

An introduction to Irish Gaelic poetry and prose of the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, this course explores poets’ preoccupations and creative impulses in a time of regular conflict and drastic sociopolitical change. Critical issues we will consider include, but are not limited to, the role(s) of the poet in society, tradition and innovation, orality, and intertextuality. All texts will be read in English translation.

Irish

Irish 133r. Intermediate Modern Irish.
Natasha Sumner
MTuWF at 1

A continuation of Irish 132, developing students' fluency in spoken and written Irish. As our knowledge of the language expands, we venture into storytelling, journal writing and writing and performing short skits. Internet, audio and video resources complement the study of grammar and select prose texts.

Irish 204r. Readings in Early Irish Poetry:
Joseph Nagy
W 3-6

Readings in selected texts.

Welsh

For undergraduates and graduates

Welsh 129r. Intermediate Modern Welsh.
Instructors TBA
MTuWF at 11

Direct continuation of Welsh 128, developing and deepening students' knowledge of, and skill in, the modern spoken and written language. By the end of the semester students will be able to converse, read and write in a number of registers of idiomatic Welsh (academic, literary, informal). Various media, featuring dialogue, music and film, augment the advanced grammatical survey. Central cultural and historical issues are discussed.

Welsh 225b. Medieval Welsh Poetry.
John Bollard
Th 2-4:30

Continued readings in medieval Welsh prose and an introduction to Welsh poetry down to 1400. Continued study of grammar and practice in translation, as well as an introduction to the manuscript sources of the poetry and their cultural contexts, and the intricacies of medieval Welsh poetics.



Upcoming Courses in Celtic

CELTIC 101 Likely to be offered in 2018 Spring [The Hero of Irish Myth and Saga]
Likely to be offered in 2018 Fall
TBA

A study of the ways in which the hero is represented in early Irish sources, especially in the saga literature. The texts reflect the ideology and concerns of a society which had been converted to Christianity, but continued to draw on its Indo-European and Celtic heritage. The biographies of the Ulster hero, Cú Chulainn, of his divine father, Lug, and of certain king-heroes are studied in depth. The wisdom literature, and archaeological and historical evidence will be taken into account.

CELTIC 103 [The Celts]
Likely to be offered in 2017 Fall
TBA

A study of the ways in which the hero is represented in early Irish sources, especially in the saga literature. The texts reflect the ideology and concerns of a society which had been converted to Christianity, but continued to draw on its Indo-European and Celtic heritage. The biographies of the Ulster hero, Cú Chulainn, of his divine father, Lug, and of certain king-heroes are studied in depth. The wisdom literature, and archaeological and historical evidence will be taken into account.

CELTIC 105 [The Folklore of Gaelic Ireland]
Likely to be offered in 2018 Spring
TBA

An introduction to the traditional stories, lore, customs, and music of Gaelic Ireland. Since collecting began in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Ireland has amassed one of the most extensive collections of folklore in the world. Prominent tradition bearers and collectors will be introduced, and issues of collecting will be considered. Theoretical approaches will be explored to gain a deeper understanding of the material. All texts will be read in English translation.

CELTIC 109 [Finn: The Great Gaelic Hero]
Likely to be offered in 2017 Fall
TBA

This course explores the lengthy and wildly popular Irish and Scottish Gaelic tradition surrounding the hero, Finn mac Cumaill (a.k.a. 'Finn MacCool' or 'Fionn mac Cumhaill'). Finn is variously portrayed as a hunter-warrior-seer and is the leader of the intrepid fíana war band. We survey this Fenian literature as it is presented to us by medieval and early modern Gaelic manuscript tradition. We also engage with the rich modern Fenian folklore of Ireland, Scotland, and Nova Scotia. This includes the study of important texts such as Acallam na Senórach ‘The Dialogue of the Ancients’ and Tóraigheacht Dhiarmada agus Ghráinne ‘The Pursuit of Diarmaid and Gráinne’. Additionally, we consider the international impact of the Fenian tradition by examining James Macpherson's infamous, eighteenth-century, English-language adaptations and the ensuing Ossian controversy.  All Gaelic texts are read in English translation.

CELTIC 118 [The Gaelic World: 1100 - 1700]
Likely to be offered in 2018 Fall
TBA

An introduction to the history and culture of Gaelic Scotland and Ireland, with particular attention to contemporary sources, including Gaelic literary sources. All readings in English translation.

CELTIC 119 [The Gaelic World: 17th Century to the Present]
Likely to be offered in 2019 Spring
TBA

An introduction to the later history and culture of Gaelic Scotland and Ireland, with particular attention to Gaelic literary sources. Language decline and revitalization efforts are also explored. All readings in English translation.

CELTIC 138 [The Mabinogion: Stories from Medieval Wales]
Likely to be offered in 2018 Spring
TBA

An exploration of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi, Welsh Arthurian romances and tales, and the bardic lore associated with them, in the context of the literary culture of Wales in the twelfth through fourteenth centuries. All texts are read in English translation.

CELTIC 184 [The Táin]
Likely to be offered in 2018 Spring
TBA

A study of the exuberant Irish prose epic Táin Bó Cúailnge (`Cattle-Raid of Cooley'). Text read in English translation.

CELTIC 188 [Scottish Gaelic Poetry]
Likely to be offered in 2019 Spring
TBA

An introduction to Scottish Gaelic poetry of the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, this course explores poets’ preoccupations and creative impulses in a time of regular conflict and drastic sociopolitical change. Critical issues we will consider include, but are not limited to, the role(s) of the poet in society, tradition and innovation, orality, and intertextuality. All texts will be read in English translation.

CELTIC 194 [The World of the Celtic Bard]
Likely to be offered in 2018 Fall
TBA

This course explores the role of the bard in the Celtic-speaking societies of Wales, Ireland and Scotland. Through the study of narrative sources concerning the origin and nature of poets and poetry, theoretical and legal texts, and, most especially, bardic poems from the early Middle Ages through the eighteenth century, we examine the physical, public and political power of a medium-poetic verse-now associated with "power" in the private and emotional sense only. We study bardic poems in various modes - eulogistic, satiric, commemorative, prophetic - and we examine the circumstances that support the institution of bardic poetry and those that contribute to its decline. Among the issues to be considered are patronage, convention, the relationship of rhetoric and truth, and the functions of poetic form. All readings in English translation, but there will be some exposure to the forms of bardic poetry in the original languages.

CELTIC 222 [The Gaelic Manuscript Tradition]
TBA

This course explores the central role of Gaelic manuscripts for Celtic Studies. We examine form, content and usage while also considering historical context. Practice with traditional and non-traditional Gaelic hands form an important part of this course. We cover a wide range of periods and Gaelic manuscript traditions; from the earliest Irish glosses to early modern Scottish and Irish manuscripts. Issues to be explored include: transmission, patronage, scribal practice and modern editorial methodology.
This course, when taken for a letter grade, meets the General Education requirement for Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding or Empirical and Mathematical Reasoning, but not both. This course fulfills the requirement that one of the eight General Education courses also engage substantially with Study of the Past.

Upcoming Courses in Irish

IRISH 160R [Advanced Modern Irish]
TBA

Geared to the interests and aptitudes of the participants, this course enhances students' confidence in using Irish as a medium of oral and written communication and introduces them to the Gaelic literary tradition.

IRISH 161R [Continuing Advanced Modern Irish]
TBA

This course continues to strengthen the students' confidence in using Irish as a medium of oral and written communication and introduces them to the Gaelic literary tradition.

IRISH 200 [Introduction to Old Irish]
Likely to be offered in 2017 Fall
TBA

An introduction to the language of the eighth and ninth centuries, with elementary readings in prose texts.

IRISH 201R [Continuing Old Irish]
Likely to be offered in 2018 Spring
TBA

Further grammatical study, with continued reading of saga texts.

Upcoming Courses in Scottish Gaelic

SCTGALIC 130 [Introduction to Scottish Gaelic]
Likely to be offered in 2017 Fall
TBA

An introduction to Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic) as it is spoken and written today. This course surveys the grammar while also emphasizing practice in speaking the language. This class is highly participatory; students are encouraged to take part in a range of communicative activities which enhance oral/aural ability. Translation exercises develop skills in the written language. A range of audio/ audiovisual materials and online resources is used to support student learning.

SCTGALIC 131R [Intermediate Scottish Gaelic]
Likely to be offered in 2018 Spring
TBA

Direct continuation of the fall term course Scottish Gaelic 130.

Upcoming Courses in Welsh

WELSH 226R [Readings in Middle Welsh Prose]
Likely to be offered in 2017 Fall
TBA

An exploration of the enormous variety of medieval Welsh prose literature: selections from tales and romances, chronicles, laws, and lore.

WELSH 227 [Seminar: Welsh Bardic Poetry]
Likely to be offered in 2018 Spring
TBA

Readings from the hengerdd, the beirdd y tywysogion and the beirdd yr uchelwyr; consideration of the social and political contexts of their poetry, its forms, and its relationship to other medieval European poetic traditions

~

For an up to date listing of the courses offered by the Celtic Department of Languages and literatures and Harvard University for the Winter/Spring 2017 session, click here to go to the Full list of upcoming Celtic Courses.

Department of Celtic Languages and Literatures · Harvard University
Barker Center, 12 Quincy Street · Cambridge, MA 02138 · phone 617/ 495-1206 · fax 617/ 495-1010 · email us

© 2009, The President and Fellows of Harvard College
Last updated Wednesday, 07-Dec-2016 16:01:39 EST

Program
People
Courses
Events
Resources
Friends