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Fall Courses 2017

Celtic

For undergraduates and graduates

*Celtic 103. The Celts
Catherine McKenna
TuTh at 11, and one additional hour tba

This course examines the ways that an elusive population group called "The Celts" has been constructed from antiquity to the present. We study the linguistic, archaeological, genetic, mythological, literary and institutional bases of "Celticity" in the light of recent critiques of the ways in which these different kinds of evidence have been asked to walk hand in hand with one another in the service of certainty about Celtic identity. All texts are read in translation.

*Celtic 109. Finn: The Great Gaelic Hero
Natasha Sumner
MW at 11, and one additional hour 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.

Freshman Seminar

Cartoons, Folklore, and Mythology
Joseph Nagy
Th 4-6

The creators of cinematic (and later TV) animation have perennially turned to traditional oral and literary tales about fantastic heroes, villains, tricksters, and settings for their story material. In the world of the animated “short” and feature-length film, myths, epics, legends, and folktales could come to life in a highly stylized, kinetic, and visually arresting way. Cartooning created a pathway for traditional stories to live on in the consciousness of twentieth-century viewers, and also for these old tales to be adapted to changing times. Hence animation offers not only an influential modern commentary on the folklore and mythology of the past but also a contemporary mythology of its own, deeply meaningful to adults and children alike. In this freshman seminar, students are invited to take what might be considered mere entertainment very seriously, closely reading texts of traditional stories in tandem with critically viewing animation that draws its inspiration from those stories. For a final assignment, each student will be called upon to choose some animation (a short or a clip from a feature-length film) to share with the rest of the seminar, to provide some background for it, and to lead a discussion of the animation in light of what else we will have seen, learned, and said. While the instructor’s contribution to the seminar will primarily focus on animation from 1900 to 1960, students when choosing which sample of animation to share will be welcome to present later or contemporary examples of the cartooning art—including perhaps even their own.

Irish

For undergraduates and graduates

Irish 132. Introduction to Modern Irish.
Matthew Holmberg
MTuWF at 2

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 200. Introduction to Old Irish
Joseph Nagy.
W 3-5

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

Scottish Gaelic

Scottish Gaelic 130
Natasha Sumner
MTWTh at 10

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.

Welsh

For undergraduates and graduates

Welsh 128. Introduction to Modern Welsh.
Catherine McKenna
MTWTh at 1

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 226rReadings in Middle Welsh Prose.
Catherine McKenna
Th at 2

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

Spring courses 2018

Celtic

For undergraduates and graduates

*Celtic 101. Irish Heroic Saga.
Joseph Nagy
MW at 12 and one additional hour 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 138. The Mabinogion: Stories from Medieval Wales
Catherine McKenna
TuTh at 11 and one additional hour 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 188. Songs of the Highlander
Natasha Sumner
MW at 11, and one additional hour tba

An introduction to Scottish Gaelic poetry and song 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.

Irish

Irish 133r. Intermediate Modern Irish.
Matthew Holmberg
MTWF at 2

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 201r. Continuing Old Irish
Joseph Nagy
MW 3-5

Further grammatical study, with continued reading of saga texts.

Scottish Gaelic

Scottish Gaelic 131r. Intermed Scottish Gaelic
Natasha Sumner
MTWTh at 10

A continuation of Scottish Gaelic 130, developing students' fluency in spoken and written Scottish Gaelic. Internet, audio and video resources complement the study of grammar and select prose texts.

Welsh

For undergraduates and graduates

*Welsh 129r. Introduction to Modern Welsh
Catherine McKenna
MTWTh at 1

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 227. Welsh Bardic Poetry
Catherine McKenna
Th 2-4

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.

*Potential sections available for Teaching Fellows.



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 105 [The Folklore of Gaelic Ireland]

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 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 184 [The Táin]
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.

Upcoming Courses in Scottish Gaelic

TBA

Upcoming Courses in Welsh

TBA

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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 Tuesday, 04-Apr-2017 11:14:11 EDT

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