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Reading Groups

Recent Irish Literature: The Nightmare and Dream of History


Five Sessions

Out of stock

Once a month Thursdays, 7:00 pm EDT - 8:30 pm EDT January 30 to June 25, 2020

This reading group will take place online via Zoom.

Meeting Dates:
1/30, 2/27, 4/30, 5/28, 6/25

Reflecting on his homeland of Ireland, Stephan Dedalus in James Joyce’s Ulysses comments, “history is the nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” Even in the relatively peaceful and prosperous twenty-first century, Ireland is still coping with the legacy of an often traumatic history: the Great Famine, mass immigration, British colonialism, and the Troubles of Northern Ireland. Yet, Irish stories have also focused on the dream of a better life for Irish individuals – often through immigration – and of renewal for a divided island – through complex processes of reconciliation, economic growth, and global connectedness. Indeed, Irish writers of the 21st-century are still very much preoccupied with Ireland’s vexed history, and many of Ireland’s most compelling recent novels fixate on the historical.

This course in recent Irish literature will explore four critically acclaimed Irish novels of the last decade that are at once broadly historical and deeply intimate: Days Without End (2017), by Sebastian Barry, Academy Street (2015) by Mary Costello, The Milkman (2018 Book Prize Winner) by Anna Burns, and Transatlantic (2013) by Colum McCann.

Please read Days Without End for our first meeting in late January.

Books are not included in the cost of the class. Participants receive a 15% discount at our bookstore.


Led by

  • mottolesew

    William Mottolese

    William Mottolese

    William Mottolese has taught at Fordham University and Saint Joseph’s College in Indiana and is presently Chair of the English Department at Sacred Heart Greenwich. He has published on such subjects as Olaudah Equiano, Laurence Sterne, and James Joyce and is presently at work on projects on Joyce, teaching critical thinking, and the relation of literary modernism to twentieth-century popular music. He has taught for a decade on the faculty of the Center for Fiction where he has led classes on James Joyce, David Foster Wallace, Salman Rushdie, Irish literature, and postcolonial literature. William is an award-winning teacher, published poet, and proud father of three children.