Culture and Society in Ireland: From Swift to Joyce

This course will explore the social, political and cultural history of Ireland through examining a number of the key texts produced by some of the major figures in Irish literary history. We will examine how Irish writers like Jonathan Swift, Maria Edgeworth, Charles Lever, George Bernard Shaw, John Millington Synge, W.B. Yeats and James Joyce used contemporary events as a background for a number of their greatest works. We will also explore what books and plays like Edgeworth’s Castle Rackrent, Shaw’s John Bulls Other Island, and Joyce’s Dubliners can tell us about contemporary attitudes to the dramatic social and economic that transformed Irish society over the period covered by this course.

This class will be delivered online via the online platform Zoom. Enrolling students need to ensure they have an email, a reliable internet connection, microphone/speakers and access to a tablet, smartphone or computer.


  • A. Norman Jeffares, Anglo-Irish Literature (1982)
  • D. Kiberd. Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation (1996 edition)


  • Jonathan Swift’s The Drapier’s letters and A Modest Proposal and Eighteenth Century Ireland
  • Maria Edgeworth’s Castle Rackrent and Irish Society in the early Nineteenth Century
  • William Carleton’s, Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry and Irish rural society in the 1830s
  • Charles Lever’s Martins of Cro Martin and the Irish Land Question.
  • George Bernard Shaw’s John Bull’s Other Island and Anglo-Irish Relations in the early Twentieth Century
  • The Plays of John Millington Synge and Rural Society in Ireland in the early Twentieth Century
  • The Poetry and Plays of W.B. Yeats and the Irish ‘Literary Revival’
  • James Joyce’s Dubliners and Irish Society in the Early Twentieth Century


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Know some of the broad themes in the social and cultural history of Ireland in this period.
  2. Grasp some of the core themes in the political and social history of the period.

This course has no current classes. Please join the waiting list by clicking .