Accessibility statement

Modern Irish Poetry - ENG00032H

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  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Matthew Campbell
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21
    • See module specification for other years: 2019-20

Module summary

Starting with Yeats, Joyce and the situation of Irish writing in the wake of the Revival, the course will look at the problems and achievements of modern Irish poetry in English and its relation to Irish culture. From Yeats to Heaney, Irish poets have created an extraordinary and diverse body of work, which has had a significant impact on other poetry in English on both sides of the Atlantic. The course will introduce students to a wide range of poets within the culture more generally. It will look at such issues as the role of poets and poetry in defining what might be meant by ‘Irish’ culture before and after Independence, the ‘language problem’, post-colonialism, gender and poetry, cultural nationalism and internationalism, poetry and modernity in Ireland, poetry and politics in the North of Ireland, women poets and the ‘national tradition’, translations from Irish and other languages and the problematic legacies of Joyce and Yeats for later poets. The course will consider prose writing on poetics by Yeats, MacNeice, Heaney, Boland, Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill and Kinsella and may consider the influence on writing of small magazines such as The Bell in the 1940s and The Honest Ulsterman in the 1960s and 70s, poetic drama, and the role of criticism, cultural politics, publishers and anthologies in constructing an ‘Irish’ canon. 

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2020-21

Module aims

The aim of this module is to study the development of Irish poetry from the turn of the twentieth century to the present.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module you will be expected to demonstrate:

  • knowledge of the work of representative Irish poets across the period from the Irish Literary revival to the present
  • an awareness of the changing cultural and historical contexts of modern Irish poetry
  • an informed sense of the linguistic and formal dimensions of contemporary poetry in Ireland
  • an understanding of factors at stake in close reading of individual poems.


Task Length % of module mark
3000 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

  • You will be given the opportunity to hand in a 1000 word formative essay in the term in which the module is taught (usually in the week 7 seminar).  Material from this essay may be re-visited in your summative essay and it is therefore an early chance to work through material that might be used in assessed work. This essay will be submitted in hard copy and your tutor will annotate it and return it two weeks later (usually in your week 9 seminar).  Summary feedback will be uploaded to your eVision account.  


Task Length % of module mark
3000 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

  • You will receive feedback on all assessed work within the University deadline, and will often receive it more quickly. The purpose of feedback is to inform your future work; it is designed to help you to improve your work, and the Department also offers you help in learning from your feedback. If you do not understand your feedback or want to talk about your ideas further you can discuss it with your tutor or your supervisor, during their Open Office Hours  
  • For more information about the feedback you will receive for your work, see the department's Guide to Assessment

Indicative reading

Poets studied may include Samuel Beckett; the Thirties poets Denis Devlin, Thomas MacGreevy and Brian Coffey; Louis MacNeice; Patrick Kavanagh and Austin Clarke; and contemporary poetry from the North of Ireland and the Republic by poets such as Thomas Kinsella, Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon, Michael Longley, Eavan Boland, Paul Durcan, Medbh McGuckian, Ciaran Carson, Tom Paulin and Paul Muldoon. The course will be based around a number of anthologies – in particular, The Faber Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry, edited by Paul Muldoon, Modern Irish Poetry: An Anthology, edited by Patrick Cotty, and The Penguin Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry edited by Peter Fallon and Derek Mahon.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.