Tuesday, September 7, 1999

Reading List: Irish Literature 700 to 1800; Melia



Irish Literature 700 to 1800; 
Prof. Daniel Melia  
(Full participation/grade/audit A-)
FALL 1999:  Celtic Studies 138 (4 units)

Gaelic literature from 700 to 1800 (in translation). Study of the prose saga-cycles, satire, classical lyric poetry, and bardic poetry, developing the mythological and traditional background of modern Irish literature.  Special topic to be announced. 4 quizzes; group report/paper (20%), final essay exam (50%).

"In years I was then almost sixteen I was led to Ireland in captivity with so many thousands of men according to our deserts because we withdrew from God and did not keep watch over His precepts."  —St. Patrick's Confession

"CuChulainn attacked them and cut off their four heads from them and impaled a head of each man of them on a prong of the forked pole.  And CuChulainn sent the horses of that band back by the same road to meet the men of Ireland with their reins lying loose and the headless trunks red with gore and the bodies of the warriors dripping blood down onto the framework of the chariots." -The Cattle Raid of Cooley

These words of Saint Patrick and of one of the greatest surviving medieval epics represent two samples of early Irish literature. Who wrote these words?When? What did they mean to the people who spoke, wrote and heard them? How did they survive the last 1500 years? Learn about the real Ireland in Celtic Studies 138. Learn whether the Irish really saved civilization and whether they listened to druids. Amaze your friends. 

TEXTS:
Life of Columba, by Adamnán, tr. R. Sharpe
King of Mysteries, J. Carey
The Táin, tr. Thos. Kinsella,
Tales of the Elders of Ireland, A. Dooley and Harry Roe
Early Irish Myth & Saga, J. Gantz,
Medievel Irish Lyrics,  J.Carney
History & Topography of Ireland, Gerald of Wales

TO: Professor Stephen Arkin
From: Prof. Daniel F. Melia, Celtic Studies, UC, Berkeley 
Maureen Hurley took Celtic Studies 138 "Irish Literature" in Fall Semester 1999. She achieved a grade of A-.The course carried 4 semester units. "Gaelic Literature, 700-1800 (in translation.) Study of the prose saga cycles, satire, classical lyric poetry, and bardic poetry. Develops mythological and traditional background of modern Irish literature."                  —Prof. Daniel Melia


I was smarting that I didn't get a full A in this class, Dan had us team up in groups for our final projects, so if there was a slacker in the group, the rest of the group had to shift a bucket to make up for it. Ingenious, if evil methofology, on Dan's part. I really suffered in his Modern Celtic Culture class because others didn't hold their weight. And to add insult to injury, one absolute fucker in my group stole my Illustrated Oxford Irish History book, with the painting of Seamus Heaney—who signed the photo of the painting for me, who laughed out loud when I presented it to him. If you find it, I want it back. But I digress, this is where I was introduced to Medieval Irish poetry, I still dip into my James Carney book from time to time.


I eventually plan to transcribe my Celtic Studies class notes, so this post is a placeholder (as well as a reading list). A reminder, a smack in the gob. What brought this on: I was asked to do a lecture on Celtic Bardic Poetry at Sacramento Poetry Center, and a) I was far too long gone from this material, b) I couldn't put my hands on the notes,. But I at least still had some of the books, and TG for the internet. So many medieval texts are now online (not so in 1999). I was able to reconstruct what I needed. But it was almost as bad as reinventing the wheel.   —MH 11/2015   

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