Monday, January 8, 2001

Celtic Literature Laurie Fadave

SPRING 2001: WCL Celtic Literature 421 (3 units)
Laurie Fadave, Lecturer              (SFSU, grade A)

Mabinogi & Other Tales, Patrick Ford
The Tain, tr. Thomas Kinsella
Celtic Literature Anthology, Peter Beresford
Sweeney Astray, Ed. Seamus Heaney
Celtic Heroic Age, Ed. Koch and Carey

Plus a reader: Finn McCool cycle/Boyhood Deeds, Ulster Cycle, 2nd Battle of Magh Tuireadh, Celtic Languages, Celtic gods/goddesses, Lugh, The Dagda, Diarmuid (L.Gregory), Amergin, Macha, Ogham, Gododdin, Triads, Anroddiad, Heaney, modern Celtic composers, etc.

SPRING 1974: ANTH 410, Peoples and Cultures of Europe,( SFSU, 3 units, grade B) Prof. McGrath

Primary focus on Celtic, and Proto-Celtic tribes and Mediterranean cultures.
Ancient Irish Tales, Cross & Slover, The Tain, tr. Thomas Kinsella, etc.

Readings in Old and Middle Irish. 700-1200; Holland

Readings in Old and Middle Irish. 700-1200; 
Prof. Gary Holland, Linguistics,
SPRING 2001: Celtic Studies 105B (4 units), 
 (Full participation/grade/audit)
I'm afraid I dismally flunked the final in this class. But I'm glad I persevered.

Designed to offer students who have already taken the basic grammar course in Old and Middle Irish (105A) further opportunity to work with important texts written in the period A.D. 700-1200 and to refine their knowledge of the language as well as their grasp of the vernacular tradition as a whole. Texts will include both prose and poetry, and major genres such as epic, legend, and genealogy.
Prerequisites: Successful completion of Celtic Studies 105A or equivalent. Consent of instructor.

Wolfgang Meid (ed.), Táin Bó Froech
Rudolph Thurneysend (ed.), Scéla Muicce Mac Dathó
Xeroxed poems 

I was in way over my head in both of Gary's classes, the other students were real linguists, so this was easy for them. Me? I was the auditing poet. One guy, can't remember his name, was simultaneously taking other Indo-European language classes—Hittite!  I loved the class. I didn/don't know the basics of forensic grammar (you can still write well and not know the basic functions or the forensics of language). So that was a huge handicap. I learned some useful things but I'm still shaky, grammatically speaking. But hey, I know what VSOP stands for.

 This class was enough to drive me to drink, but then, who had the time? I got up at 6 AM, translated a paragraph, and again in the evening, until midnight. There wasn't much room for anything else in my life, no time to write poetry, let alone, dreamtime. Dan Melia called Old Irish Bloodbath 101 A at Harvard. There sure was a lot of slaughter going on. But the chill delight when I translated aloud, in class, Cuchullan's epic line: The enemy of your enemy is my friend, it haunts me to this day. Magic and absolute wonder. What a distilled learning moment. I was so owl-eyed that I think even Gary got a kick out of it. Thank you Gary for that moment in time.

Had Dan been teaching the Old Irish class, I probably would've fared significantly better. His teaching style, is more suited to my learning style, such as it is. But I worked hard, and was diligent, with my nose to the books... it gave me a new insight into reading the Irish epics, having transcribed them, word for word from the Old Irish. The learning and knowledge is in my head, somewhere, and sometimes I can actually retrieve bits of it from my imperfect knowledge database. Who knew I would learn to like parsing lines? I felt I was doing real work. Delving deep into something almost unnameable and profound, unlocking those words from the past, like that. And earning the story, word by word.

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   

Celtic Stereotypes

Prof. Dan Melia ModCeltic Culture fl Scotland S/01-2


alcoholics/ friendly/ gregrious
always up for a laugh/ party
shamrockery/ stage irish
loads of movie stereotypes
St Paddywagon’s Day parade
crock of gold/rainbow
green isle/lots of rain/ farms
(superstitious islandfolk)
saints, scholars & schizophrenics
no snakes; magic
Standing stones
impractical to an extreme
wanting a good time
stubborn/ pig-headed
hospitable, friendly
potatoes/ famine
sodabread/tea/ bacon
turf fire, poor cooks
tin-penny whistle
uliean pipes, bodhran
singers, storytellers
stepdancers/ tapdancers
sentimental to an extreme
the little people/tuatha de
pooka/puck, fairies
The Troubles/divided/war
North vs South/ poverty
Catholic vs Protestant
1916 Uprising/ Freestate
betrayal from within/ pettymindedness to an extreme
Michael Collins, DeValera
emmigration, poverty
largest body of medieval lit.
Ulster, Finn, Tuatha cycles
Cuchulainn, Finn mac Cumhail
Tristan & Isolde/ill-fated love
Gaelic: a dying language


thrifty/stingy/reserved/friendly/ peevish/ smart/ practical/ inventive/ philosophers/scientists
Presbyterians /evangelical
vs Catholic minority
(not) given to drink
whisky galore
rich alcoholics who can hide it
highlanders a breed apart
bagpipes/kilts, scian dubh
(nothing is worn/ it’s in fine working order)
haggis & thistles/cockaleekie
crofters/ islanders/ isolated
(superstitious islandfolk)
loch ness monster/wee beasties
sheep buggerers
standing stones/ magic
Stone of Scone, Dalriada
poor cooks
hospitable, friendly
Colum Cille/Iona royalty/saints
BooodyMary got her head cut off
Catholic vs Protestant
James II/VII; alliance w/England
Kenneth mac Alpin,Macbeth
Robert the Bruce, Braveheart
traitors: Bannockburn, Glencoe, Culloden Mhor
Highland clearances
Balmoral (kissing up to English royalty)
cultural thieves (Ossian)
emmigration poverty/wealth
Gaelic on the comeback
Lowland Scots (Robert Burns)
sentimental to an extreme


Pirates of Penzance
French Creek/smugglers
island causeway (name?)
tucked away villages
King Arthur/Tintagel
Geoffrey of Monmouth
Tristan & Isolde/ill-fated love
A dead/resurrected language


eisteffodd (sp) chair
singers, poets
Daffyd ap Gwyllm
Dylan Thomas
alcoholics(reserved unless drunk)
suspicious, less friendly
Methodists/ evangelical
bible thumpers, dour, never smile
coal mines/ extreme poverty
How Green Was My Valley
very mountianous (inbred)
dragons/ magic
Tudors/ betrayal
Battle of the Trees
Trisan & Isolde/ill-fated love
poor cooks
Welsh language in recovery
Patagonia, Pennsylvania


Gauguin’s women/lace hats
Mt San Michel/island causeway
Lawyer/bread story; Ys, rocks
Carnac/standing stones
magical coastline
Breton Lays, Song of Roland
Tristan & Isolde/ill-fated love
Marie loses realm to Phillip(end of Brittany)
No Bretons or spitting allowed
good cooks, lots of cream fat
very pious/catholic to an extreme


tailess cats
1st Viking parliament, coins
tax haven for rock stars
last druidic stronghold
a very dead language


Walloons/ marginalized
Wild Geese (Macmahonaise/hennessey)

Flight of the Earls
gallegos/singers, dancers
flamenco/ nearly absorbed
no Celtic language at all
King of Spain’s daughter (wine)


(Missing....I looked under the Word shell via RTF, and found completely unrelated text about Hannibal, LOL. I think I do have a hard copy of this somewhere...but where? No idea on date, other than 2001 0r 2002 —MH 11/2015)