Fall 2019

Visit Celtic courses at the Harvard Course Catalog


Celtic 137. Celtic Mythology. Joseph Nagy. MW 10:30-11:45. Medieval Irish and Welsh texts reflect underlying story patterns, characters, and motifs that are rooted in pre-Christian tradition and in some cases witnessed

in the archaeological evidence and in the ethnographic writings of ancient Greek and Roman authors. We will examine these texts in translation and track the reconstruction of the “pagan past” undertaken by medieval Celtic writers, as well as the new mythologies they developed to suit the evolving ideological agenda of their world, from ca 600 to 1500 CE. Discussion section with Teaching Fellow to be scheduled.


Freshman Seminar 60D. Ireland Rising. Catherine McKenna. Th 3:00-5:45. One hundred years ago, in 1919, a parliamentary assembly met in Dublin and declared that “We, the elected Representatives of the ancient Irish people in National Parliament assembled, do, in the name of the Irish nation, ratify the establishment of the Irish Republic and pledge ourselves and our people to make this declaration effective by every means at our command.”  The members of this assembly, Dáil Éireann, had been elected to the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, but they refused to take their seats in that body, choosing instead to declare the independence of Ireland from Great Britain.  On the very same day that Dáil Éireann met for the first time, members of the Irish Republican Army ambushed and killed two members of the Royal Irish Constabulary.  These two events mark the beginning of a war of independence that would lead to the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 and the Republic of Ireland later on.  This seminar focuses on the development of a sense of “Irishness” in the fifty years or so leading up to 1919—in politics, music, literature, the visual arts, athletics, and language. We’ll find our way back into the 1919 moment and beyond, to the cultural revival that enabled it, by examining writers and storytellers of the period—including Yeats, Lady Gregory, Douglas Hyde and James Joyce--images and objects in Houghton Library and the Harvard Art Museums, documentary films, hurling matches, music, and more.  We’ll discuss the pros and cons of violent revolution as the means by which a colonized people “summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom,” to quote the Proclamation of the Irish Republic of April 24, 1916.  We will explore the range of cultural practices that defined Ireland as a people and a nation then, and consider how the integration of Ireland into the European Union and Brexit have reconfigured Ireland’s relationship with the United Kingdom.


Irish 160r. Advanced Modern Irish. Gregory Darwin. MWF 12-1:15. Geared to the interests and aptitudes

of the participants, this course enhances students' confidence in using Irish as a medium of oral and written communication and introduces them to the Gaelic literary tradition.


Irish 200. Introduction to Old Irish. Joseph Nagy. MW 3:00-5:45. An introduction to the language of the eighth and ninth centuries, with elementary readings in prose texts.

Irish 206r. Studies in Early Irish Texts. Joseph Nagy. F 1:30-4:15. Close reading of a selected Middle Irish text (or texts), with attention to language, codicology, transmission and scholarship.

Welsh 128. Introduction to Modern Welsh. Catherine McKenna. MTWTh 9. Introduction to the Welsh language as spoken and written today, designed for those with little or no prior knowledge of this vibrant Celtic language. Intensive conversation practice is provided, and students learn to write fluently. Internet, audio and video exercises using dialogue, music and film augment a contextualized grammatical survey, and use of authentic literary texts increases as the course progresses.

Welsh 226r.  Readings in Middle Welsh Prose. Catherine McKenna. Tu 12-2:45. An exploration of the enormous variety of medieval Welsh prose literature: selections from tales and romances, chronicles, laws, and lore.


Welsh 228.  Cymraeg Ysgrifenedig / Written Welsh. Catherine McKenna. Tu 6-8:45. Reading of academic and literary texts in Modern Welsh.