Spring 2023

Visit Celtic courses at the Harvard Course Catalog

Faculty: Catherine McKenna, Joseph F. Nagy (on leave), Tomás Ó Cathasaigh, Natasha Sumner


Celtic 106. The Folklore of Gaelic Scotland. Natasha Sumner. MW 10:30-11:45. An introduction to the traditional stories, lore, customs, and music of Gaelic Scotland and Nova Scotia. Scottish Gaelic folklore exploded onto the world stage in the 1760s with the publication of Macpherson’s 'Ossianic' epics, which he alleged to have translated from Gaelic originals. The ensuing controversy motivated scholars to seek out and record Gaelic folklore. The treasure trove they discovered has amazed those interested in traditional cultures ever since. This course introduces prominent collectors, tradition bearers, and their traditions. Issues of collecting are considered, and theoretical approaches are explored to gain a deeper understanding of the material. All texts are available in English translation.


Celtic 138. The Mabinogion: Stories from Medieval Wales. Catherine McKenna. TuTh 10:30-11:45. An exploration of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi, Welsh Arthurian romances and tales, and the bardic lore associated with them, in the context of the literary culture of Wales in the twelfth through fourteenth centuries. All texts are read in English translation.


Irish 133r. Intermediate Modern Irish. Natasha Sumner (with Colin Brady). MTWTh 9-10:15. A continuation of Irish 132, developing students' fluency in spoken and written Irish. As our knowledge of the language expands, we venture into storytelling, journal writing and writing and performing short skits. Internet, audio and video resources complement the study of grammar and select prose texts.


Irish 204r. Readings in Early Irish Poetry. Tomás Ó Cathasaigh. TuTh 3-4:15. Readings in selected texts. Some knowledge of Old/Middle Irish required.


Celtic 340. Celtic Languages and Literatures Proseminar. Natasha Sumner. W 12-3. An introduction to Celtic studies and a review of the major critical approaches to the field. Note: Required of candidates for the PhD in Celtic Languages and Literatures. Not open to undergraduates. Enrollment in this course is restricted to G1 and G2 members of the Department of Celtic Languages and Literatures.


Welsh 225b. Medieval Welsh Poetry. Catherine McKenna. TuTh 1:30-2:45. Continued readings in medieval Welsh prose and an introduction to Welsh poetry down to 1400. Continued study of grammar and practice in translation, as well as an introduction to the manuscript sources of the poetry and their cultural contexts, and the intricacies of medieval Welsh poetics.