SO/AN 320 - Irish Communal Identity

Over time Dublin has changed in many ways – culturally, physically, politically and economically. Although some of these shifting landscapes can be referenced on the tourist maps today, examples being Christchurch Cathedral and Georgian Dublin, many of the lived spaces have been forgotten or veiled in the margins. This interdisciplinary course enables students to engage in a spatial narrative with the city by means of a detailed study of the city’s spatial morphology in which a form of ‘philosophical pluralism’ is called for in the individual’s ‘human geography’. The tools to be used include the fostering of the student’s sociological and geographical imaginations, whereby the sensitivity towards the significance of place, space, and landscape in the constitution and conduct of social life is fostered and expressed spatially.

The first half of the course is sub-divided into chronological segments briefly exploring Medieval, Georgian and Tenement periods in Dublin’s History, which will illustrate to students the changing nature of the city over time. Each segment of the course will be accompanied by a lecture which will discuss the reasons for and the implications of each change in the city’s structure - some will be accompanied by short field trips / work.* Students will complete a mid-term assignment, which covers one of the historical time periods studied.

The second half of the course will focus on contemporary Dublin and the radical changes in Irish culture.* It will explore the suburban expansion from Dublin into neighbouring counties. It will also explore the ‘hidden’ city spaces within Dublin, those spaces that house the unemployed, travellers and immigrant communities. Literature and music will be used to give meaning and identity to the lived environments.

Throughout the course, each student will develop a portfolio of work that will be presented at the end of the course in lieu of an exam. From the beginning of the course students will critically analyse their own personal engagement with Dublin through personal mind maps, a photographic essay, a small historical research project, group class-time field work and a final project of their choosing.

*Students will learn how to critically engage with and analyse public / city spaces and culture(s) through the theoretical and practical tools used by cultural theorists, cultural anthropologists, cultural geographers, literary theorists and sociologists. In order to learn these practical skills, such as de-coding the city as a text, some lectures / classes will take place in the ‘city;’ what the Chicago School labelled a ‘laboratory.’

NOTE: This course is offered during the regular semester and in the summer. For summer sections, the course schedule is condensed, but the content, learning outcomes, and contact hours are the same.

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