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Spring 2013

March 2-March 10


Patricia Hillen                                                                     

212H Main Building/PSU Brandywine


Office hours M/W – 10:00-12:00pm and by appointment



Travel Agency: Celestial Voyagers

Agent: Francoise Cornu

Phone: 516-829-1525

Email: francoise@celestialvoyagers.com

Website: www.celestialboyagers.com


“In one of their ‘priceless’ series of television advertisements of recent years, MasterCard highlighted the apparently unquantifiable nature of Irishness. Seen through the eyes of a Dublin man moving through the city, the advert watches identifiably American tourists buying leprechaun hats and green trousers, the voice-over noting the cost of each item.  Eventually, as the Dublin man settles into a pub with a pint of Guinness, the voice-over intones, ‘knowing what it means to be Irish – priceless’. This advertisement picks up on a major theme of popular discussion in Irish culture from the 1990s onwards – the nature of Irish identity, its connections to or separation from the processes of commodification , and the role (if any) to be played in that identity-construction by the Irish-American diaspora.”


The Irish-American in Popular Culture: 1945-2000

 City of Dublin, Ireland



American Studies 105 Popular Culture in Ireland will be taught in a comparison/contrast context, allowing for the fleshing out of concerns with Irish identity-construction, especially the nature of contemporary Irish-American identities and their connections to contemporary Ireland.  Particularly noteworthy of Irish and Irish-American popular culture from the mid-twentieth century onwards is a recurring figure: that of the Irish-American in Ireland. The principal aim of the course is to examine ways in which late twentieth-century later-generation Irish Americans both define and perform their Irishness, while observing the Irish American in Ireland against the backdrop of Galway, Dubliners and the people of Belfast.


Readings and assignments prior to the trip will consider the strong Irish-American community, specifically in Philadelphia. Philadelphia has a 200-year old Irish Community, and we will begin to trace the history on the adept transition managed by an essentially rural people into a rough and bustling urban environment. We will look at the social history and the struggle of a transplanted minority who gained advancement, affluence, recognition and identity against some formidable odds, as well as looking at aspects of culture, including food, religion, literature, film, music and dance.



You cannot register for this course using the same methods you use for other courses. To register you need to contact either Patricia Hillen (in person or via phone or email) to discuss the course and whether it makes sense for you to enroll.  After doing so, we will either sign an add/drop form for you (PSU Brandywine students only) or send you an email statement of permission.  This statement or form should be sent to Lisa Krol (LVM4@psu.edu) of the Brandywine Campus Registration Office.  You also need a similar statement of permission from your academic adviser.


Contacting the travel agency and making initial travel preparations:

You will need to contact the travel agency to make arrangements for travel.  Please do this immediately. Contact information for the agency is provided on the first page of this syllabus.  Note that registering for the course does not sign you up for the actual trip nor does it pay for your airfare and accommodations while in Ireland (these things must be arranged directly with the travel agency).


The travel agency will ask that you have a valid passport. If you do not have a passport, you should arrange to obtain one right away (doing so can take up to 60 days, though rush processing is available for an extra fee). If you are near PSU Brandywine you can obtain a passport from the Media Courthouse which is located at 201 W. Front Street, Government Center 123, Media PA.  You can also visit the Department of State's website.


You should also consider purchasing PSU travel insurance. This can be accomplished by contacting Gail Wray (Main Building Room 212 on PSU Brandywine’s campus; 610-892-1472; gbw1@psu.edu.





Academic Integrity at Penn State

The University policy on academic integrity is described in detail in section 49-20 of Policy and Rules for Students. All students are expected to act with civility, personal integrity; respect other students’ dignity, rights and property; and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their own efforts.  Academic integrity includes a commitment to not engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts include cheating or copying, plagiarizing, submitting another persons’ work as one’s own, using Internet sources without citation, “ghosting”, stealing examinations, tampering with the academic work of another student, facilitating other students’ acts of academic dishonesty.  
Students charged with a breach of academic integrity will receive due process and, if the charge is found valid, academic sanctions may range, depending on the severity of the offense, from an F for the assignment to an F for the course.
The University’s statement on academic integrity, from which the above statement is drawn, is available at the University's G-9 Academic Integrity page.

Note to students with disabilities


In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, it is Penn State’s policy to provide reasonable academic adjustments for students with documented disabilities.  If you have a disability-related need for modifications in this course, contact Sharon Manco, 610-892-1461, sam26@psu.edu.  This notification should occur by the end of the first week of the semester. Students may visit the Penn State Equity homepage for complete information.



A - 90-100

B - 80-89

C - 70-79

D - 60-69

F - 69 and below






Questions and Assistance:

If you are a student on the Brandywine campus, please come to see either of us during office hours either in the spring semester, or any time during the trip to Ireland to discuss any help you may need with the readings, writings or other assignments.  If you are not a Brandywine student, please keep in touch through email/ANGEL as well as when we are abroad. Because we will not be holding traditional class meetings, it is particularly important that you seek us out.  I will be happy to schedule an appointment with you at other times if office hours are not convenient for you.  It is very easy to reach us by email, or by leaving a message on voicemail.  We want you to get the most out of this trip experience and this course, so don’t let your questions go unanswered.


Think of our offices as an extension of the course, and use office hours and emails to discuss any aspect of your reading or writing: problems, questions, papers/videos that you're working on, ideas you wish to develop, strategies you'd like to try, your final project and so on.  Asking for a personal conference, as well as using the Writing Studio in working on revisions would be two excellent ways to improve a draft and invariably to raise your grade. Course requirements are subject to modification prior to trip.


We reach our goal through structure strongly supported by the language art experience -- an adherence to this syllabus.  We do want this to be a delight. We are consciously aware that conflicts do arise at the most inopportune times.  If you have a problem, please do not hesitate to talk to us.  We will do our best to be available to discuss the nuances of the course with you – whether that be pre-trip, trip or post-trip. If you need to arrange a meeting, stop by the office, email or call.            



Note to Students: 

Welcome to Penn State Brandywine’s Global Studies Program!  You are invited to join and build our traveling community as we explore AMST 105: Popular Culture and Folk Life in Ireland. As part of your travel experience, you will be required not only to work with your instructor to complete the assignments specified in the syllabus, but also to contribute to your traveling community as we all work together to make the most of our shared intellectual experience.


Your Community Contribution Grade:  In addition to completing papers, projects, and workshops, 10% of your grade will be a Community Contribution grade, reflecting your overall contributions to your travel abroad community.  In general, your Community Contribution grade will reflect what you do to make this trip an effective and exciting intellectual experience for your community of fellow travelers.  A key component of this grade will be four required community meetings over breakfast, in which you meet with your colleagues and instructors to share your experiences and insights.  Here are some other factors that will impact your Community Contribution grade:  Have you collaborated with one of your colleagues in locating and visiting a museum, performance event, historic sight, etc.?  Have you discovered opportunities of sites to visit to meet your course requirements, and shared them with your colleagues (perhaps at a breakfast meeting)?  Please note that activities that detract from the traveling community’s intellectual experience carry penalties.  For example, failing to follow instructions from the travel agent or the instructors in the program (including instructors of courses other than your own) could result in a 0 for your Community Contribution grade.  Likewise, violation of Penn State University’s Code of Conduct, excessive drunkenness, or violation of the country’s laws or customs will be met with severe penalties.  In addition to a 0 in Community Contribution, additional penalties may be assigned to you and your academic record by the university’s Judicial Affairs Office.


People walking through street in Ireland             Thatched Roof Country Farmhouse


(subject to modification)


This course is divided into three distinct segments: (1) pre-travel, (2) Ireland, (3) post-travel. Important dates include:


January 7 - Classes begin

February 2 - Last day to register for this course

February 28 - All pre-travel assignments due

March 2 - Leave for Ireland

March 10 - Return from Ireland

May 3 - All post-travel assignments due



Pre-trip website analysis

We will provide a few websites for analysis in ANGEL. You are to provide ONE additional website. You will then critically compare all websites linked in ANGEL concerning Ireland and international Irish culture. Evaluate each website in terms of the information provided and write a well-developed journal entry for THREE of the websites. What were the most striking things you learned about Irish culture? Most surprising? What do you most look forward to examining, and why?  

See Website Folder in ANGEL

Pre-Trip Required Readings

Required Texts and Assignments

 Keane, John. The Field. (setting – the southwest of Ireland). Discussion regarding this play during excursion trip in Galway.

Friel, Brian. Lovers. (setting – County Tyrone – west of Belfast, Northern Ireland) Identify the external forces working against Mag/Joe’s marriage. See ANGEL.

Clark, Dennis, The Irish in Philadelphia – Sociological/Cultural Studies – On-line discussion forum. See ANGEL.

Dezell, Maureen. Irish America: Coming into Clover – Participate in Discussion Forum built for chapters One, Eight and Nine – making some conclusions about what it is to be Irish American. See ANGEL.

James O’Reilly and Larry Hobeggar (eds.)Travelers’ Tales, Ireland: true stories of life on the emerald isle –  Complete journal entries (one para to a half page) for some of the essays. I do want you to get a good start with this before we leave, but it does not have to be completed before we leave for Ireland. Bring this book with you! See ANGEL for more details.

POETRY – selected poems by Irish poets, including, Heaney and Yeats and discussion of poetry while on excursion tours. See ANGEL.

Ireland: Eyewitness Travel Guides (or any other appropriate guide) 


Required Film Project

See Film Folder in ANGEL 

The Crying Game (1992) – reading of the film (short essay) -- REQUIRED

Lord of the Dance or Riverdance – choose either and write a film review (short essay -- REQUIRED

Watch any THREE of the following films and participate in discussion forums on ANGEL. This is just a sampling of popular feature/documentary films about Ireland/Irish culture. If you have an idea of another film, please suggest it, let’s talk about it, and most likely, we will let/want you to view it for a reason we both agree upon.


My Left Foot (1989) Art/Disability

A Man of No Importance (1994) Art

Once (2006) Music

Angela’s Ashes (1991) Drama/Memoir

The Brothers McMullen (1995) Irish American

This Is My Father (1998) Romance

The Quiet Man (1952) Comedy

The Commitments (1991) Music-Dublin

The Snapper (1993) Romance

In the Name of the Father (1993) Political

Prayer for the Dying (1987) Political

PS I Love You (2007) Romance

Informer (1935) Political

The Boxer (1997) Political

Miller’s Crossing (1990) Irish American

The Devil’s Own (1997) Political

A Man of No Importance (1994) Art

Waking Ned Devine (1998) Comedy

Michael Collins (1996) Political



Travel Itinerary


Day 1 - Travel to Ireland

Day 2 - Drive to Galway (via Cliffs of Moher)

Day 3 - Galway

Day 4 - Drive to Belfast (orientation tour on arrival)

Day 5 - Belfast (excursion to Giant’s Causeway)

Day 6 - Drive to Dublin (orientation tour on arrival)

Day 7 - Dublin

Day 8 - Dublin

Day 9 - Return to the US


Please see the sights below. Take pictures, pick up souvenirs, save ticket stubs, etc. for your photo journals.  Have fun! In place of any of the following you can choose to go on any of the walking tours that are recommended in your guide book.  Just identify which tour, page number, etc and include the necessary documentation – pictures, menus, etc.)


Galway – Visit five of the following places of interest.

  • Cliffs of Moher
  • Barren
  • Spanish Arch
  • St. Nicholas’s Church
  • The Cathedral
  • Lynch’s Castle
  • The National University
  • Eyre Square
  • Kirwans Lane
  • Claddagh



  • Saint Ann Cathedral
  • Belfast Castle

Giant’s Causeway – REQUIRED VISIT


Dublin – Visit 10 of the following places of interest and create a top ten list!


  • James Joyce Cultural Center
  • Abbey Theatre
  • National Museum
  • Dublin Castle
  • Guinness Factory
  • O’Connell Street
  • Moore Street
  • St. Stephen’s Green
  • Trinity College
  • National Library
  • Shaw’s Birthplace
  • National Botanical Gardens
  • Dublin Writer’s Museum
  • Irish Museum of Modern Art
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Jonathan Swift
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral
  • DART
  • Temple Bar


Required Research/Writing Project

Due on or before May 3, 2013

Proposal due on or before February 28, 2013


This project has two options – SEE FINAL PROJECT FOLDER IN ANGEL:


1. While in Ireland, much of your time will be spent concentrating and developing your research project that you proposed prior to the trip. Use all that is available to you (websites, texts, videos, books, blogs, etc.) to help you search out a topic.  Once you have fleshed out a topic that has been approved, anytime prior to February 28, you can plan out your research on the trip (gathering news clippings, conducting interviews, creating photojournalism etc). It would be optimal to a have a Proposal Writing Conference in person, but email and voicemail will work if necessary.


This is a comparative study (between Irish American culture, the Irish-American in Ireland and the Irish) and must be original and tweaked to fashion a project that promotes your field of undergraduate study or one of your passions. Students will choose between a concentration in the Arts and Humanities and a concentration in the Social Sciences OR some area that they are passionate about. For example, in this sort of comparative/contrast context, students can either place project emphasis on literature, music or the visual arts – or political science, education or psychology. Early proposals are welcome, especially if you think it is too broad and may need some editing.  We are happy to help you formulate a project, once a proposal is submitted.


2. You may choose to compose a Travel Writing Journal. This will require some thought and should be nonfiction as well as fiction, including travel writing in poetry and prose.


Whichever you choose, your final project requires a proposal that should be a paragraph in length.  State option 1 or 2, including purpose, research done to date, as well as some draft outline before we begin our tour of Ireland.


FINAL PROJECT – due on or before May 3 and should include a written introduction (purpose) and conclusion (findings) and can be as creative and visual as you want.  The Final Project should become the final part of your journal and can be a Binder, Box, CD, DVD, folder – whatever works for you.  Projects will vary.  Please feel free to discuss your project with us at any time.


Recommended Texts: (Possible reading list for final project, leisure reading or opportunity for extra credit. If you do choose to read a book, like the ones below, I need to know ahead of time. This is NOT a chance to make up work at the end of the semester.)

  • McCourt, Frank. Angela’s Ashes
  • O’Casey, Sean, The Plough and the Stars
  • Kennedy, William. Ironweed
  • McDermott, Alice. Charming BillyMcCann, 
  • Colum. Songdogs. Hamlyn Publishers, Dublin 
  • TraditionsThe Encyclopedia of the Irish in America. Michael Glazier, Ed. 
  • Fanning, Charles. The Irish Voice in America
  • McCaffery, Lawrence. Textures of Irish America.
  • Miller, Kerby. Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America
  • Shannon, William. The American Irish.



Galway/Belfast, Dublin, IRELAND




READINGS (50 points)

FILMS  (30 points)


FINAL PROJECT  (50 points)

COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTION   (10 points)                                   

SCORE - Total and Divide by two


You must do all of the required assignments.  If you choose to do any of the optional readings or additional films or attractions, they will be graded as extra credit, evaluated, and added to your final score. Please let me know of these added readings, film and otherwise, and we will agree on assignments – such as a book review, film critique, or something else that the both of us agree on.


Good luck!