ENG32090 Masculinities and Manhood in Irish Writing and Culture

Academic Year 2023/2024

This module explores theories and representations of manhood and masculinities in Irish literature, drama, and culture from the early 1960s to the present day. Students will critically examine various shifts, changes, and stasis in multiple models of Irish manhood through close readings and critical discussions of a broad and diverse corpus of Irish drama and fiction. as well as other cultural representations. Students will explore themes such as the subjective, cultural, and socio-political construction of manhood in Ireland, as well as the evolution of Irish hegemonic masculinity and patriarchal systems and structures. Students will also interrogate, through critical readings and seminar discussions, the ways in which multitudinous formations of manhood play out across Irish writing and culture, as well as Irish social and political structures . Students will further examine these concepts with regard to Northern Irish and Queer masculinities, as well as exploring masculinities in the context of women’s and female-centric writing.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module, students will be able to:
• Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the ways in which masculinities and models of manhood have been represented and critiqued by key Irish novelists and dramatists since the 1960s to the present day.
• Critically evaluate key shifts and sites of stasis in Irish masculinities and manhood, in both written and dramatic representation, and in Irish socio-political and cultural life.
• Articulate in scholarly terms the ways in which models of masculinity and manhood in Ireland have been mobilized by the State and its organs for political gain and social control and theoretically elaborate the effects of consumerism and socio-economic policies and practices on Irish masculinities and manhood.
• Be capable of expressing critical judgement clearly and effectively while also being able to speak and write with clarity, precision, depth, and style; thereby developing and demonstrating critical thinking, theoretical knowledge, and a scholarly vocabulary appropriate to writing about masculinities, manhood, and gender and sexuality in both Irish and global contexts.
• Demonstrate sophisticated skills in detailed textual analysis and close reading while also acquiring a command of appropriate literary terminology and be able to apply this to the analysis of the texts concerned.
• Become an effective researcher in this field of study, able to locate appropriate sources of information and to evaluate and use this knowledge in their oral and written work; be able to effectively manage research time and work both independently and collaboratively.

Indicative Module Content:

- Multiple masculinities: why do scholars now pluralise the term 'masculinity'?
- Hegemonic Masculinity: what dos this mean both as a theoretical concept and as a dominant form of manhood that emerges in any given culture? How does it develop and evolve with regard to the individual subject; and in social, political, cultural, and literary contexts.
- The Fantasy of Manhood: a key and crucial theoretical concept of masculinites.
- Patriarchy: what is it? What does this term mean in the second decade of the 21st Century? Why do we still speak in terms of "the patriarchy" when we what we need to do is interrogate and understand patriarchal structures and systems? How - and more importantly - why do patriarchal structures thrive in society, politics, and culture? How do these structures still manage to adapt to our contemporary, "gender-aware" environment and era and thereby continue to flourish?
- Patrilineage and the Family Cell: how are traditional hetero-patriarchal values passed down from fathers to sons? To what extent is the traditional family unit a space that facilities this? In what ways are women and non-hegemonic men, either consciously or unconsciously, complicit in this passing down? In what ways do men seek out replacement father figures when their biological fathers aren't available or have failed them?
- Northern Irish Masculinities: in what different ways do all of the above questions become reframed when they are applied to a zone of war and conflict? Why would two different forms of hegemonic masculinity emerge in the North? How do tribal masculinities form and then proliferate within conflict-ridden cultures and their literatures?
- Queer Masculinities: what are the sexual identity and political implications of the term 'queer'? In what ways can we critially examine masculinities and the cultural representations through the lens of queer theory? And how does queer theory, as a critical tool, relate to and meld with biopolitical theory? How fine is the line between homosociality and homosexuality? Just how fluid are our current sexual identity labels such as 'gay', 'straight', 'bi' etc?
- Masculinities without Men: in what ways do masculinities map themselves across women's writing? How are the lives of female characters in women-centric writing shaped and moulded by masculinities?
- Essay writing workshop: one seminar from the module will be given over to an essay writing workshop. Attendance is strongly encouraged as the key aim of this workshop is to provide students with essay writing skills, tips, and tricks that can have been proven to increase essay grades.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Project Supervision


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lecturer-facilitated seminar based discussion and debate
In-class presentations
In-class peer review
Enquiry based learning
Essay writing workshop
Close readings of primary texts
Readings/viewings of secondary materials
Summative and formative feedback
Research-led, autonomous learning
Independent development of final essay topic
one-on-one consultation sessions with lecturer
email consultations with lecturer 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

ENG20400: Critical Theory

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: Final end of semester essay.
Students will develop their own essay topic via one-on-one consultation session with the module lecturer which is continued via series of email consultations
Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Assignment: Crticial Reflection writing exercise elaborating one theoretical concept taught on the module Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment
• Peer review activities
• Self-assessment activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

There will be continuous formative feedback provided during seminars. Formative feedback is also available via email to any student who requests it. Students are provided with one-on-one summative/post-assessment feedback sessions for both their mid-semester assignment and their final essay.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Tues 15:00 - 16:50