HIS32860 Jilted Lovers, Giants, Yahoos and Cannibals: Jonathan Swift's Ireland, 1685-1745

Academic Year 2024/2025

This module examines the history of Ireland during the lifetime of Jonathan Swift. Most famous as the author of Gulliver’s Travels, Swift is often deemed the greatest satirist in the English Language. As a commentator on both Irish and English religion, politics and society more generally, his writings have been assessed and reassessed by generation after generation of scholars and academics. Yet there continues to be much disagreement as to the contemporary significance of his writings and their wider impact during his lifetime. This module looks to locate Swift’s writings relating to Ireland within their wider historical context and to consider the factors that drove Swift to produce such works. In so doing, it will consider historical contexts relating to Swift as a member of the Church of Ireland clergy, his attitude towards Irish Catholics and Protestant Dissenters, his political outlook and beliefs with regard to Ireland’s constitutional connection with England and the presence of a permanent professional army in Ireland, his understanding of emerging modern financial practices, and his engagement with contemporary understandings of societal structures relating to poverty, commerce, social distinction, gender, and other such concerns.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
• Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the history of Ireland and the Irish writings of Jonathan Swift
• Assess the historiography of Ireland during the lifetime of Jonathan Swift
• Appreciate, analyse and critique the primary sources relevant to the module
• Prepare and deliver an oral presentation and present their conclusions in written form
• Engage in informed discussion and debate on the subject of Jonathan Swift and Ireland
• Organise, report upon, discuss and complete a substantial research project on an aspect of Jonathan Swift and Ireland

Indicative Module Content:

The module will cover the following main areas: 1: Context: late seventeenth-century Ireland and Britain. 2: Post-Glorious Revolution Ireland and Britain: 1690s. 3: Post-Glorious Revolution Ireland and Britain: 1700s. 4: From London to Dublin: 1710-21. 5: Ironmongers and Drapiers, 1722-5. 6: The World according to Gulliver, part 1. 7: The World according to Gulliver, part 2. 8: Savage Indignation, 1727-9. 9: Soldiers and Money, 1729-32. 10: Women, Servants, Slavery and Social Distinction.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
‘This is a small-group, seminar-based module. It is taught through a one-hour weekly lecture and a two-hour seminar. The weekly lecture provides an overview of the week’s topic, focusing upon key historical trends, debates and events. The weekly seminar is focused upon individual active / task-based learning by means of class debates, discussion and student presentations. Advanced research, writing and citation skills are developed through a combined individual student presentation on primary sources and written essay, and a semester-long 3,000-4,000 word research project. Autonomous learning is advanced through student-led debate and discussion of set primary sources and / or student presentations each week. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Participation in Learning Activities: Students are assessed each week upon their contribution to class, including discussions of the texts for study each week and their responses to class presentations Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 9, Week 10, Week 11 Graded No


Assignment(Including Essay): A combined presentation / written assignment which takes the form of a seminar presentation and paper. Each student will deliver a 15-minute oral presentation and write a 1,500-word essay thereon. Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 9, Week 10, Week 11 Graded No


Assignment(Including Essay): Semester-long research project: this is a paper of 3,000-4,000 words, based on work undertaken over the 12 weeks of the semester. Week 14 Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
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

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

‘Feedback on the Combined 15-minute Presentation / 1,500 Essay Assignment will be given in writing. Written and oral feedback will be provided on an ongoing basis on preparatory plans and primary and secondary source bibliographies for end-of-semester Research Project Assignments. Feedback on the end-of-semester Research Project Assignment will be given by appointment in one-to one meetings.