Full course description
This course will break down James Joyce’s Ulysses in a chapter-by-chapter analysis to explore the techniques that the author uses, the subject matter he explores, and the characters he brings so vividly to life. The course will begin with a brief overview of Joyce’s literary career that places Ulysses in the context of Irish and European history in addition to the literary movement known as modernism. The most important thing the course sets out to achieve is simple: it wants to show people who are put off by Joyce’s style that coming to grips with the way he writes can be interesting, illuminating, and fun. For example, the course will show you that Joyce was as interested in the cinema and horse racing as he was by Homer’s Odyssey and Sigmund Freud’s theories about the workings of the human mind.
Each chapter of the book centres on a different, routine activity that takes place over the course of one day in Dublin: 16th June 1904. The course is structured about the techniques and ideas that Joyce uses to investigate the rich inner lives of three people living in Dublin on that day. These characters are Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom and his wife, Molly Bloom. Each character represents an aspect of Joyce’s worldview: the mind, Stephen; the body, Molly; kindness as a link between the two, Leopold.
By using a literary technique called stream of consciousness, Joyce immerses the reader in the minds of Stephen, Leopold and Molly as they go about a regular day in Dublin. Their activities, from chatting with friends and family to having a drink, touch on a whole host of issues in Ireland at the time – nationalism vs. parochialism, thrift vs. economic stagnation, love of one’s fellow man vs. hatred. This course will show you how the literary techniques interact and explores many of these issues, including Joyce’s fraught relationship with his own country, throughout the book. It will also look beyond the book to explore many of the quite touching and very funny incidents for which the novel is famous.
Classes will be delivered on-campus on Thursdays 7-9pm for ten weeks from 29 September to 1 December at Brookfield Health Sciences Complex room 301, UCC.
Week 1: James Joyce’s life and career in context
Week 2: Ch. 1. Telemachus (Waking up) and Ch. 2. Nestor (Learning)
Week 3: Ch. 3. Proteus (Thinking) and Ch. 4. Calypso (Walking)
Week 4: Ch. 5. Lotus Eaters (Daydreaming) and Ch. 6. Hades (Funeral)
Week 5: Ch. 7. Aeolus (News Reporting) and Ch. 8. Laestrygonians (Eating)
Week 6: Ch. 9. Scylla and Charybdis (Reading) and Ch. 10. Wandering Rocks (Strolling)
Week 7: Ch. 11. Sirens (Singing) and Ch. 12. Cyclops (Drinking/Pub)
Week 8: Ch. 13. Nausicaa (Voyeurism) and Ch. 14 Oxen of the Sun (Giving birth)
Week 9: Ch. 15. Circe (Dreaming) and Ch. 16 Eumaeus (Parenting)
Week 10: Ch. 17 Ithaca (Teaching) and Ch. 18 Penelope (Loving)
Liam Lenihan is the author of The Writings of James Barry and the Genre of History Painting, 1775-1809 (Routledge). He has previously worked on the relationship between literature and art, aesthetics, and philosophy. He is a regular contributor to the Pynchon in Public podcast and is a recipient of the National University of Ireland Centennial Fellowship in Irish Studies (2009-2010). He received his Ph.D. in literature from Trinity College Dublin and completed his degree and Master’s degree in University College Cork. He currently lives and works in Cork city.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old at course commencement.
Short courses are not assessed. Students will receive a UCC Certificate of Attendance upon completion.
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