Join me for Enchanted Women of Ireland, Summer 2022!
Banshees will wail, hags will curse, maidens will beckon, morrigans will shape-shift, and fairies will play tricks in Summer 2022! Throughout Ireland, the appearance of a supernatural creature typically connects to a specific natural location, as a helper to the living in ways that range from fertility to battle, as a harbinger of death, or as a threat to a man’s way of life.
What do these wailing banshees, prankster fairies, and shape-shifting morrigans have in common with Ireland’s businesswomen, herbalists, widows, and otherwise misunderstood women? We’ll compare these supernatural stories with specific women who have been persecuted for their independent thought, including Alice Kyteler, Florence Newton, Mary Dunbar, Biddy Early, and Bridget Cleary, among several other nameless women.
In summer 2022, I’ll be leading a group of students to the Emerald Isle! I’ll teach a course called Enchanted Women of Ireland as part of CCSA’s “One Island, Two Countries” summer study abroad program. In “classrooms” such as Irish countrysides, hills, castles, inns, churches, and museums, we’ll learn more about the women who make Irish folklore memorable. We will visit sites in both county and country that provide cultural, literary, and artistic depictions of women in Irish society to gain a better understanding of how women in Ireland have made indelible contributions to Irish history while remaining marginalized. Literature, museums, and natural locations will be our learning sites in our exploration of the evolving roles of women in Irish society as reflected in Irish culture:
- Visit the sites where supernatural legends are based
- Go to places where legendary historical women lived
- Read Irish mythology and literature containing supernatural women
- Look for feminine symbols in architecture throughout the two island countries
We’ll use an ecofeminist standpoint, which encourages a view of “deep time” instead of socially constructed time periods. One effect of this view of time is that Irish history and folklore treat these feminine figures as symbols of power, all while the women of Ireland struggle for civic and civil rights. As the course progresses, we’ll form questions and have conversations based on our experiences. Some questions include the following as they pertain to Ireland and Northern Ireland:
- How do the cultural, literary, and artistic depictions of women shift in content and purpose?
- How does the mythological treatment of women compare with women’s history?
- How does women’s power influence Irish culture, from its art and mythology to its architecture and local lore?
- How have women in Ireland–especially the ones known for having special powers–dealt with plagues, pandemics, and perils?
- How do historical women fare in the different counties and regions of the island?
Téimid go hÉirinn!