Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Schedule of Class Quizes and In-Class Essays

The Schedule of Class Quizes and In-Class Essays is available at HERE

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Tain, or, the Brown Bull of Cooley

Part One: Ailill and Medb

Ailill and Medb, king and queen in Connacht, lay abed in their chamber at the fort in Cruachan. Feeling smug after his recent conjugal endeavours,

Ailill said to her: ‘It’s true what they say, love, “all is well for the wife of a wealthy man.”’

‘You might be right there, husband, but why is it you had that thought in your mind?’ she replied, and to which question he replied in turn,‘I was only just thinking how much better off you are now, compared to before you wed me.’

‘Hold on now, you, I was fine enough and wealthy enough before I ever saw the face of you ! ’she retorted haughtily.

‘I don’t know about that.’ Ailill said, his temper roused. ‘I never heard your wealth mentioned much at all before I chose to marry you ! I know you had your woman’s things, but all I ever heard of you was when your neighbours came raiding and stealing away what you lacked the power to hold, and that’s the attraction you found in me: the strength of me and my men to protect what you had left.’

‘You conveniently choose to forget that the High King of Ireland, Eochaid Feidlech the Steadfast, was my father, and I the highest and haughtiest of six sisters; outdoing them in combat and battle.’ Medb climbed from the bed, turning on her husband. ‘I had fifteen hundred men-at-arms in my court, all of them the sons of exiles, and again the same number of native freeborn men. For every paid soldier I had ten more men, and nine more for each of them, and eight more, and seven, and six, five four, three, two and one. And, I’ll have you to remember, that was only our ordinary household. ‘My father gave me a whole province to rule: this one, Cruachan! Men came from Leinster and Ulster to woo me and to take me back with them. But I refused, for I asked more of a husband than any Irish woman before me asked: the absence of fear and jealousy and meanness. If I married a man who was mean our union would be wrong, because I am so giving and full of grace. It would be an insult if I were more generous than my husband, but not so if we were equal in this aspect. If my husband was a timid man that would also make the union wrong, for I thrive on all sorts of mischief. It is therefore also an insult if a wife to be more spirited than her husband, but not if we two were equally spirited. And if I married a jealous man that would be wrong; as you knew and still know I have never had one man without another waiting by the bed.

‘That is how I ended up with you, Ailill. You are not greedy or jealous or sluggish. Do you remember what I brought to you when we were promised: outfitting for a dozen men, a chariot worth one and twenty bondsmaids, the width of your face in red gold and the weight of your left arm in light gold. If anyone causes you shame or upset or trouble then compensation will be mine to seek, for if anything you are a kept man.’

‘I am by no means a ‘kept man’, Medb,’ Ailill shouted back to her. ‘I have two brothers who are kings, Coirpre and Finn in Temair and Leinster. They rule there only because they are older and I let them, not because they are better men. I never heard in all of the places in Ireland where a woman ruled a province, except this one; that is why I came and took the kingship here, in succession to my mother Mata Muiresc, Magach’s daughter. I thought, “who better for my queen than you, a daughter of the High King of Ireland?”’

‘It still remains, oh husband of mine,’ Medb gloated, ‘that my fortune is greater than yours.’

‘And that most definitely is not true. No-one has more property or jewels or precious things than I have.’ Ailill sat back on the furs, his arms crossed.

And that then was the start of it. Medb dressed and flew outside, ordering all her possessions to be brought together in one place. Ailill followed and did likewise, and on two hills of Cruachan there rose two mountains: buckets, tubs and iron pots, jugs and wash-pails and vessels with handles. Finger-rings, bracelets, thumb-rings and other things of gold. Cloth of purple, blue, black, green and yellow, plain grey and many-coloured, yellow-brown, checked and striped. Herds of sheep were assembled, the rams also, and all were found to be equal in number and size. The horses were taken together, and the pigs and boars, and cattle. All these were matched and measured and noted and found to be identical.

The king and queen fumed across the tumult of beasts at each other.

It was when the bulls were brought to the twin mounds that the scales tipped in Ailill’s favour, for he had a bull, which had been a calf of one of Medb’s cows, and Finnbennach was his name, the White-horned. The beast had refused to be led by a woman and had joined Ailill’s herd, and Medb had no equal to this bull, and her spirit fell as if she hadn’t a penny as she realised that Ailill had the better of her. In desperation she called for Mac Roth, her messenger, and she asked if in his travels he had ever seen a bull in Ireland the match for Finnbennach.

‘I know where to find a bull the master of that one!’ he exclaimed. ‘In Ulster, in the place Cuailnge or Cooley, in Daire mac Fiachna’s house. He has the bull called Donn Cuailnge, the Brown Bull of Cuailnge.’

‘You will get me that bull,’ordered Medb. ‘Go to Daire and ask him to lend me the beast for twelve months. After that he can have him back along with fifty yearling heifers in payment for the loan. And tell him this, too: if he comes himself with the bull I’ll give him a portion of the Plain of Ai the equal to his own lands, and a chariot worth seven times three bondsmaids, and my own friendly thighs on top of that.’

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Irish Play "Poor Beast in the Rain" Playing in Hollywood

Poor Beast in the Rain
Matrix Theatre
7657 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood
8pm Thursdays-Saturday, 3PM Sundays
Ends March 16th

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

James Joyce's The Dead in the Los Angeles Area

James Joyce's The Dead
-based on James Joyce's short story from the Dubliners
Open Fist Theatre Company
6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood
8PM Fridays and Saturday, 3 PM Sundays. Ends March 22 $25
(323) 882-6912

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Welcome to Irish History & Literature

Humanities 111

Your Professors:

John Queen
ext:5459 office:SR 359
Dennis Doyle
ext. 5343 office:LB 203

The Course of Irish History, Moody & Martin, Roberts Rinehart Publishers, Boulder, Colorado
The New Oxford Book of Irish Verse, Thomas Kinsella, Ed.,Oxford University Press, New York
The Playboy of the Western World and Two Other Irish Plays, intro by W.A.Armstrong, J.M.Synge, W.B.Yeats, Sean O’Casey, Penguin Books, London
Dubliners, James Joyce, Penguin Books, London
Humanities 111 Course Syllabus: available HERE as a free download, or available as a bound copy in the bookstore.

Catalog Description:
Irish History, Literature, and Culture from the Beginning to the Present 3 Units

Humanities 111 is a broad-based, interdisciplinary course that covers the entire history of Ireland: its mythology, folklore, art, music, literature, and major political events. The course also focuses on the impact of Irish culture on England, Europe, Spain, Canada, and the United States through the centuries. Through assigned readings, discussions, and writing, the students gain critical insights into the causes and consequences of Ireland's turbulent history and struggle for independence as well as its literary and sociopolitical contributions to world culture and civilization.
Lecture 3 hours. Recommended preparation: Eligibility for English 101.
Transfer credit: CSU, UC, USC

Registration and drops:
It is your responsibility to see that you are officially registered or dropped from a class. If you stop coming to class without dropping officially, you may fail this class. You may also be dropped by the teacher for excessive absences.

You cannot pass if you miss too many classes, fail the tests or fail to complete the written assignments. We expect you to show that you are serious about the class by having your textbooks, being respectful of the learning environment, and showing up to every class (no matter how late you were out the previous night) unless you are seriously ill. Make arrangements with the instructor before class time if you need to leave early or miss class time for any reason. The instructors follow the official college policy concerning cheating and plagiarism.