Course code:



IM - Introductory/Intermediate

Class size limit:


Lab fee:


Typically offered:


A potato blight in Ireland between the years 1845–1852 created a nationwide famine that reduced the population of Ireland from 8 million people to less than 6 million through starvation, disease and immigration. The famine, or the “Great Hunger” as the Irish named the catastrophe, had effects which continue to shape national memory and defines the Irish diaspora even today. How is it that a seven year period can come to essentially frame the history of a nation? This course will explore the historical context as well as examining in detail the crisis itself for the answers. Using the famine as a point of departure this course will examine the history of English colonialism and Ireland’s social, political, and economic history from the late eighteenth century up to the events surrounding the potato blight that provoked the crisis and led to this unnatural disaster. This course will examine how, and why, such a famine was allowed to happen in a country that supplied large quantities of grain, dairy, and livestock to the wealthy industrial British Empire. Another aspect of the famine, which will be addressed, is the fact that it was the first globally recognized famine in terms of worldwide relief efforts and media coverage. Using primary sources and contemporary accounts we will look closely at the perceptions and reactions of the day. Evaluation will be based on the overall quality of research on short assignments, a final project, class attendance, and engagement in class discussions. There will be a series of short assignments, a mid-term paper, and a final project.



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