Locked Up: The Theatre, Literature and Cinema of Coercive Confinement in Ireland

From the 1920s until the 1950s Ireland locked up people who did not fit the state’s desired image in a vast complex of institutions – Magdalene laundries for women deemed to be in “moral danger”; industrial schools for children regarded as potentially unruly; mental hospitals for adults who were socially deviant-all of whom were vulnerable both to effective enslavement and to physical and sexual abuse. Revelation of these abuses has shaken Irish society and the Irish church. In this course we consider how this system was reflected in plays, fiction and film, sometimes in direct testimony by survivors, sometimes in the most surprising ways.

Sample reading list:
Mannix Flynn, James X
Patricia Burke Brogan, Eclipsed
Samuel Beckett, Not I
Peter Mullen, The Magdalen Sisters (film)
Mary Raftery, States of Fear (documentary)
Hannah Greally, Bird’s Nest Soup

Reading/Writing assignments:
Students will be expected to read and reflect on play texts, films, novels and memoirs. Each student will prepare a brief blog post on the set text before each class. An essay of 3,000-4,000 words will be presented by each student at the end of spring break and again at the end of the semester.



C01 - Fintan O'Toole

Wednesdays 1:30 - 4:20 pm


Fintan O'Toole