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Heaney’s Troubles Poetry

9 January 2018

As an experienced reader of Seamus Heaney’s poetry, Dr Brian Hanratty, senior lecturer in English, has an in-depth understanding and appreciation of the poet’s work, which he has used as a basis for a recently published research paper. The paper, entitled “Teaching a Selection of Heaney’s Troubles Poetry to Upper Post-Primary Pupils in Northern Ireland’s Divided Schools: Educational Contexts and Pedagogical Opportunities”, was published by Routledge in Changing English: Studies in Culture and Education, a journal for English teachers in primary, secondary and tertiary education.

Dr Brian Hanratty holding the journal - Changing English: Studies in Culture and Education

The research article is divided into three parts. The first part explores some ideas about texts and their interpretation, as well as thoughts about the value of dialogical education. It critically explores some of Heaney’s ideas about poetry in general before focusing, more specifically, on his ideas about the role of poetry in conflicted societies, especially in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

The second and central part of the research offers an evaluation of five poems chosen for detailed consideration: it seeks to highlight the poems’ literary and imaginative richness while simultaneously focusing on the opportunities that they offer pupils to critically interrogate their identities and their allegiances to their respective communities. The third section seeks to situate the research within the context of several educational initiatives in Northern Ireland, especially those using literature as a catalyst, which are aimed at creating bridgeheads and furthering reconciliation between the Catholic and Protestant traditions.

Further details on the article may be found at the journal’s website.

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