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*Wild Ireland: Literature and the Performing Arts

Galway, Ireland

IntroductionAcademicsLocation Faculty program director CostsDatesApplication

Note: The information provided here is from a past program. The International Center anticipates offering this program again in the future; however, specific details have not been finalized and may change.



The MU International Center sponsors this summer, faculty-led study abroad program in collaboration with the Department of English. MU professor William Kerwin will lead this six-credit program in Galway and the west of Ireland.

How are Irish film, theater, music, literature and other arts still connected to native traditions, and how much are they part of a broader European and global cultural movement? In addition to reading the literature, you will experience these art forms firsthand by attending a slew of performances and films during a month in Galway.

Galway is a vibrant, musical town and the gateway to the beautiful Irish west. On this program, you to earn six credit hours in two very distinctive courses. One will focus on two internationally-renowned festivals: the Galway Film Festival and Galway International Arts Festival. You will attend several performances in both, and meet to discuss and contextualize what you have seen. Both of these festivals include Irish and non-Irish work, and the relationship among these different cultural contributions will provide the focus for some of your discussions. The second course will be a more traditional literature course, in which you read authors from the ancient past to the present, with an eye to both classics in Irish literature and more recent works. Despite its small size, Ireland has produced an amazing array of writers, and while you will explore several parts of the Irish literary heritage, most of the works you study will have a relationship to the Irish west. You will leave this program with a strong feel for the current state of the arts in Ireland and for the role this region has played in the Irish imagination over the centuries.

In addition to the festival performances, there will be numerous excursions to historical and natural places of interest. On most days, you will have two class sessions in the morning and a performance or excursion in the afternoon or evening. On a few occasions, there will be a full-day outing. Some hiking — hard walking and some mud, but no technical climbing — is built into the course. You will also have an extended visit to Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands. You will also have a long-weekend mid-program break, when you can explore the capital city of Dublin or another part of the country.

Read testimonials from past students.



You will be enrolled in two MU courses for a total of six credits.

Required course — ENGLSH 4140: Irish Literature (3, writing intensive) will explore several parts of the Irish literary heritage, stressing connections to Galway and the beautiful Irish west. While Galway city, the program's home base, is an international center for contemporary music and culture, the surrounding countryside evokes an ancient Celtic past. You will begin with texts from ancient Celtic and then medieval Ireland. These traditions were central to the work of William Butler Yeats, Lady Agusta Gregory and John Synge from the Irish Literary Revival of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the latter part of the course, you will consider a range of contemporary authors, including nature writer Tim Robinson and poets Moya Cannon and Mary O'Malley. In connection with this course, you will explore the countryside, including outings to Connemara, Cliffs of Moher and one of the Aran Islands. This course will require a series of informal writing responses and a final paper.

Select one:

  • ENGLSH 4260/H: Contemporary Irish Arts in Performance (3) will be shaped by world-renowned arts festivals: the Galway Film Festival and Galway International Arts Festival. You will attend several performances in both, and meet to discuss and contextualize what you have seen. First, you will consider Ireland's film traditions, watching a few recent important Irish films, and attend the film fleadh (festival) to consider what is most central to Irish film. Second, you will attend the arts festival, choosing from a wild mix of performances, including theater, music, comedy and lecture. 
  • FILM_S 4005: Topics in Film Studies (3) — If you enroll in this course, you will participate in both festivals, but will attend fewer events at the Galway Arts Festival and instead engage in a project discussing one aspect of Irish film. That aspect should be a focused study of a single director, an aspect of the Irish film industry or a theme connecting several Irish films. This project will be developed in consultation with the program director.

The Irish film industry is booming, both with films of Irish content and as part of production for films from other countries. In a country of 4.5 million people, a variety of films (features, shorts, animation and television) are written, directed, performed, edited and produced by Irish professionals. In 2012, Irish films generated about $750 million in revenue, and employed more than 6,000 people. When compared to the Missouri "film industry," that's pretty impressive. Contemporary Irish cinema is attracting attention in the U.S. and throughout the world. Why does such a small nation have such a large and vibrant film industry? You will attempt to answer this question while also gaining an insight into Irish culture through their contemporary films.

Academic credit

You will be enrolled in actual MU courses. You are guaranteed to receive MU credit for successfully completed courses; however, you must work with your academic adviser(s) to obtain pre-approval as to how courses might fulfill degree requirements.

MU students: Grades will calculate into your MU GPA and appear on your MU transcript when grades are recorded by the faculty program director. You must work with your academic adviser(s) to obtain pre-approval as to how the courses might fulfill degree requirements.

Non-MU/visiting students: Transcripts will be issued from MU and can be mailed to your home university. You must work with your home university to determine how credit from the program will transfer. The MU International Center will issue one transcript per student to one domestic address, as indicated on your Non-MU Student Application for Study Abroad. Additional MU transcripts for study abroad must be requested and purchased from the MU Registrar.


Accommodations and meals

You will stay in shared rooms in residence halls. Breakfasts will be provided, but you will be responsible for all other meals on your own.

Host city and surrounding areas

Founded as a quiet fishing village on the western coast of Ireland, Galway has gone through many transformations in its nearly 800 year history. Visitors can still see parts of the original stone wall built in 1232 near the Claddagh, a Spanish-style arch. Galway is also distinguished in its success as a prosperous trading port between the British, Spanish and Portuguese. The city today embraces Irish tradition and bohemian modernity. Wander the long, winding promenade, relax on one of Galway's beaches, watch the salmon fishermen in River Corrib and bask in the beauty of the sunset of Galway Bay. In town, visitors mingle effortlessly with friendly locals, while traditional and modern Irish music lingers in the air from one of the many pubs or yearly festivals. Bring spending money for trinkets from the many colorful shops around town and take time to visit Kylemorre Abbey and Ashford Castle. No matter what you choose, you will have lasting memories of this vibrant, Irish city.


You will travel with the group, but will have opportunities to explore some sites independently during your time abroad. Travel might include visits to:

  • Connemara
  • Aran Islands
  • Cliffs of Moher

Faculty program directors

MU faculty member William Kerwin, Department of English, will accompany the students to Ireland.

Faculty-led programs enrich the study abroad experience as well as the MU campus by providing students opportunities to study other cultures and disciplines in depth while gaining new perspectives on our own society. Faculty leaders serve as mentors, role-models and resources as students explore their host institution and country.

William Kerwin

William Kerwin teaches Shakespeare, early British poetry and Irish literature. His current research projects involve early modern satire as it relates to changes in urban life; and the connections between forms of lyric, especially the complaint, and the drama. In 2005, the University of Massachusetts Press published his "Beyond the Body: The Boundaries of Medicine and English Renaissance Drama" as part of their series Studies in Early Modern Culture. He has edited a book of essays on the Irish playwright Brian Friel and has published or presented essays on Irish authors such as Peadar O'Donnell, Seán O'Faoláin, James Joyce and Mary O'Malley.


Program budget

Additional expenses

In addition to the program costs paid to MU, you will have expenses associated with international travel and living abroad. The amounts listed are estimated costs based on current exchange rates and on the information provided to us by your host institution and past participants. Depending on your personal spending habits, you may spend more or less than the figures provided.

Please note that these expenses do not include vacation travel or sightseeing.

Financial aid information

If you are awarded financial aid for study abroad, it will be applied to your MU account according to the regular financial aid disbursement schedule. Reminder: You must be enrolled in study abroad and have completed the required financial aid forms for study abroad in order to be considered for aid.

Because non-resident tuition charges apply, MU students should be eligible to use non-resident scholarships toward program costs.

Dates and deadlines

Term Application deadline Program start Program end
Summer 2019 02/15/2019 07/03/2019 07/31/2019

Early acceptance date for summer programs: December 15

Summer faculty-led programs fill up quickly! Submit your program application by the early acceptance date to ensure preferred consideration for admission. Additionally, submit your International Center scholarship application by the early acceptance date to be eligible for funds reserved for early acceptance applicants. Applications are still welcome after the early acceptance date, but must be received by the final application deadline for consideration.


We are delighted that you are applying to study abroad. This is the first step of your journey, and while there is a lot to do, it should not be overwhelming. Once you start an application for the program, you will have an electronic checklist to help you through the process. In addition, our study abroad staff are available to answer your questions.

  1. Meet with the International Center study abroad adviser listed in the program snapshot if you have any questions.
  2. Start an application using the button below if you are an MU student.
    • Non-MU students should visit our page for non-MU participants for more information about the application process.
    • Once you have started an application, you can return to it later by logging in to myStudyAbroad (see the button at the top of the page).
  3. Complete and submit your application.

This program is not currently accepting applications.