Discussion Questions 4/1

I hope to talk about the effect of the opening credit scene with the biblical reference to Judas in The Informer vs Uptight‘s opening reference to MLK’s assassination. Firstly, what are these openings attempting to do? Are they trying to accomplish the same thing?

Similarly, I think there is much to talk about in regards to the displays of the cultures in both films.  How did you see the black culture being portrayed vs. the Irish?

In both films, the informer was a character that was portrayed as drunk,  poor, and betraying their partners in order to gain the means necessary to escape from their current situations. Were their characters entirely unlikable though? Did one film seem to give more sympathy to the informer than the other?

Finally, I have a question about the reception of the films. What was the audience’s response to these films? Was one more popular than the other? Did the audience find the adaptations to be appropriate and well-done? What were the biggest criticisms surrounding them?

“The Informer” and “Uptight” Discussion Questions

  1.  How do Gypo’s and Tank’s failures to uphold community and eventual separation from their social groups echo other works which end with a social or physical death?
  2. Are the displays of grief, seen in the reciting of Gaelic prayers and the group of women singing worship songs after Johnny’s death, connected?  Do they suggest a subtext about religion, seen in Hurston’s writing illustrating the problems and shortcomings of religious institutions?
  3. In Gypo’s drunken behavior and tendency to get into fights, does Ford intend to evoke previous stereotypes of the Irish?  If so, why would he do this as a man of Irish descent himself?
  4. In Johnny’s mention of a passport and Gypo’s wish to leave for America with Katie, how do these works treat the possibility of relocating and creating a new identity in comparison with some of our previous works?
  5. Gypo and Tank both scream, “I forgot something!” multiple times when they realize they have let down and outright harmed their communities.  If this choice is deliberate, which I believe it is, what does this quote say about each man’s struggle with his own failure?

Discussion Questions (4/1)

  1. Why is Clarence (“Daisy”) added to the African-American version of this story?
  2. Is militancy in the Irish context similar to the African-American context? Do these two films present them similarly?
  3. The n-word is used at times in Uptight. Is this part of creating an accurate depiction of African-American life or is it a problematic aspect of this movie?
  4. Why is the main character of this plot line portrayed as both a drunk and a bit of an oaf?

3/30 Discussion Questions

  1. There is a comparison to be made between the revolutionary language of blacks in America and the Irish in Ireland. Why is it that the Irish were so soft-spoken in comparison to the Black Panthers of America?
  2. Is Heaney’s comparison of Irish killings to black lynchings in America justified? What are the main similarities and differences between the two?

Discussion 3/30

My question has to do with the uses of African American music and poems in Irish protests. We saw a clip of the song “We Shall Overcome” being sung by both African American and Irish protesting crowds, and there is also the parallel between the song “Strange Fruit” and Heaney’s poem “Strange Fruit”. My question is, are the two situations analogous? Is it acceptable to use the same songs and same meanings for Irish protests, or is there something that makes the situation different? Is it a show of solidarity, or a misuse of something almost sacred?

3/30 Discussion Qs

How does the line from Punishment “My poor scapegoat, I almost love you” shift the tone of the poem? What is the significance the possessive pronoun here? Does it convey understanding or power?

In Stephen O’Neill’s presentation he talks about the influence The Troubles had on works of literature and art at that time, stating, “Even where writer would’ve maybe not wanted to represent anything about The Troubles at all, the conflict deeply impacts them and is generally always present”. How does this statement draw comparisons between Irish and African American writers and works we have read so far?

Discussion Questions (3/30)

  1. Why is “Northern Ireland” a contentious term?
  2. I know someone else has asked this already, but what is the effect of depicting women in Heaney’s poetry?
  3. Does the civil rights push of Irish Catholics follow a similar path to the African-American civil rights movement of starting with non-violence (for the most part) and moving toward more militant measures? Or are the non-violent and violent approaches more simultaneous?

3/31 Discussion Questions

How did the presence of the Irish language fluctuate, in schools and in daily/social life fluctuate throughout more recent Irish history (post revival)?

I’m curious about the Bog bodies/ poems and hope we can talk more about them in class.  Is there a  connection between the idea ritualized killings and premeditated political violence? Was it a fascination with the victim status of the people? Do bodies on display as history and science loose their personhood? Is there any connection with the extremely preserved state of the bodies and the narratives of preservation we were discussing last class?

The last stanza of Punishment is really interesting, especially in how it contains the dichotomy of the civilized and the tribal. I’m trying to read how they are being used. Who is the civilized? Who is the tribal? Even when being used to make a point, does this narrative still promote othering and the idea of the “never ready” as the tribal element?

3/30 Discussion Questions

Heaney’s poems center around the punishment and suffering of women. Why women? Did The Troubles affect men differently than women? How would the poems change if they instead focused on men?

In the song adaptation of Strange Fruit, the singer refers to black bodies hanging from trees. The majority of those hanged were black males. Did anyone else see the black bodies it was referring to as males? How did this affect your reading? If Heaney’s other poems were rewritten and situated within the context of black America, would they focus on men or women?

“The central paradox of the process is that on the one hand, if society is to move forward, then it may be necessary to leave bitter experiences from the past behind. At the same time, many argue that if past hurts are not dealt with then they can provide the seeds for future conflict” (Fitzduff and O’Hagan) Which way do you think is better in order to move forward? What does all of the literature that we have read so far this semester seem to say about it? Is there a way to do both at the same time?