I’ve drawn some questions about the material that might help the discussion tomorrow. These include:
1. How useful are the analogies and comparisons with African-Americans and Catholics in the north of Ireland?
2. What kind of different perspectives does studying the Irish and American Civil Rights Movements alongside each other add?
3. Is Seamus Heaney’s criticism of Berndaette Devlin and the Black Panthers fair? What does it say about the limitations of these comparisons?
4. How ethical is Heaney’s approach to representing the troubles? Do some of the depictions of victimhood, particularly its gendered aspects, unsettle you?
5. Is Ciaran Carson’s reading of the poems, posted below, fair?
‘It is as if he is saying suffering like this is natural; these things have always happened; they happened then, they happen now, and that is sufficient ground for understanding and absolution. It is as if there never were and never will be any political consequences of such acts’.
Ciaran Carson, ‘Escaped from the Massacre?’, Honest Ulsterman 50 (1975)