The Ways We Read, with Mary McCay

The Ways We Read: Different Theories of Literature
A Residential Course on Literature with Professor Mary McCay

Fee: 1,400 euros (includes tuition, meals and accommodation)

Claire Keegan is honoured to be hosting Professor Mary McCay’s six-day course exploring the different perspectives on both the critical and the creative processes involved in understanding literature and in creating it.

As an undergraduate in New Orleans, Claire Keegan was inspired to write by Professor McCay, who opened up the world of literature and its possibilities through her teaching and mentorship. Claire will be attending and making significant contributions to this course daily.

This course will introduce different ways in which reading creative works changed as different critical theories developed, and it will help writers focus on how they hone their own creative processes. We will discuss how the silenced voices of women and minorities challenged the canon and how we as writers are influenced not only by personal experience, but also by larger political and social movements. We read and write, not in an attic room but in a large and complex changing world.

To book your space or for further information regarding the course please contact

The Texts

Gertrude and Claudius by John Updike
Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Billy Budd, a novella by Herman Melville

Hamlet, by William Shakespeare
Equus, by Peter Shaffer 
My Beautiful Laundrette, by Hanif Kureishi
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? By Edward Albee

“What Is an Author?” Michel Foucault
“The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” Langston Hughes
“A Queer Encounter: Sociology and the Study of Sexuality” Steven Epstein
“The Meaning of the Phallus” Jacques Lacan
”The Archetype of Literature” Northrop Frye
“Tradition and Individual Talent” by TS Eliot
“One Is Not Born a Woman” by Monique Wittig
“The Laugh of Medusa” by Helene Cixous

New course with Prof Mary McCay: The American Short Story

Professor Mary McCay

Friday 26 and Saturday 27 November, 2021

Carmelite Centre, Aungier Street, Dublin 2, from 10am to 5pm

Tuition: 300 euro

To book or for more information, please email

The short story has been a staple of American literature since the American Revolution. Charles Brockden Brown, the first American to earn his living writing of strange phenomena and political conflict, wrote “Somnambulism” in 1805. Shortly after, Washington Irving popularized the form with “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” both of which created iconic American characters. Since then, American writers have been changing the form, testing its limits. And questioning what America really means. During this weekend, we will look at a series of short stories, examine the forms, critique the contexts, and understand the many variations of the short story in America.

Reading List

Classic American Renaissance Tales

“My Kinsman, Major Molineux,” Nathaniel Hawthorne (1832)

“Bartleby the Scrivener,” Herman Melville (1853)

The Harlem Renaissance

“Blood Burning Moon,” Jean Toomer (1923)

“Story in Harlem Slang,” Zora Neale Hurston (1942)

Money ad Manhood

“A Diamond as Big as the Ritz,” F. Scott Fitzgerald (1927)

“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” Ernest Hemingway (1933)

Faces of the Thirties

“Theft,” Katherine Anne Porter (1930)

“Here We Are,” Dorothy Parker (1931)

African American Writing and Civil Rights

“Sonny’s Blues,” James Baldwin (1957)

“Everyday Use,” Alice Walker (1973)

New American Classics

“Where I’m Calling From,” Raymond Carver (1983)

“Brokeback Mountain,” Annie Proulx (1997)

Mary McCay, Professor Emerita, has taught several weekend seminars in Ireland, including Southern Writers and W.B. Yeats. During the pandemic, she taught three Zoom classes to Claire Keegan’s groups: African American Voices, James Joyce, and Feminist Writings. Mary McCay was Claire Keegan’s advisor and professor during her time at Loyola University and is responsible for her introduction to and initial studies of literature. She is vaccinated and will be in Ireland in November to meet with students interested in the American Short Story.