Carol Trosset: Welsh Culture

Expanded description:  All readings will be provided as pdf documents free of charge.

Week 1 – Welsh History and Geography

  • Participants will share the nature of their interest in Wales. Carol will provide an introduction to Welsh history and geography, and share slides from her years of anthropological fieldwork there.

Week 2 – Definitions of Welshness

  • Reading for today: Excerpts from Welshness Performed by Carol Trosset
  • We will discuss different characteristics that make people see themselves and others as more or less Welsh, and consider the relationship between being Welsh, English, and/or British. Carol will present two social theories that help make sense of these relationships (Michael Hechter’s internal colonialism and Mary Douglas’ grid-group theory).

Week 3 – Language Survival and Nationalism

  • Readings for today:
    • Saunders Lewis, “The Fate of the Language” (1962 radio lecture)
    • Excerpt from The Welsh Extremist by Ned Thomas
  • We will discuss the social forces that have threatened or supported the Welsh language, and consider the complex relationship between the language movement and political nationalism.
  • Carol will provide an introduction to Welsh phonics and grammar.

Week 4 – Mythology and Literature

  • Readings for today:
    • Excerpt from The Welsh Arthur by Bedwyr Lewis Jones
    • Excerpt from Feet in Chains by Kate Roberts (1936)
    • Excerpt from Blue Book of Nebo by Manon Ros (2018)
  • We will discuss ancient and modern Welsh-language literature, focusing on prose because it can be read in translation. Carol will provide additional context about early Welsh folklore, forms of poetry in Welsh, and how these traditions affect modern literature and storytelling.

Week 5 – Music and the Eisteddfod

  • Reading for today: Iorwerth Peate, “The Gorsedd of the Bards of Britain,” Antiquity, 1951
  • An eisteddfod is a competitive music and poetry festival. It takes many forms and plays an important role in Welsh-language culture. Carol will give an audio-visual presentation sharing important features of the eisteddfod. She will also play recordings to introduce several Welsh musical genres.
  • The Gorsedd is an honorary association of Welsh poets, singers, and other culturally influential Welsh-speakers. We will discuss its association with druidic symbolism, and Carol will introduce Hobsbawm and Ranger’s theory of invented tradition.

Week 6 – Welsh Values

  • Reading for today: Excerpts from Welshness Performed by Carol Trosset
  • Every culture has dominant values about what it means to be a good person. We will discuss the Welsh values of self-sacrifice, emotionalism, and nostalgia.
  • In class, we will watch the first act of Y Mab Darogan (The Foretold Son, a 1981 folk/rock opera about Owain Glyndwr), with English sub-titles.

Week 7 – The Welsh Diaspora

  • Readings for today:
    • Excerpt from A History of the Welsh in America by R.D. Thomas
    • Reading on Welsh Patagonia TBD
  • We will spend half the class session discussing the Welsh diaspora in the United States, and the other half learning about the Welsh colony in Argentine Patagonia.

Week 8 – Wales Today

  • We will spend our final class session updating our knowledge of Welsh-Wales in 2023. Everyone will contribute to this final discussion by sharing simple information gathered on-line, having divided up topics like population demographics, first-language use of Welsh, support for language learners, Welsh political party affiliation, and the impact of Brexit on Wales.