2018 Winter Session

Graduate Seminars

We plan to offer these seminars during the 2018 Winter Session. Descriptions for these seminars will be posted here as they become available.
Please note that we also have our offerings for the 2018 Summer Session posted.


English 500 will introduce first-year MA students to graduate-level research procedures and professional practices. The course will take the form of seminars and guest lectures that will cover a range of topics. Research- and course-related topics will include applying for grants, building bibliographies, practices of annotation and citation, archival research, and conceptualizing and writing a Master's thesis. Professional topics, such as how to present at conferences and how to apply for PhD programs, will also be covered.

There is currently no description available for this section of ENGL 500

Studies in the History of the English Language
Term 1
Tuesdays, 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Studies in Rhetoric and Theory of Composition
Term 2
Thursdays, 2:30 - 5:30 p.m.

Pain is not a diagnosis, or even a medical object: it is an experience, with problematic relations to language, to identity, and to sympathy. It challenges speech and it challenges persuasion; pain is, in other words, in part, a rhetorical phenomenon. This course will take up topics in the rhetoric of pain, including, for example, the following: pain and suffering; pain and affect; pain and addiction; pain and health inequities; pain and stigma; pain and disability, pain and gender. Through investigations prompted by the course, students will have a range of theoretical approaches and methods at hand when they read accounts of pain, literary and nonliterary, or when, in fact, they experience pain or (to borrow from Susan Sontag) they regard the pain of others.

Middle English Studies
Term 2
Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

“Of hem that writen ous tofore/ The bokes duelle”

At the opening of his Confessio Amantis, John Gower reflects on the role of old books in informing the present, and the future. Gower is thinking in part about the contents of those old books - the stories, histories, and exempla that informed his work - but he is also, like many medieval poets, highly conscious of the impact that a manuscript culture, with all the variation in transmission that implies, has for his poetic project. Chaucer reflects similar concerns, chiding his scribe Adam, for example, for failing to copy Troilus and Criseyde faithfully. As for Thomas Malory, his favourite phrase is “as the French book saith,” a tic that reflects his mining of French romance for the details of his Morte Darthur, and that also reflects a question that has puzzled scholars for years: how did a “knight prisoner” actually access all the physical books he would have needed in the writing of his Morte?

In this course, we will explore texts by Gower, Chaucer, and Malory, in the context of their manuscript (and early print) history. We will make use of facsimiles to relocate texts we encounter today in modern scholarly editions, into their many “original” contexts (and we will have to think through what, exactly, “original” might mean). Seminar participants will receive hands-on training in late Middle English paleography and codicology. Our theoretical lens will be book-historical, as we read examples of materially-inflected criticism of Middle English texts. The course will include work in Rare Books and Special Collections.

Studies in the Renaissance
Term 1
Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

In this course we shall explore the careers of two of Renaissance England’s most celebrated literary contemporaries, Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) and William Shakespeare (1564-1616). Typically, we’ll examine some of their major works in pairs – for example, Marlowe’s Edward II with Shakespeare’s Richard II and Marlowe’s Hero and Leander with Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis – to investigate how each engages comparable subject matter (the suspect English monarch and erotic pursuit and consummation in these examples) and similar literary form (the history play and the narrative poem). Our efforts, in the first instance, will be directed toward elaborating two critical commonplaces about Shakespeare and Marlowe: first, that because the innovative and popular Kit Marlowe predeceased Will Shakespeare by some 23 years, he exerted a profound influence over Shakespeare’s dramaturgy and poetry; second, that “Marlowe” – his life and his literature – functions in contemporary scholarship as shorthand for sodomy, a crime encompassing but not limited to homosexuality, whereas “Shakespeare” serves to establish and secure a heterosexual imaginary. We’ll of course work to unsettle these commonplaces not simply by highlighting counterexamples – there is homosexuality in Shakespeare – but, more importantly, by thinking about the usefulness of the interpretive scaffolding that has made them both possible and plausible: biography.

Texts (Our required course texts are available at the UBC Bookstore):

  • Christopher Marlowe, The Complete Plays (Penguin)
  • William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 1, The Merchant of Venice, Richard II, Richard III, and The Tempest (Arden)

Course Requirements:

Each student will lead one seminar discussion (30%) and will submit a critical review of the two biographies on our syllabus (20%) as well as a final term essay (40%). The remainder of the mark for the course (10%) will reflect consistent attendance and active participation.

Studies in the Renaissance
Term 2
Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

The description for this seminar is not yet available. We hope to post it in the coming weeks.

Studies in the Eighteenth Century
Term 1
Fridays, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

The description for this seminar is not yet available. We hope to post it in the coming weeks.

Studies in the Romantic Period
Term 2
Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

The description for this seminar is not yet available. We hope to post it in the coming weeks.

Studies in the Victorian Period
Term 1
Tuesdays, 2:00 - 5:00 p.m.

The description for this seminar is not yet available. We hope to post it in the coming weeks.

Studies in the Twentieth Century
Term 2
Fridays, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

The description for this seminar is not yet available. We hope to post it in the coming weeks.

Studies in Canadian Literature
Term 1
Wednesdays 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

The description for this seminar is not yet available. We hope to post it in the coming weeks.

Studies in Postcolonial Literature
Term 2
Tuesdays, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

The description for this seminar is not yet available. We hope to post it in the coming weeks.

Studies in Postcolonial Literature
Term 2
Wednesdays, 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.

The description for this seminar is not yet available. We hope to post it in the coming weeks.

Studies in Literary Movements
Term 1
Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Although the orality vs. literacy binary has often been invoked as a structuring device in the discussion of Indigenous writing, recent work by scholars like McCall, Martin, and McLeod has challenged this convention, decolonizing it through the development of approaches rooted in Indigenous epistemologies, poetics and law as well as in the study of Indigenous oral histories.  This seminar will begin with an overview of the traditional binary and then focus in more detail on recent decolonial theoretical approaches.  We'll discuss several examples of oral histories, considering some of the techniques used to bring spoken words to the page and some of the issues arising including practices of transcription, translation and the use of graphic and poetic devices on the page.  We'll conclude with a consideration of the fortunes of oral history in the courtroom and contrast settler law with Indigenous legal traditions in relation to stories.

Studies in Literary Theory
Term 1
Thursday, 2:30 - 5:30 p.m.

The description for this seminar is not yet available. We hope to post it in the coming weeks.

Studies in Literary Theory
Term 1
Mondays, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

The description for this seminar is not yet available. We hope to post it in the coming weeks.

Studies in Literary Theory
Term 2
Mondays, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

The description for this seminar is not yet available. We hope to post it in the coming weeks.

Studies in Literature and the Other Arts
Term 1
Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

The description for this seminar is not yet available. We hope to post it in the coming weeks.