2023 Summer

June 27, 2023

Term 1
MW 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Reading Humans in Nature

In this section of ENGL 110, we will read, think, and write about literature that explores the human experience of being in nature among nonhumans. Several questions will guide us in this work: how is the human and nonhuman conceptualized in these texts; how do humans and nonhumans figure, interact, differentiate, or mesh? What human-nonhuman relations do these literary works grapple with, articulate, or deconstruct? How might language shape these relations? What does it mean to read, write, or perform these relations? Spanning multiple genres (fiction, poetry, drama) and two centuries (1818-2018), our literary selections will include works by Mary Shelley, Emily Dickinson, William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Walt Whitman, Virginia Woolf, Camille Dungy, Joy Harjo, Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, and Matthew McKenzie, among others.

Over the term, students will develop their own conclusions about literary representations of humans in nature, while honing their skills as a readers, writers, and critical thinkers. In every class, students will participate in full-class and small-group discussions on the literature we are reading. They will also complete two in-class analysis assignments, and write a final take-home essay that will critically and comparatively analyze texts we’ve read this term. A cumulative final exam will be held at the end of term.

Term 1
MW 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Pandemic Writing in Sacred and Secular Worlds

This course provides an introduction to literary analysis with a focus on literature about epidemics. In particular, we will consider how writers respond to states of pandemic crisis by exploring the dynamic relationship between sacred and secular worlds. What’s the use of turning to literature in the time of a deadly epidemic? How do artists and writers reckon with the social, political, spiritual, and epistemological impacts of health crises? Taking up selected poetry (Assotto Saint, Jack Spicer), drama (Tony Kushner) and fiction (Lee Maracle), we will consider how religion, spirituality, and secularism are theorized in pandemic art and writing.

Over the course of the term, we will explore: the reclamation of sacred knowledge in response to settler colonialism and disease; the entanglement of sexuality and spirituality in HIV/AIDS narratives; and the capacity for creative expression to enact healing and resistance. In doing so, we will consider how pandemic writing conveys embodied experiences of gender, race, sexuality, and health in the context of colonial and racial histories. Our course will primarily consist of seminar-style discussions, guided by close readings of the literature. Students will develop critical strategies for analysing poetry, fiction, and drama, and will learn how to make arguments about literature in academic writing.

Texts: Assotto Saint, selected poetry; Tony Kushner, Angels in America; Lee Maracle, Ravensong

Term 1
TTh 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Literature plays an important role in the representation of human experience and cultural identities. For this same reason, literature also gives rise to different readings, re-readings and debates – interpretations that reflect changing historical contexts, different cultural values, and contrasting standpoints. Our assigned readings for this term will include texts that dramatize the politics of representation in cross-cultural situations, with themes that range from the discovery of the “New World,” modern colonization, and current issues of migration and asylum. As we explore these themes, you will learn some of the distinctive interpretive methods of literary analysis and critical argument. Texts include Shakespeare, The Tempest; Conrad, Heart of Darkness; and Boochani, No Friend but the Mountains.

Term 1
TTh 6:00 - 9:00 PM

Literature and Love: How do love stories shape us?

What do we talk about when we talk about love? In this course we’ll ask this question in various ways by taking a look at how a variety of texts approach questions of loving, and writing about love—different kinds of love—in different ways. If love is constituted, in part, by the language used to describe it, how does the language of love stories shape how we perceive and experience it? How do our love stories shape our expectations and experiences of love? How do the metaphors we use shape the way we think about love? What do our conventional love narratives suggest about gender, sexuality, and marriage? How do individual experiences of love deviate from these narratives--and why should we care? Is love merely personal, intense, private or is it also socially and politically useful? What does literature have to say about this?

This course introduces you to the skills and practices of literary criticism by inviting you, and equipping you, to interrogate details of language and form, and to pull together and analyze research sources in order to support sound and interesting arguments, i.e. to “read” these primary texts in new and deeper ways. You will be invited to ask rich and provocative questions about literary texts, find and analyze research sources and write good, clear arguments. Lively engagement is a basic requirement. You will be asked to write two close readings and a research paper in this course. Texts are likely to include short stories by Kim Fu, an essay about friendship by Ann Patchett, the film Rocks by Sarah Gavron, David Chariandy’s Brother, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s Islands of Decolonial Love, as well as other contextual readings.

Term 2
MW 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Literary Experiments

How have authors grappled with the problem of representing consciousness and qualia in writing? In this course, we will consider how prose, poetry, and dramaturgy have endeavored to depict human thought and will examine how particular forms of experimental or postmodern writing allow us to represent different kinds of thoughts, like memory and association. We will consider how these authors use form and content in tandem to comment on human subjectivity and the question of how faithfully thought can be conveyed through literature.


Texts are likely to include Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, Charles Portis’s The Dog of the South, Sam Shepard’s Suicide in B, and poems from T.S. Eliot and Frank O’Hara.

Term 2
MW 6:00 - 9:00 PM

This section of English 110 will introduce students to basic elements of university-level literary study by examining a wide range of works in three genres: poetry, prose fiction, and drama.  These works are of various literary eras and by authors from diverse cultural backgrounds.  Students will be taught methods of literary analysis that should enable them to read each work with care, appreciation, and (one hopes) enjoyment.

  • two in-class essays: 20% each
  • home essay (1000 words): 30%
  • final exam: 30%

Text: Lisa Chalykoff, Neta Gordon, Paul Lumsden, eds. The Broadview Introduction to Literature: Concise Edition, 2nd ed. (Broadview, 2019)

A Provisional Reading List

POEMS: Emily Dickinson, “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant”; Ezra Pound, “The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter”; Theodore Roethke, “My Papa’s Waltz”; Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art”; Adrienne Rich, “Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers”; Margaret Atwood, “Death of a Young Son by Drowning”; George Eliot Clarke, “Casualties”; Jackie Kay, “In My Country”; Karen Solie, “Nice”

SHORT STORIES: Kate Chopin, “The Story of an Hour”; Chinua Achebe, “Dead Men’s Path”; Alistair MacLeod, “As Birds Bring Forth the Sun”; Alice Munro, “Friend of My Youth”; Margaret Atwood, “Happy Endings”; Thomas King, “A Short History of Indians in Canada”; Kazuo Ishiguro, “A Family Supper”

PLAYS: William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night; Henrik Ibsen, A Doll’s House

Term 2
TTh 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Literary Monsters and Monstrous Literature

Rey: “You are a monster.”
Kylo Ren: “Yes, I am.”
– Star Wars: The Last Jedi

“Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time into this breathing world” – Richard III 1.i

What is a monster? We know monsters from myths and legends, folktales, horror fiction and film. We know their variety: the grotesque, the beautiful, the terrifying, the pitiable, the sports of nature and the forces of evil. Dragons, werewolves, vampires, zombies, Frankenstein’s Creature, Dorian Gray, the Joker, Hannibal Lecter, Marisa Coulter, many of the characters in The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones: they’re everywhere, from under the bed to the house next door to the battlefield, and right into a great deal of literature. Which leaves us here: in this section of 110 we’ll focus on how literary texts across the genres use representations of monstrosity in ways that inspire both terror and horror, as well as (let’s be honest) fascination and even enjoyment.

We’ll look at William Shakespeare’s Richard III (a play that meditates on villainy and ambition in demonizing its subject for Tudor audiences, yet still fascinates contemporary ones) and at Ian McKellen’s 1995 film adaptation, which shifts the setting to an alternate-reality 1930s England where fascism takes hold. We will also consider various stage and screen adaptations as approaches to the play, including recent ones using race and gender-diverse casting, and sometimes featuring as Richard actors who are themselves physically disabled or disfigured. Other core texts include selected poetry (with a focus on the sonnet form) and two novels: Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

Evaluation will be based on two timed essays, a home paper, and a final exam, plus participation in discussion both in class and on our Canvas site.

Please keep checking my blog for updates: https://blogs.ubc.ca/drgmbaxter/

Term 2
TTh 6:00 - 9:00 PM

Literature plays an important role in the representation of human experience and cultural identities. For this same reason, literature also gives rise to different readings, re-readings and debates – interpretations that reflect changing historical contexts, different cultural values, and contrasting standpoints. Our assigned readings for this term will include texts that dramatize the politics of representation in cross-cultural situations, with themes that range from the discovery of the “New World,” modern colonization, and current issues of migration and asylum. As we explore these themes, you will learn some of the distinctive interpretive methods of literary analysis and critical argument. Texts include Shakespeare, The Tempest; Conrad, Heart of Darkness; and Boochani, No Friend but the Mountains.

Term 2
MW 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM

African Cities in the 21st Century: A Literary Approach

This summer course introduces students to questions of urbanism, identity, and power in the rapidly-changing metropolises of contemporary Africa.

From the ghostly Dakar of Mati Diop’s 2019 film Atlantics, to Teju Cole’s Open New York City, we’ll interrogate what defines and defies the “global” African city by considering questions of labour, gender, and race. Short stories and poetry from around the continent will explore how African cities imagine new kinds of communities, shape new identities, and offer glimpses into the past, present and future of the continent.

Term 1
TTh 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

In this section of English 225 our goal is to study a broad range of poetry by writers of various nationalities; a few poems will be read in English translation.  Proceeding chronologically, we will begin with one or two poems of the Renaissance and then move on to the Romantic, Victorian, and Modern periods.  The course will end with some consideration of poetry written in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.  Always we will attend to a poem’s literary elements (form, figurative language, and so on), but sometimes we may also turn briefly to its historical context.  “I, too, dislike it,” writes Marianne Moore of poetry in a famous poem entitled “Poetry.”  If you don’t already like “it,” I hope you will by the end of the course.

Text: The Broadview Introduction to Literature: Poetry, 2nd edition (Broadview)

Course requirements: two in-class essays (each worth 20%); research essay, 1500 words (30%); final exam (30%)

Term A
Online - Asynchronous

English 301 is a dedicated writing course offered in an online classroom environment. During the course you will be expected to work in three ways: independently; in consultation with your instructor; and collaboratively in writing teams to be established in the first unit of the course. This is an asynchronous course.

English 301 has these major objectives:

  • to introduce through course readings and activities the distinctive elements of writing in business, professional, and technical contexts;
  • to provide opportunities to practice and perfect the strategies and techniques particular to writing in these contexts;
  • to engage you with your classmates in online discussion, peer review, and the production and analysis of documents produced for business, professional, and technical contexts;
  • to direct you to the considerable resources available to you through UBC’s Career Services unit;
  • to involve you in developing and designing an online Web Folio with an accompanying resume and references
  • to encourage and assist you in reflecting on your writing and developing peer-review and self-editing skills.

English 301 involves the study of principles of written and online communications in business and professional contexts; it includes discussion of and practice in the preparation of abstracts, proposals, applications, reports, correspondence, and online communications: emails, texts, Web Folio, and networking.

Note: Credits in this course cannot be used toward a major or a minor in English.

Prerequisite: six credits of First Year English or Arts One or Foundations. English 301 is offered as a fully online course.

The use of a computer and ready access to an Internet connection are required. Intended Audience This course should be of interest to students in a variety of disciplines such as commerce, science, education, and the health sciences. It may also be of interest to students in Arts Co-Op and other Co-Op programs.

Term A
Online - Asynchronous

The English 321 online course is an introduction to English grammar and its use in everyday communication. We take a descriptive stance when considering the rules of grammar and language variation. The course starts with the study of words and their parts, proceeds to word classes, phrases and clauses and concludes with the different communicative functions that grammatical structures can perform when we package information in specific ways. This course equips students with skills enabling them to identify and describe the effects of derived structures in various communicative situations and provides a strong basis for further study of the English language, language variation, literary and non-literary stylistics and for teaching English.

Students will be working fully online on all the graded work, including individual exercises, group projects, two mid-term tests and a final exam. The two tests are open-book, timed assignments, whereas the exam is invigilated via Zoom. There are Zoom meetings at regular intervals which will be recorded for the benefit of students in different time zones with the permission of students attending. Zoom office hours are by appointment.

Required reading:

  • Börjars, Kersti and Kate Burridge. Introducing English Grammar, 3rd ed. Routledge, 2019. ISBN: 978-1138-6351-9.
  • Leech, Geoffrey, Margaret Deuchar and Robert Hoogenraad. English Grammar for Today: A New Introduction. 2nd ed. Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. ISBN: 13: 978-1-4039-1642-6.

More details are available on the course website on canvas.ubc.ca.

Term A
Online - Asynchronous

The English 330 online course provides a comprehensive introduction to English phonology, morphology, parts of speech, and lexical (word) meaning. We start by studying speech sounds and work our way up to larger structures until we reach the level of words and their meanings. When studying speech sounds, students will study the International Phonetic Alphabet as it pertains to present-day varieties of English.  Students will be expected to acquire proficiency in phonetic transcription. The course is offered from a descriptive perspective and is not situated exclusively in any specific linguistic theory. There are three collaborative assignments, six quizzes, graded discussions for each module and a final exam.

Students will be working fully online on all the course work. The exam is invigilated via Zoom. There are Zoom meetings at regular intervals which will be recorded for the benefit of students in different time zones with the permission of students attending. Zoom office hours are by appointment.

Required reading:

Brinton, Laurel J. and Donna M. Brinton. The Linguistic Structure of Modern English. John Benjamins, 2010. ISBN 978 90 272 1172 9.

More details are available on the course website on canvas.ubc.ca.

Term A
Online - Asynchronous

"Author's pen" and "actor's voice": Shakespeare in Text and Performance

This course will explore the extent to which we as readers of Shakespeare’s tragedies, histories, and comedies can remain engaged with his plays’ potential for realization onstage, in performance.  Part of our focus will be historicist: we will consider the institutional and social conditions attendant upon the original productions of the plays, as well as the ways in which the plays themselves dramatize matters of affect and spectatorship. Our work will also explore the formal dramaturgy of the plays in order to think about how the texts register the nuance of performance in obvious ways (in stage directions and dialogue) and by appealing to the senses and to the emotions of a live audience. We will also look at the editing, printing, and publishing of the plays in order to think about how the page simultaneously encodes and distorts performance for modern readers. Whenever possible, we will consider the performance history of the plays, with a particular emphasis on how modern adaptations for the stage make use of (cut, modify, rearrange, reimagine) the playtext.

Term 1
TTh 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Ghosts are Real (So are Vampires): The Supernatural and Victorian Gothic Terror and Horror

“Ghosts are real, this much I know” – Edith Cushing, Crimson Peak

“There are such beings as vampires; some of us have evidence that they exist” – Abraham Van Helsing, Dracula

Whether we take Edith Cushing or Abraham Van Helsing at their word, the 19th-century Gothic revival certainly emphasized possibilities for terror and horror in tales of the supernatural. However, these interventions of spectral and un-dead beings often take place in the recognizable present; they speak to its anxieties. Perhaps they speak to ours as well, given our recent fascination with Neo-Victorian representations of the 19th century, such as Penny DreadfulFrom HellCrimson Peak, etc. We will examine stories addressing issues of gender and sexuality; class, race, and culture; realism and the supernatural; urban and rural settings, all in a century known for developments in science and technology (especially photography), social upheaval, and a veneer of respectability, yet with monsters lurking in closets and under beds. Our focus will also permit consideration of the boom in publication of popular literature in a variety of formats, as well as the rise of the professional writer during the 19th century.

Core texts include Margaret Oliphant’s The Library Window, Sheridan LeFanu’s Carmilla, Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, and short fiction possibly including M.R. James, “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad”; Elizabeth Gaskell, “The Old Nurse’s Story”; Charlotte Riddell, “The Open Door”; Sheridan LeFanu, “An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street”; R.L. Stevenson, “The Body Snatcher”; E. Nesbit, “John Charrington’s Wedding” and possibly a couple of Victorian werewolf stories (since werewolf stories feature prominently in the research done for both Carmilla and Bram Stoker’s infamous Dracula). A page of links to the short stories will be in the Notes and Course Materials Module on our Canvas site, as well as a link to the Project Gutenberg edition of Carmilla.

Evaluation will be based on a midterm essay, a term paper, a final reflection essay, and participation in discussion both in class and on the course’s Canvas site.

Please keep checking my blog for updates: https://blogs.ubc.ca/drgmbaxter/

Term A
Online - Asynchronous

“Down the Rabbit Hole”: Child, Nation and British Fantasy Literature

English 392 is a 13-week course that will guide you in the study and approaches to some classic Western texts and approaches to children's literature. The focus will be on British fantasy literature, by authors such as Gaiman, Tolkien, Pullman and Rowling, but we will also explore some connections with texts from other cultures. Our fully asynchronous course is part of the English Online Minor program in the Department of English Language and Literatures, but is open to English majors and to students in other programs such as Education, Language and Literacy, and Library and Information Studies. You will be reading novels, short stories and scholarly articles on children's literature throughout this term, and you will be sharing your ideas both formally, in the form of essays, and informally, in the form of discussion posts, peer reviews and games. The course's final examination will be held during the standard examination period, and remotely invigilated.

Term 2
TTh 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM

“And the winner is . . .”: The 2022 Canadian Scotiabank Giller Prize Shortlist             

“In short, prizes matter. . .With only an appearance on . . . [a] shortlist, a book moves from total obscurity in the classroom and pages of literary criticism to respectable showings in both—and it gets a healthy popularity boost along the way.”

“As much as each prize is an institution unto itself, it also crystallizes a variety of other consecrating forces and actors, from the publishers who select and promote a title to the authors who blurb it and the reviewers who praise it.”

-- Alexander Manshel, Laura B. McGrath, & J.D. Porter

In this class, we will discuss the five fictional works shortlisted for Canada’s 2022 Giller Prize: Kim Fu’s Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, Rawi Hage’s Stray Dogs, Tsering Yangzom Lama’s We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies, Suzette Mayr’s The Sleeping Car Porter and Noor Naga’s If An Egyptian Cannot Speak English. We will consider the institutional components of the Giller Prize (evaluation criteria, selection of judges, procedures for submission & selection, history, past recipients) as well as what Manshall, McGrath & Porter refer to as the “consecrating forces and actors” which influence literary awards. In addition to writing a critical essay on one of the texts, students will participate as a jury member in an in-house “Fiction 2022” award committee to choose our own winner from the 2022 Giller shortlist.

400-level Courses

ENGL 490 AND 491J - this course is a cross-listed course

Term 2
TTh, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Love and Horror:  Family Fictions since Frankenstein

What is the relation between social and biological reproduction? How do cultural media shape material history and vice versa? Although initially unsuccessful, gaining popularity as a novel only after a carnivalesque stage adaptation went viral, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein became iconic for modernity because it opens rather than answers such crucial questions both for and about modernity. Shelley authored Frankenstein at 18 as a way of passing time in the shadows of the brightest literary celebrities ever--Lord Byron and Mary's husband Percy. The novel speaks to the relation between creation and destruction, trauma and growth, and to Mary's own traumatic experiences of both infant and maternal mortality. Frankenstein rehearses the ancient Promethean question of what it means to control God-like technology and engineer life, but also raises radically new questions about the capacity of art ‘to create the life it imagines,’ questions that have since only increased in force and consequence, fostering the genres of horror and sci-fi and key techniques of modern social and feminist critique.

500-Level Courses

Studies in Literature and the Other Arts
Term 2
TTh, 11:00 am to 2:00 pm
See full seminar description [PDF]

Food, cooking, and eating have long histories of being recorded, prescribed, celebrated, and mythologized through literary art and more recently through film. Contemporary audiences for discourses of food and displays of culinary art are often conscripted into positions as apprentice cooks, competing chefs, curious consumers, critical reviewers, or hungry foodie voyeurs caught in the mania of contemporary desire for food substitutes delivered in textual and filmic forms.

This course will explore food in literature, particularly life narratives, cookbook selections, and films across different cultures and borders, from the transnational to local Vancouver contexts. The production of food is essentially linked to histories of empire, colonial power, capital, racialized and gendered labour, and ecological change. Our discussions will explore these intersections.

Course Requirements:

1) Participation in the discussion of readings, topics, and questions: 10%
2) One oral presentation (20 minutes) on a primary text and/or critical contexts: 15%
3) One short critical meditation of 750 words: 15%
4) One longer project (3500-4000 words, or 14-16 pages),  that could emerge out of your seminar presentation, personal research interests, and/or critical meditation paper: 60%

See full seminar description [PDF]

Studies in Environmental Humanities
Term 1
MTh, 1000 AM - 100 PM
See full course description [PDF]

This seminar is an introduction to the multidisciplinary field of “critical plant studies.” Our guiding question may seem simple: What is a plant? A dictionary can provide us with a quick, text-book answer. You could also point to a tree or flower, and say “That!” So, in this seminar, let’s ask an even more specific question: What in the Arts is a plant? This ramifies in unexpected ways, and it will be our task in this seminar to trace some of these branches across the Environmental Humanities. We’ll investigate this question from an array of disciplines: philosophy, Indigenous (Potawatomi) storytelling, anthropology, history, landscape design, the visual arts, film, and literary writing (poetry, memoir, short fiction). Along the way, we might find that “the Arts” is a too-limited rubric. And throughout we’ll keep a sharp eye on matters pertaining to gender, sexuality, and queerness.

Expect materials to be set up in nodes that mix disciplinary perspectives:

  • Aristotle, Michael Marder, Mel Chen, Andrew Marvell, Robin Wall Kimmerer, and The Little Shop of Horrors (Vegetality & Animacy)
  • Ovid’s myth of Apollo and Daphne, Han Kang, The Vegetarian, excerpts from Schiebinger and Swan’s Colonial Botany, and Jamaica Kincaid, My Garden (Book): (Mobility & Circulation)
  • Georges Bataille, Michael Taussig, Shakespeare, Robert Mapplethorpe, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Dorothy Allison’s “A Lesbian Appetite” (Reproductivity & Sex)
  • Algernon Blackwood’s “The Man Who Loved Trees,” Stevie Wonder’s soundtrack to The Secret Life of Plants, Octavia Butler, “Amnesty” and Suzanne Simard’s Mother Tree (Communication & Signaling)

Students will deliver a seminar presentation and submit a final essay, which need not focus on a specific plant-text on this syllabus.

See full course description