Graduate Courses

2023 Winter Session

Research in English Studies
Term 1
Thursday 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Required of all graduate students in the M.A. program. Pass/Fail.

This course will introduce new MA students in the Department of English Language and Literatures to graduate-level research skills and professional practices. Meetings will include a variety of guest presentations, workshops, and library visits. Sessions will focus on such topics as archival research, digital tools, applying for grants, writing seminar papers and conference proposals, and submitting articles for publications.

Research in English Studies
Term 1
Thursday 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM


Required of all graduate students in the PhD program. Pass/Fail.

Studies in Bibliography
Term 1
Mondays 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM

This is a hands-on course in scholarly editing and publishing, in which we will work collaboratively across the term on a complete edition of Hobomok, the 1824 romance by American human rights campaigner Lydia Maria Child. The edition is under contract for 2025 publication by Broadview Press, and we will also develop some additional material for possible inclusion in the online resources for the Broadview Anthology of American Literature.

We will work on the text itself (cruxes, textual editing principles), on the identification and selection of historical appendices and illustrations, and on the critical introduction, footnotes, headnotes and contextual essays for a classroom edition of this complex fictionalization: in the (historical) Plymouth Colony, a (fictional) woman resists Puritan constraint and later marries Hobomok, a (historical) Pokanoket pniese and advisor to the Wampanoag sachem Massasoit. Child also published actively in the anti-slavery movement, and the course includes opportunities to work on her abolitionist writings. Students who complete the course will be named on the acknowledgements page in the published edition, and there will be an additional published teaching resource to which student-editors may be able to contribute.

This course will make use of scholarship on critical editing; on creating materials for decolonizing pedagogies; on the novel and its author; on women’s responses to Puritan patriarchies, romance as resistance, and the implications of colonial imaginings of Black and Indigenous lives by settler women; and on the historical Hobomok and his communities’ nuanced resistance to colonial violence and settler encroachment.

Course work will include one article-length essay (focused on either original scholarship or critical scholarly pedagogy), reviews of secondary readings (with short presentation), and several short researched editorial contributions (annotations, appendices, headnotes, illustrations).

Studies in Fiction
Term 2
Fridays 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM

In this seminar, we will explore Victorian fiction’s fascination with imagined futures, alternate histories, and wonderful inventions. The genre of scientific romance (later, science fiction) fully emerged in the period; utopian and dystopian fiction became popular; literature by leading authors envisioned fantastic new technologies, alternative cultures, and alien lifeforms. In recent years, Victorian criticism has come to appreciate that the non-realist fiction that was once critically undervalued is central to the literary culture of the period. The revaluation of these texts has been driven largely by a shift toward interdisciplinary modes of literary criticism. Nineteenth-century speculative fictions draw on scientific, psychological, biomedical, and political ideas that emerged in and transformed nineteenth-century culture. The literary texts we will read pose questions about gender, race, colonialism, globalization, industrialism, technological progress, political and social relations, and the nature of the human. Examining the fiction’s literary and cultural contexts, we will discuss such topics as automata and the boundaries between humans and machines, science fiction’s entanglement with colonialism, new conceptions of time and space, environmental concerns and apocalypse, and imagined evolutionary developments of body and mind.

Assignments and Other Requirements:

  • Seminar paper (roughly 20 pages)
  • Presentation (roughly 25 minutes)
  • Three sets of informal questions/comments on the readings

Texts will include:

  • Edward Bulwer-Lytton, The Coming Race
  • Samuel Butler, Erewhon
  • George Eliot, “The Lifted Veil” and “Shadows of the Coming Race”
  • Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, “Sultana’s Dream”
  • Karel Čapek, R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots)
  • H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds
  • Auguste Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, Tomorrow’s Eve
  • Short fiction by Rudyard Kipling, Margaret Oliphant, Grant Allen, Israel Zangwill, Elizabeth Corbett, Edward Bellamy

Selections from:

  • Mary Gibson, ed. Science Fiction in Colonial India
  • Frederic Jameson, “Progress or Utopia; or, Can We Imagine the Future”?
  • Iwan Rhys Morus, “Looking into the Future: The Telectroscope That Wasn’t There”
  • Louis Chude Sokei, The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics

Studies in Poetry
Term 2
Mondays 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Course details to follow.

Linguistic Studies of Contemporary English
Term 1
Thursdays 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Narrative meaning relies essentially on conceptualization of viewpoint. In this course, we will study theories of viewpoint proposed within cognitive linguistics and poetics, also adding some of the analytical tools used to study conceptual frames, mental spaces and blending, and multimodal interaction. The goal is to build an understanding of how viewpoint effects, even if observed in different modes of communication, rely on similar conceptualizations. We will apply these theories to a range of phenomena where narrative meaning emerges, seeking a better explanation of the mechanisms which prompt stories to help us interpret creative representations of situations.

We will first study the basics of current approaches to discourse viewpoint and narrative viewpoint, to then consider a range of examples from that perspective. Our readings, examples, and discussions will focus on a wide range of artifacts: novels, plays, films, graphic novels, video games, cartoons, advertisements, and, quite importantly, internet memes.

Among more theoretical problems related to narratives, we will address deictic meaning, forms of Speech and Thought Representation (including representation of experience), role of figuration, the nature of embodiment, sequentiality and causation, construction of identity, and the role of images in contemporary discourse.

Students will familiarize themselves with the methodologies and use the readings (scholarly articles and chapters) and in-class discussions to develop analytical skills that they would then use in their final project on relevant examples of their choice. All the readings will be available online via Canvas/UBC Library website.


Studies in Rhetoric
Term 2
Fridays 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM

While rhetorical studies has long engaged disability on issues of access and accessibility, scholars such as Tara Wood, Jay Dolmage, Margaret Price, and Cynthia Lewiecki-Wilson (2014) have urged the field to “move beyond mere lists and individual accommodations.” This seminar sets out to explore that “beyond,” teasing out the conflicts and potentials embedded at the intersection of disability, rhetoric, and activism. Over the course of the semester, we will ask two, interanimating questions: in what ways can we write about, theorize, and teach disability rhetorically? And in what ways might experiences of disability “crip” our understanding of rhetoric and rhetorical theory?

To further complicate these questions, our readings will insist that we adopt an intersectional lens, one that accounts for the ways both disability and sexuality are always already racialized, gendered, and classed. By the end of the course, you will come away with a thorough understanding of both the scope and the stakes of crip activism. Whether you intend to take up disability as the primary subject of your research or as a critical methodology to enrich your perspective on another topic, you’ll become aware of the centrality of disability, of its looming presence in rhetorical studies. As Rosemarie Garland-Thomson puts it (2016), “Disability is everywhere once you start noticing it.”

Importantly, disability is an embodied experience (rather than a purely theoretical exercise), which means our readings will include a combination of genres, such as memoir, fiction, theory, and graphic literature, that speak to disability’s materiality. The course assignments, too, will demand a kind of engagement with the world of disability that exceeds traditional library research and a final paper. These assignments ask you to take up Garland-Thomson’s call to “start noticing” disability in your scholarship, service, and lives outside of school. Noticing disability is a rhetorical task because it involves rescripting the discourses that we use to name and address bodymind difference. Indeed, this seminar sits delicately on the border of theory and praxis, urging us to take on a scholar-teacher-activist model of professionalism that reimagines disability and rhetoric in all aspects of our lives. As this seminar will make clear, studying crip rhetorics requires a commitment to fighting for disability liberation.

Middle English Studies
Term 2
Wednesdays 9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

The European Middle Ages have, from their very beginning, been called forth into the world through acts of dreaming. From Shakespeare's history play cycles to Tennyson's Idylls, Tolkien's medieval world-making to 2021's Capitol riot Viking Shaman, acts of medieval re-creation punctuate the histories of the west, conjuring forth a Middle Ages manifold in form and ideological content. Identity politics, and the question of who owns the past - and to what purposes this past is deployed - are concerns that lie at the heart of this course.

This course will examine the "Middle Ages" as a cultural phenomenon, tracing the continually reimagined idea of the medieval from its origins in the Early Modern through to its continual reinvention in early twenty-first century media. We will examine texts that track the slippery medieval through its long and varied history, taking in genres as diverse as theatre, poetry, the novel, film and TV, and the recent turn to the immersive digital medieval.

Studies in the Renaissance
Term 2
Tuesdays 9:30 PM - 12:30 PM

In 2021, UBC acquired a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio.  Published in 1623, the book is the first printing for nearly half of Shakespeare’s plays. Since there are no surviving manuscripts of any of Shakespeare’s works, 18 plays, including Macbeth, Anthony and Cleopatra, The Tempest and Twelfth Night, are known to us today only because they were first published in the Folio. The recent UBC acquisition, along with the fact that 2023 marks the 400th anniversary of the Folio’s publication, provides the occasion for this course.

Our seminar will take the First Folio as its object of study. All of our encounters with this book will be mediated by an interrogation of its status as both a luxury commodity to be collected and cultural property to be protected. We will query where the book’s value comes from and question the assumption that the volume is imbued with the aura of Shakespeare himself. We will think about the book’s role in the settling of North America – that is how it became what scholar Jyotsna Singh has described, as “a key signifier within colonial discourse.” We will also think about the ways in which the Folio, as an artifact from a world distant from our own, penned by a figure that continues to tower over our collective imagination, provides an occasion for UBC students and faculty, living and working on the unceded lands of the Coast Salish people, to rethink our understanding of literary and cultural history.

We will have limited access to the UBC copy at Rare Books and Special Collections, so we will take these opportunities to explore the things that make it unique. We will look for markers of use and readership and we will investigate the book’s previous owners. We will also look at how UBC is promoting this notable acquisition and we will consider the implications of our library’s policy around who is and is not given access to it.

In class, students will explore the story of the Folio’s printing (the gathering of the plays as well as how the book was physically printed) and explore the volume’s idiosyncrasies. Students will have the opportunity to learn about about the printing of dramatic and literary works in early modern period and they will explore the value of digitization projects in our own period. Students will also spend some time with the Folio plays themselves in order to think about what they add to the Shakespearean canon. We will consider the resources the Folio provides for theatre practitioners and we will ponder why it is that actors are particularly drawn to this book.

Reading for this course will include 3-4 plays and a selection of secondary material. Evaluation will include a seminar presentation and a research project. Participation will be evaluated and in person attendance will be mandatory

Students participating in this seminar may have the opportunity to attend a symposium on the First Folio scheduled for the Fall of 2023.

Studies in the Seventeenth Century
Term 1
Wednesdays 9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Woman-identified writers of the English Renaissance in many fascinating ways both disturb and amplify the public discourses of their eras.  They write into emergent Reformed nationalism and empire, speak for and against class hierarchies, create and subvert a politics of dissent, and reimagine authority.  These writers thus intervene in the major narratives of this century: the Protestant Reformation; English nation- and empire-building; civil and regional wars--as they also build new literary alliances, new communities of readers, and new genres.  This seminar will encounter a series of major English women writers from 1580-1680 and explore how they speak into their publics.


This course will implicitly challenge Habermas’ history of an emergent public sphere: whose politics, which publics?

We will use queer theory historians to study the roles of gender-identity and sexuality in these writers and in this era.

We will deploy scholarship on early English racialization to analyze the emergent colonialism and nationalism in which these writers operate.


Authors and Issues

  • Mary Sidney Herbert (Psalms & dedicatory poems): scriptural nationalism
  • Amelia Lanyer (Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum): women’s alliances & class-politics
  • Mary Wroth (Pamphilia to Amphilanthus; Urania): desire, nostalgia, eco-politics
  • Katherine Philips (Collected Poems; Letters): Royalist politics & female alliances
  • Elizabeth Cary, Tragedy of Mariam: White Feminism & marriage-policy
  • Margaret Cavendish, Convent of Pleasure: female pleasures, feminine communities
  • Mary Rowlandson (Sovereignty and Goodness of God): captivity narratives, early settler colonization
  • Margaret Fell (Women’s Speaking Justified): Quakers, revolution, & women’s spiritual voices

Course-Organization: We will all be responsible for our collective learning in every class, since that’s how a seminar works.  Graduate courses are also professional training grounds in which you become practiced in scholarly genres and modes.  All of the scaffolded course-work (article reviews, a presentation, a research project, weekly discussions) will facilitate our community of learning and your own growing professional skills.

Studies in the Victorian Period
Term 1
Mondays 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM

This seminar offers students a deep dive into the varied literary career and complex cultural afterlife of Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), the late-Victorian writer and personality. Although Wilde is perhaps best known as a playwright, he also published in multiple genres, including poetry, fiction, criticism, and fairy tales. Wilde was also a journalist, public speaker, and one of the inaugural figures in the modern phenomenon we now call celebrity culture. He reveled in paradox and contradiction: an Irish nationalist who adored Queen Victoria, Wilde was a self-proclaimed Socialist and Feminist who nevertheless gloried in his elite access to prestige and privilege. Wilde’s trials and subsequent imprisonment for “gross indecency” in 1895 remain a turning point in legal and literary history; those events also had, and continue to have, an indelible impact in shaping our understanding of queer identity and politics. In this course, we will consider Wilde’s writing and life by reading texts by him, about him, and even those erroneously attributed to him with an eye to the shifting contours of his reception and reputation. Students will also have an opportunity to work directly with rare and unique editions of Wilde’s writings at UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections.

WARNING: one of our texts (Teleny) is pornographic.

Main texts:

  • Anon., Teleny, or, the Reverse of the Medal (selections)
  • F. Bloxam, “The Priest and the Acolyte” (Canvas)
  • Alfred Douglas, “Two Loves” and “The Dead Poet”
  • Merlin Holland, The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde (Harper Perennial)
  • Oscar Wilde,  The Major Works (Oxford)
  • Salome (Illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley)
  • The Soul of Man under Socialism and Selected Critical Prose (Penguin)
  • “The English Renaissance” and “The House Beautiful” (Canvas)Our readings will also include the latest critical and theoretical developments in Wilde Studies.

Studies in the Twentieth Century
Term 1
Tuesdays 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Virginia Woolf, War, and Post-Conflict Studies: From the First World War to the War in Ukraine

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), one of the most celebrated writers of the twentieth century, lived in a period punctuated by devastating international conflicts, including the First World War (1914-1918), the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), and the Second World War (1939-1945). As a member of the Bloomsbury Group, she associated with influential artists and intellectuals such as J. M. Keynes and Leonard Woolf, who intervened in public debates on the Treaty of Versailles (1919) and the League of Nations (1920-1946), respectively. For her part, Woolf reflected on the causes and effects of hostilities in occasional writings, a polemical essay, experimental novels, and late fictions. Since the publication of the signal collection Virginia Woolf and War (1991), scholars have paid increasing attention to this pivotal concern in her oeuvre. We revisit Woolf’s writings on total war and the rise of fascism in a time of climate emergency marked by the return of conventional military tactics and right-wing populist leaders. To what extent do Woolf’s innovative texts illuminate transhistorical problems in studies of war ranging from the First World War to the War in Ukraine? Conversely, how do her investigations of conflict expose ethicopolitical dilemmas–inequities, injuries, displacements, and divisions–particular to her era?

We begin with timely theoretical interventions in war and post-conflict studies before turning to sociopolitical perspectives on the First World War and its aftermath by Woolf’s contemporaries (including Hogarth Press [1917-1946] editions in UBC Rare Books and Special Collections). In the next section, we grapple with key statements on militarism and pacifism in Woolf criticism prior to our deliberations on her occasional essays (ca. 1915-1940) and Three Guineas (1938). The third unit features prominent research on Woolf’s experimental fictions before we approach Jacob’s Room (1922) and Mrs. Dalloway (1925). Similarly, we address noted critical essays on Woolf’s late novels in the fourth part of the seminar before we interpret The Years (1937) and Between the Acts (1941). In the concluding section, we gauge the impacts of twenty-first century wars and conflicts in Woolf studies and we consider the limits and possibilities of post-conflict paradigms. Assignments may include a reading journal; a seminar presentation; a project proposal; and a final essay. In summary, this seminar orients students to multidisciplinary research on organized violence; promotes familiarity with diverse texts in Woolf’s oeuvre; fosters critical fluency in Woolf scholarship; and invites speculation on modes of theorizing war.

Studies in American Literature to 1890
Term 2
Wednesdays 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Most of us have had the experience of paying good money so we can sit in a theatre, watch a film, and be terrified.  What reward or pleasure is there in being artificially afraid? In this course we will investigate the genre of “terror,” partly by reading gothic materials themselves and partly by looking at a history of explanations of how the gothic works.  Our focus in terms of primary texts will be on memorable gothic tales produced by nineteenth and twentieth-century US writers and filmmakers. Our focus in terms of explanatory models will be, first, on psychoanalytic and anthropological models that relate the gothic to the subject’s or the culture’s repressed or unconscious life; and, second, on constructivist and critical race theory models that see the gothic as a political structure.  In this sense the course will look not just at a certain strand of the gothic itself but also at a rough map of twentieth and twentieth-first-century theorizations of the gothic. Fictional texts to be studied include: the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, H.P. Lovecraft, Henry James, and the poems of Emily Dickinson. Films to be studied include: George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, Ridley Scott’s Alien, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, Robert Eggers’ The VVitch, Jordan Peele’s Us, and Ari Aster’s Hereditary. We will be reading essays from Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva, Slavoj Žižek, Silvia Federici, Michel Foucault, Alexander G. Weheliye, and Christina Sharpe.

Studies in American Literature Since 1890
Term 1
Thursdays 9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

The seminar will focus on three U.S. writers: Gertrude Stein, Richard Wright, and Mary McCarthy. These writers are most often associated with the aesthetics and politics of early- and mid-centiury modernism, but in this course we will think about their writing as it participates in that earlier, somewhat outré literary formation known as naturalism. With its origins in the work of the French writer Emile Zola and its uptake in the American scene by Frank Norris and others, naturalism is often characterized as an attempt to realize nineteenth-century materialist, scientific theories (of heredity and political economy, for example) in literary form. And while it bears some resemblance to nineteenth-century realism, naturalism's commitment to obscure forces that determine subjectivity and behaviour make it continuous with twentieth-century aesthetics often associated with modernism

In this seminar we will ask questions that disturb any easy periodizations of literary practices. What role do naturalist formations play in twentieth-century writing that takes up these conventions in the critical, experimental modalities that we associate with modernism? What happens to gender, sexuality, race, class, and other categories when naturalizing tendencies come into relation to specific historical and political exigencies (such as changing institutions of gender and sexuality, racial segregation and protest, radical worker movements and anti-Communism)? What is there to be learned from a "weak theoretical" approach to literary writing (to cite Paul Saint-Amour citing Silvan Tomkins) that approaches these writers (and others) with close attention to phenomenologies of reading? Methodologically, this seminar offers a syncretic mix of literary and cultural history, American studies, modernist studies, and affect theory.

In addition to the seminar's focus on Stein, Wright, and McCarthy, authors may include: Emile Zola, Frank Norris, W.E.B Du Bois, Mina Loy, Jesse Fausset, Nella Larsen, Hannah Arendt, and others, and selections from relevant secondary work by Mark Seltzer, Sianne Ngai, Christina Sharpe, Mark Goble, and others.

Course currently under construction.

Studies in Canadian Literature
Term 1
Fridays 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM

“Improvisation,” says the American historian Robin D. G. Kelley, “is the most important tool you have to navigate both the catastrophe we’re facing and the counter-planning needed to move beyond that catastrophe.” “As a mode of being in the world,” write Daniel Fischlin, Ajay Heble and George Lipsitz in The Fierce Urgency of Now: Improvisation, Rights, and the Ethics of Cocreation (2013), “improvisation shows us that there are other ways of doing things, that social change is possible, that another world is possible.” The recent decade has witnessed the emergence (at conjunctions of Literary and Performance Studies, of Cultural Studies and Media Theory) of a vitally Canadian version of Critical Studies in Improvisation, in socially-engaged academic, artistic, and community contexts across North America and around the world. While improvisation is commonly associated with theatre, comedy and jazz, study has expanded to include the politics of protest and community formation, as well as the temporality and historicity of many forms of text and representation. This seminar will offer encounters with significant Canadian bodies of creative and co-creative work, enacted through the dynamic critical framework of Critical Studies in Improvisation. We will use the first four weeks of the seminar to begin to develop both theory and method around the study of improvisation, as a form of practice-based research and as a present-tense modality of “doing the work,” including such key concepts as attendance, close listening, risk, care, accompaniment, reciprocity and disruption; this stage of the work will involve addressing and interrogating tactics of decolonial unsettling that are changing how we understand the literary, cultural and media landscape of the country. In addition to key examples of improvisatory technique in fiction, poetry, song, theatre and film by, possibly among others, Michael Snow, Jordan Abel, Karen Solie, Michel and Jeannette Lambert, Lorna Goodison, George Elliott Clarke, The Weather Station, Dylan Robinson, François Houle, Cadence Weapon, Pierre Hébert, Esi Edugyan, and Michael Ondaatje, students in the seminar will be invited to bring in samples of current creative work in Canada that engages their interest. The second half of the seminar will involve two-week case studies of works by four crucial figures in contemporary Canadian arts: Dionne Brand, Don McKay, Fred Wah, and Alanis Obomsawin. We will take time to investigate and to navigate the imaginative potentials that their poetry, prose and film enact. In what ways do they unsettle Canada, but also present possibilities for imagining other kinds of community?

Studies in Commonwealth/Post-colonial Literatures
Term 2
Thursdays 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

“Development”—and its myriad cognates, including “underdevelopment,” “uneven development,” “developing nations,” “human development index” and so forth—has been the central paradigm framing colonial and postcolonial geopolitical and economic structures over the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The aim of this seminar is twofold: first, we will trace the history and evolution of the term “development,” the ways it has been differently envisioned and defined; its historical impact on colonial, postcolonial, and international forms of governance; and its imbrication with other political discourses like human rights and gender equality. Second, the course will read twentieth- and twenty-first century colonial, postcolonial, and world Anglophone fiction to see how various novelistic forms, especially the Bildungsroman—the quintessential narrative of development—adapt themselves to different socio-historical conditions of development and intervene in broader political debates.


Primary texts may include Joyce Cary’s Mister Johnson, Mulk Raj Anand’s Untouchable, Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo, Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions, Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’O, Petals of Blood, Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place, Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide, and Linda Hogan’s Solar Storms. Secondary readings will be drawn from an intersection of humanities and social sciences scholarship (in the field of development studies), including work by Gilbert Rist, James Ferguson, Frederick Cooper, Gayatri Spivak, Frantz Fanon, Walter Rodney, Brian Larkin, Michael Rubenstein, Martha Nussbaum, and Amartya Sen.

Studies in Literary Movements
Term 2
Tuesdays 1:30 PM - 4:30 PM

This graduate course will think through, extend, and expand on existing research on speculative Indigenous literatures and their relationship to popular engagements with contemporary political, social, and ecological challenges. This course will also examine how different populations stake particular claims to the future. We will look at the ways in which Indigenous peoples are often written out of the futures that are imagined in speculative and science fiction texts, while also remaining as a spectral, disavowed presence. However, we will also investigate how Indigenous communities conceptualize their own horizons or futurities, and how these prefigurative modes of thought have the potential to shape the present. In particular, we will look at key concepts such as  settler colonial capitalism, resource extraction, and Indigenous communities' resistance(s) to these efforts.

The course will focus primarily on state structures in what is currently a Canadian and U.S. context, and how these Western political formations come into conflict/contention with Indigenous assertions of self-determination, stewardship, and anti-capitalist modes of being. We will examine some of the diverse ways in which creative and critical Indigenous theory and literary texts, and other modes of cultural production, contest the dominant forms of accumulation and extractivism in the present and how they may preclude our capabilities to theorize or even imagine a future. This engagement will foster an understanding of how Indigenous literary and critical studies conceptualizes and addresses the heterogeneity of possible Indigenous futurisms, and will take up the work of Leanne Simpson, Billy-Ray Belcourt, José Esteban Muñoz, Joshua Whitehead, among other writers and theorists. This course will also look at independent and "blockbuster" science fiction films to interrogate futures they both delimit and (pr)offer.

Studies in Literary Theory
Term 1
Tuesdays 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM

This class is an opportunity for intensive study in one of the most promising areas of development in Trans Studies today: a field aptly described by Elle O’Rourke and Jules Gleeson as “Transgender Marxism.”  The course will explore the intersection of Marxist thought and struggles around gender and sexuality, and will address and introduce classic areas in Marxist analysis - such as production/reproduction, the commodity-form, and fetishism -  as well as more vanguard areas of the field - such as metabolic rift theory and eco-socialism - alongside major LGBTQIA movements, movements for racial justice, sex workers’ rights, industrial labor and workplace struggles, health activism, land struggles, mutual aid, and immigrant rights. Throughout, we will center a meta-methodological question that comes directly from a Transgender Marxist praxis itself: why is it that much of the most important and impactful work in trans theory and thought is being produced outside of academia proper? We will take seriously and discuss the historical conditions for this situation, and the majority of our materials and guest lectures will be drawn from non-academic or para-academic scholars and thinkers. Authors may include theorists, poets, activists, and artists such as Andrea Abi-Karam and Kay Gabriel, Eman Abdelhadi and M.E. O’Brien, Aren Aizura, Tithi Bhattacharya, Lou Cornum, Treva Ellison, Leslie Feinberg, Jules Gill-Peterson, Jules Gleeson and Elle O’Rourke, Sophie Lewis, Max Liboiron, Petrus Liu, Nat Raha, Dean Spade, and C. Riley Snorton. 

Studies in Literary Theory
Term 2
Thursdays 2:30 PM - 5:30 PM

This seminar explores the relationship between race, capitalism, and information technologies. By following these links, we attend to historical and contemporary racial formations and/as “new” technologies—including settler colonial figurations of enslaved and indentured labour that construct borders around the human, the nonhuman, and the machinic; techno-Orientalist discourses in the information age; border surveillance and computation; and the logics of algorithms in social and political practices. The seminar also takes up theories of race, gender, and sexuality as they pertain to new media performance, affect, and labour. With a particular focus on Asian North American and new media studies, we will read critical theory across different fields and engage a variety of texts, including visual art, film, literature, music, and digital media.

Topics in Science and Technology Studies
Term 1
Wednesdays 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Media & Misinformation: The History of Truth from Pseudoscience to Propaganda"
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Media and Misinformation: The History of Truth from Pseudoscience to Propaganda

Information and propaganda, science and truth, planetary crises and democratic responses are inter-dependent. The lives of people and the planet will depend on our ability to communicate accurately and effectively. Media Studies, traditionally the locus for the study of communication technologies, has, by necessity, expanded its field to engage with disciplines such as Science and Technology Studies, Information Studies, Infrastructure and Network analysis, as well as with established disciplines such as History, Geography, and English. This new iteration of Media Studies has now become the most consequential place—inside and outside the academy—for a new critical, interdisciplinary vocabulary to take effect.

This course offers a design for a new kind of literacy. The future world citizen must be equally proficient in analyzing technical, historical, and narrative forms. Yet our disciplines parse, prioritize, and rank these forms of representation, creating students highly skilled in one or two but not across the diverse forms in which “truth” and “information” come packaged today. The future of education is interdisciplinary, because our crises are inter-connected, and because transdisciplinary citizens are needed to address planetary and political challenges. This course seeks to create a set of tools that will enable critique at the intersection of the history of truth and the future of citizenship.

Studies in Environmental Humanities
Term 1
Fridays 9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Storying Land: Canadian Literary Ecologies

Since emerging as a multidisciplinary field in the early twenty-first century, environmental humanities research has variously interrogated the narratives and cultural concepts figuring humanity’s relations to the land and non-human nature. Imperative to literary criticism within this paradigm has been not only a reappraisal of “nature” as an object of study but a reorientation of anthropocentric understandings of humanistic “culture” (including the Humanities) toward its material and ecological embeddedness—pressingly, the inseparability of environmental crises from their historical and cultural foundations shaping how we imagine (and might reimagine) what it means to live in relation to the land. In the context of lands claimed by the state formation of Canada—the land beneath our feet at UBC—such crises and relations are profoundly marked by the history of colonization and encompass radical differences between settler and Indigenous epistemologies. Literature in Canada is implicated in the historical stabilization of foundational binaries between “human” and “nature” that have naturalized the eliminatory and extractive logics of settler-colonial territoriality, a violent structure both of land-based domination and environmental injustice. A grounding place for struggles towards decolonial and/as environmental justice in the work of many writers, artists, scholars, and activists in Canada today is thus the meaning of the land. How do we know the land in literature? Can literature write the land (without exploiting it)? How might the land itself speak through literature? How is it heard?

In this seminar we will take up these (and other) questions by examining literature’s relationship with land in the context of Canada. Our concern will be to first establish a historical perspective, and then to ask what role stories and literary arts are playing in denaturalizing settler-capitalism by envisioning reciprocal land relations and more environmentally just futures. We will begin by examining the Eurodescendant epistemologies transposed by writers who mapped onto ostensibly “new” territory ideas about the sublime beauty or terror of a vast, unpopulated landscape—ideas like “wilderness” and “the North” that supported Canadian national identity, Indigenous erasure, and the work of “developing” lands and resources. We will consider how such land-claiming narratives delegitimated other ways of living and making meaning in relation to the land, displacing not only the storied knowledge of Indigenous peoples who have lived with the land for millennia, but other diasporic relations to place and ecology. We will look to decolonial epistemologies of land and kinship in contemporary Indigenous literary arts and activism to consider resurgence in relation to environmental justice (and in conflict with certain currents of “environmentalism”), and to cultural ecologies of non-Indigenous solidarity and anti-anthropocentric resistance. Our readings will broach both rural and urban lands in Canada, range from the Pacific coast to the Prairies to the high Arctic to the Maritimes, and address particular crises and sites of resource extraction (e.g., pipelines, tarsands, climate change), adopting an expansive sense of the “literary” in diverse genres and representational forms.


We’ll be localizing our approach to the diffuse field of environmental humanism within Canadian contexts, drawing on Indigenous studies and settler-colonial studies as they interface with thinking in ecocriticism, Anthropocene studies, petrocultures/energy humanities, critical race studies, and environmental and climate justice.

Students can expect a mixture of creative and critical texts; while not a “theory” seminar exclusively, it encompasses theory and encourages students to consider stories and creative arts as theoretical. Generally, our weekly seminars will combine secondary readings with a primary text(s) in the form of novels, books of poetry, short stories, short and feature-length films, digital media, and visual art. A provisional list of authors/artists includes Jeannette Armstrong, Margaret Atwood, Di Brandt, Edward Burtynsky, Warren Cariou, Stephen Collis and Jordan Scott, Glen Coulthard, Cherie Dimaline, Margery Fee, Northrop Frye, Dina Gilio-Whitaker, the Group of Seven, Donna Haraway, Tasha Hubbard, Naomi Klein, Bruno Latour, Lee Maracle, Cecily Nicholson, Rob Nixon, Howard O’Hagan, Al Purdy, Eden Robinson, Zoe Todd, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Imre Szeman, Tanya Tagaq, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Fred Wah, Kyle Powys Whyte, Patrick Wolfe, rita wong, Kathryn Yusoff, Zacharias Kunuk.


2022 Winter Session

Term 1
Thursdays, 1230pm-230pm

Required of all graduate students in the M.A. program. Pass/Fail.

Term 1
Thursdays, 1230pm-230pm

Required of all graduate students in the program. Pass/Fail.

Studies in Bibliography
Term 2
Friday, 9:30am-1230pm

This course will develop students’ archival and digital research methods using Early Chinese Canadian literature and history as a case study. Drawing on digitized newspapers, Head Tax records, and other sources, students will build 4 digital projects—a WordPress biography of an early Chinese Canadian, a collaborative KnightLab Timeline, a collaborative Storymap, and a TEI-encoded digital edition—to share our research on early Chinese Canadian literature and authors. Each of these assignments will produce work to be shared via public-facing sites. We will pay particular attention to the lives and works of three early Chinese North American authors: 1) Edith Eaton (1865-1914), author of Mrs. Spring Fragrance (1912), who, as “Sui Sin Far,” penned sympathetic fictional and journalistic portraits of diasporic Chinese in Montreal and cities in the eastern and western US during the Yellow Peril era, and hundreds of uncollected works that I will share with students; 2) Her younger sister Winnifred Eaton Babcock Reeve (1875-1954), who published bestselling novels set in Japan while masquerading as Yokohama-born Japanese noblewoman “Onoto Watanna,” before abandoning this masquerade to lead Universal Studio’s screenwriting department, champion Canadian literature as President of Calgary’s branch of the Canadian Authors’ Association, found Alberta’s Little Theatre movement, and write moving realist fiction and journalism about life on the Canadian prairie; and 3) their mother Achuen “Grace” Amoy Eaton, author of an autobiographical serialized novella. Most classes will be a mix of discussion and hands-on digital research and writing.

Studies in English Historical Linguistics
Term 2
Tuesday, 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm

The languages of Europe’s nation states have not only been major vehicles of nation building but also of colonization and the export and reification of hegemonial perspectives. The connection of language and nation has indeed been so powerful that today we are still confronted with the legacies of late 18th and early 19th-century thinking in our conceptualizations of “language”. Which linguistic varieties are afforded and which denied the label “language” is not so much linguistically informed as socio-politically conditioned and here lingering colonial legacies loom large.

In this seminar we will study the roles of language in nation building and colonization, with special emphasis on the various instantiations of English. We will revisit the making of English as a national and imperial language, starting in Old English times and stretching all the way to the present. We will critically review the key achievements in the English language, such as Johnson’s dictionary, the prescriptive grammar tradition, the Oxford English Dictionary (Brewer 2007) or the Quirk et al. grammar (1985), and test their conceptualizations and presuppositions against notions that are associated with standard languages, such as homogeneity, superiority and purity.

We will see that, surprisingly, in some present-day approaches to language the discourses of hegemony still lurk in unsuspecting corners relating to what is perceived as a language and what not (Dollinger 2019a). It is safe to say that these discourses have left their mark on most if not all standard varieties (e.g. Dollinger 2019b), often via a stifling of Indigenous voices (Griffith 2019).

Select references:

Brewer, Charlotte. 2007. Treasure-House of the Language: The Living OED. Yale: Yale University Press.

Dollinger, Stefan. 2019a. The Pluricentricity Debate: On Austrian German and Other Germanic Standard Varieties. London: Routledge.

Dollinger, Stefan. 2019b. Creating Canadian English: the Professor, the Mountaineer, and a National Variety of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gramling, David. 2016. The Invention of Monolingualism. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Langer, Nils and Winifred V. Davies (eds). 2005. Linguistic Purism in the Germanic Languages. Berlin: de Gruyter.

Nelson, Cecil, Zoya Proshina & Daniel Davis (eds.) 2020. Handbook of World Englishes, Second edition. Malden, MA: Blackwell-Wiley.

Piller, Ingrid. 2017. Intercultural Communication: A Critical Introduction. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Quirk, Randolph, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartvik. 1985. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. London: Longman.

Watts, Richard and Peter Trudgill (eds). 2002. Alternative Histories of English. London: Routledge.

Watts, Richard. 2011. Language Myths and the History of English. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Willinsky, John. 1994. Empire of Words: the Reign of the OED. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Linguistic Studies of Contemporary English
Term 1
Monday, 2:00pm-5:00pm

Conceptual structures participate in meaning construction in all communicative contexts. In processing language and other communicative artifacts we are not simply relying on the meanings of words and the use of grammatical structures. More accurately, we are using such forms as prompts for mental construction of meanings.

In the course, students will be introduced to several cognitive theories of meaning emergence (conceptual metaphor, blending, conceptual viewpoint, multimodal communication). We will apply the theories to a range of phenomena, especially those which participate in the expression of viewpoint. We will start with theoretical concepts, as applied to language and to narratives, to then consider various genres of multimodal expression.

Students will familiarize themselves with the methodologies, to then apply the concepts in the area of communication of their choice. Students will be encouraged to explore various areas of usage, literary or non-literary, to uncover the interpretive potential of the theories in focus and develop their own research projects.

Readings will include a variety of scholarly articles and book chapters on cognitive approaches to figurative language, narrative, and multimodal artifacts (such as cartoons, advertisements, or internet memes). All readings will be available online, via Library e-Resources.

Selected references:

Sullivan, Karen, 2017. Conceptual metaphor. In The Cambridge Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics (edited by Barbara Dancygier); Chapter 24. 385-406

Oakley, Todd and Esther Pascual. 2017. Conceptual Integration Theory. In The Cambridge Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics (edited by Barbara Dancygier); Chapter 26. 423-448

Dancygier, Barbara. 2012. The Language of Stories. Cambridge University Press, Chapter 2 and Chapter 6

Sweetser, Eve, 2013. Creativity Across Modalities in Viewpoint-Construction . In Borkent, Dancygier, and Hinnell. Language and the Creative Mind; CSLI Publications. 239-254.

Lou, Adrian. 2017. Multimodal simile: The “when” meme in social media discourse. English Text Construction 10:1, 106-131.

Dancygier, Barbara and Lieven Vandelanotte. 2016. Discourse viewpoint as network. In Viewpoint and the Fabric of Meaning, eds. Barbara Dancygier, Wei-lun Lu, and Arie Verhagen. Mouton-de Gruyter, 13-40.

Studies in Rhetoric
Term 2
Thursday, 9:00am-12:00pm

This course explores rhetorical theory beyond the Greco-Roman and Western traditions (e.g. Aristotle, Cicero, & Burke) by delving into a range of diverse rhetorical treatises from across time and space. To ground the class in the field’s Greek origins the class begins with Aristotle’s Rhetoric as an exemplar from the Greco-Roman tradition, which will lead into an overview of the still-nascent field of Comparative Rhetoric. Other readings might include ancient Egyptian wisdom literature, the Ethiopian philosophical treatises of Zär'a Yə‘qob and Wäldä Ḥəywåt, a survey of Qur’anic rhetoric’s inimitability, such as that of al-Jurjani, an excerpt of al-Rāzī’s Qur’anic exegesis, a sampling of Daoist rhetorical writings by Wen Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Xunxi, and others, Nagarjuna’s esoteric Buddhist logic The Dispeller of Disputes, the Chāndogya Upanishad, which explores the relationship of speech to Vedic divinity, a more contemporary look at the state of rhetoric on the Indian subcontinent with Amartya Sen’s The Argumentative Indian, a selection of Mao Tse Tung’s speeches and writings about propaganda, and/or other similarly divergent texts that display a variety of historical world rhetorics.

Middle English Studies
Term 1
Wednesday, 9:30am-12:30pm

Much medieval cultural production rebukes humanist narcissism: in premodern literature we see hybrid human-animal saints, birdsong drowning out human speech, and wild predators as moral actors. But other literature—for instance, English and French devotional poetry in which the child Jesus gleefully turns Jews into pigs—demonstrates that medieval authors were well-versed in species denigration as a racial, religious, and sexual cudgel.

This graduate medieval studies seminar examines the boundary between humans and beasts, interrogating how racial, sexual, and other forms of difference overlap with human-animal difference in medieval literature and culture. We will also consider when and how questions of sovereignty and subordination, linguistic difference, disability, childhood, and queerness become affiliated with the bestial.

Primary texts may include Ibn Khālawayh’s Names of the Lion, the alliterative Middle English Siege of Jerusalem, the Brethren of Purity’s The Case of the Animals versus Man Before the King of the Jinn, Marie de France’sBisclavret, Gerald of Wales’s History and Topography of Ireland, gruesome miracle tales such as The Cannibal of Qəmər and The Children of the Oven, and homoerotic love poetry. Theoretical texts will include work by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Mel Y. Chen, Bénédicte Boisseron, Karl Steel, Che Gossett, and Tavia Nyong’o.

Student evaluation is based on seminar participation (20%), presentation (20%), research abstract and bibliography (20%), and conference paper (40%).

Studies in the Renaissance
Term 2
Tuesday, 9:30am - 12:30pm

Early modern English men and women increasingly came into contact—via travel, travel writing, and plays—with non-European peoples, and this contact inspired a host of feelings. This seminar will examine the intersections of race and feeling on the early modern English stage. We will consider how playwrights attempt to shape how audiences feel about non-White people, and how such feelings participate in the production of racial difference, especially whiteness. We will investigate the work that early modern English plays did within what scholars of emotion call “emotional communities”—composed of people who are moved by similar interests and values—to legitimize race and racism. Feelings are messy things, however; we will also have to ask if feelings potentially undermine the very racializing structures they are being deployed to create.

Our early modern English texts will include selections from Richard Hakluyt’s Principle Navigations, George Peele’s The Battle of Alcazar, Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta, William Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, and The Tempest, Thomas Heywood’s Fair Maid of the West, John Fletcher’s The Island Princess, and Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam. Our readings of early modern texts will be aided by literary criticism, critical race studies, the history of emotion, and scholarship on emotions from the social sciences and critical theory.

Assignments: weekly 1-2-page response papers, an oral presentation, and a seminar paper.

Studies in the Eighteenth Century
Term 1
Thursday, 9:30am-12:30pm

Among other revolutionary developments of this era, eighteenth-century philosophy, literature and culture developed ideas of race and gender that remained widely accepted until recently. Eighteenth-century writers legitimized the belief that the human species is divided into five or six “races” that were innately distinct, with the white or “Caucausian” race at the top of a hierarchy. In terms of gender, Michel Foucault, Thomas Laqueur and other theorists have argued that the eighteenth century constructed a “two-sex” model of heteronormativity which made men and women innately distinct. In other words, “race” and “gender” are temporally co-extensive ideologies that emerged under the same social and political conditions.

The aim of this seminar will be to explore how these ideologies of race, sex and gender were interrelated in a more general field of power. We will consider, for example, how early modern notions of non-European “barbaric” sexual profligacy and potency gave way, in some quarters, to ideas of the “effeminized” and passive African, Asian and indigenous American. Miscegenation became a widespread trope in British drama and poetry, as in the many versions of Oroonoko, a phenomenon that begs the question of how sexuality affected the campaign to abolish the slave-trade at the same time. The appropriation of “virgin” territory became an important trope in imperialistic discourse during the creation of the first and second British Empires. Historical literary figures such as Cleopatra and Dido began to be reimagined as Black. In summary, race and gender are overlapping forms of discourse whose historical interconnections continue to shed light on our own times.

Texts: Background theory: selections from Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Thomas Laqueur, Anne McClintock, Felicity Nussbaum, Sander Gilman and others

Primary Texts will include: Aphra Behn Oroonoko and dramatic adaptations; Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Turkish Embassy Letters; George Colman, Inkle and Yarico and other versions of this legend; Mungo Park, Travels into the Interior of Africa; Phillis Wheatley, selected poems; Anon., A Woman of Colour; eighteenth-century adaptations of Othello; Thomas Day and John Bicknell, The Dying Negro; Hannah More, Slavery; William Dodd, The African Prince; John Shebbeare, Lydia; literature on the British Empire in India

Studies in the Victorian Period
Term 1
Tuesday, 2:00pm-5:00pm

This seminar will situate five canonical works of fiction in relation to the mid- and late Victorian print cultures that produced them: Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, George Eliot’s Middlemarch, Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge, and Oscar Wilde’s A House of Pomegranates. Working with copies of the earliest publications (available in Rare Books and Special Collections and/or in my personal collection), we will explore how the material form and publication of a work – including whether it was first published serially or in its entirety and the ways in which publishers targeted particular types (sometimes classes) of readers – affected the reading experience. What difference does it make to read Bleak House in nineteen monthly parts, with each instalment of Dickens’s text preceded by Hablot K. Browne’s (Phiz’s) illustrated cover, the “Bleak House Advertiser,” and two (four in the final double number) Phiz plates, or in the first edition with Phiz’s illustrations interspersed throughout the volume? Or Middlemarch in eight parts (with advertisements and decorated wrappers) or in the four-volume first edition? How does reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in the first edition, for which the placement of John Tenniel’s illustrations was carefully planned by both Tenniel and Carroll, influence the interpretation of the text? What effect does the format of The Graphic: An Illustrated Weekly Newspaper – its folio-size pages, high-quality illustrations, and emphasis on news stories – have on reading the serialized Mayor of Casterbridge, illustrated by Robert Barnes? How does this experience differ from reading the heavily revised, unillustrated novel one volume at a time as borrowed from a lending library? How do the material aspects of A House of Pomegranates – for example, the binding, the cover design, and the illustrations by Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon – help to define the volume as a work of the Aesthetic movement and/or as a collection of fairy tales?

Because four of our five texts are illustrated we will discuss Victorian ways of seeing as well as ways of reading, both of which have been extensively analyzed and theorized in recent years. Print- and visual-culture readings will include work by Gillian Beer, Monica F. Cohen, Gerard Curtis, Simon Eliot, Kamilla Elliott, Kate Flint, Nicholas Frankel, Helen Groth, Josephine M. Guy and Ian Small, Zoe Jaques and Eugene Giddens, John O. Jordan, Anna Kérchy, Amanda Lastoria, Thomas Leitch, Richard Menke, Robert L. Patten, Clare Pettitt, Leah Price, Jonathan Rose, Stuart Sillars, Emily Steinlight, Rosemarie C. Sultan, Julia Thomas, and Mou-Lon Wong.

We will also explore how one of our texts, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, functions in relation to twentieth- and twenty-first-century print/visual cultures, discussing a selection of illustrated editions in RBSC’s “Alice 100” collection, as well as – depending on the interests of the seminar participants – adaptations, transmediations, and manifestations of Alice as culture-text, a text that occupies such a prominent place in the popular imagination that it is collectively known and “remembered” even when the original work has never been read.

While discussing the literary works in relation to print culture will be central to our seminar, we will also explore other aspects of our texts. Students will be encouraged to give presentations and to write papers on any topics of interest raised by these works.

Studies in the Twentieth Century
Term 2
Monday, 9:30am-12:30pm

This course looks especially but not exclusively to the revolutionary and radical lefts of modernism, including avant-garde, queer, anti-racist, anti-colonial, socialist, and feminist writers, in order to understand the relationship of modernist literary practice to modernist commitments, and whether or what in modernism is antagonistic to fascism, as well as to what new politics were being generated, if any.

  1. How did feminists and other politically marginalized figures of the avant-garde evolve politically and artistically through the decades between and after the world wars?
  2. How were traditional major attachments such as to conventional ideations of the home and nation under pressure and becoming otherwise among exilic groups?
  3. How did modernists correspond and produce expressive creative work critiquing the ideologies of the time and constructing/representing their identities as networked exilic public intellectuals?

Texts will likely include Franz Kafka, James Baldwin, Nella Larsen, Katherine Mansfield, Rebecca West, Djuna Barnes, Jean Rhys, James Joyce, Sean O’Casey, Samuel Beckett, Gertrude Stein, George Orwell, Theodor Adorno and other Frankfurt School writers, Etienne Balibar, Rosi Braidotti, Edward Said, Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe.

Studies in American Literature to 1890
Term 2
Tuesday, 1:30pm-4:30pm

In the early nineteenth-century, intellectuals in the United States, Britain, and Europe became fascinated with the culture of what was called the “folk.” Indicating population pockets that allegedly had not yet entered modernity (and in some cases, it was believed, never would enter modernity), the “folk” were a vital source of myth and fictional narrative for Western romanticism, providing modern nations and peoples with deep time histories and legendary authorizations for current power. In this course we will read and watch works from within a subset of folk narrative called folk horror. Unlike conventional gothic horror stories, which often focus on the malevolence of bygone aristocratic, monarchical, and religious formations, folk horror posits the haunting of modernity by a primitive past, whether an unfamiliar group of people/creatures or set of ancient stories that modernity has forgotten or failed to overcome. Folk horror has also, importantly, been utilized to relay the experiences and histories of marginalized groups. In this course, we will study several folk horror tales and films with a view to understanding their relationship to the development of modern nationalisms and to racialized and evolutionary historiography. In addition to studying works of fiction, we will also read theoretical works linked to the gothic and to critical race, decolonial, and feminist theory. We will read Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Angela Carter, Toni Morrison, and Cherie Dimaline. We will also watch the following films: The Wicker Man, The Witch, US, and Midsommer. We will read Sigmund Freud, Étienne Balibar, Susan Stewart, Tzvetan Todorov, Hortense Spillers, Alexander G. Weheliye, and Christina Sharpe.

Studies in American Literature Since 1890
Term 1
Tuesday, 9:30am-12:30pm

This seminar will examine in depth works from the 1970s to the 2010s by three of the great U.S. novelists: Don DeLillo, Toni Morrison, and Chang-rae Lee. Readings will include most or all of the following over the 13 weeks of the term: DeLillo’s Americana (1971), The Names (1982), and Libra (1988); Morrison’s Song of Solomon (1977), Jazz (1992), and Paradise (1997); and Lee’s Native Speaker (1995), A Gesture Life (1999), and On Such a Full Sea (2014).

Our goal will in part be to understand 40 to 50 years of literary and cultural history through figures who, in their monumental power and reach, tend to embody certain periodizing and otherwise explanatory categories but also trouble their boundaries and distinctions, whether those categories be (to name only a few) modernism, postmodernism, paranoia, twentieth-century African American novels, contemporary U.S. literature, historical fiction, transnational U.S. fiction, or immigrant writing. We will also be on the lookout for hidden symmetries and unexpected lines of influence.

The focus will be on close examination of the novels and on two major writing assignments by each student: a seminar paper of about five pages that will form the basis of discussion in most weeks; and a final research paper at the end of term. Students will also lead discussion in selected weeks and write discussion posts. Essays from each novelist will be part of our reading, and criticism on the syllabus, invoking a wide range of theoretical paradigms, will come from David Cowart, John McClure, Mark McGurl, Chris Lee, Lavinia Delois Jennings, Kenneth Warren, John K. Young, Amy Hungerford, and others.

Studies in Canadian Literature
Term 1
Friday, 9:30am-12:30pm

This course will examine discourses of cultural identity, race, Indigeneity, migration and nation by reading select works of contemporary Canadian literature and critical theory. We will begin with the dominant narratives of multiculturalism in order to understand its logic. From there, we will historicize the emergence of multiculturalism in Canada in the 1970s and 1980s in order to consider to what extent state multiculturalism responded to the demands of that moment. We will consider a series of debates on critical multiculturalism in the West that problematize, among other things, fantasies of tolerance and diversity, and query the relationship between diaspora and settler colonialism as well as multiculturalism and Cold War logics. We will engage with readings that ask us to rethink the work of race in a post 9/11, transnational North American context in order to begin to imagine how we might move beyond the limits of multicultural logics. By positioning the critiques of Black, Indigenous, and Asian thinkers in relation to each other, we will ask if there are other, non-state centred ways of imagining Canada.

Required Reading

Most of the readings for this course will be available through library course reserves to download. However, you will need to obtain your own copies of Phinder Dulai’s dream arteries, Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves, Ins Choi’s Kim’s Convenience, David Chariandy’s Brother, and Marie Clements’ Burning Vision, which have been ordered to the UBC Bookstore. You can also obtain these books (any edition, print or Kindle) through other bookstores (new or used).

Studies in Commonwealth/Post-colonial Literatures
Term 2
Thursday, 2:30pm-5:30pm

A recently translated volume of Frantz Fanon’s writings introduces the Anglophone audience to Fanon as playwright, psychiatrist and decolonial ‘alienist.’ In our contemporary context of racial reckoning for histories of coloniality, the link between “thought disorder” (Wang) and social in/justice remains a critical connection for politically-engaged literature. Africa is central to the rise of modern psychiatry and the invention of “big pharma” in psychiatric treatment globally. Alongside the colonial production of medical knowledge, anti-racist and anti-colonial theories of subjectivity have likewise been central to the political project of decolonization. Despite the long tradition of anti-colonial writing that explores liminal mental states, “mad studies,” an offshoot of medical humanities, only glancingly references Fanon while taking its place as a new form of anti-psychiatry. This course remedies this deficit by introducing students to Fanon’s thought, writing and his practice of “institutional psychotherapy”, which re-imagines treatment as a passage from alienation to liberty. We will read a selection of anti-racist fiction/poetry from Africa, Canada, the UK and the US that takes psychiatric stigma as key to the social construction of race. Along the way, we will read a range of works in medical humanities, postcolonial studies, literary studies and critical theory.

Readings will include...see full description

Studies in Literary Movements
Term 1
Friday, 1:30pm-4:30pm

Although ‘Indigenous literature’ often becomes a shorthand for the writing of Indigenous communities from a particular country, the term ‘Indigenous’ can draw our attention to networks that are not bounded by states. In this course we will think about Indigenous creative texts in the context of global Indigenous networks as well as in the context of other intellectual and activist work of the specific Indigenous communities from which they emerge. We will also think about a particular history and function of anthologies in Indigenous literary worlds, and will consider what insights Indigenous literary networks can contribute to how we understand other (activist, diplomatic, cultural, environmental) Indigenous networks.

Chadwick Allen. Trans-Indigenous: Methodologies for Global Native Literary Studies. (Minn 2012)

Caroline Sinavaiana & James Thomas Stevens. Mohawk/Samoa: Transmigrations. (Subpress 2006)

Joy Harjo (ed). When the Light of the World Was Subdued Our Songs Came Through (Norton 2020)

Allison Whittaker Fire Front: First Nations poetry and power today. (UQP 2020)

Kelly Wisecup. Assembled for Use: Indigenous compilation and the archives of early Native American literature. (Yale 2021)

Craig Womack. Red on Red: Native American Literary Separatism. (Minn 1999)

Studies in Literary Theory
Term 1
Monday, 9:30am-12:30pm

Chattel slavery and Indigenous dispossession were central to the origins of capitalism. Yet it is only in recent years, due to scholars and activists’ efforts to expose the ongoing legacy of New World slavery, that the term "racial capitalism" has entered common parlance. In order to better grasp the violent conditions that undergird our contemporary moment, this course focuses on the theories, histories, and philosophies of racial capitalism from its origins to the contemporary moment. In particular, we will trace the connections between capitalism, enslavement, racialization, and so forth across time, metaphor, materiality, and geography (with particular focus on the Caribbean and the North American context). Although this is a theory focused course, we will take an expansive understanding what counts as "theory." As such, we will delve into a wide range of disciplines and forms. While students can expect to read critical work by Cedric Robinson, Saidiya Hartman, Jodi Melamed, Lisa Lowe, Cheryl Harris, and other, students can also look forward to reading novels and poetry, watching films, listening to podcasts and music, engaging with visual artwork, and playing video games as part of the course.

Studies in Literary Theory
Term 2
Wednesday, 9:30am-12:30pm

This graduate course will think through questions about settler colonial capitalism, resource extraction, and Indigenous communities' resistance(s) to these efforts. The course will focus primarily on state structures in what is currently a Canadian and U.S. context, and how these Western political formations come into conflict/contention with Indigenous assertions of self-determination, stewardship, and anti-capitalist modes of being. In particular, we will examine some of the diverse ways in which creative and critical Indigenous theory texts and other modes of cultural production, as well as direct action or activism, contest the dominant forms of accumulation and extractivism present throughout what is currently called North America. This engagement will foster an understanding of how Indigenous studies conceptualizes and addresses the diversity of Indigenous political acts and movements, throughout history, and will take up the work of Audra Simpson, Glen Coulthard, Joshua Clover, Rob Nichols, Leanne Simpson, among others. We will address and ground Indigenous notions of anti-capitalism through books, blockades, and forms of protest, and how interrogate how these notions interface or come into conflict with states currently situated on Turtle Island.

Studies in Literature and the Other Arts
Term 1
Wednesday, 1:30pm-4:30pm

This seminar will explore the media ecology of eighteenth-century and long-Romantic-period print, taking up topics that will include media archeology (including the histories of raw materials and infrastructure), media ecology (relations and networks connecting print with other media and material culture in the period), the labour history of media-making, and the ways these topics have been recorded in the literature about print and books in the period 1700-1860 and addressed in the writing of book and media history from the late 20th century to the present. A mix of workshop/lab-based instruction and discussion of readings, the course will ask students to practice at the same time as they consider the description and discussion of manuscript writing, ink-making, papermaking and bookbinding, engraving, and letterpress printing from the early modern period through the mid-nineteenth century. The course will focus on Britain and the Atlantic basin; depending on student interest, we can work together to develop readings and discussions of the Indigenous and East Asian aspects of the print-historical field, and explore connections with the book- and print history of what is currently called British Columbia. Seminar participants will produce a reading journal with reflections and a practice notebook with reflections, as well as a conference paper. We will also research and produce a collaborative online exhibition on the modalities, objects, and networks of early print that draws on the resources of UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections.

Preliminary/ partial reading list:

Solveig Robinson, The Book in Society: An Introduction to Print Culture (Broadview, 2013)

David Finkelstein and Alastair McCreery, The Book History Reader (Routledge, 2nd ed. 2006)

Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1936; Schriften, 1955)

Raymond Williams, “Media” and “Mediation,” in Keywords, 2nd ed. (Verso, 1983), 203-208

John Guillory, “Genesis of the Media Concept,” Critical Inquiry 36, 2 (2010): 321-362

Pamela Smith, “In the Workshop of History,” West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture 19.1 (2012): 4-31

Leah Price, How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain (Princeton UP, 2013)

Lisa Gitelman, Paper Knowledge: Toward a Media History of Documents (Duke UP, 2014)

The Multigraph Collective, Interacting with Print: Elements of Reading in the Era of Print Saturation (U of Chicago P, 2018)

Jonathan Senchyne, The Intimacy of Paper in Early and Nineteenth-Century American Literature (U of Massachusetts P, 2019)

Tiffany Lethabo King, The Black Shoals (Duke UP, 2019)

Danielle Skeehan, The Fabric of Empire: Material and Literary Cultures of the Global Atlantic, 1650-1850 (Johns Hopkins UP, 2020)

Topics in Science and Technology Studies
Term 1
Thursday, 3:00pm-6:00pm

This course is an introduction to the transnational politics of information. We understand ourselves to be living in the Age of Information. How do scholars, activists, and artists understand the nature of the “revolution” that brought this Age into being? How has it reconstituted subjectivity, society, economics, and geopolitics? What changes has this brought to the arts, humanities, and culture? Examining the rise of digital information and its consequences, we ask whether the information revolution has drawn historical patterns of inequality (including race, gender, orientalism, and post-colonial geopolitics) into new political configurations. We pursue a long historical view, a global political perspective, and a cultural analysis.

Readings are drawn from a range of disciplines. For example, we will read texts by speculative fiction writer Samuel Delany, information scholars Paul Edwards and Eden Medina, feminist STS scholar Donna Haraway, critical legal and Black studies scholar Stephen Best, digital media scholar Wendy Chun, and anthropologist Brian Larkin, as well as engage critically with “primary texts” and source material from the history of computing, information, and media arts.

Studies in Environmental Humanities
Term 2
Friday, 1:00pm - 4:00pm

The Great Acceleration refers to a period in modern history when the human imprint on the planet’s geology and ecosystems began to increase considerably. The 24 global indicators— consisting of socio-economic as well as earth-system trends—prepared by the researchers at IGBP (International Geosphere-Biosphere Program) to trace changes in the Earth System between 1750 and 2010 have become pivotal to discussions of anthropogenic climate change. Yet, it’s seldom recalled that the phrase “Great Acceleration” was inspired by and modeled after The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time (1944), Karl Polyani’s magisterial account of the rise of market society. In fact, a generation of environmental historians—from Alfred Crosby, Richard Grove, and William Cronon to J.R. McNeill and Carolyn Merchant—have offered compelling analyses of the interface between the economy and ecology on regional, national, and global scales. Recent work on the Anthropocene, however, has not always acknowledged or entered into conversation with these earlier environmental or ecological histories.

This course explores points of convergence between environmental historiography and Anthropocene critique by focusing on a specific instance of the Great Acceleration, the Plantationocene—a proposed alternate name for the epoch often called the Anthropocene. We’ll concentrate on texts from the Long Eighteenth Century to trace the economic and ecological shifts the plantation system engendered, tracing how it reconfigured relations between bodies, labor, capital, and land over two centuries. We will also consider other ways of naming the current epoch, such as Capitalocene and Chthulucene. Readings will include Alfred Crosby, The Columbian Exchange (1972), William Cronon, Changes in the Land (1973), Sidney Mintz, Sweetness and Power (1985), William Shakespeare, The Tempest (1607), Richard Ligon, A True and Exact History of Barbados (1655), Aphra Behn, Oroonoko (1688), Matthew Lewis, Journal of a West India Proprietor (1834), Mary Prince, The History of Mary Prince (1838), James Grainger, The Sugarcane (1764). We’ll read these texts in conjunction with a set of major interventions in environmental humanities by Donna Haraway, Anna Tsing, Jason Moore, Bruno Latour, Sylvia Winter, and Dipesh Chakraborty.

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