Graduate Courses

2023 Summer Session

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

2023 Winter Session

Studies in Bibliography

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 Criticism

This course will introduce you to the challenging, messy, and highly rewarding work of archival research, the analysis of archival materials in both digital and print forms, and broader considerations of the archive as a cultural institution. What, we will ask, can archives tell us about times, places, people, and cultural moments, and about what kinds of people and experiences are seen as valuable in our society? What stories do these materials tell, or could they tell, that add to our understanding? How do we “read” – both literally and figuratively -- an archive, and individual archival documents? Issues of power, memory, authority, and authenticity are compelling concerns that connect literary and archival studies in considerations of how and what cultures remember.

As we develop our new literacies in archival research, and pair them with our expertise in qualitative literary studies, we will work with a range of archival documents (including letters, diaries, photo albums, manuscripts, ephemera, and government documents) from UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections. Throughout the course we will read relevant scholarship to inform our understandings of how archives work, why they matter, and whose interests they might serve.  As we do so, we will also be thinking about the archive as an institution, one that, in its decisions about what materials to keep (and whose), and how to organize, explain, and display them, shapes how we understand the past, both the pasts of individuals and our collective cultural memory.  As significant cultural institutions, archives, like literature, both create and reflect larger cultural values and knowledge production, and we will think about these implications of the archives we discuss.

Over the semester you will choose archival materials to engage with in both a presentation and a formal research paper, followed by a collaborative project that makes archival material of your choosing accessible to the public. By the end of the course, you will be able to identify and analyze archival materials, situate them in their socio-historic and cultural contexts, understand the role of the archive as an institution and think critically about that institution. You will have developed experience in developing systems for organizing and tracking documents and findings – a key pragmatic skill foundational to this kind of work – and developed and shared original scholarship on your archival projects.

Studies in Fiction

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”
  • Robert Potter, The Germ Growers
  • 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

Course details to follow.

Linguistic Studies of Contemporary English

This course will introduce recent theories of narrative viewpoint and some general processes of narrative comprehension, relying primarily on the concepts introduced in cognitive linguistics and cognitive poetics. There are several specific aspects of narrative discourse that we will consider, such as narrative structure versus narrative sequence and narrative representations of experience. We will build on the theoretical grounding of concepts such as conceptual viewpoint, deixis, constructions of represented speech and thought, the use of referential expressions (such as proper names and descriptions), and the uses of direct speech. We will rely on excerpts from fiction and creative non-fiction, but we will also consider examples from poetry and drama, and occasionally add examples of non-literary and non-textual artifacts for comparison. We will not rely on full primary texts – rather, we will discuss shorter fragments and excerpts.

Students will be expected to 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

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 course 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 disability is always already sexed, 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 course 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 course makes clear, studying crip rhetorics requires a commitment to fighting for disability liberation.

Middle English Studies

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

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

Women 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: their voices, styles, and roles in the major politics of their day.

Perspectives:

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 politics of emergent colonialism and nationalism in which these writers operate.

Authors & 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, resistance, racism, nostalgia
  • Katherine Philips (Collected Poems; Letters): Royalist politics & female alliances
  • Elizabeth Cary, Tragedy of Mariam: gender, racialization, family role-playing
  • 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 growting professional skills.

Studies in the Victorian Period

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

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

This course will have a double purpose: it will take students through a loose survey of the rise of modern western fashion in the early nineteenth century, which was closely linked to emerging taxonomies of race, ethnicity, and nation, while also taking them through major texts in the history of what might be called “critical fashion theory” – theories of fashion that highlight its political valence --from Thorstein Veblen writing in the 1890s to Anne Anlin Cheng writing in the 2020s. The course will not just feature “fashion” but also the visual typologies of dress that came to prevail all over the globe in the nineteenth century – that is, dress was thought to broadcast a “type” of person or a people, much the way that bodily characteristics were thought to do. It will interweave critical and theoretical texts with literary and film representations featuring dress (from The Scarlet Letter to A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night) while also highlighting and making use of recent acquisitions at UBC Rare Books and Special Collections, including colorful nineteenth-century costume albums and geographies, gift books, chapbooks, and lithographs that depict the people of the globe in characteristic national dress. Readings will include texts on dress and fashion by Thorstein Veblen, Jacques Lacan, Roland Barthes, Joan Copjec, Judith Butler, Peter Stallybrass, Elizabeth Wilson, Michelle Ann Stephens, and Anne Anlin Cheng, among others.

Studies in American Literature Since 1890

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

Course details to follow.

Studies in Commonwealth/Post-colonial Literatures

“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’sNervous 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

Course details to follow.

Studies in Literary Theory

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

Since its emergence as a field 50 years ago, Asian (North) American studies has “reconsidered” denationalization, “imagined otherwise” subjectless critique, and seen “turns,” “delays” and returns to queer diaspora, settler colonialism, racial capitalism, the transpacific, critical refugee studies, affect, aesthetics, food, and the digital. This graduate seminar examines such interdisciplinary methodological turns in the field as shaped by, interventions in, and strategies for navigating racial and economic crises, as well as critical modes of engaging questions of global power through ongoing genealogies of radical thinking. The seminar asks: what is the time of Asian North American studies, and how does the field theorize temporality? With recent conversations about anti-Asian racism and increasing Asian and Asian North American representation in popular culture, what makes the field ‘timely’ even if its subjects’ and objects’ temporalities do not always align with institutional demands?

Topics in Science and Technology Studies
"
Media & Misinformation: The History of Truth from Pseudoscience to Propaganda"
See full description [PDF]

The seminar asks the central question: in what ways does the digital “disrupt” former modes of representation and communication, and how should we address the global crisis in communication?  Examining the rise of digital media and its consequences, we examine the ways in which the late twentieth century’s global, near-instantaneous circulation of popular interventions brought past issues of race, gender, Orientalism, and post-colonial geopolitics into new political configurations. How do new circulations of digital media disrupt, resist, and rewrite earlier forms of media theory? To understand the broader social meanings of mediated forms of political practice, our case studies will not remain at the purely theoretical level, but will put media studies into conversation with Indigenous studies, Feminist informatics, anti-racist technical practice, and decolonial politics. The weekly readings for this seminar are interdisciplinary, and the lectures will expose students to different styles of argument, forms of representation, diverse cultural contexts, and varied modes of analysis.

Studies in Environmental Humanities

Course details to follow.

 

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.

On this page
    Back to toparrow_upward