Graduate Courses

2022 Summer

Studies in the Romantic Period
Term 2
TR, 1000 AM - 100 PM

Mary Shelley’s classic novel about the technological engineering of a person has itself engendered radically new ways of conceiving and propagating personhood. Critical discourses like posthumanism, methodologies like media studies, and practices like virtual reality, social media, video games and viral communication are anticipated by this self-consciously prophetic work whose historical relevance seems uncannily only to increase over time.  We will use the novel as a springboard to consider an array of texts from prehistory to the present, across domains including theory, fiction, poetry and film. We will also use Frankenstein’s farflung pedigree and progeny to re-focus Romanticism and the treatment of procreative technology in other Romantic period writing.  Besides recent posthumanist and media theory, we will focus on variations of the myth of Prometheus and story of Adam and Eve in horror and sci-fi literature and film.  In the spirit of the novel, this seminar is an experiment, exploring an eclectic selection of texts to see what sparks are generated, and students are encouraged to suggest additions.

Studies in Commonwealth/Post-colonial Literatures
Term 1
MW, 1000 AM - 100 PM

In recent years, scholarshi on racial capitalism has shown how racialization precedes, and remains fundamental to, the production and accumulation of value under capitalism. This approach highlights the ongoing centrality of racial violence while questioning narratives of social progress as well as identity-based approaches to racial justice. The relationship between racial capitalism and the racialization of Asian migrant communities remains a rich area for exploration and research and in this sense, racial capitalism offers a potentially powerful framework for understanding the relationship between race, capital, and power in places such as British Columbia that have been formed through global migrations that take place under colonial and imperial regimes. Accordingly, this course has three goals: (1) survey key concepts and arguments in studies of racial capitalism; (2) contextualize these arguments in relationship to histories and experiences of Asian migration, particularly in the West Coast of North America; (3) connect our readings and discussions to local Asian Canadian cultural production, historical memorials, and community organizations.  Theoretical readings may include texts by Karl Marx, Cedric Robinson, David Harvey, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Glen Coulthard, Lisa Lowe, Harry Harootunian, erin Ninh, Nikhil Pal Singh, Radhika Mongia and others.
As much as possible, this intense summer seminar will try to introduce and connect students to local cultural production and community organizations. As a result, I am hoping  planning to spend a significant portion of class time away from UBC campus and students should be aware this course will include regular travel within the Greater Vancouver area. All that said, the uncertainties caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic means that these plans are still tentative and will not be confirmed until later this Spring. I will contact students then with more details about how this course will be organized, as well as a more detailed reading and assignment schedule. Students interested in this course are welcome to contact me ahead of time with any questions or concerns.

 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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