2021 Winter Session Course Descriptions – Graduate

Term 1
Thursday, 12:30 - 2:30pm

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

Term 1
Thursdays, 12:30 - 2:30 pm

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

Studies in Criticism
Term 2
Wednesdays, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

Criticism, like western civilization in the verdict famously attributed to Gandhi, once seemed a good idea. This department’s course list includes part of its débris field. ENGL 502 (see above) is still on the books, along with the fossilized ENGL 552 Practical Criticism. The word lingers in the interstices of the undergraduate curriculum too: in the titles of ENGL 120 Literature and Criticism and ENGL 308 Rhetorical Criticism, and as an enclitic in ENGL 393: Ecocriticism. But does anyone in the academy—or outside it for that matter—aspire to be known as a critic, or even a literary critic, in the 2020s?

Reflecting on developments in the would-be scientific study of English as early as 1937, Stephen Potter in The Muse in Chains called it The Doomed Subject and set off prophetically in search of The Missing Subject that would take its place. What he failed to foresee was the runaway post-war institutional success—on both sides of the Atlantic—of the critical project launched in Cambridge, England, in the 1920s and early ‘30s by a few university teachers and students of English influenced by the writings of T. S. Eliot. This was the ‘practical’, ‘new’ or broadly ‘modernist’ (literary) criticism that decisively shaped curricula for the second half of the century, and for which a distinctively Canadian tipping-point could be marked in 1957, when the Head of the UBC Department of English, Milton scholar and poet Roy Daniells, invited the author of the Anatomy of Criticism to give the opening address at the inaugural meeting of the Association of Canadian University Teachers of English (ACUTE, later ACCUTE). Fast-forward another quarter of a century, and the same Northrop Frye will be one of the critics taken sharply to task for his hermetic, unworldly textualism by Edward Said in the genuinely prophetic The World, the Text, and the Critic (1983). To make his epochal critique of criticism, Said went back—as he always liked to—to the beginnings: ‘Ever since Eliot,’ he wrote, ‘and after him [I. A.] Richards and [F. R.] Leavis, there has been an almost unanimously held view that it is the duty of humanistic scholars in our culture to devote themselves to the study of the great monuments of our literature. Why?’ No-one worked harder than Said (1935-2003) to save the vocation of the critic by reworlding it. At this distance, however, his elegantly polemical introduction to the fiftieth-anniversary edition of Eric Auerbach’s Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature (ET 1953, 2003) reads almost as elegiacally as Auerbach’s own epilogue. If post 9/11 readers had less and less use for Mimesis, why ever would they look back as far as Eliot’s ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’ (1919) or his post-pandemic Fabergé bombshell The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism (1920), beginning with ‘The Perfect Critic’?

Yet some readers still do look back there, even now, and not merely out of antiquarian curiosity. The approach of the centenary of The Waste Land (1922) and I. A. Richards’ Principles of Literary Criticism (1924, hailed by Potter as ‘making a very satisfying ruin’ of all previous constructions) has been attended by a flurry of revisionist accounts of British literary-critical methodology of the 1920s and ‘30s, its immediate and longer-term intellectual and institutional consequences, and the constructive (not to say critical…) uses to which a disabused understanding of the foundational texts of that now far-off version of ‘English’ studies might still be put for ‘our’ subject. David West has claimed Richards as a pioneer of cognitive stylistics. Joseph North has invoked the models of early-twentieth-century British critics as an urgently needed corrective to the contextualist and historicist modes of literary research that have held sway in the academy since the 1980s, and that he sees as a sell-out to neoliberalism. From an almost opposite point of view, Stefan Collini reads the ‘Cambridge’ tradition from T. S. Eliot to Raymond Williams as a series of initiatives in redoing history by literary criticism. This course will confront those and other attempted recoveries of the critical past with texts of the critics themselves; collaboratively sketch a genealogy of critical and post-critical methodologies; and provide students with a chance to co-opt (and—as necessary—disfigure) figures and arguments from a formative phase in the disciplinary history of ‘English’ for projects of their own and/or a subject (howsoever named) that we may still be missing—in whole or in part—today.

Studies in Poetry
Term 1
Tuesdays, 5:00 - 8:00 pm

Since its acknowledgement by the global literary scene in the 1970s, dub poetry has made several radical / political interventions. We can think of its emergence as part of several anti-colonial moments, as amplifying post-independence movements of Caribbean nations and the crumbling of the British empire; and increasingly, we might attend to the community-mobilizing focus of its practice. Celebrating “nation language” demonized by the colonizer, dub poets have shifted the balance of criticism in favour of seeing Creole language registers as linguistic innovation, as art form, as anything other than unacceptable English, the predominant judgement by the colonial education system. As an artistic movement, then, dub poetry problematizes the terms on which our politics and the literary are negotiated, troubles demarcations between high and popular culture, and contributes to the musical, literary, visual, and dance movements of a “transnational Jamaica” (Thomas 2011). In this graduate seminar, we will trace the roots, history and development of this artistic movement from its birth place in the streets of Kingston, Jamaica to those of Bristol and London, England to its re-rooted/re-routed contexts of the Caribbean diaspora, specifically Toronto, Canada. We will address the interface of the oral, the written, and the audio(visually)-recorded, and explore how this poetic poem is shaped by oral performance aesthetics and the political work it aims to do. We will situate dub poetry as a major influence on transnational Black movements and as an architect of anti-colonial environments in the Black transnational scene. In this way, we seek to consider ways in which dub poetry’s dissemination is “appropriated, popularized, and indigenized” in a transnational milieu and think about the reverberating “legacies of black-on-black transnational politics” (Chude-Sokei 2011). Such considerations will turn us towards what Paul Gilroy has identified as “playful diasporic intimac[ies]” (1993) with all their conflicts, contestations and joys.

Studies in English Historical Linguistics
Term 1
Fridays, 1:30 - 4:30 pm

Over time, the conventions of language use have changed as extensively as has the language itself. In Shakespeare’s time, for example, when addressing an interlocutor, you had to choose between you and thou, depending on rank and intimacy, but you could also alternate between the two depending on transient changes in your feelings and interactions. To make a request, you could beseech or pray that someone do something, but you could not ask them indirectly whether they could or would do something. Questions about language use of this sort belong to the field of study called Historical Pragmatics, which lies at the intersection of historical linguistics (language change) and pragmatics (the study of language in use). It is a relatively young field, arising in the mid-1990s.

Historical Pragmatics seeks to discover whether similar or different pragmatic principles are at work at different stages of the language and how pragmatic forms develop over time. Topics of study include inter alia pragmatic forms (discourse markers, address terms, interjections); interactional pragmatics (speech acts, (im)politeness); and domains of discourse (scientific and medical discourse, newspapers, religious discourse, courtroom discourse, public and private correspondence). Specific examples of Historical Pragmatic studies might be terms of address in Chaucer, insults in Old English, (im)politeness in the Early Modern English courtroom, curses in the Salem witchcraft trials, forms of compliments in the eighteenth century, the origin and development of I guess, interjections in Middle English, the form of medical recipes in Middle English, the use of you and thou in a Renaissance play, conventions of scientific writing in the Early Modern period, newspaper writing in the eighteenth century, or speech acts in a Jane Austen novel.

No background in linguistics is required, although at least one course in the history or structure of the English Language would be helpful. Knowledge of Old or Middle English is not required.

For a more complete description, see http://blogs.ubc.ca/laurelbrinton/teaching/engl-507/engl-507-historical-pragmatics/


Linguistic Studies of Contemporary English
Term 2
Fridays, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

In this seminar we will explore what construction grammar is – namely, as a cognitive linguistic theory that treats syntactic form and semantic meaning as inseparable – and how it works as a method of linguistic and literary analysis. We will first focus on contemporary English as a case study language (Hilpert 2014). Following this introduction, we will look at how the theories and methods of construction grammar can be applied in several areas of particular importance in literary studies. We will consider how metaphor and other forms of figurative language interact with grammar (Sullivan 2013) as well as traditional aspects of stylistics such as viewpoint (Nikiforidou 2010). We will then expand beyond the spoken and written word to multimodal, visual and gestural expression (Dancygier & Vandelanotte 2017; Zima & Bergs 2017). We will also learn how constructional analysis can be applied to genre and discourse (Nikiforidou 2018; Östman 2005), and conclude with a study of creativity (Boas 2016; Turner 2018).

Students in English Literature, English Language, and Linguistics – as well as anyone else interested in cognitive linguistics – are all invited to join us. The course does not assume prior experience with syntactic theory, although a basic knowledge of English grammar will be useful. Literature students will gain a new framework for close reading and analysis of stylistics, as well as the linguistic fundamentals necessary to study the interaction of grammar and meaning in any modern English text. Linguistics students specializing in syntax and/or semantics will benefit from the opportunity to learn about cognitive linguistics in general as a subfield of linguistics, and will have the opportunity to explore other topics within cognitive linguistics as they arise throughout the course material (e.g. frame semantics, conceptual metaphor theory). For their final term papers, students may choose to apply what they have learned in an analysis of a text (e.g., for literature students), or to produce a construction grammar sketch of a linguistic phenomenon in a language they are currently studying (e.g., for linguistics students).

Works Cited / Selected Readings

  • Boas, H. C. (2016). Frames and constructions for the study of oral poetics. In Antovic, M., & Cánovas, C. P. (Eds.). Oral Poetics and Cognitive Science (pp 99-124). de Gruyter.
  • Dancygier, B., & Vandelanotte, L. (2017). Internet memes as multimodal constructions. Cognitive Linguistics, 28(3), 565-598.
  • Hilpert, M. (2014). Construction grammar and its application to English. Edinburgh University Press.
  • Nikiforidou, K. (2010). Viewpoint and construction grammar: The case of past+ now. Language and Literature, 19(3), 265-284.
  • Nikiforidou, K. (2018). Genre and constructional analysis. Pragmatics & Cognition, 25(3), 543-575.
  • Östman, J.-O. (2005). Construction Discourse: a prolegomenon. In Östman, J.-O. & Fried, M. (Eds.). Construction Grammars: Cognitive grounding and theoretical extensions (pp. 121-144). John Benjamins Publishing.
  • Sullivan, K. (2013). Frames and constructions in metaphoric language. John Benjamins Publishing.
  • Turner, M. (2018). The role of creativity in multimodal Construction Grammar. Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, 66(3), 357-370.
  • Zima, E., & Bergs, A. (2017). Multimodality and construction grammar. Linguistics Vanguard, 3(s1).

Studies in Rhetoric (Cross-listed with STS 502)
Term 2
Wednesdays, 1:30 - 4:30 pm

Rhetoric of Health and Medicine (RHM) is an assembly of theoretical and methodological dispositions aimed at discovering what is going on, in contexts of health and medicine, when people act discursively on other people. Rhetoricians of health and medicine may take among their objects of analysis medical journal articles, illness narratives, doctor-patient interviews, diagnostic manuals, public health messages, pharmaceutical ads, health-information web sites, and health technologies, including wellness apps. They study health citizenship beyond the individual body, taking among their topics, for example, health ideologies, health politics and policies, and health inequities: health power in general—and rhetorical power.

Over the past two decades, especially, RHM has established itself as a robust field, with allegiances and intellectual commitments to Science and Technology Studies, Health/Medical Humanities, and Disabilities Studies, among other interdisciplines—and, particularly now, in pandemic times, ties to the project of Public Humanities. Rhetoricians of health and medicine have, over time, turned their attention to discursive/persuasive elements in matters of, for example, HIV/AIDS (J. Blake Scott), contested illnesses (Lisa Keränen), mental illness (Carol Berkenkotter), neurodiversity (Melanie Yergeau), health and race (Kelly Happe), global health (Raquel Baldwinson), pain (S. Scott Graham), breast cancer (Phaedra Pezzullo), food (Colleen Derkatch and Philippa Spoel), vaccination (Heidi Lawrence), hormones (Amy Koerber), in/fertility (Robin Jensen), sexual desire (Judy Segal), and gender identity (Karen Kopelson).

It’s not a straightforward thing to separate work directly informed by rhetorical theory and done by self-identified rhetorical critics (exemplified in the scholarship cited above) and work done by sociologists, anthropologists, philosophers, historians, literature specialists and others with a deep interest in rhetoric (scholars like Joseph Dumit, Emily Martin, Ian Hacking, Keith Wailoo, and Catherine Belling, respectively). But this course will, in the first instance, focus on the work of, well, card-carrying rhetoricians, in order to give an account of RHM both in itself and in its inter-, pan-, poly-, and post-disciplinary modes. The course will formulate an answer to the question of what rhetorical studies has to offer to STS and to other interdisciplinary conversations concerning perspectives, problems, and practices, in health and medicine.

Middle English Studies
Term 1
Wednesdays, 1:30 - 4:30 pm

This seminar examines the role of the most popular and widespread of medieval vernacular genres - medieval romance - in the formation and articulation of local, regional, and proto-national identity politics of the late Middle Ages. Focussing on romance literature produced and consumed in England during the 13th to 15th centuries, the course - following the work of Thorlac Turville-Petre, Rosalind Field, Laura Ash, Geraldine Heng, and myself, amongst others - asks how romance negotiates a specifically English identity against a backdrop of other powerful medieval group identities, including Christian, Insular British, and the Francophone court culture that dominated the aristocratic cultures of Western Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries. These chivalric narratives of becoming - at first of individual knights, but then of the communities that they come to embody - become vectors for a national discourse about where Englishness lies, and in whom it is vested. We’ll be reading a number of non-romance texts alongside the romances to place them within their context as articulations of the nascent English nation.

Of inherent interest to both medievalists and early-modernists, this seminar should appeal to all those students who are intrigued by the ideological archeology of English nationhood in later periods; where does the idea of Englishness cohere in the late pre-modern, and how do the tenets of this identity formation permeate later periods, where an appeal to the provenance of the medieval origins of modern nationhood become so pervasive. The politics of otherness the lie at the heart of the poetics of the English nation become key structures within the evolving processes of colonialism - which begins for the English in medieval Ireland - and still colour debates over English and British national identity (eg. Brexit, etc) to this day.

Primary texts will be read in Middle English, although no background in the language will be assumed. Late medieval romance is a fairly easy read in comparison to other commonly taught medieval literature (Chaucer, Langland, et alia).

Studies in the Renaissance
Term 2
Thursdays, 2:30 - 5:30 pm

We imitate also Flights of Birds; We have some Degrees of Flying in the Air.
--Francis Bacon, The New Atlantis (1627)

The New Atlantis never explains how – or why – the flights of birds are imitated on this utopian island. Nor does it explain what degrees of flying have already been perfected. This seminar frames its project as an attempt to contextualize and elaborate these tantalizing statements. We’ll situate them at the intersection of Renaissance art and science. Our guiding concerns will be figurations of hubris and the advancement of knowledge; the ubiquitous desire to become a bird; the interplay between religion, especially the ecstatic experience, and science; and the literary history of science fiction. We’ll study excerpts from Ariosto, Behn, Donne, Herbert, Milton, Ovid, Shakespeare, Sidney, and St Teresa of Ávila; we’ll sample the science writing of Brahe, Bruno, Cavendish, Dee, Galileo, Kepler, and Godwin; and we’ll examine images from Arcimboldo, Bernini, Bruegel the Elder, Leonardo, and Rubens. In short, we’ll fly to the moon and back … and then some.

Students in this seminar will submit weekly responses, write a conference proposal, and submit a conference-length paper as a final essay.

This seminar is also being coordinated with one that Dr. Tiffany Jo Werth is offering at the University of California, Davis called “Starry Messengers and the Renaissance Cosmos.” There will be overlap in the syllabus and so ample opportunity for collaboration and cross-campus discussion. Students in the UBC seminar are encouraged to participate in an upcoming conference, which will be organized at UBC, called “Sky.” “Sky” is the third in a series of Oecologies gatherings.

Studies in the Eighteenth Century
Term 2
Wednesdays, 5:00 - 8:00 pm 

In 1790, the planter-historian William Beckford claimed that Jamaica was “one of the richest jewels in the crown of Great Britain.” In the eighteenth century, slave-grown sugar was Britain’s most important colonial commodity, and Caribbean colonies, her most prized economic possessions, more valuable in gross economic terms than the Thirteen (American) Colonies. The rise of chattel slavery in the Caribbean, supported by labor from Africa and capital from Europe, not only restructured socio-economic life in the British Atlantic but also shaped the literary cultures of the long eighteenth century. This course will focus on a variety of literary and historical narratives that emerged out of, responded to, and intervened in three principal contexts of racial slavery: the slave trade across the Atlantic, plantation slavery in the Caribbean, and the campaign to abolish slavery in England. Readings will likely include Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko (1688); Richard Steele’s Inkle and Yarico (1711); Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719); Laurence Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey(1768); Ignatius Sancho’s Letters of Ignatius Sancho (1782); Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative (1789); Mary Prince’s The History of Mary Prince (1831); and Matthew Lewis’s The Journal of a West India Proprietor (1834).

Our approach will be simultaneously historical and theoretical. We will study our primary texts vis-à-vis contemporary accounts of the slave trade and slavery (Thomas Phillips, Richard Ligon, Charles Leslie, Bryan Edwards, and Edward Long). At the same time, we will attempt to frame our discussions around a set of critical concepts—including commodification, capitalist modernity, creolization, diaspora, and racialization—that have been developed by various theorists, including Stuart Hall, Orlando Patterson, Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Ian Baucom, Paul Gilroy, and Simon Gikandi. The course is intended as an introduction to the long eighteenth century, given its attention to several canonical and popular texts from the period. But it will also be of interest to students with broader (i.e., comparative) interests in the histories of slavery, race, and colonialism. Requirements: regular attendance and class participation; weekly posts; one 5-page book review; a class presentation; and a final 15-page research paper.

Studies in the Romantic Period
Term 1
Thursday 9:30 AM - 12:30 PM

“Then, what is Life? I cried.” is the remarkable last line of Percy Shelley’s unfinished poem The Triumph of Life. Shelley’s question is also ours: what is this thing we call “life”? What constitutes it? How do we know it? To this we can add others: what did the Romantics think life was? how did they influence later conceptions of “life”? And what can—or should—we do with their ideas about “life” now?

This course has two goals. First, it will provide graduate students with a foundational review of British Romantic literature and its engagement, historically understood, with the sciences of life—and death—including biology, botany, anatomy, and geology. Thanks to improvements in commercial, agricultural, and industrial technologies and the expansion of Britain’s global empire, the Romantics witnessed a “second” scientific revolution in which ideas of life were very much open to debate. Is life a conglomeration of material forces, they asked, or a vital “spark” transcending or negating the material altogether? Such questions also challenged established standards of what counts as scientific fact. Early-modern scientists’ preoccupation with reconciling observed data with subjective goals gave way to new beliefs in objective truth and a drive dislodge human observers from positions of determinative privilege. Philosophers, poets, novelists, and critics understood the radical implications of this turn for the relationship between human and non-human being, sought ways to formalize these new relationships, and cultivated new forms of writing that would accommodate the emerging senses of objectivity, materiality, vitality, and globality.

To explore these issues, we will read selections of British, German, and French philosophy and science, poetry from Phillis Wheatley, Erasmus Darwin, Anna Seward, Charlotte Smith, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Shelley, and John Keats, and two novels by Mary Shelley: Frankenstein and The Last Man. The second goal of this course is to consider what these texts might contribute to our understanding of “life” today. To this end, we will bring into conversation with our reading in the Romantic period selections from recent theoretical interventions in science studies, animal studies, environmental humanities, new materialism, and speculative realism by Bruno Latour, Gilles Deleuze, Vinciane Despret, Donna Haraway, Stacey Alaimo, Peter Sloterdijk, and Quentin Meillassoux, among others. Further, we will review articles by leading Romanticists whose work intersects literary criticism with the life sciences and experiments with the critical potential of these sorts of speculative conjunctions. Students are invited to bring their own theoretical interests, knowledge, and perspectives to the class and to read with a generous sense of experimentation about the new ideas of “life” that we will create.

Evaluation: Class Participation (15%), Weekly Response Papers/Posts (15%), Article Summaries/Presentations (30%), Paper Proposal and Bibliography (10%), Final Conference Paper (30%)

Studies in the Victorian Period
Term 1
Tuesdays, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

New technologies emerged in the nineteenth-century that transformed conceptions of time, space, and the self, influencing the form and content of fiction. Trains, and later automobiles, allowed for rapid travel; electricity illuminated cities, altering perceptions of the relations between night and day; the telegraph enabled instantaneous, seemingly incorporeal, communication across distances; sound recording and wireless delivered disembodied voices. In this seminar, we will consider the ways in which technologies of communication, transportation, industry, war, and recording altered the culture and shaped literary texts. We will examine emerging technologies as they are represented in literature, and consider the effect of new technologies such as the railway, the telegraph, the phonograph, and the motion picture on the form of narrative from the mid-nineteenth century into the early twentieth century. Topics discussed will include technology and consciousness, technology and perception, industrialism and the environment, globalization, imperialism and technology, race and technology, gender and technology, the supernatural (psychical studies, spiritual telegraphy, ghost photography), automata, and technology and the body.

Assignments and Other Requirements

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

Readings will include:

  • Edward Bellamy, “With the Eyes Shut”
  • Samuel Butler, “The Book of the Machines”
  • Charles Dickens, “The Signal Man”
  • George Eliot, “Shadows of the Coming Race”
  • E.M. Forster, “The Machine Stops”
  • Rudyard Kipling, “Wireless,” “Mrs. Bathurst.” “Deep Sea Cables”
  • Flora Annie Steel, “In the Permanent Way”
  • Karl Marx, from Capital
  • August Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, Tomorrow’s Eve
  • H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds

Critical Readings, from:

  • Marian Aguiar, Tracking Modernity: India’s Railway and the Culture of Mobility
  • Louis Chude-Sokei, The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics
  • Daniel Headrick, The Tools of Empire
  • Simone Natale, Victorian Spiritualism and the Rise of Modern Media Culture
  • Jeffrey Sconce, Haunted Media
  • Wolfgang Schivelbusch, “Railroad Space and Railroad Time”
  • Gaby Wood, “Journey to the Perfect Woman”

Studies in the Twentieth Century
Term 1
Thursdays, 2:30 - 5:30 pm

In his book Multidirectional Memory (2009), Michael Rothberg contends that the “interaction of different historical memories” may foster a “productive, intercultural dynamic” that “has the potential to create new forms of solidarity and new visions of justice” (3, 5). This seminar explores three critical historical contexts pivotal to multidirectional studies of trauma and memory in literature, performance, and theory: the Holocaust (1933-1945); the First World War (1914-1918); and transatlantic slavery (circa 1600s-1800s). In each section, we will read relevant examples of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary scholarship to clarify key concepts and highlight particular controversies for group discussion. Short excerpts from documentary films will also inform our investigations (Henry Louis Gates, Laurence Rees, Jay Winter). We will then analyze a trauma testimony (Primo Levi, Wilfred Owen, Harriet Jacobs) followed by a contemporary work that grapples with the legacies of mass death for successive generations (Art Spiegelman, Pat Barker, Toni Morrison). We will engage in close readings of texts that may elude conventional genre classifications through a formal vocabulary attuned to hybrid modes such as graphic narrative, historical fiction, and lyric testimony. And we will situate each text in its time and place, revealing common and distinct preoccupations of survivors and descendants.

We will also reflect on the contested meanings of historical trauma in the present. The Nazi genocide of European Jews and other minorities continues to stimulate research on geopolitical displacement and intergenerational trauma even as the last witnesses recede from living memory. The centenaries of World War I (2014-2018) and the recent deaths of the last veterans coincide with heightened public awareness of the civilian and military casualties of twenty-first century conflicts. Long before the World Wars, millions of Africans endured forced migrations to colonies around the globe: racialized violence plays an increasingly prominent role in studies of trauma and memory, linking concerns ranging from the Middle Passage to the international activist movement “Black Lives Matter.” We will conclude the seminar by addressing the limits and possibilities of comparative approaches to historical trauma, especially in light of the urgent calls for “solidarity” and “justice” central to the ongoing crises of global heating. Overall, this class promotes a synthetic approach to the cultural and material analysis of challenging problems through multidisciplinary scholarship, multimedia resources, and multiform writings. The assignments may include a reading journal, a seminar, a research portfolio, and a final essay.

Studies in American Literature to 1890
Term 2
Tuesdays, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

This course will study gothic literature and films in the context of psychoanalytic theory and its offshoots, including recent critical race theory. Fictional texts and films to be studied include: the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, Robert Chambers, H.P. Lovecraft, Henry James, and the poems of Emily Dickinson. Films to be studied include: Roman Polansky’s Rosemary’s Baby, George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, Jordan Peele’s Us, Robert Eggers’ The VVitch, and select episodes from Misha Green’s Lovecraft Country. We will be reading essays from Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva, Slavoj Žižek, Frantz Fanon, and Achille Mbembe. Students will not only study a significant branch of American gothic literature but also episodes in the history of psychoanalytic theory as it developed over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Studies in Canadian Literature
Term 1
Fridays, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

This course will examine discourses of cultural identity, race, and nation through the lens of critical multiculturalism. We will begin with the problems and promises of citizenship by considering various histories of injury and exclusion (i.e. internment, headtax, Komagata Maru, residential schools) as well as movements for redress and apology. From there, 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 the limits of multicultural logics. We will then engage with readings that ask us to rethink the work of race in a post 9/11, transnational North American context. Finally, we will conclude by looking at relations between BIPOC communities and coalitional practices.

Studies in Commonwealth/Post-colonial Literatures
Term 2
Mondays, 1:30 - 4:30 pm

This graduate seminar will explore the topic of “refugee world-making” in relation to the field of Critical Refugee Studies. Driven by interlocking systems of colonialism, war, militarism, climate change, and racial capitalism, the “crisis” of refugee displacement is indicative of a state of permanent wartime that has marked the post-Cold War era. The exponential growth of the global refugee condition has taken shape alongside the emergence of Western, liberal regimes of refugee governmentality such as humanitarianism, state multiculturalism, and refugee biomedicine. In response to these intersecting fields of power, how can we center the refugee as a subject of knowledge production and creative vitality?

We will begin the course with an overview of foundational theories of sovereignty, the state of exception, biopolitics, and necropolitics in the works of philosophers such as Hannah Arendt, Giorgio Agamben, Michel Foucault, and Achille Mbembe. We will then turn our attention to more contemporary scholarship and to the political-aesthetic dimensions of refugee world-making via attention to specific geopolitical contexts (e.g. Cambodia, Vietnam, Palestine, Syria, Sudan). Our critical focus will be on how refugee methods and epistemologies can help us reimagine de-colonial, abolitionist futures.

The final part of the course will attend to generative points of intersection between Critical Refugee Studies and other fields such as Indigenous Studies and Critical Disability Studies, considering, for example, the uneasy slippage between the “unsettled refugee” subject and the “refugee as settler” or how the fields of psychiatry, epigenetics and neuroscience have worked to regulate the meaning of refugee and disabled subjectivities in co-constitutive ways. In preparation for the course, students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the methods and keywords outlined on the websites of the Critical Refugee Studies Network Canada and the Critical Refugee Studies Collective, U.S.A.

Studies in Literary Movements
Term 1
Wednesdays, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

This course will explore Black feminist organizing histories and literary movements. We’ll read texts by Audre Lorde, Toni Cade Bambara, Patricia Hill Collins, the Combahee River Collective, Angela Davis, bell hooks (and more) as we study the feminist anthology as both a literary form and collective movement building tool. This course will introduce students to 20th century Black feminists who were (and are) engaged in the praxis of self-publishing, producing and distributing their work together so they might have control over both the content and production of their words. We’ll trace the development of concepts like intersectionality and third-world solidarity alongside the emergence of the books published by Kitchen Table Press and other feminist collectives.

Studies in Literary Theory
Term 2
Tuesdays, 1:30 - 4:30 pm

What does it mean to be “totally naked” at the turn of the twenty-first century? --Rachel C. Lee, The Exquisite Corpse of Asian America


This seminar explores the relationship between race, new media, and information capitalism by attending to historical and contemporary transnational circulations of Asian bodies, objects, and aesthetics. By reading across Asian diaspora and Asian North American studies, critical race theory, and media studies, we will examine the historical links between Asian labour, Empire, and capitalism in order to consider how Asian and Asian North American bodies instantiate information capitalism. If, as Wendy Chun puts it, new media are “forms of accelerated capitalism,” what might be “Asian” about such forms? Or, what might the new media life of Asianness entail?

We will engage scholarship, literature, film, and digital media. Assignments will include a seminar presentation, a research proposal, and a final research paper.

Studies in Literature and the Other Arts
Term 2
Mondays, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

The cultural anthropologists of “foodways” have long held that food both serves our immediate biological needs and sets up ritualized spaces for social occasions. As David Sutton writes in Remembrance of Repasts: An Anthropology of Food and Memory, “food is about commensality — eating to make friends — and competition — eating to make enemies”(5). Food culture, moreover, has a long history of being recorded, prescribed, celebrated, and mythologized through literary art and more recently through film. Twentieth-century 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 examine the intertwinings of food, textuality, and the semiotics of the transference of culinary desire in selected theorists and culinary anthropologists (Claude Lévi-Strauss, Roland Barthes, Mary Douglas, David Parker, Sau-ling Wong, Elspeth Probyn, Margaret Visser, Lily Cho, Sandra Gilbert), literary works (MFK Fisher, Ruth Ozeki, Fred Wah, Austin Clarke, Laura Esquivel) and film directors (Alfonso Arau, Cheuk Kwan, Ang Lee, Juzo Itami, and Gabriel Axel ). Related areas of investigation will include theorizations of the consuming body and food as nostalgia, as ethno-national icon, and as a vehicle of diasporic cultural fusions.

Studies in Literature and the Other Arts
Term 2
Thursdays, 9:30 am - 12:30 pm

“Which was better, the book or the film?” This question has too often become the cornerstone of modern debates about adaptation. Our objective in this course will be to reframe the ways in which we might consider and discuss the many and varied relationships between literature and other media, including but not limited to film. The scope of our discussion will range from detailed examinations of particular passages and scenes to the re-definition of concepts and re-shaping of terminology in an effort to explore how literature and other media may function as different but equal partners. Instead of considering adaptation as a lit-centric field, in which the value of a film is based on its fidelity to the “original” text, we’ll look at the ways in which literature and other media might engage in fruitful and productive exchange. We’ll consider how stories adapt to the aesthetic and commercial demands of multiple genres – novels, comic books, plays, short stories, sound recordings, visual art in its many forms, the Web. In the process, we’ll read some adaptation theory and study the cultural contexts surrounding both the source text and its adaptation/s. We’ll explore the ways in which different media use diverse forms of technological representation to engage with a number of cultural and social issues. And we’ll address more recent attempts within the field of adaptation to move beyond the unidirectional movement of literature to film, as content moves away from notions of a single, stable source and an identifiable author, and towards an era of transmedia creation by multiple entities and media conglomerates.

Texts/films/other media may include the following:

Pierre Boileau & Thomas Narcejac, The Living and the Dead [novel]
Vertigo, dir. Alfred Hitchcock

William Faulkner, “Barn Burning” [short story]
Haruki Murakami, “Barn Burning” [short story]
Burning, dir. Lee Chang-Dong

Alice Munro, “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” [short story]
Away from Her, dir. Sarah Polley

Richard Van Camp, The Lesser Blessed [novel]
The Lesser Blessed, dir. Anita Doron

Susan Orlean, The Orchid Thief [memoir]
Adaptation, dir. Spike Jonze

Daniel Clowes, Ghost World [graphic novel]
Ghost World, dir. Terry Zwigoff

Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange [novel]
A Clockwork Orange, dir. Stanley Kubrick

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? [novella]
Blade Runner, dir. Ridley Scott

Michelangelo Caravaggio, selected paintings
Derek Jarman, Derek Jarman’s Caravaggio (illustrated screenplay)
Caravaggio, dir. Derek Jarman

James Baldwin, Remember This House [unfinished manuscript]
I Am Not Your Negro, dir. Raoul Peck

Critical readings may include selections from the following:

  • Linda Hutcheon, A Theory of Adaptation
  • Jorgen Bruhn, Anne Gjelsvik, Eirik Hanssen, Adaptation Studies: New Challenges, New Directions
  • Deborah Cartmell, Imelda Whelehan, Screen Adaptation: Impure Cinema
  • Simone Murray, The Adaptation Industry: The Cultural Economy of Contemporary Literary Adaptation
  • Thomas Leitch, Film Adaptation and its Discontents
  • Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide
  • Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, Joshua Green, Spreadable Media: Creating Meaning and Value in a Networked Culture
  • And additional readings.

Topics in Science and Technology Studies
[Cross listed with LIBR 569B ]
Term 1
Tuesdays, 1:30 - 4:30 pm

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. This course is an introduction to the transnational politics of information. We pursue a long historical view, a global political perspective, and a cultural analysis. Assigned texts (subject to change) include Mario Biagoli on early modern authorship; Foucault on the Enlightenment and classical authorship; Rosemary Coombe on the cultural life of intellectual property; Wendy Chun, Gabriella Coleman and Chris Kelty on coding; Brian Larkin on Nigerian media infrastructures; Samuel Delaney’s short novel Babel-17; and selections from two decades of feminism at the intersection of art and technology. This course is cross listed with LIBR 569B.

Studies in Environmental Humanities
Term 1
Mondays, 1:30 - 4:30 pm

This seminar will consider other-than-human kinship—as lived relations as well as theoretical and conceptual approaches to our cross-species imaginary—in a time of climate catastrophe, settler colonialism, anti-Black violence, biotic crisis, rampant industrial extraction, and socio-political upheaval at the generative intersections of Animal Studies, Critical Indigenous Studies, Posthumanist Studies, and Critical Race Studies. Participants will consider other-than-human being and belonging within, against, and beyond the necropolitical structures of our time and possible futures, with each attending to a specific animal species and its myriad meanings throughout the term. Texts will include monographs, essays, manifestos, podcasts, films, and other multigenre work by thinkers and artists such as Kim TallBear, Donna Haraway, Mel Chen, Joshua Bennett, the Creatures Collective, and more.