2024 Winter

Students will need to use Workday to manage their course planning and registration for the 2024 Winter session. For assistance with undergraduate ENGL_V courses, students should contact first-year.english@ubc.ca or english.undergraduate@ubc.ca.

See Workday Student Resources - Undergraduate

As of June 20, 2024
(Please note that courses offered by the Vancouver campus are denoted with ‘_V‘ in Workday, e.g. ENGL_V 100.)

Learn more about the Ways of Knowingdegree requirement for students entering the BA degree program in 2024/25 or later. The Department of English Language and Literatures offers ENGL 228 as a course that will meet the Place and Power breadth requirement.

What are the new Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements?
Course Planning? See the Arts Ways of Knowing Breadth Requirement Explorer

A. Medieval and Renaissance literatures: ENGL 343 to ENGL 350

B. 18th- and 19th-century literatures: ENGL 351 to ENGL 364

C. Modern, contemporary, transnational, and Indigenous literatures: ENGL 365 to ENGL 379

D. Media, theory, genre, and special topic:  ENGL 332 to ENGL 339; ENGL 380 to ENGL 397

A. Structure of English: ENGL 330, 331, 321

B. History of English: ENGL 318, 319, 342, 343, 344, 346

C. Approaches to contemporary English: ENGL 323, 324, 328

D. Discourse and meaning: ENGL 312, 322, 327

E. Rhetoric: ENGL 307-311

Note: topics covered in any of the above groups may also focus on ENGL 326 (which has no permanent title) and ENGL 489 (majors seminar-language, where the instructor decides on the topic offered in any given year).

Each course will be classed into one of the groups A-E in any given year, depending on the topic covered. Please see an advisor if you want ENGL 326 or ENGL 489 to count as satisfying group A-E requirements.



100-level Courses

Term 1
MWF, 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

The Madwoman in the Attic: Literary Explorations of Madness

How do we define madness, and how can it be conveyed in literary texts? Who decides when someone is mad, and how is it linked to gender, class and ethnicity? When and how has madness been historically weaponized, especially against women?

In this course, we will study a range of novels and poetry from the nineteenth through to the twenty-first century, developing skills of close critical analysis as well as exploring the historical and cultural contexts in which these works were produced. We will also consider a range of theoretical and critical approaches to interpreting these texts.

The course will begin with Edgar Allen Poe’s classic short story, “The Tell-Tale Heart” (our token male writer!) and then shift to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s novella, The Yellow Wallpaper, skip forward to the mid-twentieth century to discuss Sylvia Plath’s novel, The Bell Jar, as well as a selection of her poetry, take another jump forward to Margaret Atwood’s 1996 novel, Alias Grace, and wind up in the twenty-first century with Freshwater, a ground-breaking novel by Akwaeke Emezi, an American writer of Nigerian/Tamil descent.

Term 1
MWF, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 1
MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 1
MWF, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 1

MWF, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Genres of Indigeneity 

This course is a writing-intensive introduction to the discipline of Indigenous literary studies, specifically through an engagement with a text's (a book, a poem, a play, et cetera) critical and theoretical contexts. This course is recommended for students considering English as a major in particular. The focus of this course will be contemporary Indigenous literatures from the context of what is currently called Canada, with a emphasis placed on the notion of "genre" and its possibilities, limits, and/or constraints. What does the form of the novel enable? What can it prohibit, delimit, or foreclose? What political work is a poem doing (if any), especially in and for Indigenous communities? This course takes these questions seriously and asks what worlds Indigenous literatures can create?

Term 1

MWF, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Storying Conflict: Narrative in Canadian Literary Contexts

According to narratologist H. Porter Abbott, “the representation of conflict in narrative provides a way for a culture to talk to itself about, and possibly resolve, conflicts that threaten to fracture it (or at least make living difficult).” In an increasingly polarized, fractured, and wounded world beset by crises both global and local, Canada remains (as it has always been) a space of multiple conflicts. This section of ENGL100 will focus on contemporary Canadian and Indigenous literatures, exploring works in different genres (short stories, short film, poetry, a novel, and life writing) that share an interest in turning to narrative and storytelling as creative spaces to ask the hard questions and explore conflicts. Some of our texts will take on conflicts that are public and political: climate change, pandemic, medical ethics, (neo)colonialism, racism, and inequity, among other concerns and injustices. Others explore the intimacies of private crises over relationships, identity, responsibilities, family, illness, grief, mourning, belonging, and community. Most, in fact, do both. Approaching literature as an art where private life and public history merge, we will turn to a variety of Canadian texts to investigate how conflict—whether personal, communal, national, and/or global in scale— structures narrative. How and why do writers narrate conflict? What does literature offer to the difficult conversations prompted by conflict and crisis? How do different forms and genres of writing function to engage readers in these conversations? We’ll take up these and other questions prompted by narratives that invite us to consider the ways literature engages dilemmas, embraces uncertainty, opens debate, entertains ambiguity, asks “what if?”, and locates hope.

N.B.: The texts we will read emerge from Canadian contexts and narrate lived and imagined experiences that ask us to critically consider, among other things, the politics of history, identity, gender, sexuality, colonialism, race, diaspora, multiculturalism, belonging, nationhood, land, Indigeneity, and ecology. Please be aware that some readings openly address material from these contexts that can be challenging, including racial, colonial, and gendered violence.

About ENGL100 and Course Objectives

ENGL 100 is a writing-intensive introduction to English literature and language studies through the exploration of texts in their critical and theoretical contexts, and is recommended for students intending to become English majors. In lectures, workshops, and group activities with peers, we will work on developing the skills needed to think critically, read inquisitively, and write persuasively about literary texts. You will learn and practice methods of textual analysis, research, and essay composition. Special focus will be placed on learning the foundations of narrative theory and cultivating the skills of close reading, with particular attention to the relationship between form and content in literary texts. By the end of the course, you will (a) be familiar with a range of narrative forms and literary genres used by contemporary authors in Canada; (b) understand some of the cultural, political, historical, and theoretical contexts that inform these literatures and their interpretation; (c) appreciate the ways form and style shape content to produce meaning in literary texts; (d) understand how to find, evaluate, and use research in literary criticism; and (e) have facility with academic essay-writing in the English discipline.

Term 1

TR, 9:30 AM - 11:00 AM

Why Fairy Tales Still Matter

When Greta Thunberg spoke of fairy tales at the UN Climate Action Summit, she used the term in a way that dates to at least the 1740s—to refer to a deceptive, idealized fantasy that ignores the harsher realities of life. But is that characterization entirely fair? And what, exactly, is a fairy tale? Why do some remain popular even two or three hundred years after they were first published? And why do modern writers so often return to the form, sometimes to rewrite old tales and sometimes to compose brand-new ones? In this course, we will address these questions by reading and discussing a variety of classic tales by the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont as well as modern versions of those tales by Emma Donoghue, Francesca Lia Block, and Donna Jo Napoli. We’ll end the term by examining a graphic novel by Bill Willingham in which fairy tale characters figure prominently. In lectures and discussions, we’ll consider how fairy tales have been adapted to meet the needs of different historical periods, and how different critical approaches to the same text can yield entirely different—even competing—interpretations.

Term 1

TR, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 1

TR, 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 1

TR, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

In this section of English 100, we will examine a taster of different genres of English literature, including Afrofuturism and speculative fiction, Indigenous life writing, fantasy and children’s literature, as well as classic works of Victorian sensational fiction, and comedy. The path to selfhood takes unexpected turns as protagonists encounter lessons from ghosts and monsters, confront or try to escape alternate or entirely imaginary versions of themselves, and generally avoid the familiar and the conventional. In addition to our core texts, we will read some short works and excerpts, as well as scholarly essays that provide contexts and theoretical frameworks to guide our own analysis of the texts. Students will be trained in introductory critical literary analysis, research and academic writing through writing short essays. This course encourages active learning through presentations, team work and flipped classroom exercises. Our core texts will include the following:

  • Richard Wagamese. One Native Life. Excerpts. Available through UBC Library.
  • Rivers Solomon. The Deep. Saga Press.
  • Neil Gaiman. The Graveyard Book. HarperCollins Press.
  • R.L. Stevenson. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Broadview Press.
  • Oscar Wilde. The Importance of Being Earnest. Broadview Press.

Term 1

TR, 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

In this section of English 100, we will examine a taster of different genres of English literature, including Afrofuturism and speculative fiction, Indigenous life writing, fantasy and children’s literature, as well as classic works of Victorian sensational fiction, and comedy. The path to selfhood takes unexpected turns as protagonists encounter lessons from ghosts and monsters, confront or try to escape alternate or entirely imaginary versions of themselves, and generally avoid the familiar and the conventional. In addition to our core texts, we will read some short works and excerpts, as well as scholarly essays that provide contexts and theoretical frameworks to guide our own analysis of the texts. Students will be trained in introductory critical literary analysis, research and academic writing through writing short essays. This course encourages active learning through presentations, team work and flipped classroom exercises. Our core texts will include the following:

  • Richard Wagamese. One Native Life. Excerpts. Available through UBC Library.
  • Rivers Solomon. The Deep. Saga Press.
  • Neil Gaiman. The Graveyard Book. HarperCollins Press.
  • R.L. Stevenson. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Broadview Press.
  • Oscar Wilde. The Importance of Being Earnest. Broadview Press.

Term 2

MWF, 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Books and Friendship

Aristotle says, “Without friends no one would choose to live, though they had all other goods.” Friendship claims to exist upon a principle of perfect equality. It promises a private intimacy free from masquerade and convention; only a friend knows and loves your “true portrait,” proposes Montaigne. But what would a cultural history of friendship show? Is modern friendship a different kind of thing than friendships in the past? Could you have a friend at first sight, or briefly, or must a friendship be built with labour over time? Is group friendship possible? Can friendship be erotic or romantic? This course thinks about “two [or more] going together,” exemplary and distinctive friendships in fiction, in drama, in poetry, in life.  We consider topics including friends as companions, friends and self-growth, friendships with animals, philosophy of friendship, heroic friendships, queer and romantic friendships, friendship and the nation, doomed and difficult friendships. Writers include Ursula Le Guin, Nella Larsen, Samuel Beckett, John Steinbeck, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Kazuo Ishiguro.

Term 2

MWF, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

The Madwoman in the Attic: Literary Explorations of Madness

How do we define madness, and how can it be conveyed in literary texts? Who decides when someone is mad, and how is it linked to gender, class and ethnicity? When and how has madness been historically weaponized, especially against women?

In this course, we will study a range of novels and poetry from the nineteenth through to the twenty-first century, developing skills of close critical analysis as well as exploring the historical and cultural contexts in which these works were produced. We will also consider a range of theoretical and critical approaches to interpreting these texts.

The course will begin with Edgar Allen Poe’s classic short story, “The Tell-Tale Heart” (our token male writer!) and then shift to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s novella, The Yellow Wallpaper, skip forward to the mid-twentieth century to discuss Sylvia Plath’s novel, The Bell Jar, as well as a selection of her poetry, take another jump forward to Margaret Atwood’s 1996 novel, Alias Grace, and wind up in the twenty-first century with Freshwater, a ground-breaking novel by Akwaeke Emezi, an American writer of Nigerian/Tamil descent.

Term 2

MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 2

MWF, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Literature and (Re)creation

Literature is a powerful tool for recreation. Reading literature can be a pleasurable pastime that provides respite from the stresses of living in this world, even as authors use literature to help recreate this world, help us see this world differently, and help us imagine other worlds. This course will examine how a variety of stories, plays, and poems engage in and with (re)creation: how they depict recreation, people (re)creating themselves, and people (re)creating the world. Our texts will likely include William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, selections from Olaudah Equiano’s The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Quiara Alegria Hudes’s Water by the Spoonful, Octavia E Butler’s Blood Child and Other Stories, and others.

Term 2

MWF, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 2

MWF, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 2

TR, 9:30 AM - 11:00 AM

Making Trouble

We live in troubled and troubling times; our life-worlds are often characterized by disenfranchisement, social unease, and anxiety. Media and the literary arts represent that trouble, but also engage with it, whether to provoke or to ameliorate, to confront or to repair. In this section of English 100, we will read work that challenges our senses of self-understanding and of belonging in the contemporary world. How and what do we learn from texts that resist easy interpretation, or that articulate a staunch refusal to accept the terms and conditions of their given place? How do we make art in the wake of catastrophe and disaster? What are the risks and benefits of what the cultural and media theorist Donna Haraway has called "staying with the trouble"? In this section of English 100, we will examine the challenging work of five writers (Adrienne Rich, Kathleen Jamie, Kate Beaton, Alice Munro, and Claudia Rankine) to begin to think through the imperatives offered by unsettling, resistant, resilient, troubling art.

Students should be cautioned that the works on this course syllabus confront sexual violence, misogyny, racism, settler colonialism, national and class prejudice, suicidal ideation, and other troubling—and very real—issues; you should be prepared to be challenged and disturbed by what you read and witness.

Term 2

TR, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

The Stories We Tell

“We’re all storytellers, really. That’s what we do. That is our power as human beings.”-- Richard Wagamese, Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations

Why do we tell stories? In this course we will explore the nature and significance of the stories that we tell—and retell—as authors, readers, and critics. Why are some stories more frequently retold than others? Why—and how—do some stories, such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, become culture-texts, texts that occupy such prominent places in the popular imagination that they are collectively known and “remembered” even when the original works have never been read? What difference does it make when stories are based on actual historical events? What makes stories true? Some of the texts that we will be studying self-consciously question concepts of “story,” “history,” and “truth”; all raise questions about the nature of story-telling, interpretation, identity, and society.

Our texts: Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Broadview); a selection of twentieth- and twenty-first-century illustrated editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Rare Books and Special Collections, UBC Library); Elizabeth LaPensée and K.C. Oster, Rabbit Chase (Annick Press, UBC Library ebook); Michael Ondaatje, Anil’s Ghost (Vintage); selections from Tekahionwake (E. Pauline Johnson), Lixwelut (Mary Agnes Capilano), and Sahp-luk (Chief Joe Capilano), Legends of the Capilano (University of Manitoba Press, UBC Library ebook ); selections from Richard Wagamese, Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations (Douglas & McIntyre, UBC Library ebook (the ebook does not include the splendid photographs)); a selection of poems (all available online) by Susan Alexander, Sarah Howe, Roy Miki, Kei Miller, Theresa Muñoz, Arundhathi Subramaniam, and Alice Te Punga Somerville.

Term 2

TR, 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Haunted Houses

“What is a ghost? A tragedy condemned to repeat itself time and again? An instant of pain, perhaps. Something dead which still seems to be alive. An emotion suspended in time. Like a blurred photograph. Like an insect trapped in amber.” – The Devil’s Backbone (dir. Guillermo Del Toro)

Where is the fascination, even when the deepest mysteries of the universe are being scientifically unlocked, in stories of haunted houses? What accounts for the lure, and even the enjoyment, of tales of terror and horror, even in the 21st century? This course examines the Gothic influence in texts where collisions of past and present, and implications of the uncanny, allow fascinating investigations of social codes and their transgression.

Core texts tentatively include a small selection of public-domain short stories (to be announced); Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House; Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger; Helen Oyeyemi, White is for Witching; and The Others (dir. Alejandro Amenábar); possibly another film; as well as Gardner and Diaz, Reading and Writing About Literature (5th edition). Through readings in current criticism and theory, we will develop strategies for textual analysis in literary and cultural studies. We will also consider the difficulty, if not impossibility, of reaching a “fixed” or consensus reading of any text.

Evaluation will tentatively be based on a short primary-text analysis, a midterm essay, a term paper requiring secondary academic research, a final reflection essay, and participation in discussion.

Keep checking my blog (https://blogs.ubc.ca/drgmbaxter/) for updates concerning texts and requirements.

Term 2

TR, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 1

MWF, 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

The description for this course is not yet available. Please check with us again soon.

Term 2

MWF, 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Thuggery across Literary Space and Time

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines a thug as “a violent person, especially a criminal.” Merriam-Webster offers synonyms such as “gangster,” “ruffian,” “bully,” “goon.” Interestingly, Merriam-Webster includes “villain” in its list. What do the thug and the villain have in common? What do we really mean when we use the term? How does the term travel through space, time, and genre to generate ideas for contemplating place, race, gender, and personhood from the nineteenth century to the present?

In answering these questions, this course will challenge the received notions of similarity between both terms, on the one hand, and relocate the thug in its mytho-political origin in British-dominated India. Commencing in media res with a brief examination of the thug in popular imagination, the class will zoom out from this popular portrayal of thuggery to track the figure of the thug from nineteenth-century British literature to Indian historical and journalistic accounts of thuggery. We will examine the colonial power structure that determined the meaning of the term and identify the contestations inherent in its use in its origin spaces. Bringing insight from this historical account to our reading of the manifestations of the thug in contemporary African, African American, and Caribbean literature and popular culture (comprising sonic and visual texts), we will generate a more capacious working definition of thuggery that retains its originary implication of the British colonial enterprise and recasts it as a socio-spatial strategy.

Evaluation will include two analytical essays and a final project that requires secondary academic research.

Term 2

TR, 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Bad Manners

What are bad manners? The idea of manners, broadly construed, captures not only what we expect from others in society, but also what we expect from ourselves. This section of ENGL 100 takes up literary representations of civility and decorum – and their (often comic) violations. Why, for instance, do we behave the way we do in social situations? What are the rewards of being polite – and of avoiding being perceived as rude? Does politeness come ‘naturally’? We will pursue these and further questions in a term-long inquiry into the unarticulated assumptions and expectations that underlie everyday social rituals and performances. Our texts include eighteenth-century insult poems, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Noël Coward’s Hay Fever, Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, and short stories by Zadie Smith

Term 1

MW, 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

400 Years of Humanity’s Big Questions

There will be shipwrecks, magic, mad scientists, beast-people, a garden party, and his first ball. As we read stories of wrecks and disasters—structural, personal, and social— we will consider the significance of the ways these stories ask some of the big questions human beings have struggled with for centuries: What makes us human and not animal? What is human nature, and is it really natural? What about gender, race, and other kinds of difference? Who has power and why? Along with substantial work on poetry, this section of English 110 will focus on one play, one short novel, and a group of short stories that engage the different ways that people respond to circumstances that challenge what they thought was “natural” or “universal.” This course introduces students to the analytical skills and critical thinking essential to university-level literary reading, thinking and writing. In large lectures and 30-student Friday discussion groups, students pursue hands-on practice of methods of literary analysis. Please note that this is not a course on writing (that’s ENGL 100 or WRDS 150): we’ll spend our time on fabulous literature rather than essay-writing instructions.

And remember: UBC Law, Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, and Education all require 6 credits of first year English, so 110 will prepare you for lots of future paths!

Want a head start this summer? Choose HG Wells’ short and creepy mad scientist novel, The Island of Dr. Moreau or Shakespeare’s classic shipwreck+magic play, The Tempest. You can see videos of different productions of Tempest for free through the UBC library or stream the great 2010 film, starring Helen Mirren and Djimon Hounsou.

Term 1

MW, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

After Frankenstein

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is by far the most influential work of literature in the English language. It has inspired plays, films, video games, comics, cartoons, stand-up comedy, dolls, cereals, and all manner of science-fiction, horror, and fantasy stories and novels. Many of these adaptations, including the most recent, have brought the concerns of their own time to bear on Shelley’s tale of scientific overreach, monstrosity, guilt, and rejection: these concerns include colonialism, racism, sexuality, artificial intelligence, the nature of life, birth, death, and society. But adaptations also enable us to see in critical and cultural perspectives, how such thorny issues, and our approaches to them, have evolved over time and alongside developments in artistic and other technologies. This course is thus about literary adaptation, but it is also about the histories and assumptions from which these adaptations, and our responses to them, emerge. After reading Shelley’s original novel, we will explore a selection of adaptations of Frankenstein, including the first dramatic adaptation of the novel, Richard Brinsley Peake’s Presumption, or the Fate of Frankenstein (1823), James Whale’s early cinematic masterpieces Frankenstein (1931) and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), two novels, Alasdair Gray’s Poor Things (1992) as well as Yorgos Lanthimos and Tony McNamara’s recent award-winning film adaptation of it (2023), and Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad (2013), and ending with Victor Lavalle’s disturbing but profound graphic novel, Destroyer (2022). Assignments will include short responses, quizzes, essays, and a final exam.

Please note: Frankenstein is a work of horror and, while it is not particularly graphic itself, many of its more recent adaptations have used it to probe challenging issues of violence, sexuality, racism, and war. These and other related issues will be discussed sensitively but openly in lectures and tutorials. Please be prepared.

Term 1

MW, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

We’ll read plays, short stories, and poems from a range of periods in order to consider how texts work and how we can speak and write about them. The plays are William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, and Suzan-Lori Parks’s Topdog/Underdog. We’ll read short stories from the last (almost) 200 years and poems from the last (almost) 500) years.

Term 1

MW, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Literature and the Media

This course provides students with an understanding of relationships between literature and media. It further provides them with an understanding of literary genre, and of the ways in which different media function. There are modules on electronic media and the book, on information culture, networks, surveillance capitalism, media metafiction, and on Indigenous cosmography. In addition, the course encourages students in reading and writing strategies that will enhance their ability to communicate ideas effectively.

Term 1

MW, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

What can Literature do?: 21st Century Narratives and Counternarratives

Scientists use data—gathered through experimentation, for example, or measurement—to discover and interpret the world around them. What do literary scholars use? What kind of “data” is a graphic narrative, a novel, or a poem? And what can the study of literature tell us about how we interpret the world we live in? In particular, what might we learn from literature that we can’t learn by other means?

The texts on this course include local and global stories written in our current century. They will show us contemporary lives lived in different corners of the world—for example, a Pakistani university student in New York, an Ojibwe hockey player in Ontario. These are personal stories about public events, and they are the stories that have generally been less discovered, measured, or recorded. They reveal the sometimes invisible, even erased, narratives and lives that lurk behind the headlines or history books. They invite us to ask, who gets to speak and who may be silenced? What kind of knowledge does literature give us access to—and what should we do with that knowledge?

Possible texts include The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui, The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese, Injun by Jordan Abel.

Term 2

MW, 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

This course is intended to introduce first-year students to the aims and techniques of university-level literary studies by exposing them to literature written in a range of genres—poetry, drama, narrative—in a range of social and historical contexts. The course balances professor’s lecture-format presentations (Mondays and Wednesdays) with more interactive discussions with TAs (Fridays).

This particular section of ENGL 110 will be organized around the relationship between works of literature, i.e. parody, allusion, quotation, homage. We will explore how allusions to both Broadway musicals and rap contribute to the meaning of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2016 musical Hamilton. We will explore Harlem Renaissance poetry’s engagement with poetic traditions through parody and allusion. We will then discuss poems by Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Countee Cullen. The course will wrap up with Winnifred Eaton Reeve’s novel Cattle, which cites conventions of the Western genre.

Readings will include:

  • Hamilton: The Musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda
  • Winnifred Eaton Reeve’s 1923 novel Cattle
  • Selected poems by Shakespeare, Harryette Mullen, Countee Cullen, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks

Term 2

MW, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 2

MW, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

The Body at the Border

This course introduces students to methods for studying literature, media, and critical theory by focusing on the body’s relationship to borders.
In particular, we will examine how borders in their various forms are represented, interrogated, or reimagined in contemporary North American and diasporic literature and media. We will focus on the relationships between race, gender, sexuality and narratives of migration that illuminate ongoing histories of imperialism and settler colonialism. The course uses the frameworks of literary theory, cultural studies, postcolonial theory, and diaspora studies in order to attend to formal and thematic components of cultural productions, and to put them in conversation with questions about borders and migration. Students will develop skills essential to university-level reading, writing, and critical analysis.

Term 2

MW, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Literature for a Warming World

  “People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are at the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth.” -- Greta Thunberg, address to the United Nations General Assembly, 2019

When we think about climate change, we may feel torn between concern for the fate of our planet and our desire for an unending supply of consumer goods. Depending on our politics, respect for scientific expertise, and ecological sensibility, we are likely to admire figures like Greta Thunberg or throw our lot in with her critics and plead the necessity of continued economic growth. Wherever our allegiances lie, we may wonder what potential worlds await us. In this course we will read a variety of literary representations of worlds altered by climate change. Readings will include a selection of poems and short stories, Catherynne M. Valente’s 2021 novel The Past is Red, and Bong Joon-ho’s 2013 film Snowpiercer.

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

Strange Science, Monsters, Robots, and Literary Theory

In this section of English 110, we will read literary texts depicting strange science and artificial life. The course will teach you to think and write critically about literature at the university level. It will also introduce you to contemporary literary theories. We will examine a range of approaches to the interpretation of literature, including Marxist, feminist, and postcolonial, and use the theories to analyze the literature we study. Texts read will include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, George Eliot’s “The Lifted Veil,” and Karel Čapek’s R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots).

Term 2

TR, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Introduction to Poetry

English 110 involves the study of selected examples of literary and cultural expression: examples may include poetry, fiction, drama, life narratives, essays, graphic novels, screenplays, and narrative adaptations in film and other media. This section focuses on poetry. We will read poems written in English in periods ranging from the sixteenth century to the twenty-first century from The Broadview Anthology of Poetry (2nd edition). We will discuss contemporary as well as traditional techniques and forms by a wide array of authors and we will explore selected topics such as war and human rights. This course introduces students to various literary approaches to foster insight and pleasure in the study of poetry. Assignments may include in-class quizzes, an in-class essay, and a final examination.

 

Term 1

MW, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Producing Consumable Texts: Exploring Representations of Food and Eating

With the popularity of The Food Network and social media, the pleasures of food have extended to consuming representations of eating and food production (e.g., foraging, harvesting, cooking). This course will explore diverse ways of communicating about food, including through personal essays, restaurant reviews, blog posts, recipes/cookbooks, food documentaries, and Instagram reels. This course will consider each of these genres/media, considering how their forms help convey particular meanings in relation to food. For example, how do recipes instruct readers about a particular lifestyle or ethos tied up with certain kinds of food and preparation? How does a restaurant review provide both critique as well as vicarious enjoyment for the reader? How do visual elements, such as photographs and video, facilitate the consumption experience? The course will also consider how issues related to race, colonialism, gender, and class can be subsumed in the eating process or brought to light through more disruptive eating and communicational practices.

Term 1
TR, 9:30 AM - 11:00 AM

Rhetoric, Controversy, and Propaganda

How does everyday language work to influence our thoughts and actions? This course delves into the realm of rhetoric – the motivation of belief and action, which encompasses not only overt techniques of persuasion and propaganda, but also the quotidian aspects of language and symbol usage that facilitate (or hinder) our daily lives and organize society. In order to work on their own communication skills, students will study and implement argumentative, critical, and stylistic techniques by analyzing the rhetoric of contemporary and historical public controversies, such as the politics of climate change, the public function of science, and whatever current controversies fill the headlines this semester.

Term 2

MW, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Life Writing

‘What does it mean to tell a life story?’ is a more enigmatic and urgent question than it may appear, especially in contexts of great (historical, ecological, technological) change like ours.  This class explores how writing represents life, and how writing itself lives (how writing informs and transforms living processes) across various genres:  popular science writing on ecology (Merlin Sheldrake, Entangled Life; Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction, Patrik Svensson, the Book of Eels) and on developmental psychology (Alison Gopnik, The Gardener and the Carpenter); ecologically and politically informed memoire (Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me); William Finnegan, Barbarian Days, Crossing the Line), memoiristic cultural criticism (Rebecca Solnit, Men Explain Things to Me; Claire Dederer, Monsters) fictionalized memoire and memoiristic fiction (Clarise Lispector, Geoff Dyer, Jorge-Luis Borges, Franz Kafka, Toni Morrison).

Term 1

TR, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
CO-TAUGHT WITH LING 140

What can we believe of what we hear and read about language?
Is language change bad?
Do some people have “good grammar”?
Does language shape thought and/or culture?
Are young people destroying the language?
Is texting destroying the language?
Is learning a language easier for kids?
Does your ability to learn a language reflect your intelligence?
Is all thought linguistic?
Where in your brain is language located?
Do bilinguals have an advantage or are they disadvantaged?

In this course, we critically examine a broad range of commonly held beliefs about language and the relation of language to the brain and cognition, learning, society, change and evolution. Students come to understand language myths, the purpose for their existence, and their validity (or not). We use science and common sense as tools in our process of “myth-busting”. The course textbook is Abby Kaplan, Women talk more than men … and other myths about language explained. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), which is available for purchase from the Bookstore or online through the UBC Library.

This course is an excellent introduction for students contemplating the English Language Major as well as an appropriate elective for students already in the English Language or Language & Literature Major or Language Minor.

Course evaluation is based on two examinations, a written project (pairs or groups), participation and attendance, and low-stakes short weekly writing. For the project, students select a language myth discussed in popular media (online, newspaper, etc.). Based on scholarly readings concerning the myth as well as material covered in class, they “bust” or confirm the myth.

This course is cross-listed as Linguistics 140 and is co-taught by instructors from the English and Linguistics Departments.

Note:This course does not fulfill the university writing requirements or the literature requirement in the Faculty of Arts.


200-Level Courses

Term 1

MWF, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Moving Histories, Travelling Texts

How can Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, the story of two Ghanaian sisters in the 18th century, speak to Lee Maracle’s “Goodbye Snauq,” a retelling of the formation of what we now call “Kitsilano?” What might the opening howl of Beowulf have to say to the teenage djinns of Mati Diop’s Atlantics? Where might the speaker of William Wordsworth’s “I Wondered Lonely as a Cloud” encounter the wandering, lonely narrator of Open City?

This team-taught course brings a diverse range of novels, poems and films together to think about historical and contemporary experiences of migration and movement. Together we’ll investigate literature’s ability to trace a counter-history of migration: what solidarities and connections emerge from histories of loss and displacement?

Term 1

MWF, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Narrating Place

What does it mean to write a place? What does it mean to write in a place? How does literature simultaneously impact and be impacted by the very geographies that it narrates? How do literary writers engage with the environment and even the current climate crisis?

This section of ENGL 200 will engage with these questions of the literary production of place, and the impact that these places have on the literature that comes from them. Places are constructed via multiple stories, often contradictory and interacting complexly with each other, layering stories to produce deep narrative maps.

Students will read a range of texts - poems, short stories, and novels - that engage with the complex histories of place across a range of different temporal and geographical contexts, from the misty isles of post-Roman England to 20th century South Africa, from the shores of the Caribbean to our own contemporary moment on the Pacific coast of Western Canada.

Term 2

MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Creation, Destruction, Reflection, Rebuilding

This team-taught course examines how literature intersects with pivotal moments in the lives of individuals, collectives, and our planet. We will explore a diverse range of literary texts across time that engage with ideas of making and unmaking. Our explorations might include works about how the world was created, or texts that reflect on the destructive wars of the twentieth century. Sometimes we will encounter art forms that build themselves on the bones of other forms, that take old traditions apart in order to create new ones for their own time and place. Some of our texts will be celebratory, some apocalyptic; all of them show the power of literature to reflect the human experience in profound and unforgettable ways.

Term  1 - 2

TR, 9:30 PM - 11:00 PM

Networks and Exchange in English Literature

English 210 is a six-credit course for Honours students, intended as a foundation for advanced study. Over the course of the year, we will read a wide range of literatures written in English, and we will think about the ways that creators and critics have responded to these texts, both in the past and in the present. The arrangement of the course is broadly chronological, from the Middle Ages to the present, though throughout we will pair texts that are in some way in conversation with each other. For example, early in first term we will read some of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales alongside modern responses from Jean Binta Breeze, Patience Agbabi, and Zadie Smith; early in second term, we will pair John Milton’s Paradise Lost with work by Neil Gaiman, Ursula LeGuin, and N.K. Jemisin. As we read our way through canons and counter-canons, we will think about the making, breaking, and rebuilding of networks of influence and engagement. We will think about what we read; how we read; how we talk and write about what we read; and why we often turn to the literary as a way of thinking through big questions.

Term 1

TR, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Pre-Industrial Economies and Environments

This class explores preindustrial experience as reflected in literature:  how social rank and economic value were measured and circulated, how gender, family and nation were expressed and subverted, and how the natural environment, weather, seasons and climate were represented in medieval romances such as Gawain and the Green Knight, and renaissance drama like Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and The Merchant of Venice, and poetry by Milton, Donne, Shakespeare and others.

Term 1

TR, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

The Stories We Tell—and Retell

Why do we tell stories? The very phrase “telling stories” is synonymous, to quote the Houyhnhnms in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, with saying “the thing which is not.” Yet most story-tellers are trying to articulate “the thing which is,” however they might define that in socio-political and/or aesthetic terms. In this course we will explore the nature and significance of the stories that we tell—and retell—as writers, readers, and critics. Why are some stories more frequently retold than others? Why—and how—do some stories, such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, become culture-texts, texts that occupy such prominent places in the popular imagination that they are collectively known and “remembered” even when the original works have never been read?

As we attempt to answer these and other literary and cultural questions, we will explore the ideological assumptions—with respect to gender, race, class, sexuality, mental and physical ability, the environment, ethics, religion, education, aesthetics, etc.—implicit in our texts and some of their reimaginings, and in our and the original readers’ interpretations.

Our readings will be organized into four clusters: 1-3) Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont’s “Beauty and the Beast: A Tale” (1757), Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847), and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and some of their twentieth- and twenty-first-century reimaginings; 4) twenty-first-century voices.

Texts:

Our texts and films will include: Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont, “Beauty and the Beast: A Tale” (D. L. Ashliman, Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts); Angela Carter, "The Courtship of Mr Lyon" and "The Tiger's Bride"; Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (Oxford World's Classics); selections from Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (Canvas); Bertha, choreographed by Cathy Marston, music by Errollyn Wallen (Joffrey Ballet); Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Broadview); Alice in Wonderland, directed by Jonathan Miller (Library Online Course Reserves, Canvas (only available during term)); a selection of twentieth- and twenty-first-century illustrated editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Rare Books and Special Collections, UBC Library); Small Island stage play, based on the novel by Andrea Levy, adapted by Helen Edmundson (National Theatre performance and script); a selection of poems by Moniza Alvi, Sarah Howe, Kei Miller, and Theresa Muñoz.

Term 2

MWF, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

What if… ? Speculative Literatures in Canada (where ‘Eh’ is for Apocalypse)

“The apocalyptic images are not just alarmist rhetoric: by pretty clear scientific consensus, there is ample reason to be afraid...”
Catriona Sandilands, Storying Climate Change

“We can’t possibly live otherwise until we first imagine otherwise”
—Daniel Heath Justice (Cherokee Nation), Why Indigenous Literatures Matter

 

What if global warming causes a pandemic of dreamlessness and a future where Indigenous peoples are hunted for a cure reportedly found in their bone marrow? What if scientists genetically re-engineered humanity to better survive climate apocalypse? What if geronticide emerged as a popular solution to intergenerational conflicts over economic inequality? What if cyborgs wrote poetry? What if a child’s emotional distress resulted in transmogrification into a giant red panda? What if... what if... what if…

Speculative literature—an umbrella category or “supergenre” associated with genres like science fiction, dystopia, fantasy, and horror—is storytelling of the what if. It alters or extends (often into uncomfortable places) the conditions of the world as we know it in order to consider what might be, and in doing so invariably returns us to what has been and is, to the present that prompts such creative acts of speculation. This course will introduce students to Canadian literatures in the genres of speculative fiction, examining some of the big “what ifs” being asked by Canadian and Indigenous storytellers today. We’ll read stories about climate apocalypse and consider the usefulness of imagining the end of the world. We’ll explore how the horrors of colonial history  have been reimagined into dystopian neocolonial futures. And we’ll take up narratives about monstrous bodies and posthuman figures that question what it means to be human. How do such fantastic fictions function to comment on our realities? Indeed, while apocalypse and dystopia have long been spaces for writers to play out the potentially perilous futures of society’s present conditions—a tradition contemporary “cli-fi” continues in response to the very real horror of climate catastrophe—for many marginalized by those conditions, apocalypse and dystopia are not simply imaginative spaces. By exploring a diverse selection of texts and authors, we will thus attend to some of the different ways writers and artists in Canada are employing the fantastic to develop a cultural politics from speculative engagement with both troubling pasts and challenges of the present. Our guiding questions will include: what are the powers, possibilities, and limits of speculative genres? How does genre function differently for different writers/audiences in different contexts? What are the hopes, fears, and political imaginaries of the worlds Canadian speculative storytelling brings into being? And how does the “what if?” help us to “imagine otherwise”?

The readings and viewings will comprise novels, films, short stories, and poems in several (sometimes overlapping) SF genres—climate fiction (“cli-fi”), (post-)apocalyptic, dystopia/utopia, horror, alternate history, sci-fi, Afro- and Indigenous futurism, and urban fantasy. Primary texts will likely be selected from works by Margaret Atwood, Lindsay B-e, Jeff Barnaby, Wayde Compton, Cherie Dimaline, Hiromi Goto, Lisa Jackson, Daniel Heath Justice, Doretta Lau, and Domee Shi.

Term 2

MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 1

MWF, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
2024 marks 30 years since the formal end of South African apartheid, a system of white minority rule enforced with unchecked state violence. This course explores the ways in which writers turned culture into a “weapon of struggle” against apartheid and what happened to South African literature when that struggle was eventually won.
Beginning with prison poetry from the 1970s and 1980s, we’ll look at texts that exposed the cruelties of the apartheid state and imagined a radical future for the nation. The advent of democracy in the 1990s, and with it the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, provided a range of new possibilities for writers, but also a series of challenges that we’ll explore through a range of forms and genres. Texts include (subject to change):

  • JM Coetzee - Life and Times of Michael K
  • Zoë Wicomb - Playing in the Light
  • Phaswane Mpe - Welcome to Our Hillbrow
  • Short stories by Nadine Gordimer, Njabulo Ndebele and Ivan Vladislavić,
  • Poetry by Chris van Wyk, Jeremy Cronin, Dennis Brutus and Gabeba Baderoon

Term 1

MWF, 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 2

TR, 9:30 AM - 11:00 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 2

MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Literature in 4D

Our experience of time is a telling of stories. We use narrative to reduce life’s jumble of memories, experiences, hopes, and anxieties to a simple line that runs from beginning, through middle, to end. Fiction mirrors these stories we tell ourselves, selecting and organizing events to create the illusion of a stable, comprehensible timeline.

In this course we’ll encounter novels and short stories from a range of authors and contexts, working together to interpret them from various angles and perspectives. We’ll particularly focus, however, on the relationship between story and time. We’ll situate fiction in its own time and think about how to read it out of time. We’ll consider time travel, alternative timelines, backwards time (memory, history) and forwards time (prophecy, intuition, prediction). We will ask how time governs the lifespan and motivations of characters, the dread and anticipation of mood, the expansion or degeneration of worlds, and the existential considerations of theme. Most of all, we will examine the use of plot to experiment with time: jumping back and forth, speeding through a lifetime in a few sentences, or spending pages on a single moment.

Texts:

Texts will include Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway (Wordsworth Classics, 1998), Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five (Dial, 1999), stories from The Broadview Introduction to Literature: Short Fiction (2nd edn), and a graphic adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Kindred (Abrams, 2018).


Term 2

MWF, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

*This course fulfills the new BA Ways of Knowing: Place and Power breadth requirement

This course introduces students to literary and cultural representations of/intersections with practices of power in the context of the West Coast of what is currently called Canada. It emphasizes works by local authors from, about, or associated with Vancouver and British Columbia. Theories of place inform an approach to works by these writers that will allow us to examine literary Vancouver from a range of Indigenous, diaspora, and settler contexts. Our guiding question will be: How does reading “place”—including displacement—make visible the intimate and deeply felt ways dynamics of power are enated, embodied, resisted, and imagined by writers and/in communities? Students will read a range of writers from and/or engaging Vancouver in a variety of literary forms and genres. Assignments will position you in place and community, enabling you to examine place-based texts, mix critical and creative modes of inquiry, and bring student class participants collaboratively together.

Term 1

TR, 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

How Language Creates Meaning

Expressing meaning is why we use language in the first place, but understanding how we choose the form of expression is not straightforward. In the course, we will learn how linguistic meaning emerges at the intersection of our embodied experience, our conceptual abilities, and our social and cultural context. To flesh out the meaning emergence mechanisms we will consider examples from grammar, structure of words, and multiple word meanings, but also visual communication and multimodal (text and image) artifacts. Through developing theoretical concepts and close analysis of examples, we will learn what it means to view language as a tool supporting conceptualization, in various communicative situations (advertising, internet discourse, commercial contexts, cityscape, and many more).

Term 1
TR, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Indigenous Literatures, Through Time and Space

ENGL 231 explores the ways that Indigenous peoples have sought to overcome the legacy of colonialism and achieve self-determination through literary and other forms of cultural production and critique. This course will examine contemporary articulations of Indigenous identity, politics and cultural traditions in the field of literature, through the genres of the novel, poetry, plays/drama, film, and other modes of resurgent cultural expression. We will be examining both critiques of mainstream representations of Indigenous peoples in scholarly articles and readings, as well as Indigenous perspectives on popular culture, urban Indigeneity, history, politics, and contemporary struggles for decolonization.

Term 1
MWF, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

This course will critically engage the works of contemporary Indigenous authors from North America with a comparative perspective situated in the broad field of Indigenous studies.  We will read a variety of genres including poetry, fiction, non-fiction, short stories, novels, as well as criticism in Indigenous studies. Additionally, we will engage with non-textual forms of Indigenous literature, including oral storytelling, performance, and land-based story. The organizing questions for this particular semester are: What is the relationship between contemporary Indigenous literature and Indigenous politics and activism? How do Indigenous scholars and writers contextualize contemporary narratives culturally, politically and historically in ethical and creative ways? How do they address sovereignty, self-determination, decolonization and resurgence in their work?

Term 2

MWF, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Medianthropologies

While media studies has its roots in anthropology, this origin story has been relatively neglected until recently, gaining increasing attention that has culminatedg in the publication of studies such as Anthropology of Images (2011), Anthropology of News and Journalism (2010), Anthropology of Globalization (2008), Media Anthropology (2005), Anthropology of Digital Practices (2024), Music and Digital Media: A Planetary Anthropology (2023),  Sonic Persona: An Anthropology of Sound (2018), and the 600 page Routledge Companion to Media Anthropology (2023), to name only a few. This course draws on the instructor’s Explorations of Edmund Snow Carpenter: Anthropology Upside Down (2024) to assess the anthropological beginnings of media studies before turning to an examination of various approaches to media anthropology. The course concludes with student panel presentations of media anthropological research into topics such as the UBC home page (ubc.ca), Indigenous media on campus, and campus surveillance.

Term 2

MWF, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Cancel Shakespeare

Should Shakespeare be canceled? While Shakespeare’s works have long been understood as “necessary” reading, many question Shakespeare’s dominance within the study of literature written in English and his enduring cultural influence. On one side, some argue that there is still much to be gained from reading, watching, and studying Shakespeare; on the other side, some argue that Shakespeare’s works are carriers of racism, misogyny, and other forms of violence that we need to leave behind. We will read a number of Shakespeare’s plays—The Comedy of Errors, Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, Measure for Measure, and The Tempest—closely and use our close reading to examine debates on social media and in the news about canceling Shakespeare.

Term 1

TR, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Parents Just Don’t Understand: An Introduction to Children’s and Young Adult Literature

“I imagine everyone will judge it reasonable, that... children, when little, should look upon their parents as their lords, their absolute governors, and as such stand in awe of them; and that when they come to riper years, they should look on them as their best, as their only sure friends, and as such love and reverence them....” -- John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education, 1693

In an enormously popular and influential work that became something of a handbook for parents and educators, the philosopher John Locke presents an idealized view of the path from childhood to maturity. Some Thoughts Concerning Education was published just as a distinct body of writing for the young was beginning to emerge in England, and Locke argued that the books children read play an important role in their development. But Locke was also a bachelor who had little first-hand experience of children, and he didn’t anticipate the many ways that writing for the young would reflect the complicated and often fraught relations between children and their elders. This course offers an introduction to children’s and Young Adult literature, with an emphasis on parent-child relations. In readings, discussions, and lectures on children’s literature published in English, we will examine how changing understandings of childhood—and particularly of the relationship between children and their parents—are reflected in writing for young readers.

We’ll begin with a selection of classic fairy tales before turning our attention to recent work, including novels by David Almond and Neil Gaiman, and a graphic novel by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki.

 

Term 2

MWF, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 1

TR, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Racial Futures

This course engages contemporary literature, media, and theory that illuminate how concepts of the future are expressly racial visions. Speculative narratives are at once imperialist visions of control and prediction, and pertinent to radical imaginaries of a different world. We will examine cultural and scholarly works that bring speculative fiction, histories of empire and colonialism, and theories of race, gender, and sexuality into conversation. Course texts might include novels like Larissa Lai's Salt Fish Girl and Octavia Butler's Kindred; stories by Ling Ma, Ted Chiang, Ken Liu, and Nalo Hopkinson; poetry like Joshua Whitehead's full-metal indigiqueer; and films such as Boots Riley's Sorry To Bother You and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. (Please note that these are only tentative titles and authors, and that the course syllabus will be posted in Term 1).

Term 2

TR, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Synthetic Humans; Posthuman Dystopias

“We make Angels. In the service of Civilization. There were bad angels once … I make good angels now.” -- Niander Wallace, Blade Runner 2049

“Whole generations of disposable people.” – Guinan, “The Measure of a Man”, Star Trek: The Next Generation (season 2)

The near-future and alternate-reality landscapes of science fiction are often terrifying places and have been since Gothic and dystopian impulses intersected in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Shelley’s landmark tale evokes dread in the implications of Victor’s generation of a humanoid Creature; this dread echoes in more recent products or accidents of science: clones, robots and replicants, artificial intelligences, cyborgs. Such texts raise issues of gendered exploitation, consciousness and rights, research ethics, and fear, in the realization that these creatures are, ultimately, not human but posthuman, yet often more sympathetic than their makers. However, despite their apparent superiority, such humanoids tend to be defined as commodities. In this course, we will consider the posthuman element of dystopian speculations reflecting on the present and recent past, especially concerning threats of mass surveillance, profit-motivated technology, environmental crisis, and redefinitions of human identity.

Core texts tentatively include William Gibson, Neuromancer; Madeline Ashby, vN; Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski, The Matrix: Shooting Script; Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go or Klara and the Sun; Blade Runner 2049 (dir. Denis Villeneuve) plus possibly one other film (or shooting script) or one other novel.

Evaluation will tentatively be based on a midterm essay, a term paper requiring secondary academic research, a final reflection essay, and participation in discussion.

Keep checking my blog (https://blogs.ubc.ca/drgmbaxter/) for updates concerning texts and requirements.

Term 1
MWF,  11:00 AM -  12:00 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 2

TR, 11:00 PM - 12:30 PM

Reading Surfaces

In this course, we will survey key texts in emerging canons of graphic media—hybrids and mixtures of comics, illustrated texts, cartoons, graphic novels, graffiti, visual media and other genres—with an eye to establishing our own workable critical reading practices. What do graphic texts tell us about the limits of literature, and about the relationships between art and popular culture? How has the emergence of mass-produced graphic forms and genres impacted on the ways in which we read, and on how we value and evaluate writing? What has become of our sense of what constitutes a book or even a page? How do graphic media encourage us to reflect on the visual, spatial and material forms of representation, in language and in other sign systems and mediums? How is graphic media's increasing popularity, its burgeoning readership, tied to certain conceptions of identity, subjectivity, sociality and literacy? How do comics help us to engage with social and environmental crises in our world? Texts for this course this year will very likely include Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze, Making Comics by Lynda Barry, Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Ducks by Kate Beaton, Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay by William Gibson and Johnnie Christmas, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, and Secret Path by Jeff Lemire and Gord Downie. The course also includes a series of comics-drawing workshops, when students can learn to make their own comics. Students will also have an opportunity to write about and discuss their own favourite graphic media.

Term 1

MWF, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Vampires on Page and Screen: Transfusions and Transmutations

“I am all in a sea of wonders. I doubt; I fear; I think strange things, which I dare not confess to my own soul.” -- Bram Stoker, Dracula

This course examines adaptations in something of the way vampire transformations work, by considering how elements of appearance remain but the resulting creature is always radically different. We’ll go in prepared, not with stakes and garlic but with the critical and theoretical tools needed to move beyond popular online discussions and enable consideration of ideological, political, and cultural questions arising in creating through adaptation a new and separate text in a different genre. Our approach will be more that of literary and cultural studies than film studies, as we consider why stories about vampires, the blood-drinking immortals of myth and legend - and more recently of fiction and film - fascinate us and their adapters, and to what extent visualizing them results a transfusion, a transmutation, or both.

Core texts tentatively include Sheridan LeFanu’s Carmilla plus one adaptation (ideally the 2019 eponymous film), possibly The Vampire Lovers), Bram Stoker’s Dracula plus two adaptations: possibilities include Nosferatu (either Murnau or Herzog), Dracula (1931; Tod Browning), Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992; Francis Ford Coppola). We might also have a look at John Polidori’s novella The Vampyre (or at one as yet unadapted vampire story) and at one vampire film that isn’t an adaptation (e.g. What We Do in the Shadows or Only Lovers Left Alive). Film choices will depend on access through Library Online Course Reserves. As well, academic readings in theory and criticism specifically concerned with adaptation, as well as in Gothic studies, will be set and provided through Library Online Course Reserves.

Evaluation will tentatively be based on a midterm essay, a term paper requiring secondary academic research, a final reflection essay, and participation in discussion.

Keep checking my blog (https://blogs.ubc.ca/drgmbaxter/) for updates concerning texts and requirements.

Term 2

MWF, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Hard-boiled and Noir

Admiring French film critics coined the term “Noir” to describe stylized, moody, atmospheric, politically-charged, morally-ambiguous American films from the 1940s and 1950s about ordinary people who commit extraordinary crimes. These films were themselves quirkily and sometimes surreally adapted from Gothic, mystery, and especially “hard-boiled” detective stories from the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries that thrilled and inspired readers with tales of murder, mayhem, and daring-do—albeit in somewhat more lighthearted or comforting registers. Since in 60s, though, Noir has itself become a global phenomenon whose authors adapt its persistently sinister tropes of greed, murder, cynicism and cruelty to comment on the critical issues of their time, including psychic malaise, racial identity, class power, and gender violence. This course will survey hardboiled and noir fiction (and some films) and probe their aesthetic, psychological, and political implications. We will read several classic hardboiled and noir texts to define its modes and assumption and to differentiate them from other forms of detective fiction. We will also read some recent American and “global noir” novels offering fresh perspectives on the genre’s racial, gender, and class politics. Assignments will include in-class writing assignments and a final exam, but students will also have a chance to develop creative skills by writing their own hard-boiled or noir story.

Note: these novels and films portray, describe, and confront racial prejudice, gender violence, drug addiction, psychic trauma, and related issues in sometimes stark and challenging ways. Students are advised to bring an open mind to these texts and to be prepared to discuss the challenging issues they raise.


300-Level Courses

Term 1

MWF, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Object relations theory (dream, play, fantasy)

Psychoanalytic models and methods in literary studies have largely come from the influential work of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan. But this course explores the ongoing critical relevance of a different tradition, those lesser-known figures associated with object relations theory as it emerged from the work of Sandor Ferenczi and Melanie Klein. Among the first analysts who worked closely with children, Klein innovated a form of play therapy and a set of concepts that significantly departed from Freud's emphasis on drive satisfaction and Lacan's emphasis on linguistic structure. Klein's contributions to the theory and practice of psychoanalysis in the mid-twentieth century influenced other innovative analysts, including Donald Winnicott, Wilfred Bion (who was Samuel Beckett's analyst), Hannah Segal, and others. In the twenty-first century, literary studies (in particular, studies of Victorian literature) has returned to Kleinian thinking to reinvigorate criticism by paying attention to affect and non-verbal expression.

In this course we will read both theoretical works in this Kleinian tradition and late modernist literary works from the mid-twentieth century to think about broader contemporaneous histories (of race, gender, sexuality, and class) and approaches to aesthetic form.

In addition to theoretical works by psychoanalysts, readings will include literature and film by some of the following: Samuel Beckett, Bertolt Brecht, Mary McCarthy, William Gardner Smith, Gertrude Stein, Billy Wilder, Richard Wright, others; and critical/theoretical writing by Alicia Mireles Chrtistoff, Sianne Ngai, Vanessa Smith, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Elizabeth Wilson, others.

Term 1

MWF, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Blended Delivery

English 301: Technical Writing examines the rhetorical genre of professional and technical communication, especially online, through analysis and application of its principles and practices. You will produce a formal report, investigating resources and/or concerns in a real-life community, as a major project involving a series of linked assignments. This project will involve the study (and possibly practical application) of research ethics where human subjects are involved (e.g. in conducting surveys or interviews). Evaluation will be based on a series of four linked assignments culminating in the formal report, as well as participation in discussion and completion of various textbook exercises.

Think of this course as an extended report-writing Boot Camp: intensive, useful preparation for the last phase of your undergraduate degree, as you start applying to professional and graduate programs, and for the years beyond of work and community involvement. Technical Writing is closed to first- and second-year students in Arts and cannot be used for credit towards the English Major or Minor.

The course text will be Lannon et al, Technical Communications, 8th Canadian Edition, Pearson, 2020.

Please note that this is a blended course and will require both participation in synchronous lectures and workshops as well as asynchronous but scheduled independent work of the sort done in a conventional online course (e.g. weekly Canvas-based textbook exercises and occasional peer feedback on drafts).

Also note that while 301 is not a course in remedial grammar, this section will provide online Canvas-based writing resources and workshops designed to help identify writing and proofreading problems, and to provide strategies to address them.

Keep checking my blog (https://blogs.ubc.ca/drgmbaxter/) for updates concerning texts and requirements.

Term 2

MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 1

TR, 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

What is rhetoric, and how do persuasion and influence work? How you can persuade your friends, family, colleagues, and strangers? Some of the most infamous historical intellectuals vehemently disagree about the answers to these questions, but taken together, their answers provide a blueprint for rhetorical theory. By reading and applying rhetorical theories advanced by important thinkers in major epochs of world history, students will learn about how rhetoric was supposed to function in ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, ancient China, medieval Arabia, and elsewhere, as well as how these theories still function (or not) today.

Term 1

TR, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Hybrid Delivery

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 2

MWF, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

 

In the English 319 course we follow the development of English from the time of the Norman Conquest to the present day. In terms of the diachronic study of language, the course provides an overview of the historical evolution of English from the Middle English period (1100-1500) through the Early Modern English Period (1500-1800) to the Late Modern English Period (1800-21st century). In each period, we study the changes in linguistic structure in terms of the sounds of the language and their relationship with spelling (phonology and graphology), words, including principles of word formation (morphology), loanwords, relevant aspects of word classes (the lexicon), word meaning (semantics) and sentence structure (syntax), with a view to learning about the dynamic, ongoing development and creative flexibility of the English language. The approach taken in the course is descriptive and is not situated exclusively in any specific linguistic theory.

Since the course aims at enabling students to grasp and describe the significant linguistic changes from one historical period to the next, students will be required to acquire a working knowledge of

  • the International Phonetic Alphabet and
  • English morphology and syntax.

There is an emphasis in this course on sustained practicing what you are learning by analyzing and describing a substantial number of examples throughout our study of the historical periods from Middle English up to present-day language use.

 

Required textbook: Brinton, Laurel J. & Leslie Arnovick. The English Language: A Linguistic History. 3rd ed. Oxford University Press, 2017.

Term 1
Online Asynchronous

English 321 is a fully asynchronous online course. It offers an introduction to English grammar and its use in everyday communication. Taking a descriptive stance towards the rules of grammar and language variation, we work with examples from written and spoken language used in various formal and informal situations. Our study starts with words and their parts, proceeds to word classes, phrases and clauses, and concludes by considering different communicative functions that grammatical structures can perform when we package information in particular ways. This course:

  • equips students with skills for identifying and describing the effects of derived structures in various communicative situations by means of the study and description of numerous diverse examples,
  • provides a strong basis for further study of the English language, language variation, literary and non-literary communication and style, and
  • provides essential preparation for students planning to teach English at any level.

In ENGL321, as in language courses generally, active and sustained engagement with the course materials is important. It is helpful to practice what you have learned at every step of your progress by completing the exercises provided on the course website and in the textbooks and to watch and listen in conversations or everyday reading for instances of application or non-application of the descriptive rules that you are learning in the course. The collaborative journal posting assignments provide opportunities to gather data and discuss the application of usage rules to real-life usage that you record (with permission of the participants) and describe.

Note: Although this is not a remedial course explicitly aimed at improving your own language usage, studying the structure and the usage of the language can have a positive, continuing impact on your ability to communicate effectively in English.

Textbooks

Börjars, Kersti & Kate Burridge. Introducing English Grammar, 3rd ed. Routledge, 2019.

Leech, Geoffrey, Margaret Deuchar and Robert Hoogenraad. English Grammar for Today: A New Introduction. 2nd ed. Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

Term 2
Online Asynchronous

This fully asynchronous online course is an introduction to the study of stylistics, with an emphasis on literary stylistics. The course starts with the definition of stylistics as the linguistic analysis of literary or non-literary texts for the purpose of reaching verifiable interpretation(s) of the meaning being communicated. We observe the significant shifts that have taken place in the development of stylistics as a discipline, while maintaining a steady emphasis on the linguistic analysis of literature.

We next consider what communication strategies characterize each of the literary genres. When describing and exemplifying current stylistic tools for analyzing poems, narrative texts and dramas, we indicate how stylistic analysis enables verifiable interpretation(s) and can prevent an untenable reading.

The course emphasizes the following actions to enhance your learning:

working hands-on with examples from each of the three genres by means of detailed analysis of the language of the text;

discussing difficult concepts and good insights with class members (you can count on also receiving input from the instructor); and

verifying findings by (in this context, small-scale) replication of analyses.

The high point of the course is the term paper in which students consider two to three findings reported in a recent corpus stylistic study on the writing style of a famous novelist (and Nobel laureate). You will be asked to replicate these findings in your own reading of a very short story or an extract from a longer work by the same author with a view to verifying your interpretation of the story.

Textbooks:

Short, Mick. Exploring the Language of Poems, Plays and Prose. Longman, 1996.

Simpson, Paul. Stylistics: A Resource Book for Students, 2nd ed. Routledge, 2014.

 

Term 1

TR, 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

The Language of the Media

There has been much interest recently in the impact that contemporary media (print news, social media and image-text communication) have on public discourse and public trust in information. In the course, we will study a range of language forms and communication genres to better understand the nature of contemporary public discourse and to build an informed approach to the communicative universe we live in. We will start by discussing selected language phenomena, such as types of figuration, linguistic constructions, and expressions of stance.  After establishing introductory concepts, we will focus on several case studies, looking more specifically at the discourse of major campaigns and crises (e.g. Brexit, COVID, climate change), political discourse genres (speeches and election campaigns), the role of post-truth phenomena, and internet discourse genres (memes and ads). Students will be expected to participate in in-class discussions and projects, engage with readings, collect their own media examples, and respond to take-home assignments.

Term 2

MWF, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

This class focuses on “everyday metaphors”: the figurative language that we use all the time, over the course of casual conversations and throughout our lives, often without even realizing it. While we may think our colloquial use of language is mostly literal, we rely on metaphors to talk about all sorts of ideas and situations. For example, we may talk about “fighting” crime, “waging war” on a pandemic, or “battling” poverty. In all these cases, we are describing one type of concept - a serious societal challenge - in terms of another concept, physical combat. But what does it mean to describe a pandemic as a “war”, versus a “wildfire” or a “journey”? Not only are these types of patterns pervasive throughout our language use, they also influence how we understand these concepts.

In this course, you will learn how to identify and analyze figurative language in a variety of texts and media, and also consider the persuasive role of metaphor as a cognitive phenomenon. In the first part of the course, we will learn about various types of figurative language (metaphor, metonymy, blending). In the second part, we will apply these theoretical concepts to a range of genres, from health care to poetry. We will also consider the role of figurative language beyond the written and spoken word, such as gesture, memes, and other forms of multimodality.

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

Identify and analyse figurative language in a variety of texts, genres, and media

Understand and apply core concepts in cognitive linguistics, including metaphor theory and frame semantics

Read and comprehend scholarly articles in the field of metaphor studies

Develop an original metaphor analysis and present it in spoken and written form

Engage in critical academic discussion with both peers and scholarly literature

Required textbook: 

Dancygier, Barbara, and Eve Sweetser. Figurative Language. Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Term 2

MW, 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

This course explores and examines contemporary English phonology, morphology and lexical semantics. It begins with the study of speech sounds in English. We apply methods for phonetic transcription and study distinct sounds and possible sound combinations in English (phonology). We study the processes of word formation and word classification in English (morphology). We also study word meaning (lexical semantics) using a variety of approaches.

Upon completion of this course, students will:

understand the English sound system, including sounds that are used in speech production and the rules and patterns governing their use;

understand the rules of English word formation and grammatical modification;

understand different approaches to representing and analyzing lexical meaning;

demonstrate the ability to formally or diagrammatically represent this knowledge;

appreciate the nuances of meaning in human language and the conceptual system underlying it.

Required textbook:

Brinton, Laurel J., and Donna M. Brinton. The Linguistic Structure of Modern English. John Benjamins, 2010.

Term 2

Online with Zoom meetings set by instructor
Thursdays, 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM

The Structure of Modern English: Sentences and Their Uses

This online course focuses on the structure of modern English beyond the level of the word. We study how words and phrases are combined in English sentence structure (syntax) from a generative perspective. Our focus will be on both simple and complex sentences. We will also study meaning in sentences (sentence semantics) and how language functions in context (pragmatics).

Upon completion of this course, students will have:

a knowledge of the structure of simple and complex sentences in English and the ability to represent this knowledge diagrammatically

an appreciation of the nuances of meaning in human language and a knowledge of the conceptual system underlying meaning

an understanding of the use of language in context.

Course evaluation: There will be 3 tests, 3 quizzes and a class participation mark. The tests are not cumulative. A variety of in-class, homework and test questions will be given, including problem solving, short answer, and multiple-choice questions, but the emphasis will be on representing English sentence structure diagrammatically.

 

Required Text: L. Brinton. (2010) The Structure of Modern English. (2nd ed.). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Chapters 7-11.

Term 2

TR, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 1

Online Asynchronous

Media ecology in the Atlantic world, 1650 to the present

This course begins by defining “media ecology” as a “coevolution” among technologies, their users, the materials from which technologies are made, and the communities in which their users participate. It examines the history of the idea of “media” and “mediation” from the early modern period to the present, and in conjunction with kinds and sites of media and mediation typically overlooked in media histories, including Indigenous knowledge-keeping, ceremony, and diplomacy and Black community production and circulation of texts. The course is organized comparatively, bringing print and digital media forms into conversation, along with a broadened sense of what “mediation” is and might be. The learning design and assessments for this course draw on comparative modes of inquiry.

The course combines theoretical and historical reading and investigation with hands-on, project-based learning. You will investigate the historical development of knowledge technologies, broadly understood, experience and reflect on their practical use, examine them in relation to broader approaches to mediation and media history, consider what it means to inquire into the experiences and lives of those who have worked with and used technological forms and participated in other modes of mediation contemporary with them, and use digital and analog media to organize and explain your findings. You will also engage with media ecologies in a second sense, considering the relationship between media, their material qualities, and the resources and practices of the surrounding world. Finally, you will consider literary texts that reflect on their own relationship to media and mediation, bringing media historical questions productively into view.

Term 1

TR, 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

From Codex to Code

“Never judge a book by its cover,” we are often told, and yet we do judge books, not only by their covers, but also by their typefaces, their illustrations, where they are filed in the bookstore or the library, and by any number of other factors not apparently directly related to their content. This course will introduce students to book history, a discipline that tries to unravel the complex relationships between particular books, the texts they contain, the cultures that produce them, and the readers who encounter them. D.F. McKenzie famously described bibliography as the sociology of texts. As we move through important moments in the history of book production, we will explore how materiality and meaning interact, in a range of historical and cultural contexts. Students will learn about the many forms texts have taken over the centuries, from oral recitations to ebooks, and everything in between. A feature of this course is hands-on experience with UBC’s collections: roughly every other week, we will visit the Irving K. Barber Library to explore materials from Rare Books and Special Collections. Course assignments will facilitate individual, curiosity-driven research with these materials.

Term 1

MWF, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 2

MWF, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 1

Online Asynchronous

Love and Honour: Medieval Chivalry and Courtly Love 

The courtly poetry of medieval Europe develops out of a vibrant reimagining of elite culture in the twelfth-century that spread like wild-fire across the courts of Europe. The development of the entwined ideologies of chivalry and courtly love (fin amour) create an environment that produces some of the masterpieces of European literature. This course examines these two social phenomena from their origins in the twelfth-century court culture exemplified by the poetry of Chrétien de Troyes, Andreas Capellanus, and others, through to the flourishing of literary activity in the world of fourteenth-century England.

We will read a range of medieval texts, some in modern translation and some in the original Middle English, ranging from Chrétien’s Lancelot, selections from chivalric manuals, secular and religious love lyrics, Sir Perceval of Gales, to the popular romance The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnall. Finally, as the capstone text of the course, we read the alliterative Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a complex meditation on honour, love, the natural world, and the search for human perfection. This classic text, long central to the canon of English literature, will be examined through lenses both traditional and contemporary, asking not only what it meant in its fourteenth-century context, but what it continues to mean to us today in our own time of cultural and environmental crisis.

Term 1

TR, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales: A World of Words and a Sea of Stories

With the help of a reader-friendly edition and a series of structured but gentle lessons, you will acquire facility in reading Chaucer’s Middle English. More importantly, you will learn how Chaucer makes use of his language’s power in assembling a series of narratives ostensibly told by the diverse company of pilgrims he met on the way to Canterbury. The pilgrims’ tales create a conversation about many themes, including class, love, sex and gender, work, language, the nature of narrative itself, and the pleasures and travails of studenthood, and our class meetings will reflect the collection’s spirit with regular sessions of open discussion. We will consider the linguistic and literary innovations that led readers to consider Chaucer the “father of English poetry” together with the sense of humour – by turns satirical, bawdy, and self-deprecating – that makes reading his poetry a constant joy.

Term 2

TR, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 1

TR, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Shakespeare and the Idea of the Nation

What is a nation? What does it mean to be, and how does one become, a part of a nation? These are certainly important questions now, and they were equally important in Shakespeare’s day as England was still establishing itself as a sovereign nation. We will read works by Shakespeare and examine the nation as a category of belonging and exclusion that intersects with concerns about race, gender, sexuality, and language. We will read Titus Andronicus, “The Henriad” (Richard II, 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV, and Henry V), The Merchant of Venice, Othello, and Cymbeline. Class assignments will include short papers, a close reading assignment, and a research-based final project.

Term 2

MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Mediatic Shakespeare

This course provides a unique approach to selected plays by Shakespeare through its focus on Shakespeare’s media—orality, script, and print—and the dramatization of these media in his plays during the period when the dominant medium was shifting from orality to literacy. The course also provides students with an introduction to media theory. The historical background of Shakespeare’s era is further developed through student panel presentations on topics relevant to the media context of Shakespeare’s time, including music, scribal practices, printing, and education.

Term 2
Online Asynchronous

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 1
MWF, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Political Bodies, Social Selves: 17th century Literature

17th century England was a culture good at creating crisis: for itself, in its civil wars, and then for others, in its rapidly expanding colonialism.  This was also a world fascinated by women’s powers, gender-fluid performance, unruly workers, the idea of trees, the mysteries of the spirit, and the meaning of community.  With a king who called himself the nursing mother of the nation, and exploitative cooperatives doing deals in India, with sermons described as “a making love to the congregation” and poems imagining Indigenous peoples as the new Adam, 17th century English literature is packed with startling, complex, and important moments in the making of Englishness, Whiteness, gender, and citizenship.  Violent, sexy, and witty, painful, nostalgic, and vivid, this literature speaks to our world in its own powerful and troubled voices.

Course-modules will include Class and Social Satire; Religious Believing; Violence and the Stage; Misogyny and Romance; Rhetorics of Early Colonialism; Myths of the Citizen. We’ll read pastoral satires, country-house poems, civil-war debates, blood-tragedies, amorous verse, and religious confessions (Amelia Lanyer; John Donne; Mary Wroth; John Webster; Ben Jonson; Walter Ralegh; Oliver Cromwell; Thomas Hobbes; Katherine Philips).

The course will be as interactive as I can make it: workshops, discussion, collaborative projects, group-work.  You’ll have a custom anthology, no midterm, and lots of choice in your writing projects.

Term 1

MWF, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

The only text in this course is Milton’s Paradise Lost. We’ll move through it fairly slowly. Our primary focus will be on the poem as poetry. No prior experience with Christianity or the Bible is necessary.

Term 1

TR, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Regulating Fantasy: Unruly Imaginations and Supervisory Education in Eighteenth-Century Children’s and Young Adult Literature

 

“Let me observe to you (which I would have you communicate to your little friends) that giants, magic, fairies, and all sorts of supernatural assistances in a story, are only introduced to amuse and divert: for a giant is called so only to express a man of great power” --Sarah Fielding, The Governess, 1749

 

Plots of most eighteenth-century books for children and teens reflected the adult agenda of turning youth into well-behaved respecters of parental, social, and religious authority. The young, however, were not always as compliant as adults wished: both as characters within texts and as real-world readers, children appropriated their elders’ reading, emphasized apparently minor or incidental elements of narratives, and engaged in subversive modes of interpretation. Nowhere was the tension between the priorities of children and adults more apparent than in the anxious attention to the dangers of fantasy that marked contemporary educational theory as well as the texts and paratexts of writing for youth.

This course will examine eighteenth-century strategies for disarming the threat fantasy posed, from the role translators and editors played in legitimizing French fairy tales, to the London publishing industry’s attempts at rendering folk and fantasy elements educational, to the development of a model of supervisory education, though which wise adults corrected the misunderstandings of their wards and students. After a brief overview of the prevailing models of childhood in the late seventeenth and eighteenth century, we’ll turn our attention fairy tales—the most fantastic literature widely available to youth. We’ll then examine writers working in second half of the eighteenth century—Sarah Fielding, Mary Wollstonecraft, Thomas Day, and Mary Ann Kilner, among others—who incorporated fantastic elements at the same time that they attempted to regulate young readers’ interpretations.

Term 2

TR, 9:30 AM - 11:00 AM

Popular Culture and the Eighteenth Century

Studies of modern popular culture have illuminated the complex relationships that individuals and groups maintain with the larger artistic, political, economic, and social movements around them. Through detailed engagements with eighteenth-century popular culture, this class will work collaboratively to illuminate the relationships among high culture, women’s culture, and popular culture, and the ways in which the conventional masculinization of high culture constitutes the feminine as the popular. Recognition of the historically naturalized links between the feminine and the popular in fiction (both frivolous products of fashion, determined by performance and consumption) will provide a scaffold for our work in other literary and cultural contexts that have previously been regarded as separated by less nuanced boundaries of high and low culture, including blockbuster plays like The Beggar’s Opera, shocking fiction like Behn’s The Fair Jilt, and the literary hissing match around the pop cult  phenomenon Pamela (read in excerpt), and one of the most adapted of Regency fictions, Jane Austen’s Emma. While most of this course will focus on popular culture created in the eighteenth century, we will end with a section on the implications of eighteenth-century women in modern popular culture, including screen adaptations of Emma, likely including Emma (1996), Emma Approved (online, 2013) and/or Clueless (1995). But not the excruciating 2020 version.

Want to get ahead? Read Emma over the break and watch some adaptations—in March you will be glad you did!

Term 1

TR, 9:30 AM - 11:00 AM

Romanticism and Society, Then and Now

Following the 18th Century revolutions in France and the U.S., Romanticism was the original counter-cultural response to the same forms of democratic politics, consumer capitalism, patriarchy, globalism and imperialism that continue to organize our world today.  Romantic concerns are so familiar that we forget this heritage:

dreams of god-like creativity, infinite human perfectibility

critique of global capitalism for quantifying everything according to profitability

growing awareness of the radical, ecological interconnectedness of everything

growing concern about systemic violence, disease, trauma, unpredictable change

attempts to acknowledge non-anthropocentric, non-imperialist time-scales of history, evolution, climate, geology

experiments in social bonding and reproduction beyond patriarchy and colonialism

We will read Frankenstein, Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and much poetry, with special attention to romanticism’s legacy for post-romantic culture and technology.

Term 2

MWF, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

The Music of Romanticism

The seraph-band, each waved his hand,
No voice did they impart,
No voice; but oh! The silence sank,
Like music on my heart. --Coleridge, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (496-99)

While songs were among the most popular media of the period in British literary history we now know as the “Romantic” (1780-1830), British Romanticism is rarely considered to have been a musical phenomenon. This course corrects that oversight. Examining six major collections of the period’s most innovative and influential lyric genres—songs, ballads, tales, sonnets (“little songs”), melodies, and improvisations—we will dive deeply into the meter, rhythm, sound, diction, poetic devices and literary effects of individual lyrics. We will also contemplate how Romantic-era poets weaved musical forms into the silent medium of print, anticipating and encouraging a tension between the intellectual work of poetry and the populist spirit of music that persists to our own day. This will enable us, further, to examine the importance of music to Romanticism’s political impulses and to explore the ways poetic music opens up questions of feeling, environment, volition, desire, identity, race, sexuality, personal growth, and social order. Primary readings will feature poems by William Blake, Charlotte Smith, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Mary Robinson, Lord Byron, and Laetitia Elizabeth Landon (LEL). Assignments will combine creative and critical skills through presentations, common-placing, adaptations, and reviews. Although much of the work in this class will be independent, students will be expected to engage closely and systematically with the form, mood, and above all the sound of poetry in class discussions and group exercises.

Term 2

MWF, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 1
TR, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Victorian Literature for Children

This section of English 362 will explore literature written for children during the Victorian period in England. Important concerns of the Victorian period were the changing roles of women and working classes in society, Empire and national identity, and the influence of new scientific discoveries, particularly about the relationship between humans, animals and the divine. When we begin to think of “children’s literature”, we realize its slipperiness as a genre; in this course, we will explore a variety of genres tied to our core texts. Our core texts will be from the commonly-called “Golden Age of Children’s Literature”, and will be read also in conversation with some children’s literatures from other cultures. Core texts will include works by Lewis Carroll, Rudyard Kipling, Charles Kingsley, and George Macdonald, and will be supplemented by short stories and excerpts. Topics covered will include the use of fairy tales by the Victorian press, framing education in children’s literature, the portrayal of animals, humans and the natural world, the writing of colonial identity in Indian children’s literature and Indian press, and the influence of ancient Middle Eastern tales brought to England by travellers. This course will also continue your training in research and academic writing.

Term 2

TR, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Middlemarch and Jane Eyre

When asked what she thought of George Eliot’s Middlemarch Emily Dickinson replied: “What do I think of glory”? A century and a half later Middlemarch was voted the greatest British novel in an international BBC Culture poll. Why is Middlemarch, described by Virginia Woolf as “one of the few English novels written for grown-up people,” so highly regarded? Why is Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, ranked fifth in the greatest British novels poll, one of the most popular English novels ever written, inspiring successive generations of authors, visual artists, and filmmakers? In attempting to answer these and other literary and cultural questions, we will explore why – and how – Middlemarch and Jane Eyre have been canonized and examine the ideological assumptions implicit in defining literary works as “great.”

We will also explore the ideological assumptions – with respect to gender, race, class, sexuality, mental and physical ability, the environment, ethics, religion, education, aesthetics, etc. – implicit in the novels and in our (and the Victorians’) readings of them.

Our texts: George Eliot, Middlemarch (Oxford World's Classics); Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (Oxford World's Classics). Try not to be too influenced by – put off by? – the Middlemarch cover illustration. Yes, we will discuss why we often judge books by their covers . . .

Middlemarch is 785 pages and Jane Eyre is 440 pages: please do as much reading as possible before the course begins.

Term 1

MWF, 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

The Origins of Science Fiction

This course explores the emergence of science fiction (SF) in a nineteenth-century climate of intellectual, social, and technological transformation. Though often viewed as a twentieth-century genre, the nineteenth century saw SF acquire its most identifiable themes — invented technologies, the encounter with otherness, imagined futures — and tropes — extra-terrestrials, space voyages, robots, the posthuman. We’ll discuss both canonical and lesser-known texts of the period, tracing the origins of SF in major social and intellectual currents including evolutionary theory, colonialism, rapid technological advancement, and an emerging distinction between professional and amateur science. Analyzing science fiction also opens novel perspectives on central issues and developments in the period: shifting perceptions of nature and the human, the conflicts and consequences of colonization, challenges to hierarchies of race and gender, mass literacy, secularization, socialism and utopian thought, and attempts to harmonize science with the supernatural.

Texts:

Texts will include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s The Coming Race, and Pauline Hopkins’ Of One Blood: Or, The Hidden Self, as well as short stories from a range of authors, including Edgar Allan Poe, H.G. Wells, and Begum Rokeya.

Term 2

TR, 9:30 AM - 11:00AM

Haunted Landscapes of Gothic Modernism

“in the middle of my party, here’s death, she thought” - Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

Modernism was born out of seismic, revolutionary shifts in society and culture. World wars, political revolutions in Europe and beyond, murderous civil and colonial/imperial wars, economic depression, and successive waves of technological modernization offering mixed psychological and social benefits and injuries laid siege to assumptions that the world was in any way well-ordered or reliably understood. Its literature both reflects conscious innovation and experiment and sometimes opposes these passions for change. Its obsessions respond in complex ways to those seismic shifts in its representations of gender and sexuality, social structures, race and culture, in all cases often in terms of transgression.

And yet, in its drive to make things new, Modernist literature is often a haunted place: spectres of ancestry, of war, of places escaped from collide with the present moment, creating a dark, Gothic modernity. This troubled place will be our focus as winter turns to spring.

Core texts tentatively include Henry James, The Turn of the Screw (to be read as a Modernism precursor), Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison; D.H. Lawrence, Women in Love; Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway; James Joyce, “The Dead”; and Katherine Mansfield, “Prelude” and “At the Bay”; plus perhaps one more work of short fiction.

Evaluation will tentatively be based on a midterm essay, a term paper requiring secondary academic research, a final reflection essay, and participation in discussion.

Keep checking my blog (https://blogs.ubc.ca/drgmbaxter/) for updates concerning texts and requirements.

Term 1

Online Asynchronous

Modern Literature

Some descriptions of Modernism offer bloodless abstractions about formal experimentation, academic disruption, and reactions against conventional morality. This course concentrates on the wildly passionate commitment of moderns to changing the world, to finding new sensations and affects, to overcoming historical evils and biases, to appreciating with sincere admiration other arts, other cultures and languages, and other places. The practices of the literary avant-garde may be a kind of cosmopolitanism of the arts, opening borders between different aesthetic media, traditions, and forms, to correspond with the opening up of the planet’s borders through technologies of speed in movement and communication. This course analyzes Modernism through the lens of its discrete experimental literary and artistic movements, networks, manifestos, and performances. Topics include Decadence, the New Woman, Expressionism, Manifesto Modernism, Impressionism, Surreality, Psychoanalysis, Minimalism, Technological Modernity, and Graphic Modernisms. Forms include prose fiction, verse, and drama. Writers include Stein, Yeats, Rhys, Woolf, Joyce, Eliot, Conrad, others.

Term 2

TR, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Modern Novels and Contemporary Crises: Trans/historical Approaches

English 366 engages with canonical and controversial Anglo-American novels on modern social crises. Between World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945), many intellectuals confronted a world that seemed to be in ruins: the unsettling epoch stimulated aesthetic innovations and ideological risks in prose fiction. Attending closely to these contested issues and experimental modes, our multidisciplinary discussions will encompass topics such as war and peace (Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway); industry and ecology (D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover and John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath); and fascism and democracy (Richard Wright, Native Son and George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four). The questions raised by the interwar novel resonate today. Hence, this class highlights trans/historical approaches to modern fictions to explore contemporary struggles to re-imagine forms of collectivity in the midst of protracted military conflicts, accelerating environmental degradation, and persistent civil divisions. The course requirements may include a midterm, an essay assignment, and a final examination. Please note that discretion is advised: this course focuses on mature subject-matter.

 

Term 1
TR, 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Contemporary U.S. Fiction

This course will examine in depth the conversation formed by five outstanding novelists and their varied takes on the mythologies, dreams, and systems undergirding U.S. life in the global world of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century.

Texts will include:

Don DeLillo, Libra (1988);

Thomas Pynchon, Vineland (1990);

Toni Morrison, Paradise (1997);

Jennifer Egan, The Keep (2006);

Chang-rae Lee, On Such a Full Sea (2014)

Term 2

MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

African Climate Fiction

What is African climate fiction? How does this genre of African literature and film engage the current climate crisis of our planet? What aesthetic strategies do African literature and film deploy to comment on the ongoing climate crisis?

To engage these questions, we will start by studying the configurations of human and other-than-human actors in African epics and folktales as well as other foundational literary texts selected from across the continent. Drawing on this Africanist account of planetary engagement, we will then explore key terms in African environmentalism and climate fiction as we define fiction broadly to include film and social narratives. We will then explore how African cultural actors’ investigations of multispecies engagements, the ethics of resource use, the so-called Anthropocene, and the concept of the planetary unsettle the colonial impulses that often lurk in the environmentalisms and environmental policies of Global North political and academic frames. We will consider the sorts of “environmental tragedies” that Western environmentalism links to Africa such as the environmental degradation in the Niger-Delta and African civil wars stoked to serve cold war actors’ resource needs. Just as importantly, and contesting the environmental affects and policies of Global North actors, we will also explore how diverse African cultural imaginaries challenge the Western narrative of environmental tragedy and that narrative’s weak capacity to track the connections of rural and urban spaces, and the logics of extractivism that often ride on Western rhetoric of environmentalisms and climate change.

Term 1

TR, 9:30 AM - 11:00 AM

The Cold War in Asia: Asian American and Asian Canadian Responses

The period post-WWII until the 1980s is conventionally understood in the West as the Cold War. Marked by events such as the Cuban missile crisis, the war in Vietnam, and the fall of the Berlin Wall, these years are remembered as a tense time when it seemed that the conflict between communist and capalist democratic ideologies might result in the outbreak of nuclear war. At the same time, it is important to remember that these same tensions played out very differently in Asia and took the form of multiple bloody and violent wars.  This course will return to this historical period in order to rethink what is conventionally remembered in the West as a conflict between the US and the USSR as a struggle that also involved—and, indeed, was staged in—Asia.

By reading novels, a novella, poetry, and a memoir that move us through the Chinese civil war, the Korean war, the wars in Southeast Asia, and North Korea, we will explore the legacies of Cold War logics and the afterlife of the wars in Asia for Canadians and Americans. How do these contradictory memories and competing historical narratives shape how Asians in North America imagine themselves and are understood by non-Asians? How does what critic Jodi Kim calls the “protracted afterlife” of the Cold War continue to influence current conversations about migration, citizenship, and global events and politics? We will contextualize our discussions of these literary texts with critical and theoretical material and documentary films in order to think critically about these competing cultural representations and the narratives they produce.

Required Readings (subject to change):

Samantha Lan Chang, Hunger

Chang-rae Lee, Native Speaker

Madeleine Thien, Dogs at the Perimeter

Souvankham Thammavongsa, Found

Y-Dang Troeung, Landbridge

Additional theoretical readings will be available via UBC Library.

Course Evaluation (subject to change)

Participation - 10%

Reading Quizzes (2x5%) - 10%

Close Reading Essay (600 words) - 15%

Creative Assignment (response + 600 words) - 25%

Research Essay Proposal - 5%

Research Essay (1800 words) - 35%

Term 1

MWF, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Storying Land in Canadian Literatures

Hidden in wonder and snow, or sudden with summer,
This land stares at the sun in a huge silence
Endlessly repeating something we cannot hear.
Inarticulate, arctic. --F.R. Scott, "Laurentian Shield” (1945)

 

Now, I’m going to tell you something
This stump—you think it’s a stump—
but that’s my grandfather.
He’s very, very old man.
Old, old man.
He can talk to you.  --Harry Robinson (Syilx), "You Think It’s a Stump” (1992)

 

The distinction between reading the land as a speechless space of "huge silence” and identifying with it as a living relation reflects differences between Western and Indigenous approaches to land and ecology. Land has long been central to the idea of "Canadian literature,” whose historical formation was supported by writers mapping onto ostensibly "new” territory beliefs about the sublime beauty or terror of a vast, unpopulated landscape—ideas like "wilderness” and "the North” that became tied to national identity, supported the work of "developing” lands and resources, and remain powerfully sedimented in national thought. These dominant narratives displaced not only the storied knowledge of Indigenous peoples who have lived on and with the land for millennia, but other complex relations to place and environment expressed by diverse peoples within Canada’s physical and social landscapes. In this class we will seek to understand how representations of land and non-human "nature” in Canadian literatures are mediated by these differences and implicated in the historical production of cultural sensibilities that have naturalized the claims to land and belonging of some while disavowing those of others. How does literature claim land? How has Canadian literature functioned as a discourse in the stabilization and destabilization of settler-colonial territoriality? Can literature write the land without exploiting it as a resource? How are contemporary writers re-storying the land and human relations with it in terms of decolonial and environmental justice?

In this course we’ll take up these and other questions as we develop a historical perspective on the complex, political relationship between literature and the land beneath our feet. We’ll explore a range of Canadian texts from settler, Indigenous, and diasporic writers—crossing multiple genres, spanning the early 20th century to the present, and ranging from the Pacific coast to the Arctic—that invite us to consider how land and literature intersect with (among other concerns) the politics of place, colonialism and decolonial resurgence, (im)migration, race, gender, urban space, ecocriticism, and environmental activism. In particular, our selections will invite us to consider what it means to read the land from our current location in Vancouver and BC, sites of natural beauty as well as complex struggles over land, sovereignty, and displacement.

Assignments are likely to include one short reflection essay, one research paper, a creative/critical project, a group presentation, and a final exam.

Term 2
Online Asynchronous

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 1

MWF, 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Indigenous Futurisms

In this course we will consider the intersections between critical theory and Indigenous Studies to explore the notion of Indigenous futurisms. To do so, we will read and discuss a selection of diverse literary and cultural texts that engage with both critical theory and Indigenous thought and practice in nuanced and creative ways, from short stories and poetry, to films and art installations. This will include examinations of historical and contemporary texts, tensions, and dialogues, which is intended to foster an understanding of the broader social, political, and historical contexts from which these critical and theoretical productions emerge. We will investigate not only engagements between Indigenous and “Western" thought, but also between Indigenous and other non-western thinkers, including from the traditions of Black studies and other anti-colonial traditions of critical analysis.

Term 2

TR, 11:00 PM - 12:30 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 2

TR, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 1

TR, 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Coming of Age from the Margins: Youth, Migration, and Contemporary World Literature

Online Asynchronous
Term 1

This asynchronous online course draws on a range of texts from around the world to ask how contemporary literature has represented and responded to crucial issues that mark our experience of the 21st century. Focusing on the stories of young protagonists from a diverse range of settings, we will explore how migration shapes what it means to be young in the modern world, and how youth shapes our experiences of migration. Drawing on novels, short stories, and an autobiographical graphic novel, this course encourages students to think about questions of belonging, race, gender, and sexuality beyond the familiar frameworks provided by the nation-state and traditional literary forms.

Texts studied include

Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai

What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad

Welcome to Our Hillbrow by Phaswane Mpe

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Term 2

MWF, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 2

MWF, 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Literature and AI

How is empathizing with imaginary characters like or unlike using AI?  The original definition of artificial intelligence Alan Turing coined in terms of what he called “the imitation game” in which one intelligence convinces other intelligences that it is intelligent.  Literary fiction—aka “gossip about imaginary characters”—plays a similarly unpredictable game, making readers share the experience of unreal characters as if it were real.  We will read Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun, Jennifer Egan’s The Candy House and recent ecology (Merlin Sheldrake, Entangled Life; Emanuella Coccia, The Life of Plants) and developmental psychology (Alison Gopnik, The Gardener and the Carpenter); memoiristic cultural criticism (Rebecca Solnit, Men Explain Things to Me; Claire Dederer, Monsters) fictionalized memoire and memoiristic fiction (Clarise Lispector, Geoff Dyer, Jorge-Luis Borges, Franz Kafka, Toni Morrison).

Term 2
TR, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 1

MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Space, Media, Displacement

Foundational to the study of media is the concept of extension: mechanical media (such as the automobile) extend the body, while electronic media (such as the computer) extend cognition. The effects of media are thus spatial. As extensions, however, media also displace that which they extend; they are prosthetic in the way that they function. This course examines various intersections of space, media, and displacement, including colonisation, minimalism in art, utterance as outerance, dance as the displacement of movement, digital nomadism, and the new global history. The course will develop the notion of a spatial methodology, arguing that space is a mode of critique. This critical methodology will be applied to three literary texts by student panel presentations at the end of the course.

 

Term 1

TR, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 2

MWF, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Children’s and YA Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora

Term 2
MWF, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Children’s literature addressing the lives and concerns of Black youth, both in Africa and the African diaspora, is a flourishing sub-genre. In this course we will explore a range of contemporary texts including Akwaeke Emezi’s Pet, Kacen Callender’s Felix Ever After, Lawrence Hill’s Beatrice and Croc Henry, Jason Reynolds’ Long Way Down, Adaobe Tricia Nwaubani’s Buried Beneath the Baobob Tree, Asha Bromfield’s Hurricane Summer, Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, and Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch. These very diverse texts explore issues of identity, gender, black representation, police violence, trans and queer experience, and include works of realism, fantasy, and a novel in poems.

As well as focusing on the core texts, we will engage with theoretical perspectives on children’s literature and YA fiction, and its increasingly fluid contemporary incarnations. Students will be encouraged to develop independent critical responses to both texts and theories. Assessment will include a critical response, an in-class essay, a term paper and a final examination.

 

Term 2

Online Asynchronous

The description for this course is not yet available.

Term 1

MWF, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Vancouver’s Coasts

Vancouver is a city of coasts. It is situated at the meeting point of a major river (itself the hub for a network of tributaries, infrastructures, and waterways), an oceanic basin (a sea, a straight, an inlet), a mountain range, and an archipelago. It is built on the unceded territory of three coastal nations. The complex stories of its beaches, estuaries, and harbours continually dog, confront, and challenge its image as Canada’s gleaming, and futuristic city of glass. Vancouver also shares a history of migrations and dispossessions with several continents to which it is attenuated by ties of commerce, culture, and conflict. What does it mean to live, work, play, a thrive in such a place? This course will offer an interdisciplinary, multi-generic, and multi-media survey of writing from and about Vancouver’s coasts, their ecologies, and their colonialisms. The literary component of the course will feature poetry and stories by Daphne Marlatt, Rita Wong, Wayde Compton, and Lee Maracle, accompanied by selected readings from the wide field of “coastal studies” and in connection with the many different philosophical, historical, aesthetic, and environmental approaches scholars bring to it. In addition, the class will visit several of the sites mentioned and discussed in our readings, including Spanish Banks, Kits Point (Senakw), Still Creek, and Steveston. Assignments will combine creative and critical skills though presentations, journals, discussions, and essays. Group work will feature prominently.


400-Level Courses

Multimodal Communication and Cognition

Term 1

T, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
In this interdisciplinary course, we will look at the interaction between language, co-speech gesture (i.e., the hand movements we make while speaking), and other forms of non-verbal communication (such as making facial expressions, shrugging your shoulders, or nodding your head). Course material will draw from research in cognitive linguistics, conversation analysis, psychology, anthropology, education, and other fields. Students will study how meaning emerges from combined linguistic and paralinguistic utterance ‘package’, and analyze a variety of data such as political speeches, news media, and talk shows, as well as everyday conversations. We’ll use English as our main language of study, but our English language data will be supplemented with evidence from a range of other spoken languages as well as signed languages. This will allow us to explore the diversity and universality of multimodal communication across languages, cultures, and linguistic modalities.

Term 2

T, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Discourse and Analysis

Discourse analysis is an important area within language study that typically involves exploration of a variety of linguistic features and functions to understand meaning making in texts.  Aspects of language use examined can include semantics, syntax, phonological and phonetic structures, lexical choices, conversation skills and narrative structure. Analyses typically involve systematic descriptions of texts or corpora, with a focus on understanding how language is used in context.  Analyses of discourse may also highlight how language use functions to construct and maintain social understanding of the world.  In this seminar, students develop skills in performing discourse analyses and in evaluating discourse analysis research.  Readings include classic and recent research papers in linguistic discourse analysis, with emphasis on information structure, conversation and interaction, hesitation phenomena, narrative analysis, multimodality and indirectness. A key part of learning discourse analysis is doing it.  Students will therefore collect and transcribe some data at the beginning of the term.

 

Term 1
T, 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM

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

This seminar focuses on Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), one of the most celebrated writers of the twentieth century, who 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. Woolf reflected on the causes and effects of hostilities throughout her career. We will discuss various critical perspectives on conflict, war, and Woolf along with Woolf’s polemical essays, her experimental fictions, and her late novels. We revisit Woolf’s writings on total war and the rise of fascism in our time of climate emergency marked by the return of conventional military tactics and right-wing populist leaders. Assignments may include 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.

Term 1

W, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Adaptation in/and/of the Eighteenth Century

King Lear as a comedy. Antony and Cleopatra as romantic melodrama. Classical epistle as erotica. Jane Austen and zombies. Eighteenth-century literature adapted classical and conventional literary forms in ways that interrogated contemporary cultural practice, and in recent years, the era has been a rich source of historical fiction and film. In this seminar we will examine the theory and practice of literary adaptation in the long eighteenth century. First, we will first use a combination of both modern and historical theorizations of adaptation to examine practices of adaptation in the eighteenth century, including poetic forms like the classical imitation, dramatic adaptations of well-known plays, and fictional retellings. Once we have come to terms with the cultural work being performed by the period’s own narrative re-inventions, we will skip ahead to modern adaptations of eighteenth-century narratives with text and screen adaptations of Pride and Prejudice. Adaptation studies long ago left behind worrying about fidelity to source texts in order to address both the critical implications of the choices made by adapters and the revisionist engagements of culture that are embodied in these acts of artistic dialogue.

Want to get ahead? Read or watch Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra to get ready for Dryden’s version, or King Lear to brace yourself for Tate’s adaptation (free through UBC library databases!). Or (re)read Pride and Prejudice and watch some adaptations. Be surprised by the intelligence of the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but under no circumstance watch the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies film, which is so terrible it does not deserve even to be streamed for free.

Term 1

F, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Literature and the City

A promise of opportunity; a site of misery and alienation; an escape from the country; a space of deviance and crime—the city has historically alternately fascinated and repelled, a spatial locus that mediates the dreams and fears saturating our cultural imaginaries. This course will focus on twentieth- and twenty-first century literary and filmic representations of the city and the urban experience. We will take a broad global and temporal perspective: that is to say, we will read early twentieth-century modernist texts that sought to come to terms with the experiences of alienation and consumerism signified by the city; move on to consider late twentieth-century postmodern representations of city space as a site of futuristic technology and simulacra; and finally, turn to postcolonial renditions of cities in what is known as the “global South”—in sites like Johannesburg, Mumbai, or Lagos—to think about how forms of global socioeconomic and racial inequities are spatially reproduced. Texts may include Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent; Jean Rhys's Good Morning, Midnight; J.G. Ballard's High Rise; Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities; Phaswane Mpe's Welcome to Our Hillbrow; Teju Cole's Open City; or Chris Abani's GraceLand.

Term 2

M, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

“The Hatred of Poetry” or Poetry and/in Crisis

This seminar will consider contemporary poetry – not only individual poems but also the “social form” (Harrington) of poetry: the genre itself. What does it mean to say one “loves” or “hates” poetry? How are our attitudes toward poetry formed by popular culture or school? To explore these questions, we will consider how poems respond to crisis—both public and private—as we also consider whether the genre is, as some warn, itself “in crisis.” Is poetry dead, as critics seem perpetually to declare? Where does it lurk, on what occasions does it emerge, and how does it function in our social and political landscapes? If Taylor Swift’s album, The Tortured Poets Department, is currently ruling the Billboard charts, what might that mean for poetry, its pasts and futures? Readings will include 20th & 21st century poems by John McRae, Muriel Rukeyser, Amiri Baraka, Jordan Abel, Claudia Rankine, and more, as well as poetry criticism by scholars like Alan Golding, Joseph Harrington, Stephanie Burt, Carolyn Forché, and Ben Lerner.

Term 2

W, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Contemporary Chaucers

In the first few weeks we will read a number of the most important and influential Canterbury Tales in a modern English translation. One focus of our discussion will be the range of sources and traditions, from Europe and beyond, that informed Chaucer’s writing of the Tales. We will then consider some of the best-known modern and contemporary adaptations, focusing on particular pilgrims and tales (the Miller, the Wife of Bath, the Pardoner) and areas (including the African diaspora in Britain, America, and the Caribbean). Works we read together may include, for example, Patience Agbabi, Telling Tales; Zadie Smith, The Wife of Willesden; Marilyn Nelson, The Cachoeira Tales and Other Poems; Kim Zarins, Sometimes We Tell the Truth; one or more collections of Refugee Tales by various writers. Class members will develop projects exploring the many ways that Chaucer is represented in the 20th-21st centuries: adaptation in fiction, including for children and young adults, and in poetry; stage, film, animation; translation; illustration; various kinds of allusion such as dramatic monologues based in Chaucer’s work and life. Each class member will give a presentation; there will be opportunities to present on Chaucer and his contexts, and on contemporary responses to his work.

Term 2

W, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Great Filters

The Great Filter, a term coined by Robin Hanson in 1998, is a way of explaining why there’s no evidence of extra-terrestrial civilizations. The idea is that in the course of evolution some obstacle arises that constrains (or even destroys) life before it develops the capacity for sustained interstellar communication or travel. If that filter lies in our past—for example, in the difficulty of developing brains capable of abstract reasoning—then humans might be extremely rare and lucky lifeforms who are on the verge of exploring a vast (but possibly unpopulated) universe. But if the Great Filter still lies ahead, then humanity might be on the verge of an existential crisis.

As mainstays of speculative fiction, Great Filters offer writers opportunities to examine present-day concerns. In this course we will read novels that use the idea of the Great Filter to comment on the priorities—and anxieties—of modern life. Some of these depict familiar apocalyptic scenarios: Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker takes place in the distant future after nuclear war devastates England, Greg Bear’s Blood Music chronicles the emergence of artificial intelligence from nanotechnology, and Catherynne M. Valente’s The Past is Red offers a deeply personal and heartbreaking representation of loneliness and hope in a post-climate-change civilization living on the Pacific Garbage Patch. Other novels are more whimsical. In Happiness, Will Ferguson imagines a very funny, world-ending contagion of self-help culture, while Jon Bois’ multimedia 17776 (What Football Will Look Like in the Future) imagines a world where the elimination of reproduction, aging, and death have resulted in a civilization devoted almost entirely to sports.

Note: The reading list for this class is still under consideration, and we may add one or two titles—and modes of destruction—to the above list. A full list will be available later this summer.

 

Term 2

R, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

All About Sherlock Holmes

This section of ENGL 490 (Majors seminar) will offer students the opportunity to explore the astonishingly resilient popularity of the greatest of all fictional detectives. Since his emergence into print in a British magazine in 1887, Sherlock Holmes has become a cultural icon around the world. In this course, we’ll be asking why, for whom, and to what end(s). We’ll read original (“canon”) Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle along with some non-original ones; we’ll also have a look at contemporary parodies and sleuthing competitors. Students will examine a multiplicity of Holmesian adaptations from the last hundred-plus years, and in the process we will embark on an investigation into the history of fandom and fan cultures. The game is afoot!

Term 1

T, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Asian Artificiality: Race, Matter, Circuits

“We’re so postracial we’re silicon.” -- Cathy Park Hong, Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning

The above statement conjures popular images of Asians and Asianness as simulacra (AI, cyborgs, dolls, robots, or clones) and links contemporary anxieties about artificiality in the information age to a history of Yellow Peril. Hong’s lament, while equating silicon or the silicon age with postraciality, also racializes silicon as Asian, suggesting that the materiality of computational and digital processes is racial. This seminar approaches Asianness’s apparent artificiality or virtualness as an occasion to rethink racial materiality within and against genealogies of colonial modernity, militarism, and information capitalism. Considering “Asian artificiality” as a question of race, matter, and circuits, we will engage theory and cultural productions that historicize Asianness’s seemingly mediatic nature within the ongoing violence of settler colonial racial capitalism. Texts may include novels such as Hari Kunzru’s Transmission and R.F. Kuang’s Yellowface; poetry by Larissa Lai, Franny Choi, and Divya Victor; films including Jennifer Phang’s Advantageous and Kogonada’s film After Yang; and other media.

This is a tentative seminar description; the course syllabus will be posted in Term 1.

Term 1

W, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Surge, Pulse, and Flow: Tending and Attending to Bodies

In this seminar, we will mix conceptual-theoretical work with practice-based research on media and literature to think about the aesthetics and the cultural politics of embodiment, particularly around questions of space, rhythm and sense. How do we come to keep time with ourselves as corporeal, material creatures? How are bodies framed, informed, and transformed by various registers of the rhythmic—social, haptic, aesthetic, diurnal, spatial, biotic, epochal? Investigating a set of six representative bodies of work—songs by Taylor Swift, stories by Alice Munro, comics by Lynda Barry, films by Alanis Obomsawin, essays and poems by Kathleen Jamie, journals and poems by Audre Lorde—we will consider the body as a representational and enactive network of troubled and troubling flows; we will couple these readings, listenings, and viewings with theoretically-inclined work by Annemarie Mol, Judith Butler, David Abram, Tricia Rose, Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, Isabelle Stengers, Dylan Robinson, and others, to begin to create a flexible conceptual framework for understanding how the body works both as and with poetic text. Students are invited to bring their creative practices into the classroom, to discover how their own thinking might mesh with these understandings of how body-awareness operates in contemporary experience, of how texture and rhythm can make meaning happen. How might addressing the body help shape our understandings of race, gender, indigeneity, (dis)ability, class and other significant fabrics of intersubjectivity and community? While students can expect to encounter writing and art that can sometimes seem challenging and daunting, this seminar is designed as a hands-on, participatory introduction to contemporary representations of the body, and provides students with an opportunity to begin to evolve their own theoretically informed critical and creative practices.

Term 1

R, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Reimagining Jane Eyre and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Why is Jane Eyre one of the most popular English novels ever written, inspiring successive generations of authors and artists of every description? How did Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland become a 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?

We will attempt to answer these and other questions of cultural production in our discussions of the novels and some of their adaptations and reimaginings. We will also explore the ideological assumptions – with respect to gender, race, class, sexuality, mental and physical ability, the environment, ethics, religion, education, aesthetics, etc. – implicit in the original works and in their reimaginings, and in our (and the Victorians’) readings of them.

Our discussions will be wide-ranging: from Jean Rhys’s famous Jane Eyre prequel Wide Sargasso Sea to Paula Rego’s lithographs, Sujata Bhatt’s Rego poems, Cathy Marston and Errollyn Wallen’s dance film Bertha, and Patricia Park’s Re Jane (described by Park as “updating Jane Eyre to contemporary New York and the world of organic produce and identity politics”); from Walt Disney’s 1951 Alice in Wonderland, which continues to define Carroll’s novel in the popular imagination, to Salvador Dalí’s art edition, Tara Bryan’s tunnel book Down the Rabbit Hole, Elizabeth LaPensée and K.C. Oster’s graphic novel Rabbit Chase, and the “Alice industry.”

We will be discussing Jane Eyre in its entirety during our second (September 12th) class. Please begin reading before our course begins.

Our reading and viewing list will include: Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (Oxford World's Classics); Jane Eyre, devised by the Company and directed by Sally Cookson, 2015 (Drama Online, UBC Library); Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (Penguin); Bertha, choreographed by Cathy Marston, music by Errollyn Wallen, 2021 (Joffrey Ballet); Patricia Park, Re Jane (Penguin); Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Broadview); Alice in Wonderland, Walt Disney, 1951 (UBC Library); Alice in Wonderland, directed by Jonathan Miller, 1966 (Library Online Course Reserves, Canvas (only available during term)); Elizabeth LaPensée and K.C. Oster, Rabbit Chase (Annick Press).

Term 2
T, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Modes of Indigenous Cultural and Political Resurgence 

This course will think through crucial questions about Indigenous communities and their relations (or lack thereof) to state structures in what is currently a Canadian and U.S. context, and how these Western political formations come into conflict/contention with Indigenous articulations of belonging, self-determination, gender, cultural expression and production, among many other things. We will examine some of the diverse ways in which creative and critical Indigenous theory texts and other modes of cultural production can facilitate meaning and knowledge about contemporary Indigenous community articulations. This will foster an understanding of how Indigenous studies conceptualizes and addresses the diversity of Indigenous political, historical, and cultural identity formations, and how these interact with the settler state. We will address Indigenous notions of gender and sexuality, kinship, social organization, and resurgence and the way these notions interface with states currently situated on Turtle Island.

Term 2

F, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

The Marvellous Medieval Romance

Medieval romance (OF: romanz) was one of the most popular of medieval genres. First appearing in the twelfth century as the predominant mode of literary entertainment of the aristocratic courts of Western Europe, romance narratives dominated European literature for much of the Middle Ages. Early romances took as their theme the lives, battles, and loves of chivalric knights and ladies, but the romance genre was – over time – appropriated for purposes as diverse as religious instruction, national and global identity politics, and eventually parody and humour.

The course will examine the romances of medieval England during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, in what has been termed the great flowering of late medieval romance. During this period the genre became highly popular not only with the nobility, but also with the rising mercantile and gentry classes of England, and this changing audience – and the changing expectations that they brought with them – led to a literature marvellously diverse in both form and content. We shall be reading of knights and ladies, giants and dragons, incestuous fathers and wicked usurpers, fearsome Saracens, malicious Faeries, children of the devil, lepers who bathe in baths of blood, and –of course– sex and sword-play. All in all, a bit like A Game of Thrones but with more difficult grammar.