2018 Winter Session

Listed below are short descriptions of our course offerings for the 2018 Winter Session. The instructor will post the actual course syllabus for registered students shortly before term begins or distribute them on the first day of class. View the full course schedule here.

Pre-Major and Second-Year Electives

Literature in English to the 18th Century
Term 1
MWF, 12:00 - 1:00 PM

How does a community justify the right to rule or to self-rule? Is a king’s body in fact two? Can a survivor of violence regain control over her own body? What makes regions into a nation? In a society where women have limited rights, how can a queen rule over all? These—and many more—are questions of sovereignty, the endlessly controversial and nebulous concept that deals with the authority to make decisions and laws. In this course, we will investigate major texts and themes of medieval (6th-15th centuries) and early modern (15th-17th centuries) British literature, with a particular focus on how this literature—from Latin chronicles to Old English poetry to seventeenth-century drama—addresses the problem of sovereignty. Students will learn to close-read, to turn a close reading into an argumentative essay, and to understand and use the tools of literary study. Major texts will include Beowulf, Marlowe’s Edward II, and a Shakespeare play.

Literature in English to the 18th Century
Term 1
TTh, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

This course will introduce you to the wondrous worlds of medieval and early-modern Literature in English. Ranging across 1000 years of creative cultural production, we will examine how the writers of medieval and early-modern culture imagined themselves and the environment in which they lived. We will read texts as diverse and varied as Anglo-Saxon Epic poetry, Chivalric adventure narratives, Chaucerian comedy, medieval travel narratives, and the existential drama of Marlowe.  Students will leave the course both well-versed in the historical heritage of English literature and well-practiced in cutting-edge critical techniques.

Literature in English to the 18th Century
Term 1
MWF, 2:00 - 3:00 PM

This course is a survey of English Literature from medieval times through the Renaissance and the Enlightenment to the beginning of the Romantic period and the rise of the English novel.  In part, it will be a study of successive changes in English society and culture, and accompanying changes in literary form and focus. We will consider, among other things, patterns of continuity, influence, innovation and revolt.  The course is intended to provide students with a range of scholarly and critical tools for the study of literary and other texts, and a substantial knowledge of a wide range of literature.  Students will learn to employ strategies of close reading, library research, and textual analysis supported by reasoned argument, and we will explore some aspects of critical theory in relation to specific texts. Students will engage in lively discussion in class, and be encouraged to evolve their own ideas, and to defend them effectively.  Our focus will include the political and cultural history relevant to particular works, including matters of religious, philosophical, aesthetic and social importance.  We will also investigate ideas concerning class, nationality, and gender identity current in these centuries.  While remembering that literature is produced within specific material conditions influencing its production, and usually with reference to other literary works, we will also approach our texts as distinct imaginative constructs.

Texts: The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Major Authors, Vol. 1, 9th Edition; Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra; Jane Austen, Persuasion. 

Please note that both non-anthologized texts are available at free online sites:   

However, the hard copy texts I order for you will have accompanying introductions and notes which will be invaluable as study guides.

Readings: Geoffrey Chaucer, “General Prologue” and “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue and Tale”; Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus, William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra; John Donne (selected poems); Margaret Cavendish, “The Hunting of the Hare”; John Milton, selections from Paradise Lost, Alexander Pope, “Essay on Man”; Samuel Johnson, “A Brief to Free A Slave”; William Blake, selections from The Songs of Innocence and Experience and The Marriage of Heaven and Hell; Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Christabel”, Jane Austen, Persuasion.

Course Requirements: one in-class essay (30%), one term paper involving library research and a formal bibliography (40%), and a final exam (30%). Additional supplementary marks for class participation may be awarded at the discretion of the instructor.

Literature in English to the 18th Century
Term 1
MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

This course focuses on selected English writers of poetry, drama, and prose from the late 14th to the early 18th centuries.  The following literature will be studied: The General Prologue in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales; Shakespeare’s Macbeth; poems by John Donne; selections from John Milton’s Paradise Lost; Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko; Part 4 of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.  Class discussion of each work will sometimes focus on its treatment of social, political, and economic issues of the period in which it was written: for instance, the alleged corruption of the late medieval Church and the questioning of conventional gender roles in the early modern period.

Course requirements:

Quiz #1, 20%
Quiz #2,  20% Home essay; 1500 words,  30%
Final examination, 30%

Texts: Joseph Black et al., eds., The Broadview Anthology of British Literature, Concise Edition, Volume A (The Medieval Period, The Renaissance and the Early Seventeenth Century, The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century), Third Edition; William Shakespeare, Macbeth (Signet Classic)

Literature in English to the 18th Century
Term 2
MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

The course description for this section of ENGL 220 is not yet available. Please contact the instructor directly.

Literature in English to the 18th Century
Term 2
MWF, 1:00 - 2:00 PM

This course reimagines the standard historical survey of early British literature – which is, really, in its strongest form, a survey of lyric and narrative poetry – as instead a course on the progress and production of early theatre. We will attend to theatre’s multiple genres and track how medieval theatre influenced Shakespeare and his contemporaries and heirs. We’ll focus on a range of performance venues, which included the church, the city’s streets, the commercial stages, the monarch’s court, and the private reading chamber. And we’ll be especially interested in what early British theatre has to tell us about the histories of gender, race, religion, and social class.

There will be 2 short papers (40%), a midterm (20%), and a final exam (30%). The remainder of your course mark (10%) will be determined by attendance and class participation.

Literature in English to the 18th Century
Term 2
TTh, 12:30 - 2:00 PM

The course description for this section of ENGL 220 is not yet available. Please contact the instructor directly.

Literature in Britain: the 18th Century to the Present
Term 1
MWF, 2:00  - 3:00 PM

This course surveys British Literature from the eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It aims to introduce students to a wide sampling of literary works of poetry, fiction, and drama across the period. While these works engage a diverse variety of topics, in reading them we will also want to keep in mind such themes as art and imagination, memory and history, the individual in society and freedom and repression. While taking care to situate these texts in their historical and cultural contexts, we should also, where appropriate, allow ourselves to approach them with a sense of openness and humour. WARNING: THIS COURSE CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT SOME MAY FIND OFFENSIVE.

Literature in Britain: the 18th Century to the Present
Term 1
TTh, 2:00 - 3:30 PM

 

This course will explore late Eighteenth-Century through early Twentieth-Century British literature, and introduce you to some of the major authors and literary movements of the periods. Our readings will cluster around several themes: ghosts, science, and new technologies. We will also consider the social, cultural, and intellectual contexts of the fiction, discussing such topics as psychology, gender, and imperialism. Texts will include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Emily Brönte’s Wuthering Heights, and H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds.

Literature in Britain: the 18th Century to the Present
Term 2
MWF, 12:00  - 1:00 PM

English 221 surveys British poetry, drama, fiction and non-fictional prose from the 18th century to the present. This section spans the upheaval of the Revolution in France (1789) to the destruction of the World Trade Center in the United States (2001). We will read a broad array of texts from The Longman Anthology of British Literature, namely Volume 2A (The Romantics and their Contemporaries); Volume 2B (The Victorian Age); and Volume 2C (The Twentieth Century and Beyond). Writers ranging from Edmund Burke to Zadie Smith illuminate shifts in class hierarchies, (post)colonial bonds, gender norms and regional environments, enabling us to observe continuities and differences in linguistic conventions, literary genres, thematic preoccupations and rhetorical techniques. By situating British literature in its historical contexts, we will analyze the dynamic interrelationships between cultural tradition and social change, extending to the reinterpretations afforded by selected adaptations, documentaries and performances. Throughout, students will cultivate spoken and written skills in literary criticism through close engagement with texts as they also compare and contrast forms, issues and styles across historical periods. The course requirements include participation; a midterm; an essay; and a final examination.

Literature in Britain: the 18th Century to the Present
Term 2
TTh, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

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 have told for the past 200 years—as writers, readers, and critics. What ideological assumptions with respect to aesthetics, ethics, gender, class, race, sexuality, religion, politics, education, etc., underlie our readings of literature and the numerous critical and theoretical approaches to literary interpretation? What difference does it make if the “source texts” for a story are actual historical events? What does the popularization and commodification of literary works, such as the re-visioning of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in every medium, tell us about the works themselves, the societies that produced them, our own society, and ourselves?

Our authors: George Gordon, Lord Byron; Elizabeth Barrett Browning; Charles Dickens; Christina Rossetti; Lewis Carroll; Gerard Manley Hopkins; T. S. Eliot; Iris Murdoch; A. S. Byatt; Tom Stoppard; Kazuo Ishiguro; a selection of student-choice contemporary poets. Our books (the shorter works are available online): Dickens, A Christmas Carol (A Christmas Carol and Other Writings, Penguin); Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Broadview); Murdoch, Under the Net (Penguin); Stoppard, Arcadia (Faber & Faber).

Literature in Canada
Term 1
TTh, 12:30 - 2:00 PM

The most defining characteristic of Canadian society, and Canadian writing, in the 21st century may well be its diversity, and the novels and stories studied in this course will reflect a range of concerns, approaches and styles. Texts will include a collection of short stories set in Vancouver’s downtown east side, Margaret Atwood’s most recent dystopian novel, a work about a group of dogs granted human consciousness and language, and several other award-winning novels. Students will be encouraged to develop independent critical responses to the works studied, considering these texts in the context of contemporary Canadian society, personal experiences and broader critical perspectives. Assessment will include two in-class essays, a term paper and a final examination.

Literature in Canada
Term 2
MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

This course will begin in “a little town,” seemingly homogeneous and united within its collective cultural identity (Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town). It will then proceed to complicate this little town and its survival (Journals of Susanna Moodie) by introducing texts that use both their form and content to offer alternative readings of Canadian subjectivity and history. What happens when the trauma of colonialism is translated into a fictional dystopian context (The Marrow Thieves)? What happens when a kappa (a Japanese mythological creature) lands on the Canadian prairies (Kappa Child)? Students will reconsider pioneer myths, the rewriting of national narratives, and later, both the limits and possibilities of diasporic identity and Canadian multiculturalism (Soucouyant). Overall, the class will be introduced to shifting representations and envisionings of Canadian identity in its literature.

Literature in Canada
Term 2
TTh, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

This section will begin with a canonical text before jumping forward by four decades to focus on contemporary texts by Canadian authors. Alice Munro’s novel-in-stories, Lives of Girls and Women (1971), will provide our introduction to literary representations of Canadian youth. (It’s not required for the course; I’ll be discussing it and using Munro’s approach as a kind of framework for the actual required texts… Feel encouraged to read it, though. It’s a fine piece of work.) From there, five works: Awad’s 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl (linked short stories), Grubisic’s From Up River and For One Night Only (novel), Vermette’s The Break (novel), Wong’s The Woo Woo (memoir), and Knight’s Dear Current Occupant (memoir).

* Having at least one of these books purchased and read before the semester begins is HEARTILY recommended.

Literature in Canada
Term 1
MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

See Course site

It has never been easy to define a Canadian Literature cohesively or conclusively. In this course, we will unpack this unease around questions of decolonization and diversity. How can we unsettle cultural nationalism? Why should we? What sort of citizenship, and what sort of literacy, emerges in the wake of this critical work? How do we re-constitute a sense of Canada as place, as history, as literary project? Reading work and engaging with media (such as comics, video and song) from a variety of often conflicted origins and backgrounds, we will confront these complicated and compelling questions around who and where we find ourselves to be.

Literature in Canada
Term 1
TTh, 2:00 - 3:30 PM

The course description for this section of ENGL 222 is not yet available. Please contact the instructor directly.

Literature in the United States
Term 1
MWF, 12:00 - 1:00 PM

In the fall of 2001, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the United States embarked on what has come to be called the “War on Terror.” This war has included active combat in Afghanistan (2001-2014) and Iraq (2003-2011) but has not been limited to those places or dates. The New York Times reported recently that the U.S. has troops stationed in almost every country in the world. If you are a university student born around 2001, you have lived your whole life during this war.

This course surveys the literature of the “War on Terror.” We will focus not only on military narratives (written by veterans, for example) but also on narratives that reflect the militarization of everyday life. If, as the critic Patrick Deer has written, “wartime and everyday life have blurred . . . in American culture and society,” how is this blurring reflected in contemporary U.S. literature and culture? This question will invite us to consider how violence and fear are represented in—and critiqued by—the literature of our time. In the broadest sense, we will use it to explore topics of violence, trauma, race, and identity in a 21st-century context.

Here is a list of possible films and texts: Phil Klay, "Redeployment"; Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk; Solnaz Sharif, Look (selections); Juliana Spahr,This Connection of Everyone with Lungs; Judith Butler, Frames of War (selections); Spike Lee, When the Levees Broke; Claudia Rankine, Citizen; Jessamyn Ward, Salvage the Bones.

Literature in the United States
Term 2
MWF, 2:00 - 3:00 PM

This course surveys some of the great innovators in the U.S. novel over the past 40 to 50 years, ranging across the stalwarts of realism, postmodernism, and the proliferation of important multicultural voices in the American canon. Questions we will address include: What have been the major innovations in fictional form in the U.S. in the past sixty years, and what forces seem to have driven them? What structures have writers developed in this era to demonstrate new layers of guilt, innocence, and moral complexity? Does the novel, as informational and imaginative medium, have authority in this era? If so, what sort of authority is it? What difference has the explosion in prominent ethnic writers within U.S. literature made for definitions of “American culture”? Students will write a close-reading paper (about 500 words) and two longer essays (1500 and 2000 words), as well as a final exam. Texts are likely to include Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, Philip Roth’s The Ghost Writer, Joan Didion’s Play It As It Lays, Toni Morrison’s Jazz, Chang-rae Lee’s A Gesture Life, and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad.

World Literature in English
Term 1
TTh, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

This course will look at classics of literature from around the world. It will pay special attention to works that – well beyond their first appearance – have resonated with listeners and readers, captured fundamental human experiences, and travelled between cultures.

Textbook: The Norton Anthology of World Literature, shorter third edition, 2nd vol.

Readings will include: Novellas by Joseph Conrad and Leo Tolstoy; Stories by Gustave Flaubert, Franz Kafka, Albert Camus, Rabindranath Tagore, V. S. Naipaul, Zhang Ailing, Lu Xun, Chinua Achebe, Ngũgĩ wa Th’iongo, Isabel Allende; Plays by Henrik Ibsen, and Antonin Chekhov; Non-fiction and poetry by Bashō and others, James Baldwin, W. B. Yeats, Mahmoud Darvish.

Requirements: 1 in-class essay = 20 points; 1 term paper = 30 points; 1 final exam = 35 points; participation, preparation, attendance = 15 points

World Literature in English
Term 2
MWF, 12:00 - 1:00 PM

This course examines transnational Asian literature and cultural productions that circulate across national borders even as they are shaped by and interrogate nation-states and national borders. We will ask: What are the relationships between the ongoing histories of Asian migration, diaspora, labour, and the production of transnational or diasporic Asian cultures? How do migrant and transnational networks expose and/or disrupt ongoing histories of colonialism and imperialism?

By analyzing novels, poetry, short stories, films, and digital media, students will encounter networks in the narratives of these texts, as well as in the ways that these cultural productions are shared and circulated. The course approaches scholarly discussions about migration and diaspora through the frameworks of feminist, Asian North American, and transpacific studies. As we engage with various cultural texts and histories of Empire, we will consider how migrant networks reveal connections and ruptures between bodies along the lines of race, gender, sexuality, class, and nationality. Such ruptures and connections, this course suggests, are also shaped by the shifting practices and platforms involved in literary production.

Students will complete reading responses, a creative assignment, a short essay, and a final exam.

World Literature in English
Term 2
MWF, 2:00 - 3:00 PM

ENGL 224: World Literature in English: Near and Far
Winter Term 2
MWF 2 pm

World literature as a category assumes that texts travel beyond their designated home in the world. This course will give students an opportunity to critique the designations of world literature and its accompanying cultural imaginaries. Who is the ideal reader of world literature? Where does world literature situate exilic, diasporic, transnational, or polylingual writers? How does it represent the popular? What forces structure the markets, circulations, and exchanges of world literature? We will study case histories, debates around framing narratives, and current issues of controversy, reading theoretical voices along with participants and dissidents. Two brief reponses to assigned readings, a term paper (with rough draft), and final exam.

Tentative Book List

  • All I Asking for Is my Body, Milton Murayama
  • Midaq Alley, Naguib Mahfouz
  •  Imaginary Maps, Mahasweta Devi
  • Annie John, Jamaica Kinkaid
  • Sozaboy, Ken Saro-Wiwa
  • Frankenstein in Baghdad, Ahmed Saadawi
  • Other materials as supplied on the Canvas course site or distributed in class

Possible films: Moana. Midaq Alley. Monsoon Wedding. The films will be viewed outside of class; an optional screening will be offered, and the films will also be available on UBC library course reserve for those unable to attend the screenings.

Poetry
Term 1
TTh, 12:30 - 2:00 PM

We commonly think of poetry as hard, and it can be, but it can also be fun! This course will help you to learn to read poetry more skillfully and experience its pleasures. We’ll look at contemporary as well as historical poems and pay attention to various techniques, tropes and traditions that help us to understand them. We will spend some time in our course reading poems, writing poems and learning to write critically about the work we encounter. Students will recite a poem, give a short talk about it, write a short essay and term paper. If you’re interested in writing poetry and reading it, and learning more about how to write critically about it, this is the course for you! We’ll read a variety of poems from the Broadview Introduction to Literature: Poetry that span from the Romantic (to the contemporary period and work from Susan Holbrook’s How to Read (and Write About) Poetry as we learn to write critically.

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

This introductory course will focus on the genre of comedy in theatre, and examine theories of laughter and drama through the study of a broad range of comic plays. From Aristophanes to Tom Stoppard, playwrights have used laughter as a means to interrogate authorities and orthodoxies, whether political or social. In this hands-on course, we will balance intellectual inquiry and active engagement with the plays in the classroom, through close reading and scene performance. We will also get the chance to attend live theatre, as two of our plays are being performed at Bard on the Beach. This course fulfills the literature/outside credits for students in all faculties.

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

The course description for this section of ENGL 227 is not yet available. Please contact the instructor directly.

Topics in the Study of Language and/or Rhetoric
Term 1
MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

This course is an introduction to Rhetoric: the art and study of persuasion.  Recorded interest in rhetoric goes back about 2500 years, but rhetoric’s central questions remain urgent today: In any situation, who is persuading whom of what, and what are the means of persuasion? How do we come to believe what we believe—and act on that belief—and what does it take to make us change our minds?

Of special interest, at this moment, is how Donald Trump remains persuasive enough that his re-election in 2020 is imaginable. And how are certain Canadian politicians adapting, for their own purposes, Trump’s populist appeals? Rhetoric, though, is not only, or even mostly, about politics. We are all in rhetorical situations all the time—both as agents of persuasion ourselves (we, consciously or not, typically seek the agreement of others) and as people acted upon. We may be persuaded that there are still debates about anthropogenic climate change or the advisability of vaccination, although scientific consensus has settled those matters. Public health campaigns advise us to do certain things (like exercise) and not do others (like smoke cigarettes), and we are sometimes persuaded and sometimes not. Advertisements urge us to purchase certain products, but offer us no defensible reason to do so. Technologies too can be persuasive: Fitbits, just by being worn, can persuade us to act in particular ways (10,000 steps anyone?). The list goes on.  This course equips students with some basic rhetorical theory, some tools of rhetorical analysis, and, more generally, a rhetorical perspective on everyday life.

Topics in the Study of Language and/or Rhetoric
Term 2
MWF, 1:00 - 2:00 PM

Expressing meaning is why we use language in the first place, but understanding how we choose the words is not straightforward. How do we decide whether to see the tree in front of the house or the house behind the tree? Why can someone’s smile be described as warm or cold even though temperature is not the issue? If someone has done something nice for you, why do say you owe them? 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. Through reading and analysis of examples, we will learn what it means to view language as a tool supporting conceptualization. Examples illustrating the concepts will come from various areas of linguistic usage, including a range of textual genres, some grammatical constructions, and the discourse of the media.

Introduction to Indigenous Literatures
Term 2
MWF, 12:00 - 1:00 PM

Kwakwaka'wakw artist Sonny Assu's button blanket called "When Raven Became Spider" provided the title for a 2014 exhibition on the theme of Raven's transformation. As the exhibition catalog says, this is a time which "requires a new, shared understanding of heroism, and new kinds of superheroes" imagined by Indigenous artists working at the intersection of tradition and contemporary media.

Guided by Assu's words, we'll discuss examples of writing by contemporary Indigenous writers who engage transformation in the context of the impacts of settler colonialism on Indigenous peoples and lands.  Using such contemporary forms as manga, graphic novel and erasure poetry as well as memoir and novel, these writers re/imagine heroism and superheroes at the intersection of new technologies and ancient ones, transforming narratives of darkness and sometimes creating light.  Among the writers to be considered are: Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas (Red - A Haida Manga), Cherrie Dimaline (The Marrow Thieves), Richard Van Camp (Three Feathers Nisto Mekwana), Richard Wagamese (Indian Horse), Katherena Vermette (The Break), and Terese Marie Mailhot (Heart Berries).

Approaches to Media Studies
Term 1
MWF, 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

The course description for this section of ENGL 232 is not yet available. Please contact the instructor directly.

Approaches to Media Studies
Term 2
TTh, 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

The course description for this section of ENGL 232 is not yet available. Please contact the instructor directly.

Shakespeare Now
Term 2
MWF, 10:00 - 11:00 AM

Ben Jonson once said of Shakespeare that “he was not of an age but for all time!” This course will test this statement by considering the presence of Shakespeare in our contemporary world.  We will read a selection of Shakespeare’s plays but we will also explore adaptations of Shakespeare’s work in film and in prose as well as in a range of new media including manga Shakespeare. We will think with Shakespeare through questions of race, gender and sexuality and environmentalism – questions that preoccupied Shakespeare and his contemporaries and continue to perplex us today. Finally, we will think about what it means to study Shakespeare “here” – that is specifically at UBC in 2018.

Introduction to Children's and Young Adult Literature
Term 1
MWF, 1:00 - 2:00 PM

This course will examine writing for younger readers from the 18th to the early 21st century. In our readings and discussions of British, American, and Canadian children’s and young adult literature, we will examine how changing understandings of childhood and adolescence are reflected in the literary genres that adults developed to socialize and regulate the conduct of the young. Texts will likely include fairy tales by Charles Perrault, Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, and the Brothers Grimm, as well as modern adaptations by Francesca Lia Block and Emma Donoghue; didactic poems by Isaac Watts and John Bunyan, and nonsense verse by Lewis Carroll, Shel Silverstein, and Dennis Lee; C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass; and Neil Gaiman, Coraline.

Speculative Fiction
Term 1
TTh, 2:00 - 3:30 PM

With its roots in the imagined, the anticipated, the hoped-for, and the feared, speculative fiction is a powerful literature for exploring otherwise--other ways of being and belonging--through consideration of fantastical worlds, alternate realities in our own world, unfamiliar pasts, and possible futures. We will consider a diverse range of science fiction, fantasy, and horror works and scholarship, with texts exploring issues as diverse as secondary-world quest fantasy and post-apocalyptic survival in North America to robot uprisings, zombie alternative history, and genetically modified monsters. In so doing, we will analyze how these otherwise texts help us reflect upon, challenge, and complicate our own understandings of ourselves, one another, and our shared future together.

Comics and Graphic Media
Term 2
MWF, 10:00 - 11:00 AM
See Course Site

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 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?

 

Literature and Film
Term 2
MWF, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

“Which was better, the book or the film?” This question has too often become the cornerstone of modern debates about adaptation. Our objective in this course will be to reframe the ways in which we might consider and discuss the many and varied relationships between various genres of literature and film. The scope of our discussion will range from detailed examinations of particular passages and scenes to the re-definition of concepts and re-shaping of terminology in an effort to explore how literature and film can speak to each other as different but equal partners. Instead of considering adaptation as a lit-centric field, in which the value of a film is based on its fidelity to the “original” text, we’ll look at the ways in which film and literature engage in fruitful and productive conversations with each other. We’ll consider how stories adapt to the aesthetic and commercial demands of multiple genres – novels, comic books, plays, short stories, and films. In the process, we’ll read some adaptation theory and study the cultural contexts surrounding both the source text and its adaptation. In so doing, we’ll explore the ways in which these two different media use diverse forms of technological representation to engage with a number of cultural and social issues. We’ll finish the course by considering more recent attempts within the field of adaptation to move beyond the unidirectional movement of literature to film, as content moves away from notions of a single, stable source and an identifiable author, and towards an era of transmedia creation by multiple entities and media conglomerates. Literary texts on the course will include Harold Pinter, The Homecoming; Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber; Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice; and others. Films will include Vertigo; Blade Runner; Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; V for Vendetta; Star Wars; and others.

TOP

Language and Rhetoric

ENGL/LING 140 “Challenging Language Myths”  is an elective course that might also be of interest (see the description under First-Year English Courses “Language Elective”); it is open to, and typically enrolls many senior students.

Studies in Rhetoric
Term 1
MWF, 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.

In Rhetoric, Revolution, & Dissent students will learn about how social movements use and design persuasive messages, images, artifacts, and events. Course readings will include: 1.) primary documents, such as manifestos, memes, organizational programs, speeches, and websites, drawn from both recent movements (e. g. Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, and Idle No More) and more distant historical events (e. g. the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and the French Revolution); 2.) a survey of rhetorical and argumentative criticism; and 3.) a brief survey of visual rhetoric. By assessing both more and less successful persuasive tactics, strategies, and genres, the course will teach students how communication strategies help to stimulate and maintain resistance and revolt (or not). Students will complete a series of assignments that entail analyzing the rhetoric of a social movement’s primary documents and artifacts, and then complete a final project that analyzes the movement’s means of persuasion and communication strategy.

Rhetoric of Science, Technology, and Medicine
Term 2
TTh, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

On May 8, 2016, the main segment of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver concerned scientific studies. Oliver talked about media reports of not-really-scientific studies that invite people to believe that certain findings, even in the face of completely contradictory findings, are reasonable bases for decision making, especially on matters of health. You can see Oliver’s 19-minute segment at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Rnq1NpHdmw. Less than two years later, it has had nearly 12 million views. English 309 takes up, among its topics, some of Oliver’s concerns.

Although we typically think of science as existing in a realm separate from the realm of rhetoric (that is, persuasion), it is actually the case that science, even when it is working very well, relies on persuasion quite a bit. In fact, persuasion occurs in spaces we don’t typically think of as rhetorical: in the pages of scientific journals, in laboratories, in working groups tasked with arriving at diagnostic categories, in meetings of the FDA, and so on.

Given the prominence of health topics in public discourse currently, the course pays special attention to the rhetoric of health and medicine, especially as scientific (and quasi-scientific) knowledge migrates into a public realm. Here are some questions we’ll consider: What are the strategies, and what are the effects, of direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription pharmaceuticals?  How does the Internet, and how does public-health messaging, help to shape the contemporary health subject?  What is the persuasive effect of technologies of self-tracking?   Is the “vaccine controversy” really a controversy?

Note: English 309 requires no special preparation in rhetorical theory or in science and medicine.

Studies in Rhetoric: Classical Theory and Contemporary Persuasion
Term 1
MWF, 1:00 - 2:00 PM

Every year, it seems, Dale Carnegie’s 1937 How to Win Friends and Influence People appears on “self-help” bestseller lists: in March 2018, it was the Globe and Mail’s #3 bestseller, sitting between You Are a Badass . . . and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*uck, both published rather more recently, Part of what accounts for Carnegie’s relentless success is that strategies of persuasion—the means of moving people to one’s own point of view (for better or for worse)—haven’t changed very much, not only in the last 80 years, but also, arguably, in the last 2500.  When Aristotle’s Rhetoric appeared in the 4th Century BCE, it described “the available means of persuasion” in ways that remain useful for those who wish to influence other people (who doesn’t?) and those who wish to understand how other people influence them: in politics, law, advertising, science, and interpersonal relationships. This course moves back and forth between ancient and contemporary rhetorical theories, and between rhetorical theory and rhetorical practice. It seeks to answer questions like these: How, in daily life, are minds made up and changed?  What do people say to get other people to trust them?  Why is Donald Trump President of the United States? (And why does it make sense to study Plato and Aristotle and Cicero when political pronouncements can arrive, sometimes in the middle of night, in tweets?)

History and Theory of Rhetoric: The Later Theory
Term 2
MWF, 10:00 - 11:00 AM

What is rhetoric, and how does rhetoric work? How you can persuade your friends, family, colleagues, and strangers? Some of the most infamous intellectuals in in the history of European thought vehemently disagree about the answers to these questions, but taken together, their answers provide a blueprint for rhetorical theory. By reading and applying major rhetorical theories advanced in the major epochs of western intellectual history, students will learn how writers such as St. Augustine, Erasmus, Castiglione, Vico, Nietzsche, and Kenneth Burke (among others) conceived the arts of persuasion, argumentation, and style.

Discourse and Society: Analysing Spoken Discourse
Term 1
MWF, 12:00 - 1:00 PM

The course description for this section of ENGL 312 is not available at this time. Please contact the instruction for course information.

History of the English Language: Early History
Term 1
TTh, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

This course provides an understanding of how the English language has changed in from its Indo-European origins to the end of the Anglo-Saxon period (1100). It begins with discussion of attitudes towards language change, the nature, causes, and mechanisms of linguistic change, and the genealogical and typological classification of languages. It then embarks upon a survey of the historical development of English.

Considering first the prehistoric changes from Proto-Indo-European to Germanic, we will then study how the language called Old English (449-1100). developed. We will look at all aspects of the Old English language, including its sounds (phonology), spelling (orthography), forms of words and their endings (morphology), sentence structure (syntax), and meanings of words (semantics), and vocabulary. Our focus will be on the “synthetic” nature of Old English grammar. In addition to language-internal causes of change, there will be discussion of the “external history” of the language, that is, the historical, political, and social events that shaped Old English.

Evaluation is in terms of four online quizzes, two in-class midterms, and a short written project. For a complete description, see http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/lbrinton/

**** No formal background in language or linguistics is required, but students must have third-year standing and have completed the Writing Requirement of their Faculty.****

History of the English Language: Later History
Term 2
MWF, 12:00 - 1:00 PM

The course description for this section of ENGL 319 is not yet available.  Please contact the instructor directly.

English Grammar and Usage
Term 1
TTh, 9:30 AM - 11:00 AM

The English 321 course provides an introduction to English grammar and its use in everyday communication. We take a descriptive stance when considering the rules of grammar, starting with the study of words and their parts, proceeding to word classes, phrases and clauses, and concluding with the different communicative functions that grammatical structures can perform when we package information in particular ways. This course equips students with skills to identify and describe the effects of derived or deviant structures in various communicative situations and provides a strong basis for further study of the English language and of literary and non-literary stylistics as well as for teaching English. The course includes numerous exercises analyzing sentences and chunks of discourse. There are four short collaborative assignments, two monthly tests, and a final exam counting 30% of the final grade. The prescribed books are Börjars & Burridge (2010) and Leech, Deuchar and Hoogenraad (2006). More details are available on the course website on canvas.ubc.ca.

English Grammar and Usage
Term 2
MWF, 2:00 - 3:00 PM

The course description for this section of ENGL 321 is not available at this time.

English Grammar and Usage
Term C
Distance Education

This section of ENGL 321 is offered online. To  see the course description, click here.

The English 321 course provides an introduction to English grammar and its use in everyday communication. We take a descriptive stance when considering the rules of grammar, starting with the study of words and their parts, proceeding to word classes, phrases and clauses, and concluding with the different communicative functions that grammatical structures can perform when we package information in particular ways. This course equips students with skills to identify and describe the effects of derived or deviant structures in various communicative situations and provides a strong basis for further study of the English language and of literary and non-literary stylistics as well as for teaching English. The course includes numerous exercises analyzing sentences and chunks of discourse. There are four short collaborative assignments, two monthly tests, and a final exam counting 30% of the final grade. The prescribed books are Börjars & Burridge (2010) and Leech, Deuchar and Hoogenraad (2006). More details are available on the course website on canvas.ubc.ca.

Stylistics
Term C
Distance Education

This section of ENGL 322 is offered online. To  see the course description, click here.

The stylistics course is an introduction to the linguistic analysis of poems, prose and plays. We make a close study of a variety of literary texts in each of the three main genres, looking at some sub-genres of each, and apply our knowledge of language in general and of specific techniques developed in linguistics to interpret the literary message. Students participate in two collaborative workshops, one analyzing and interpreting the language of a poem and one the language of a play. Students write a term paper in which they offer a stylistic analysis of a short story of their own choice. There is a final exam contributing 30% of the final grade. The prescribed books are Short (1996) and Simpson (2014). More details are available on the course website on canvas.ubc.ca.

Varieties of English
Term 2
TTh, 2:00 - 3:30 PM

The course description for this section of ENGL 323A is not yet available. Please contact the instructor directly.

English Corpus Linguistics
Term 1
TTh, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

 Do you say:

 I didn’t think it was so funny or I didn’t think it was that funny or I didn’t think it was very funny or I didn’t think it was really funny?

He is more friendly than I expected or He is friendlier than I expected?

I must finish my paper tonight or I have to finish my paper tonight?

If I was a bit taller or If I were a bit taller?

Everyone should take their seats or Everyone should take his or her seat?

I have already opened the can or I already opened the can?

The bike wheel sunk into the mud or The bike wheel sank into the mud?

You can’t lay around all day or You can’t lie around all day?

While some of these represent structures that have been treated by prescriptive grammars as “usage mistakes”, others have escaped their notice. All likely represent “changes in progress” in contemporary English. In this course we will study grammatical changes ongoing in English as it is spoken and written in the twenty-first century. Apart from very obvious changes, such as the use of be like or be all by younger speakers as a “quotative” (And he was like, “I’m out of here”), there are many less obvious changes, as shown above.

In order to study such changes, you will be introduced to the methodology of corpus linguistics, including the framing of appropriate research questions, search methods for collecting data using electronic data, and the analysis and presentation of empirical data. You will become familiar with using a number of different online corpora, newspaper collections, quotation databases, and text collections. A set of graded exercises will be used to acquire these necessary skills.

For your final project, you will choose a structure, and using corpus linguistic methods to collect data, seek to understand how it is changing in present-day English.

**** No formal background in language or linguistics is required, but students must have third-year standing and have completed the Writing Requirement of their Faculty.****

Cognitive Approaches to the Study of Meaning
Term 1
MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

In the course, we study cognitive approaches to language to learn how meaning is created and received. To get started, we investigate general mechanisms of meaning emergence, in a range of contexts, and then we look at various literary and dicourse genres. Throughout the course we apply the ideas learned to analyses of a range of literary and non-fiction texts, with a focus the nature of linguistic creativity. This approach clarifies the meanings in colloquial language, while showing how the most original literary uses rely on some of the same mechanisms, though in less constrained ways. We also look at examples form genres such as journalistic prose, political rhetoric, and internet discourse. Students will learn to discuss meaning at all levels of linguistic structure and interpret various types of expressions. More importantly, students will be able to connect the study of language and of literature to a broad understanding of how the human mind processes and creates meaning. This approach to language study, combining the study of language, literature, and conceptualization is known as Cognitive Poetics.

Metaphor, Language and Thought
Term 2
MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

We perceive our colloquial use of language as literal and descriptive. Recent research has shown, however, that all language use is pervasively figurative – it often relies on our understanding of one situation in terms of another. In the course, we study recent approaches to meaning to understand how underlying cognitive patterns structure our use of language. First, we discuss metaphor, metonymy, and blending – three major types of conceptual structures. In the second part, we look at grammatical phenomena, cross-linguistic facts, and, most prominently, discourse types. Further, we apply the concepts learned to interpreting artifacts of popular culture, advertising, media, and various forms of internet discourse. Students are required to grasp the theoretical concepts and use them in their own analyses of data samples. All assignments rely primarily on analytical skills.

The Structure of Modern English: Sounds and Words
Term 1
MWF, 2:00 - 3:00 PM

In this course, we study the sound system of English (phonology) and word formation and classification in English (morphology). We begin by studying how speech sounds are articulated and we learn to transcribe English speech sounds using the phonetic alphabet. We identify both the distinctive sounds of English and the sound combinations possible in English, as well as the patterns of stress, intonation, and syllabification. We turn next to an analysis of the meaningful units in language – affixes and roots – and examine how they combine to form words, are grammatically modified, and can be classified into parts of speech. Last, we consider both traditional and structural approaches to the question of word meaning (semantics), giving some attention to cognitive approaches to meaning.

In English 330, emphasis is placed upon the description of English rather than on any particular theory of linguistics.

Required text: L.J. Brinton and D.M. Brinton, The Linguistic Structure of Modern English (Benjamins 2010).

Prerequisites: Third-year standing and completion of the writing requirement in one’s Faculty. No previous linguistics or language course is required. ENGL 330 and 331 may be taken concurrently or in reverse sequence.

Course evaluation: The written work required in this course includes: three non-comprehensive unit tests (in-class) and six on-line quizzes. Students will expected to complete ungraded, self-testing homework exercises.

The Structure of Modern English: Sounds and Words
Term A
Distance Education

This section of ENGL 330 is offered online. To  see the course description, click here.

 This course provides a comprehensive introduction to English phonology, morphology, parts of speech, and lexical (word) meaning. We start by studying the smallest units of language, speech sounds, and work our way up to larger structures until we reach the level of words and their meanings. Students are required to become proficient in phonetic transcription, including becoming familiar with the International Phonetic Alphabet as it pertains to present-day varieties of English. The course is offered from a descriptive perspective, an approach not situated exclusively in any specific linguistic theory. There are three collaborative assignments, six quizzes, and a final exam counting 40% of the final grade. The prescribed book is Brinton & Brinton (2010). More details are available on the course website on canvas.ubc.ca.

The Structure of Modern English: Sentences and Their Uses
Term 1
TTh, 12:30 - 2:00 PM

In this course, we study primarily the English sentence from a broad, functional perspective. We learn how to analyze, describe and classify sentential forms and their constituents and will take a look at the fuzzy areas of syntax (all grammars "leak", as one famous linguist once called it). The overall goal will be to become conversant in English syntactical analysis, while keeping an eye to sentence semantics and their meanings. This functional "nuts and bolts" approach will be complemented with a pragmatic element (language in use) that probes into how speakers (and writers, texters etc.) choose linguistic items to fit a particular social contexts, which find their expression in text types (genres), levels of formality and the like. The focus of the course is on reliable descriptions of how the language is used and not on any particular linguistic theory ("school"). While the overall perspective is functional (rather than, say, generative), the knowledge taught here can be labelled "theory neutral" (if such perspective really existed). No linguistics background is required. Students will learn a broad range of technical vocabulary and analytical procedures to achieve the overall goal, which is to develop the knowledge and skill to work independently on syntactic examples and problems.

Textbook: Downing, Angela. 2015. English Grammar: A University Course. 3rd ed. London: Routledge.

Note on editions: the second edition is about 90% the same as the 3rd and is sometimes found significantly less expensive than the current edition. While you will have problems with the examples, which have been renumbered and partially reworked, if you're willing to put up with getting the missing material from peers, it is possible to use the 2nd edition of the book if you're a bit in a crunch.

The Structure of Modern English: Sentences and Their Uses
Term 2
TTh, 12:30 - 2:00 PM

This 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).

Course evaluation: There will be 3 tests of equal weight (31%) and a class participation mark of 7%. 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.

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Upper-Level Literature

Approaches to Media History (BMS section)
Term 1
TTh, 9:30 - 11:00 AM

This class explores the history of media and mediation from the early modern period to today. It will combine theoretical reading and discussion with hands-on project-based learning and a continuing process of personal reflection. Students will have the opportunity to investigate the historical development of analog and digital knowledge technologies, to explore their practical use, and to use digital media to organize and explain their findings. Emphasis will be placed on the page—a basic unit in the history of printed books and (O)LED screens—and its ecologies, or the environments in which it has been produced and used. You will work with the resources of UBC Rare Books and Special Collections to produce an online exhibit that highlights UBC’s amazing media history resources and the historical forms of communication media.

Approaches to Media History
Term 2
MWF, 2:00 - 3:00 PM

The first lesson we learn about media history is that it goes in a circle; it is not progressive but recursive. Twitter remediates orality, which is where the course will begin. We will then examine scribal culture, the printing revolution, and the electronic mediascape in the contexts of rhetoric, humanism, and the contemporary post-humanist moment. If all goes well, we will end up where we started, but this time we’ll know what our smartphones are doing to us.

Literature and Science
Term 2
MWF, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

In this course, we will look at the relations between fiction and science in British fiction from the early nineteenth-century through the early Modernist period. Reading literary texts alongside some scientific writing, we will examine the ways in which literary authors responded to contemporary science. We will consider fiction that represent scientists (a term coined in the period) and scientific issues, such as the practice of vivisection, evolutionary theory, thermodynamics, and the workings of the brain. We will explore the texts’ uses of the language of science, and ask whether scientific theories influence the formal features of fiction in the period. The course will also examine the genre of scientific romance (what we now call science fiction), which emerged in the period. Texts read will include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and stories by H. G. Wells and Conan Doyle.

Introduction to Old English
Term 1
MWF, 2:00 - 3:00 PM

“You must remember we knew nothing of [Old English]; each word was a kind of talisman we unearthed…And with those words we became almost drunk.” –Jorge Luis Borges, “Blindness”

Old English provides an uncanny sensation: so different from present-day English that it must be studied as a foreign language, it is an ancestor whose patterns reveal themselves quickly to the learner. Old English literature is strange, intimate, and violent: an exile paddles in the ice with his bare hands, listening to birdsong; a feud erupts at a wedding; a tree, torn from the wilderness to become an unwilling instrument of torture, clings to Christ in what Borges calls a lovers’ embrace. This literature is usually read in translation, but in this class you will begin to read it in the original. You will learn the fundamentals of Old English grammar, syntax, and vocabulary; specialized poetic vocabulary and the basic rules of poetic composition; and unusual features that have been lost in the journey from Old to present-day English—like a set of pronouns that describes only pairs and couples. In addition, you will watch and hear Old English poetry performed, learn to use the digitized Old English Corpus and Dictionary of Old English, and compare modern literary translations of Old English poems. 

Old English Literature
Term 2
MWF, 1:00 - 2:00 PM

NIGHT came. He went
To check out those Danes
boozing at home in their
big house & pay them a call.

He found
them snoozing like fat, well
fed babies safe from boogies.

(Thomas Meyer, Beowulf)

How far can you go in translating a thousand-year-old poem? How do you balance relevance and authenticity? What does it mean to translate Beowulf into other platforms—to screen, graphic novel, performance, fan fiction, or new media? By asking these questions and by reading contemporary theory, we will get at some of the most pressing issues in literary translation. Primary texts include Beowulf translations by Thomas Meyer, Seamus Heaney, and Meghan Purvis.

Medieval Studies
Term 1
TTh, 12:30 - 2:00 PM

Arthur, The Once and Future King: ‘Herein may be seen noble chivalry, courtesy, humanity, friendliness, hardiness, love, friendship, cowardice, murder, hate, virtue, and sin.’

The canon of Arthurian Literature is long, complex, and highly entertaining. From its shadowy origins in the pseudo-histories of the post-roman period in British history, the legends were taken up by medieval writers as the central narrative of Britain’s past. Moving into royal favour, the legends took on political and national importance as the medieval period progressed. And in more recent centuries, the allure of the Arthurian world has continued to hold the imagination, with writers ranging from Tennyson to Steinbeck to Twain to Ishiguro, all reworking the legends for their own cultural moments. Students will leave come out of this course with a clear sense of the important place of the Arthurian legends within the history of literature in English, alongside an advanced knowledge of current critical conversations within the field.

Medieval Studies
Term 2
MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Medieval literary texts often depict journeys through fantastic realms. Uncanny otherworlds are everywhere in medieval literature—Grendel’s mere in Beowulf, the vale of the Green Knight’s chapel in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the places of the afterlife toured by Dante in the Divine Comedy. Sometimes a dreamer is granted privileged insight and understanding when a guide grants access to a location normally inaccessible to humans; sometimes a traveller surpasses the limits of the known world and returns with stories of fantastic places and peoples far away; sometimes a mishap or an enchantment removes an adventuring hero into a mysterious landscape filled with marvels. In this course we will explore these imagined medieval geographies—non-places and utopia that situate medieval hopes and dreams, anxieties and fears. We will use a wide range of texts, primarily from post-Conquest medieval England and in the original Middle English, to approach the medieval conception of questions including: where do dreams come from? how do we know what is true? what is real? and where are we, and just what is the world, anyway? We will also look at post-medieval medieval places, as our own modern fictive answers to such questions are inescapably shaped by the persistence of these medieval literary motifs.

Chaucer and the Middle Ages
Term 1
MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

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.

Renaissance Studies
Term 1
TTh, 12:30 - 2:00 PM

The literary texts of the Renaissance—most obviously those by Shakespeare and Milton—have frequently been used as examples of what literature of major importance looks like. In this course, however, we shall look at works that have typically been classified as minor or even as bad. We shall interrogate the assumptions behind judgments of importance or literary merit and we shall find out what pleasures can be had in reading works that have been consigned to minor status.

Texts:

  • Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey Selected Poems
  • William Shakespeare King John
  • John Milton Comus, A Maske
  • Sir Thomas Browne Religio Medici
  • Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle The Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World
  • John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester Selected Poems

Shakespeare and the Renaissance
Term 1
MWF, 10:00 - 11:00 AM

Out of the ecletic mix of ideas that was Renaissance thought, stoicism and Machiavellianism exercised a particularly powerful influence. Although not directly familiar with these philosophies, the period’s dramatists recognized their literary potential. The Stoic and Machiavellian could often be paired against each other as hero and villain, and the two philosophies also encouraged competing attitudes towards Fortune or Providence, with the former counselling fortitude (which was easily rebranded as Christian patience) and the latter countering with virtú and prudence. This course will look at incarnations of these drama-friendly philosophies in five works of Shakespeare and Chapman’s The Revenge of Bussy D’Ambois.

Required Texts:

  • Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
  • Shakespeare, Hamlet
  • Shakespeare, Othello
  • Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
  • Shakespeare, King Lear
  • Chapman, The Revenge of Bussy D’Ambois

Shakespeare and the Renaissance
Term A
Distance Education

This section of ENGL 348 is offered online. To  see the course description, click here.

Students who successfully complete ENGL 348A will have demonstrated an ability to read and to analyze the richness of Shakespeare’s language, dramatic characterization, and plotting; a familiarity with the economic, the intellectual, the political, the religious, the sexual, and the social conditions of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England and how these conditions may have informed Shakespeare’s plays; and a thorough understanding of the genres and theatrical conventions Shakespeare employed on the Renaissance stage. We will also consider his relevance to the present day.

We will study the following plays: Titus Andronicus, Henry V, Twelfth Night, Macbeth, and The Winter's Tale.

Shakespeare and the Renaissance
Term 1
MWF, 1:00 - 2:00 PM

Focusing on five of Shakespeare's plays, and a number of his sonnets, our course will consider Shakespeare's work in terms of genre. Influenced by genre theory, we will consider genre as a combination of form and social situation. How did Shakespeare's work both reflect and disrupt pre-existing genres? And how do selected scholarly, literary, and filmic interpretations of Shakespeare's work reflect changing conceptions of genre since Shakespeare's time?

For example, how do contemporary film directors respond to the challenge posed by early modern "comedies" like The Taming of the Shrew and The Merchant of Venice, which contain elements that twenty-first century audiences often find decidedly unfunny?

Students will complete a sonnet close-reading exercise; a creative project (dramatic performance or movie review); an in-class essay (with the option to revise); a research essay (complete with proposal and peer draft workshop); and a final exam.

Shakespeare and the Renaissance
Term 2
MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

In this course we shall explore the careers of two of Renaissance England’s most celebrated literary contemporaries, Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) and William Shakespeare (1564-1616). Typically, we’ll examine some of their major works in pairs – for example, Marlowe’s Edward IIwith Shakespeare’s Richard IIand Marlowe’s Hero and Leanderwith Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis– to investigate how each engages comparable subject matter (the suspect English monarch and erotic pursuit and consummation in these examples) and similar literary form (the history play and the narrative poem). Our efforts, in the first instance, will be directed toward elaborating two critical commonplaces about Shakespeare and Marlowe: first, that because the innovative and popular Kit Marlowe predeceased Will Shakespeare by some 23 years, he exerted a profound influence over Shakespeare’s dramaturgy and poetry; second, that “Marlowe” – his life and his literature – functions in contemporary scholarship as shorthand for sodomy, a crime encompassing but not limited to homosexuality, whereas “Shakespeare” serves to establish and secure a heterosexual imaginary. We’ll of course work to unsettle these commonplaces not simply by highlighting counterexamples – there ishomosexuality in Shakespeare – but, more importantly, by thinking about the usefulness of the interpretive scaffolding that has made them both possible and plausible: biography.

There will be three short papers (60%) and a final exam (30%). The remainder of your course mark (10%) will be determined by attendance and class participation.  

Shakespeare and the Renaissance
Term 2
MWF, 12:00 - 1:00 PM

This course will focus primarily on the plays of Shakespeare, with some attention given to other Renaissance dramatic and non-dramatic works.  We will discuss cultural history, contemporary religious, philosophical, and political controversy, and elements of domestic life and social interaction relevant for the study of these works.  We will explore the conditions influencing production and the participation of these plays in the ideological and theatrical aspects of Elizabethan playing and audience reception.  A variety of different critical approaches will be examined, including those of earlier decades, and those more current.

Shakespeare’s theatre can be seen as a commercial enterprise, licensed by the authorities, and dependent on royal patronage, involving complex negotiations of class and subjectivity. It can also be seen as a marginal or liminal space wherein the dilemmas and dreams of Shakespeare’s time and now of our own can be evoked and given form; where competing cultural voices find expression; where “things as they are” can be challenged by the very manner of their representation.  The dramatic poetry of Shakespeare is both historical document and unfinished experiment - a boundlessly eventful experiential realm. Students will study six plays, four with full coverage in the classroom and two with briefer coverage in class.  We will also consider a handful of the sonnets.  To enhance our understanding of the dramatic texts in their time, we will discuss other Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights, and some important figures of the English and Continental Renaissance, such as Spenser, Montaigne, Thomas Hobbes and Machiavelli.  Selections from film versions of the plays will be viewed as time permits.

Plays:  Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, The Winter’s Tale; Thomas Middleton and William Rowley, The Changeling

Play texts will be available at the UBC Bookstore. Supplementary readings, such as Shakespeare’s sonnets, will be available online.

Course requirements:  Students will be asked to write one in-class essay (25%), one term paper (40%), and the final exam (30%), and will also be asked to produce a creative presentation (5%).  Regarding the latter, students may choose between individual or group work, and will have considerable choice of media and method. Students may prefer to act in a classroom performance of a scene or part of a scene from one of the plays on our list.  Students may choose to rewrite, write a related piece of their own in any form, direct rather than act, or work on costumes and props.  They may produce visual art, musical pieces (such as songs or interpretive responses), dance performances, set design, film, poetry, puppet shows, talk shows, wrestling matches, folk plays, pantomime, etc.   For anyone who is utterly opposed to being involved in a class performance or presenting their art, there is another option: you may write a review of any performance of a Shakespeare play which you have seen recently, on film or in the theatre. The purpose of this exercise is to encourage the reception of Shakespeare’s dramatic art as theatre, or as extra-textual experience, rather than as literature written for the page.

A bibliographical guide to Shakespeare scholarship will be distributed in the third week of term.

Seventeenth-Century Studies
Term 1
MWF, 12:00 - 1:00 PM

The course will focus on changing ideas of humans and animals in the Renaissance as expressed in the literature and drama of the time.  We will explore the shifting paradigms governing the status and role of animals, beginning in classical antiquity and moving forward through medieval Europe to England in the Renaissance.  We will note how the definition of the human is closely tied to the definition of the animal, and how at one extreme species exist hierarchically, and in tension with each other, while elsewhere the borders between humans and animals are being crossed, and even erased.  To this end we will examine both theatrical texts and non-dramatic documents, from biblical accounts, classical natural history, medieval bestiaries and animal trials, to accounts of bear-baiting, menagerie keeping, hunting, falconry, riding, and attitudes towards meat, observing the changes in cultural, scientific and literary representations of animals.  We will examine how some literary works use animals and animal imagery, especially in order to interrogate, exalt, degrade, or otherwise mediate the contentious category of the human.  We will also reflect on how representations of animals, humans as animals, or human-animal hybrids might influence the possibility of inter-species and same-species empathy.

Texts:  Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queen, selections from Books 1, 2 & 3; William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear; Ben Jonson, Bartholomew Fair; John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi; John Milton, selections from Paradise Lost

Secondary Texts: selections from Aristotle, De Anima, De Animalibus Historia; selections from Bestiary, trans. & ed. Richard Barber, selections from The Book of Beasts, Being a Translation from a Latin Bestiary of the Twelfth Century, ed. & trans. T. H. White; Sir Philip Sidney, selections from The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia; selections from Michel de Montaigne, Apology for Raimond Sebond; Margaret Cavendish, “The Hunting of the Hare”, selections from Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

Milton and the Seventeenth Century
Term 2
TTh, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

In this course we’ll look at Milton’s career and his sense of himself as a poet and as a man. We’ll read Ode on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity,” “L’Allegro, “Il Penseroso,” “A Mask (Comus),” “Lycidas,” and Paradise Lost. Students are advised to read the last of these before the course begins, as it is quite long.

Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Studies
Term 1
MW, 2:00 - 3:00 PM

Modern critics of eighteenth-century British humor tend to see it as harsh, ill-natured, and ruthless. Alexander Pope declared that “the life of a wit is a warfare on earth” and backed up his words with a career of fearless and bloodthirsty satirical slaughter. The drama of the period is frank, bawdy, and populated with unpleasant characters who do not necessarily get any kind of comeuppance; in fact they often thrive. But eighteenth-century humor is not all bitter satire and exploitation. Given the general dislike for excessive seriousness (what was usually called gravity) and the equal popularity of irony in all its forms, humor was seldom altogether absent from any literary works of the period. In this class we will examine what seems to have made people laugh in the eighteenth-century, what literary forms and influences were particularly effective sources of humor, and how notions of what is funny change over the course of the century. We will supplement our analysis with readings on the theory and philosophy of humor. The authors we will read include Aphra Behn, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Mary Wortley Montagu, Laurence Sterne, and Jane Austen.

Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Studies
Term 2
MWF, 10:00 - 11:00 AM

Although many women wrote before the eighteenth century, this age marked the first time that women openly and sometimes profitably wrote for the burgeoning literary marketplace. Beginning with Aphra Behn, widely acknowledged as the “first professional woman writer,” and continuing through a tradition of woman poets, playwrights and novelists, women established themselves as active participants in a world previously reserved for men. Not only did they usually write under their own names (a practice not discouraged until the nineteenth century) but they appealed to a widening world of women readers. This development was not without controversy, and women writers found themselves under increasing pressure to produce the “right” kind of material. Moreover, they belonged to a world in which perceptions of women’s role in British society were transforming, a process in which they themselves participated. On the one hand, the eighteenth century marked the emergence of the first feminist movement, with authors from Mary Astell to Mary Wollstonecraft demanding, above all, greater participation by women in higher education and the professions. On the other hand, conservative men and also women resisted this trend, stressing that the proper place for women was in the home, or what we now call “the domestic sphere.”

In this class, then, we will explore the first great movement of women into public life, along with literary reactions to this revolution by women and men. The texts will span all the major literary genres – plays, poetry and novels – from Aphra Behn to Jane Austen. Evaluation will be based on in-class essays, a major research essay, a final exam and class participation.

Studies in an Eighteenth-Century Genre
Term 1

 During the eighteenth century, Britain transformed from a relatively minor European country to a great economic power with a worldwide empire. British ships ranged the world, sending back reports of new peoples, and setting off a new discussion concerning the nature of “civilization” in contrast with the so-called “primitive” or “barbaric” peoples that British travelers encountered. The use of African slaves in British colonies became a major source of wealth, though this practice also sparked what is arguably the world’s first great humanitarian campaign, the movement to abolish the slave trade. These events had a major impact on eighteenth-century literature, flooding the literary marketplace with travel books and with fictional and non-fictional accounts of far-away places and non-European peoples. This section of English 358 will focus on the many ways that literature of the eighteenth century reflected an expanding world-view, the rise of empire, and a transformed understanding of humanity as comprised of multifarious races, nations and cultures. We will consider the first widely-read literature in English by non-white people as well as the struggles and adjustments precipitated by the rise of Britain as global colonial power. We will proceed chronologically through a selection of texts by Aphra Behn, Mary Rowlandson, Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Olauda Equianao and others. Evaluation will be based on a mid-term text, a final essay, an exam, and class participation.

Studies in an Eighteenth-Century Genre
Term 2
TTh, 12:30 - 2:00 PM

After the silence of the Puritan Commonwealth, London’s theatres burst into social, artistic and ideological prominence (and no small fabulousness) with the restoration of King Charles II. Through tragedy, heroic drama, burlesque, and several types of comedy, plays contributed to cultural dialogues on the relative identities of the nation and the individual through such conflicting elements as noble heroics, brilliant wit, political subversion, historical revisionism, and some rather explicit sex. We will consider the ways in which English playwrights and stage practices both echoed and reinscribed ideas of heroic masculinity and femininity, sexuality and marriage, intellectual and passion, violence and its burlesques, as well as the ways in which the dramatic genres of the era embraced both spectatorship and readership and made the political into the (very) personal. Reading ahead? Start with Wycherley’s deliriously witty Country Wife if you want sharp-edged comedy, and Dryden’s All for Love if you want a grand romantic political tragedy about Antony and Cleopatra.

Studies in Romanticism
Term 1
MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
The course description for this section of ENGL 359C is not yet available.  Please contact the instructor directly.

Studies in Romanticism
Term 2
MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Three decades ago, Fredric Jameson described the emergence of imperial and global networks at the end of the eighteenth century as an event in the history of thought and feeling as well as in political and economic history. In “Cognitive Mapping” (1988), Jameson wrote that the “experience of the individual. . . becomes limited to a tiny corner of the social world. . . . But the truth of that experience no longer coincides with the place in which it takes place. The truth of that limited daily experience of London lies, rather, in India or Jamaica or Hong Kong; it is bound up with the whole colonial system of the British Empire that determines the very quality of the individual’s subjective life.” The implications of this statement are as much ethical and political as they are intellectual. Especially in the wake of Idle No More and Black Lives Matter, it is imperative for scholars to consider the global stakes of literature—a complexly “subjective” record of “experience” and “truth”—in the Romantic period (approximately 1780-1830.) As Simon Gikandi has put it in Slavery and the Culture of Taste (2011), conversations about literature must seek to reconnect “realms of experience that have been kept apart so that they can continue to do their cultural work, separately and unequally.” This course will ask you to consider several questions: how did writers at the turn of the nineteenth century experience (perceive, sense, or intuit) the emergence of global networks? How did they represent, register, or suppress this experience in their work? How can—and how should—twenty-first century readers approach the relationship between early nineteenth-century writing and a world marked by commerce, including the Atlantic slave economy, colonization, empire, and war? As we explore our own answers to these questions, we will read works by writers who explored or travelled, by migrant, emigrant, immigrant, enslaved, and Indigenous writers, and by British writers who spent time imagining connections between themselves, or Britain, and the world.

Early Canadian Writing
Term 2
MWF, 12:00 - 1:00 PM
The course description for this section of ENGL 360A is not yet available. Please contact the instructor directly.

Studies in a Nineteenth-Century Genre
Term 1
MWF, 1:00 - 2:00 PM
This course charts the evolution of poetry in English over “the long 19thcentury” (from late 18th C. Romanticism to the mid 20thC. Modernism), focused on the novel Romantic notion of the self as a capacity to act and speak in the real world according to the otherworldly ideal of absolute freedom. According to the Romantics, having an individual perspective of one’s own isn’t natural, obvious or automatic but an expression of radical freedom, influenced by the historical condition of industrial, democratic modernity but not dictated by divine or natural law.  Instead, in the terms of the preeminent Romantic philosopher Rousseau, a “second nature” binds people together by the “social contract” continually re-negotiated by participants in social life and language.  The Romantics saw reality generally, including the self, as an effect of what is done, thought and said about reality, and they saw poetry and the most profound and expansive means of questioning and revising reality.  This course explores how the idea of using language to assert selfhood and change the world has worked, from its origins in Romanticism through the Victorian and Modernist periods to more contemporary art forms such as the music of singer-songwriters and ‘auteur’ cinema which we will also have occasion to consider.

Studies in a Nineteenth-Century Genre
Term 2
TTh, 2:00 - 3:30 PM

Reading the Victorian novel as a form of geographical placement and identity will be the focus of this course which will begin with ideas of the flâneur  and end with Dracula. The working city, theatrical city, criminal city and utopian city are among the topics with readings in Dickens, Wilkie Collins, R.L. Stevenson, Conan Doyle and George Gissing as we test Ezra Pound’s proposition that “all great art is born of the metropolis.”

Nineteenth-Century Studies
Term A
Online Course

This section of ENGL 364 is offered online. To  see the course description, click here.

This course offers the student the opportunity to encounter and engage with the works of some of the most successful writers of the Victorian period, and to be exposed to some of that period’s central concerns: gender, class, religion and art. These subjects were at the centre of heated tension, so that much of the discourse about them – by politicians, clerics, scientists, novelists and essayists, among others – takes the form of oppositions and power struggles. These basic concerns can be then connected to larger issues of empire, industrialism, individualism, private and public domains, domesticity, religious doubt, decadence, and aestheticism, as seen in a variety of genres. ENGL 364A does not aim to provide a survey of Victorian novels; rather, it focuses on a few select novels to allow for a more in-depth exploration of key ideas and central concerns of the period, as expressed in the form of the novel. The aim of this course is to increase students’ knowledge about Victorian novels and novelists within the context of Victorian culture, and from various critical perspectives. For the purposes of this course, the Victorian period stretches from approximately 1837 (the year of Queen Victoria’s accession) to the last decade of the nineteenth-century, rather than to the beginning of the twentieth-century (1901), when Queen Victoria died.

More information is available via Distance Learning site.

Nineteenth-Century Studies
Term 1
TTh, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Why is George Eliot’s Middlemarch, described by Virginia Woolf as “one of the few English novels written for grown-up people” and recently voted the greatest British novel in a BBC Culture poll, considered to be the quintessential Victorian novel? Why—and how—did Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre become one of the most popular English novels ever written, inspiring successive generations of authors, visual artists, and filmmakers? Why is the first line of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnet XLIII, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” so well known when the remainder of the poem, the Sonnets from the Portuguese sequence, and Barrett Browning herself are not? What does A. S. Byatt’s Booker-Prize-winning novel Possession tell us about popular—and academic—notions of Victorian literature and culture?

In attempting to answer these and other literary and cultural questions, we will explore the ideological assumptions—with respect to aesthetics, ethics, gender, class, race, sexuality, religion, politics, education, etc.—implicit in the literary works and in our (and the Victorians’) readings of them.

(Neo-)Victorian novels are not known for their brevity: students are advised to do as much reading as possible before the course begins. Our texts: Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (Oxford World’s Classics); Elizabeth Barrett Browning, selected poems, including Sonnets from the Portuguese (Dover); Christina Rossetti, selected poems, including “Goblin Market” (Dover); George Eliot, Middlemarch (Oxford World’s Classics); E. Nesbit, “The Prince, Two Mice, and Some Kitchen-Maids,” “Melisande” (UBC Canvas); A. S. Byatt, Possession (Vintage).

Nineteenth-Century Studies
Term 2
MWF, 2:00 - 3:00 PM

In this course we will read, discuss, analyze, and write about nineteenth-century British literature depicting cities and urban spaces.  We will also read theoretical texts (both older and modern) that think through the meaning and symbolic significance of these spaces.  What does the city symbolize for nineteenth-century British culture?  What kinds of utopian hope does it mobilize?  How does the traditional “country-versus-city” dichotomy organize ways of thinking about the possibilities of human life?  What were the impacts of rapid urbanization and industrialization on British culture?  How were these impacts experienced differently by different populations: women, children, marginalized “others,” the poor?  How did the authors of imaginative literature respond to and shape these fundamental questions?  The course texts will be organized around three British cities: London, Manchester, and Bath.

Literary works may include (this is a provisional list subject to change): Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit; Arthur Morrison, A Child of the Jago; Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway; Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey; Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South; and shorter pieces and essays by Henry Mayhew, Charles Baudelaire, Friedrich Engels, and others.  We will also read a range of modern criticism and theory dealing with cities, urbanization, and critical geography.

Course Expectations: Students are expected to read all course materials and come to class prepared to be active participants.  You will be divided into small study groups that will meet throughout the semester to discuss reading questions (given to you in advance), and will be asked to prepare short written reports on these meetings.  You will also be invited to participate in discussion outside of class time through blog postings and/or a class Facebook page.  Together these activities with constitute your participation grade (20%).  You will also write a midterm exam (20%), one shorter close-reading essay of 4-5 pages (25%) and a longer research paper of 7-8 pages (35%).

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

For many years, people defined modernism in ways which authorized “high” modernism as a period of wild experimentation, avant-garde commitments, difficult texts, and the shock of material considered decadent. No one was sure whether to call these gestures broadly cosmopolitan or elitist—did they produce an inaccessible, hermetic art, unreadable by the masses, or an opening up of convention and platitude to the peculiar and new? What did modernists themselves think that they were producing as members of a creative class? What did they think their work effected in the world? This course places its wager on the sense of opening. High modernism 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. We will explore how modernists opened themselves to the world, to its new sensations and affects, and opened the world to itself; we will read a set of aestheticized texts which play with painterly technique, absolute music, and graphic elements, in an experimental reworking of qualities imported from other arts, other cultures and languages, and other places.

Tentative Book List:

  • W.B. Yeats, Collected Poems
  • Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons
  • Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
  • T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land and Other Poems
  • James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  • Katherine Mansfield, Collected Stories
  • Djuna Barnes, Nightwood
  • Other materials as supplied on the Canvas course site or distributed in class

Global South Connections
Term 1
MWF, 12:00 – 1:00 PM

With its genealogy in the discourse of the "Third World," the Global South as a critical concept has evolved in the post-Cold War era to encompass a broad range of meanings: from a geographical location on a grid, to a deterritorialized space marked by economic inequality, to a radical imaginary that responds to colonial and neocolonial formations of power. This course will examine literary and cultural networks relating to societies in the Global South, with a focus on the themes of war, militarism, and migration. We will examine texts that engage histories and speculations of North-South divides in regions such as Vietnam, North and South Korea, and the U.S. South, paying particular attention to intra-Asian and Afro-Asian connections among these regions. How have authors represented wars, forced migrations, and survival in these spaces? How does literature reckon with the unresolved legacies of militarism and carcerality in the South? How do these texts map South-South relations and negotiate multiple intersections of race, sexuality, gender, environmentalism, etc.? Exploring these questions, we will examine a range of creative genres (e.g. fiction, autobiography, film, poetry) that take up the issue of Global South connections. Authors we will study may include Bao Nihn, Han Kang, Krys Lee, Omar El Akkad, Toni Morrison, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and others.

World Literature and Social Movements
Term 2
TTh, 12:30 - 2:00 PM
The course description for this section of ENGL 377A is not yet available. Please contact the instructor directly.

Studies in Drama
Term 2
MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

This course will introduce undergraduate students to an array of plays that stage contemporary debates about class, gender roles, and sexual propriety around the turn of the twentieth century. Students will study these plays as well as secondary readings that will inform lectures and class discussions. Our guiding questions for this course are: is drama only “entertainment,” or can it seriously engage ethical and political issues? Does the commercial aspect of professional theatrical productions on the London stage compromise any “progressive” agendas that the plays may have? Why were plays that focalize cross-class relations and the circulation of money and “property” so popular in this transitional period? How flexible are class and gender hierarchies in the plays, and does the drama expose “gender” and “class” to be forms of performance that require constant rehearsal to appear “real”? And what legacies did drama from this period, as well as its actors, actresses, and playwrights, have on what we now call the culture of celebrity?

Course Texts:

  • W. Robertson, Caste
  • Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts
  • Bernard Shaw, Mrs. Warren’s Profession; Pygmalion
  • Arthur Wing Pinero, The Second Mrs. Tanqueray
  • Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan; The Importance of Being Earnest
  • Anton Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard
  • Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class
  • Harley Granville Barker, The Voysey Inheritance
  • Elizabeth Robins, Votes for Women!
  • John Galsworthy, The Skin Game
  • Ronald Firbank, The Princess Zoubaroff
  • Noël Coward, Easy Virtue; Private Lives
  • Somerset Maugham, The Constant Wife

Studies in Prose Fiction
Term 1
TTh, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

This course will introduce students to 19th and 20th century prose fiction from English-speaking countries as well as some works in translation.

Text: The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, 8th ed.

Readings will include: Selections may include from the United States, Toni Cade Bambara, Ray Bradbury, Willa Cather, John Cheever, William Faulkner, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ernest Hemingway, Shirley Jackson, Ring Lardner, Herman Melville, Flannery O’Connor, Edgar Allan Poe, Jean Shepherd, Alice Walker, Edith Wharton; from the United Kingdom, Joseph Conrad; from New Zealand: Katherine Mansfield; in translation: Anton Chekhov, Leo TolstoyFranz Kafka, Guy de Maupassant.

Requirements: 1 in-class essay = 20; 1 term paper = 30; 1 final exam = 35; participation, preparation, attendance = 15

Modern Critical Theories
Term 1
TTh, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

“What does it mean to be ‘totally naked’ at the turn of the 21st century?” – Rachel Lee, The Exquisite Corpse of Asian America

If the human body can no longer be clearly differentiated from the systems and technologies that mediate, produce, or abstract it in the Information Age, what is the flesh? What is its relationship to data, and how do language and writing mediate this relationship? Moreover, what are the stakes of being “in” or “out” of the flesh in the digital era?

This course approaches these questions by engaging with interdisciplinary scholarship from Asian North American studies, black feminist critique, feminist science and technology studies, new media theory, and posthuman studies, as well as with literature (Eugene Lim’s Dear Cyborgs, Hari Kunzru’s Transmision), film (Ex Machina, Lucy, Get Out) and other media.

By situating our queries within genealogies of race, migration, and Empire that precede the Internet, we will consider how emphasizing the "fleshliness" of race, gender,

and sexuality might engender alternatives to the category of a liberal human subject that has historically been understood as male and white. At the same time, we will examine feminist, queer, and critical race theories of assemblage, virtuality, and mediation that illuminate the ongoing histories of the production of the racialized body.

History of the Book
Term 2
MWF, 1:00 - 2:00 PM

Description: As a medium, the importance of the book exceeds its objecthood; although we live in a post-Gutenberg society, the book remains powerfully influential socially, politically and culturally, and we will examine aspects of this mediatic influence across its history, from woodblock printing in 8th century CE China to Gutenberg’s printing press productions from the mid-15th century, up to the present day. In addition to providing an overview of book production, from scroll to e-reader, the course will provide foundational knowledge in media theory.

Twentieth-Century British and Irish Studies
Term 2
TTh, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

What is the status of spy fiction: popular entertainment or a serious literary enterprise? Through a reading of a series of texts beginning with Conrad’s Under Western Eyes and Eric Ambler’s Coffin for Dimitrios, we will analyze the importance of narrative, place and style. Works by Graham Greene, Elizabeth Bowen, John Le Carré and Alan Furst, set against issues of genre, the Cold War and espionage, will be our focus.

Twentieth-Century Studies
Term 1
MWF, 1:00 - 2:00 PM

An exploration of the modernist epic and appeal of the long poem in the 20th /21st centuries. Beginning with Homer and Dante, we leap to Whitman, Pound, Eliot, Stevens, Ginsberg, Ashbery and Anne Carson. Texts to include Pound’s “Mauberley,” Eliot’s The Waste Land, Ginsberg’s Howl and Carson’s Autobiography of Red.

Studies in a Twentieth-Century Genre
Term 2
MWF, 2:00 - 3:00 PM

English 466 is dedicated to studies in specific genres of twentieth-century literature. This section engages with canonical as well as controversial American and British novels on interwar 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 the contested issues of the era, our discussions will encompass topics such as war and peace (Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room and Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises); 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 continue to resonate today. Hence, this class also invites students to consider how these compelling fictions may illuminate 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 include participation; a group presentation; an annotated bibliography; a research essay; and a final examination. Please note that discretion is advised: this course focuses on mature subject-matter.

Children's Literature
Term 1
TTh, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
The course description for this section of ENGL 468 is not yet available. Please contact the instructor directly.

Children's Literature
Term C
Distance Education

This section of ENGL 468 is offered online. To  see the course description, click here.

Danger and discovery stalk children’s literature. The fraught negotiations of domestic and public threats, the playing out of learning/development, can make “children’s” tales complex, intimate, and dead scary. As fascinated readers, we consume the material to show us something about the worlds children inhabit. As academics, though, we apply ourselves to theorizing -- to analyzing how and why these texts create meaning in the contexts of social movements and expectations. We’ll start with oral-tradition folk/fairy tales, to consider how their recurring use of literary devices establishes tropes still commonly used in children’s adventure-quest stories. Then we'll move through some well-known and not-so-well-known readings, looking at genre construction and the ways these texts challenge or subvert perceived boundaries and conventions. Here, we risk the dangerous waters of academia, questing for our own contributions to the story of how the texts create meaning in relation to the world(s) of their time and place. Our full-length texts might (but are not guaranteed to) include Obasan, Coraline, and Nobody's Son.

Children's Literature
Term 1
MWF, 12:00 - 1:00 PM

“You are always in danger in the forest, where no people are.” Angela Carter, “The Company of Wolves”

From The Turn of the Screw to The Others, creepy children frequently haunt Gothic texts. But what of Gothic texts assuming a young audience? Children’s/YA literature so often focuses on successful (or not so successful) negotiation of threats and learning opportunities in the intimate and public worlds around the child that “children’s” tales are often scarier than adult fiction. In this section, we will study a variety of texts through a literary/cultural studies critical and theoretical lens, exploring their (sometimes) evolving genre features. We’ll start with familiar (and not-so-familiar) oral-tradition folk/fairytales, to consider how their recurring devices establish tropes still frequently recurring. Then we will stray from the path and consider how a selection of novels might challenge or subvert perceived boundaries and conventions, especially in engaging with Gothic themes and motifs. Texts will include the new 5th edition of Folk and Fairy Tales (Broadview), The Secret Garden, The Witches, The Owl Service, and Coraline. One more text, possibly a film or graphic novel, might be set. Please check my blog at http://blogs.ubc.ca/drgmbaxter/ for updates concerning the course, its texts, and its requirements.

Children's Literature
MWF, 12:00 - 1:00 PM

Children’s literature is an unusual field of study.  Children rarely write children’s books, nor have they produced a body of research on children’s literature.  Instead, adult authors write for imagined child readers, and adult academics pursue research based on the foundations of consciously (or unconsciously) constructed models of childhood. Our class will grapple with this defining problem of children’s literature—the difficulty of constructing the child reader—by applying a variety of critical approaches to European fairy tales and their descendants. We’ll begin by reading fairy tales that were published in England, Germany, France, and Russia in the 17th to 19th century. We’ll then turn to modern versions of these tales and finish by examining recent novels and graphic novels that adapt conventions of traditional fairy tales to explore the complexities of modern life. In a nod to the folklorist Max Lüthi, who saw sevens nearly everywhere he looked, I’ve chosen the following approaches for our class: interactions between text and image, socio-historical criticism, formalism, psychoanalytic theory, feminism, adaptation theory, and reader response theory. Readings will include a variety of traditional tales as well as modern works by Emma Donoghue, Francesca Lia Block, Philip Pullman, Neil Gaiman, and Bill Willingham.

Children's Literature
Term 2
TTh, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

This section of English 468A will focus on a range of Canadian young adult novels from the mid-nineteenth century to the present which explore the theme of last and found children. We will begin with Catharine Parr Traill’s classic Canadian Crusoes and then consider a range of 20th century novels, culminating in the award-winning 2017 work, The Way Back Home. In discussions and written assignments, students will be asked to consider the extent to which social, historical and environmental factors have influenced the production of these novels, as well as whether they can be considered part of a unique Canadian literary canon. As well as focusing on the core texts, we will engage with theoretical perspectives on the genre of adventure novels and YA fiction. 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.

Canadian Studies
Term C
Distance Education

This section of ENGL 470 is offered online. To  see the course description, click here.

This course provides a scholarly study of Canadian literature in a historical context with a focus on the intersections and departures between European and Indigenous traditions of literature and orature.

At the heart of this course is an examination of the power of stories, and in particular the stories we tell ourselves about being in Canada. We will examine story telling in literature and the stories we tell about literature; we will look at “whose stories” we listen to, and whose stories we cannot seem to hear – and why not? Edward Chamberlin urges us that, “now, it is more important than ever to attend to what others are saying in their stories and myths – and what we are saying about ourselves.” Students will read a range of literary texts, academic articles and relevant material. Students will be encouraged to develop independent critical responses to the texts as well as active participation in online discussions.

ENGL 470 Canadian Studies is designed for senior students and requires analytical skills and written assignments as befits a 400-level course. This course is of most interest to upper level students specializing in English, Education, First Nations, or History. The course requires regular and consistent engagement and the ability to work with an online community of fellow students. In return, this promises to be an engaging course designed to facilitate regular and lively dialogue between students and with the instructor.

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

How do writers, historians, photographers, cinematographers, and artists shape our perception of “Vancouver” (including the lower mainland or GVRD)?   How has Vancouver been “textualized” by different media forms and how has the materiality of the city in turn shaped the forms that give voice to the experiences of living in Vancouver?  This course will explore the myriad meanings of “Vancouver” through a selective consideration of fiction, poetry, life writing, history, literary theory, urban studies, film, photography, and artwork.  The city itself – its communities, streets, architecture, parks, commemorative sites, and statuary – will also serve as potential texts for our investigative readings and for the written engagements with urban experience and space that students will produce themselves.  Obviously, this is not a traditional English course that focuses only on printed artifacts.  Students will explore a wide variety of genres and media forms.  Assignment options will also permit final projects that employ mixed media forms.

 Required texts will include some of the following: Madeleine Thien, Simple Recipes (2001); Daphne Marlatt and Robert Minden, Steveston (2001); W.H. New, YVR (2011); Lisa Robertson, Occasional Work and Seven Walks from the Office of Soft Architecture (2011 3rd Ed.); Wayde Compton, The Outer Harbour (2014); Kevin Chong, The Plague (2018).

Excerpts:  Pauline Johnson: "The Two Sisters" and "The Siwash Rock" from Legends of Vancouver (online) ; Roy Miki, "the mannekins must share" from Mannequin Rising (2011); Meredith Quartermain, "Nightwalk" from Vancouver Walking (2005).

Films (To be screened in class, subject to availability):  Everything’s Gone Green (2007); Eve and the Fire Horse (2005); Double Happiness (1994); The Line Has Shattered (2013); Everything Will Be (2014); Meditation Park (2017).

Some visual materials by Jeff Wall, Brian Jungen, Stan Douglas, and Ken Lum will be accessed through websites.

Canadian Studies
Term 2
MWF, 10:00 - 11:00 AM
The course description for this section of ENGL 470 is not yet available. Please contact the instructor directly.

American Studies
Term 1
TTh, 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

This course will examine an under-studied and often misunderstood era in U.S. fiction, asking what kinds of traditions the great writers of the 1970s tapped into, what literary experiments they performed, and why. We'll range from an early masterwork of Toni Morrison to Ishmael Reed's creation of the first neo-slave narrative, from the scrutiny of capitalism, fame, and cities in Don DeLillo to answers to some of these same questions through radical experimentation with received forms in Donald Barthelme and Renata Adler, possibly some Kathy Acker too. We’ll of course contend with the seismic legacy of the Vietnam War, through the gritty work of Robert Stone and the poignant portrait of combat trauma offered by Tim O’Brien. I will point us to some necessary historical background (on Vietnam, on countercultural legacies, on racial relations, on Nixon, etc.), but our main object of curiosity will be the undercurrents of paranoia, disillusionment, and "feel" for the times that these textual artifacts effect. For some of this we'll frame parts of the course with masterful essays by Joan Didion. It should be, like all deep reading experiences, a great adventure. Readings may include (some but probably not all of) works by Joan Didion (selections from The White Album), Don DeLillo (Great Jones Street), Toni Morrison (Song of Solomon), Ishmael Reed (Flight to Canada), Donald Barthelme (selected stories or possibly The Dead Father), Robert Stone (Dog Soldiers), Tim O'Brien (Going After Cacciato), and Renata Adler (Speedboat). Students will contribute to regular discussions and write two major essays, several online discussion posts, and a final exam.

American Studies
Term 2
TTh, 12:30 - 2:00 PM

This course explores a prominent strand of nineteenth-century U.S. fiction that is distinguished by its concern to influence society and politics by appealing to and generating extreme audience feeling, whether terror or floods of tears. In addition to looking at the texts in the list below, we will be looking at theorists who try to explain how human emotion and intellect might be related to our apprehension of works of fiction.  Classes will consist of lectures, discussions, and small group work. Primary Texts include: Susanna Rowson, Charlotte Temple (1791); tales of Edgar Allan Poe, including, "Ligeia" (1834); “Berenice” (1835); "The Black Cat" (1843); "Murders in the Rue Morgue" (1842); tales of Nathaniel Hawthorne, including "The Birthmark" (1843) "Rappaccini's Daughter" (1844); Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852); William Wells Brown, Clotel (1853); Herman Melville, "The Paradise of Bachelors and The Tartarus of Maids" (1855); Rebecca Harding Davis, “Life in the Iron Mills” (1861); Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "The Yellow Wallpaper" (1892);); Kate Chopin, The Awakening (1899). We will also be reading theories of fear and disgust, including works by Sigmund Freud and Julia Kristeva.

Studies in Contemporary Literature
Term 1
MWF, 10:00 - 11:00 AM

Histories of post-WWII British drama often point to 1956 as a watershed year. The year marked the celebrated success of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, a play which, in its examination and criticism of a post-war, still class-ridden British society, recorded the frustration of the younger British generation (the so-called “angry young men”) with the traditional values of the “Establishment,” and signalled the beginning of a dramatic revival in Britain. The late 1950s initiated an explosion of dramatic activity that gave rise to the most exciting age of British drama since the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. A growing interest in international theatre, increased government subsidies, the building of many regional repertory stages, and radical changes in the social structure of the nation all contributed to a revitalized theatre during the 1960s and 1970s. And though later cutbacks in public funding at times threatened their livelihood, British playwrights have continued to address in vital and exciting ways many of the important issues facing British society today. In this course, we will survey a cross-section of British drama since 1956, ranging from the plays of the angry young men and women (Osborne; Shelagh Delaney) to the work of such great playwrights as Joe Orton, Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard and Caryl Churchill to more recent attempts by playwrights such as Ayub Khan-Din, Mark Ravenhill, Sarah Kane, and Martin McDonagh to articulate new ways of exploring race, gender, and class as well as the issue of theatrical representation generally.

Studies in Contemporary Literature
Term 2
MWF, 1:00 - 2:00 PM
The course description for this section of ENGL 474G is not yet available. Please contact the instructor directly.

Indigenous Studies
Term 1
TTh, 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
The course description for this section of ENGL 476K is not yet available. Please contact the instructor directly.

Post-colonial Studies
Term 2
MWF, 12:00 - 1:00 PM

The course will examine colonial and postcolonial representations emerging from the Southeast Asian region formerly known as “Indochina,” consisting of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Historically, these countries have been subject to multiple regimes of colonialism and imperialism. We will begin by examining the French Protectorate era of 1887-1954 and will consider how colonial writers constructed exoticized representations of Indochina as a space of unruly passions, oriental mystique, and primitiveness in need of civilizing. We will then consider the transition from French colonialism to the Cold War, which played out in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos as a series of “hot wars”: violent conflicts, proxy wars, and massive refugee displacements that had devastating consequences which continue to be felt today. The course will ask how texts by and about former refugees from Southeast Asia respond to these legacies of colonialism and war, and how these texts forge creative and resilient cultures of survival. Throughout the course, students will also be encouraged to make critical connections, for example, between Indochina and sites of French colonialism in Africa and elsewhere, and between the history of Southeast Asian refugees and the contemporary global refugee crisis. Authors to be studied may include: Marguerite Duras, Linda Lê, Trinh T. Minh Ha, Rithy Panh, Monique Truong, Madeleine Thien, Ocean Vuong, Kao Kalia Yang, and Souvankham Thammavongsa.

Asian Canadian and/or Asian Transnational Studies
Term 1
MWF, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

The West Coast of what is now Canada has long been a centre for migrations from Asia, which have shaped its cultural, linguistic, economic, and political landscape. This course examines fiction, film, new media, art, and experimental writing that explore Asian diasporic experiences in Canada and elsewhere. Authors may include SKY Lee, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Ruth Ozeki, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Richard Fung, and others. We will engage issues such as globalization, settler colonialism, refugee displacement, inter-generational memory, and the legacies of war. Course assignments will encourage students to engage with diaspora communities outside the classroom through social media, archival research, and digital media production (no previous experience required). In lieu of a final exam, students will complete a creative or critical project.

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Upper-Level Writing

Technical Writing
Term 2

TTh, 9:30 - 11:00 a.m.

Don’t let the name fool you: this is not a course in remedial grammar! Technical Writing examines principles and practices of communication in various professional contexts (mostly online). You will produce a formal report, investigating resources and/or concerns in a real-life community and making recommendations for improvement or solution. Production of this report will involve the study (and possibly practical application) of research ethics where human subjects are involved (e.g. in conducting surveys or interviews). 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. Please check my blog at http://blogs.ubc.ca/drgmbaxter/ for updates concerning the course, its texts, and its requirements. Note: this is a blended course, with both classroom and online components and requirements. While technical competence in writing is required, the course will not cover grammar and mechanics (though it will provide lots of writing resources on its Canvas site). Technical Writing is closed to first- and second-year students in Arts, and cannot be used for credit towards the English Major or Minor.

Technical Writing
Term A
Online Course

This section of ENGL 301 is offered online. To  see the course description, click here.

Technical Writing
Term C
Online Course

This section of ENGL 301 is offered online. To  see the course description, click here.

Advanced Composition
Term C
Online Course

This section of ENGL 304 is offered online. A link to CTLT will be posted at a later date.

Are you trying to figure out new ways to strengthen your writing? Have you always wanted to develop a recognizable writing voice of your own? Do you want to figure out how to make the strongest impact on your readers? Are you interested in exploring the differences between writing for, say, The Vancouver Sun, The Guardian, Vice, and an academic journal? Are you considering going into teaching and wondering how to go about talking to your students about their own writing? If you find yourself thinking about these sorts of questions, this is definitely the course you should take. The class approaches the study and practice of writing with a focus on audience, authorial voice, and style. It emphasizes the writing process and the rhetorical concerns and principles (situation, genre, intent) which govern that process. We will start by working our way through an overview of traditional Artistotelian (or classical) rhetoric, but we’ll also consider more recent (20th and 21st century) theorizing of genre and communications.

Students get to do in depth studies of communities of practice; they learn to situate and develop their own rhetorical strengths. They also get to argue thoughtfully, hopefully even vigorously, with their instructor and classmates, and to prepare a final project aimed at a real and carefully identified community of readers (best case scenario: you aim for and actually do submit that article for publication).

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Majors and Honours Seminars

An Introduction to English Honours
Terms 1 and 2
MWF, 10:00 - 11:00 AM

Term 1: English literature has deep cultural roots, and we’ll spend Term 1 exploring how English-speaking peoples and their forebears used their voices to share their stories and make their worlds.  From the Angles and Saxons through the Norman Middle Ages, to Elizabethan England and the traumas of the Reformation and the Revolution, we’ll study how literary works made, and reflect on, the social networks of earlier eras.  We’ll have a rare-books field-trip and a colonialism film festival during Term 1.

Term 2: English literature’s social networks are most clearly manifest in specific genres as they change and adapt to (and influence) the cultures in which they emerge.  This term we’ll study poetry, fiction, and film in three main arcs, all asking how literature and the social sphere intertwine and influence each other.  We’ll start with poetry, seen three ways; we’ll move to fiction, early, modern, and contemporary, that tackles racialization and colonialism, and we’ll end with the work of indigenous filmmakers talking back.

Each term we’ll learn together through student-led seminars on special topics and writing and library workshops.

Seminar for English Honours
Term 2
M, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.; W, 2:00 - 3:00 PM

This course introduces students entering the English Honours Program to the major currents of literary theory commonly used in English studies today. We will review a range of primary theoretical writings representing the schools and movements that have had the strongest influence on recent literary criticism: psychoanalysis, Marxism, feminism, queer theory, postcolonial and race theory, and ecocriticism. We will also examine the way that these theories have been adapted to English literary studies by reading a selection of criticism on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Evaluation will be based on contributions to ongoing discussions, a series of short reflective essays, a presentation and report, and a substantial research paper.

Language Majors Seminar
Term 1
M, 2:00 - 4:00 PM

The seminar will focus on viewpoint as a conceptual mechanism and show its role in guiding the choices speakers and writers make in language and communication. In the first part of the course, we study a range of linguistic forms: grammatical constructions (such as negation and conditionals), function words (possessive determiners, demonstrative determiners), verbs of cognition (think, know, guess, doubt, etc.), and narrative discourse (especially the use of referential expressions and constructions representing characters’ discourse). In the second part, we consider various visual and multimodal forms of communication, such as internet discourse, memes, advertising campaigns, political discourse, street art, etc. Participants will read and discuss a number of articles illustrating and analyzing viewpoint phenomena. In class, we will analyze many relevant examples, to develop analytical skills needed for the coursework. Students will also be asked to perform in-class presentations. The final assignment will be a term paper; this task will include collection of appropriate data and an analysis of viewpoint expressions.

Language Majors Seminar
Term 2
W, 12:00 - 2:00 PM

This course examines the micro-texts that saturate our contemporary media-scape. From dank memes to Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, people seem to have an insatiable appetite for incongruous imagery, ironic humor, unfiltered vitriol, and … tldr. Starting from the premise that motivating an audience does not require much, if any, proof, evidence, or logic, the course examines the technologies, forms, and contents of digital artifacts to understand how rhetoric functions in the mass media. Each week we will examine a range of mass-media artifacts drawn from talking points, sound bites, headlines, advertising slogans, and, of course, the most recent and most viral memes and tweets. Theoretically, the course will be grounded in the meme theories of Limor Shifman and biologist-atheist Richard Dawkins, as well as the media theorists Paul Virilio and Vilém Flusser.

Literature Majors Seminar
Term 1
T, 2:00 - 4:00 PM

This seminar will be an in-depth study of one of the most important of contemporary writers, David Foster Wallace, alongside some of the fiction and philosophy he responded to, a few new writers taking up his legacy, and criticism that explicates and complicates it all. Subjects will include postmodernism and its possible end, what experimentation with form and tradition means, issues of irony and sincerity, and portrayals of value and values in narrative. The seminar will in all likelihood consist of three major units: selected short stories from throughout Wallace’s career, in the context of those by John Barth, Donald Barthelme, Cynthia Ozick, Jorge Luis Borges, Franz Kafka, Lydia Davis, and others; four or five weeks on Wallace’s big novel, Infinite Jest; and selected nonfiction essays by Wallace (such as his celebrated cruise ship and state fair pieces), in comparison to essays by Leslie Jamison (The Empathy Exams) and John Jeremiah Sullivan (Pulphead). Students will contribute regularly to seminar discussions, respond to a few critical articles, and write a five-page seminar paper and, at the end of term, a longer research paper.

Literature Majors Seminar
Term 1
F, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

This seminar will explore the impact of Russia and Russian writing on 20th century authors from Conrad and Woolf to Nabokov. It will examine the literary, cultural and political effect of this foreign culture on English artistic invention involving dance, music and literature, while addressing the question of how modernism took shape in England in response to “Russomania.” Why, for example, did Virginia Woolf study Russian? Why did Katherine Mansfield smoke only Russian cigarettes?

Readings to include Woolf, Dostoevsky, Conrad, Chekhov, Mansfield, Bulgakov, Nabokov and Stoppard.

Literature Majors Seminar
Term 1
Th, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Gender, masculinity and femininity were ideas thought to be firmly understood in eighteenth-century North America; the idea of race, however, was only coming to be theorized in scientific terms in the second half of the century, and in popular and literary terms, ideas of difference yielded wildly conflicting notions and accounts. One of the most intriguing sites for this contest was in the breakout genre of the captivity narrative: a combination of elements of fiction, history, ethnography, conduct book, and sermon that both asserts specific normative ideologies in early North America and reflects on the cultural values from “back home” in Europe. Our seminar group will examine literary, historical and theoretical texts to interrogate constructions of race and gender originating in and imported to the North American colonial context. We will consider how these constructions were used as a preliminary vocabulary for imagining and reporting upon the Indigenous nations and individuals encountered there, given that captivity narratives were written in their time to be something between religiously edifying and exciting popular reading about exoticized groups and widely misunderstood conflicts and communities.

Captivity narratives contain scenes of violence and may be disturbing to some readers; reader discretion is advised.

Literature Majors Seminar
Term 1
W, 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM

A venue for both self-making and world-making, the international grand hotel is an icon of modernity. It arose with the expansion of the middle class and the tourist economy in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and represents an era when luxurious appurtenances, imposing architecture and highly stylized forms of social interaction signified everything that was chic and modern. By contrast, the grand hotel’s vast retinue of services encouraged fantasies about class and consumption that anticipate today’s increasingly service-oriented economy. The site of consumerist spectacle, class and gender performance, and the temporary intimacy of strangers, the grand hotel unfolds nearly endless possibilities for storytelling. This course explores the narrative space of the hotel in fiction, drama, film, and criticism. What kinds of stories do these places tell about the people who inhabit them and the societies that created them? What accounts for their durable glamour and allure? And if they can tell us about the past, what do they have to say about the future? Course authors include Thomas Mann, E. M. Forster, Vicki Baum, Elizabeth Bowen, Noël Coward, Agatha Christie, and Fredric Jameson; films by Edmund Goulding, Stanley Kubrick, and Wes Anderson.

Literature Majors Seminar
Term 2
T, 9:30 - 11:30 AM

This course will offer detailed studies of selected short-fiction classics in English.

Text:The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, 8th ed. Selections may include: from the United States, Willa Cather, John Cheever, William Faulkner, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ernest Hemingway, Shirley Jackson, Herman Melville, Flannery O’Connor, Edgar Allan Poe, Alice Walker, Edith Wharton; from the United Kingdom, Joseph Conrad; from New Zealand: Katherine Mansfield; in translation: Anton Chekhov, Leo TolstoyFranz Kafka, Guy de Maupassant.

Requirements: 1 in-class presentation: 20; 1 in-class essay: 201 term paper: 40; participation: 20.

Literature Majors Seminar
Term 2
W, 9:00 - 11:00 AM

It is possible to discern in the later Renaissance a growing dissatisfaction with the limits (and, paradoxically, the excesses) of the word.  The humanist celebration of language and rational discourse is challenged in several arenas, including the theatre, where both the malign power and the failures of language are scrutinized with particular rigour.  This course will focus on Tudor and early Stuart theatrical treatments of language.  We will explore the Morality Drama, the largely oral culture of popular festive tradition and its carnivalesque play with language and the body, and finally the written and spoken drama in the theatres of Elizabethan and Jacobean England.

In this period, the works of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and other Christian Cabalists were immensely influential for English letters from Spenser to Milton. The ideas of these magicians and scholars reveal their dissatisfaction with ordinary language and its limits, and their longing for something more.  In their writing, Pico, Ficino, Reuchlin, and others express the belief that language, spoken and written, can act as a conduit between the human and the divine, or the human and the superhuman, calling down the power of the celestial realm.  John Dee and others attempted to rediscover the lost language of Adam before the Fall.  At the same time, the Protestant Reformation in England and the emergence of many new sects may have heightened anxieties about the efficacy of prayer and other forms of sacred and prescriptive speech.  We will investigate ways in which the theatres may have addressed these and other concerns about the power of language.

Another factor to be considered is the growing anxiety over burgeoning and uncontrolled print culture, with the unprecedented proliferation of texts, legal writs, “news” sheets, ballads, political and religious pamphlets, and other “unlicensed” publications.  Words are beginning to displace weapons as the mediators of conflict.  Some of the plays of this period interrogate the use of language to prescribe and to denature the real; others expose the underlying disparity between language-centred human aspiration and the disappointment that follows it.  Crucial to our undertaking will be the role of words, the tragi-comedy of words, the failure of words.

Primary Texts: Mankynde; Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus; Ben Jonson, The Alchemist; William Shakespeare, Othello, The Winter’s Tale, The Tempest

Supplemental Texts: Each student will choose to read one or more of the secondary texts from an assigned list of options, including Pico, Johannes Reuchlin, Francois Rabelais, Francis Bacon, Erasmus, Donne, and others, or may provide their own supplemental text individually. Each student will then give a brief report on this literary or scholarly text to the class. All supplemental texts will be available online.

Assignments: one seminar paper (30%), one response paper to another student’s seminar (10%), a creative presentation in response to one of our texts or themes (5%), one fully researched term paper (40%), and one report to the class on a supplemental or a scholarly text (15%)

Literature Majors Seminar
Term 2
Th, 2:30 - 4:30 PM

“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.”

–Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire

 One definition of media is:  the means by which things happen.  That is, the means by which events occur, information communicated, goods, services and people moved through the world, the systemic conditions of life, that, as Marx says, we don’t choose but do apply each in our own way.  How things are mediated both enables and limits how and what they can be.  How is your life mediated?  How do you transmit and receive yourself physically and socially? By what means do you communicate and commute? Your phone? your car? your body?  This class explores various media theories and examples of literary, cinematic and online media in hopes of enriching and expanding your grasp and engagement of such questions.

Literature Majors Seminar
Term 2
M, 12:00 - 2:00 PM

Recently, voter turnout among youth has surged after years of disengagement. This seminar, offered on the centenary of the passage of the 19th Amendment which gave U.S. women the vote in 1919, is focused on how US literature has debated the importance of citizenship and voting rights.  Literature was a key part of the rhetoric of the U.S. suffrage campaign. In novels, plays, and poetry, writers marshalled arguments in support of the universal franchise. They also sent valentines to anti-suffragist Congressmen, drew cartoons, took photographs, and displayed banners whose witty critiques of government anticipate the satires of the Daily Show. This seminar will investigate the aesthetically innovative, rhetorically compelling, and entertaining print culture produced by young American suffragists. Students will participate in a Wikipedia edit-athon about suffrage. The final research paper will ask students to engage with the era’s print culture through examinations of digitized newspaper databases, magazines, and archives. The course will be of interest to students planning to pursue careers in editing, publishing, advocacy, and government, as well as to students interested in popular literature, the rhetoric of social movements, propaganda, and American literature.

Literature Majors Seminar Cross-listed with ENGL 492E
Term 2
T, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

This course will examine the influence of photography and cinema on literary form.  Photography has become such a common aspect of contemporary life that camera technology is now routinely built into our phones, computers, and automobiles. The photographic recording of everyday life provides an unprecedented archive of visual memories.

We will explore some of the following central questions:  Given the increasing power of photographs and cinematography in the formation of private and public judgments, how have novelists, poets, dramatists, and film makers responded to these visual influences?   What happens to the articulation of the written self when it confronts the power of photography?  How have writers incorporated some of the techniques of photographic and cinematic ways of seeing into their forms of writing?

Readings will include Roland Barthes' Camera Lucida, selected essays by Walter Benjamin, and Susan Sontag's On Photography.  We will also consider works of fiction, drama, and cinema that respond to our increasingly visual culture such as Michael Ondaatje's Coming Through Slaughter, Le Thi Diem Thuy's The Gangster We are All Looking For, and films by Alfred Hitchcock (Rear Window), Michaelangelo Antonioni, (Blow-up), and Christopher Nolan (Memento).

Course requirements include a presentation, participation in weekly discussion, and a major essay.

Senior Honours Seminar
Term 2
F, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

As Cary Wolfe observes, regarding animals as moral nonentities is the epistemological requirement for reducing human others to animal status. This undergraduate theory seminar examines the boundary between humans and beasts in medieval literature and culture, and interrogates how racial, sexual, and other forms of difference overlap with human-animal difference. We will also consider when and how linguistic difference, disability, childhood, and queerness become affiliated with the bestial, and how both violence and eroticism use the beast as figure and alibi. Primary texts will include Old English riddles; werewolf and other metamorphosis tales; chivalric romance; and homoerotic literature from Hebrew and Arabic. Theoretical texts will include work by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Stacy Alaimo, Peter Cole, Mel Y. Chen, Karl Steel, and Tavia Nyong’o.

Students in this course will write extensively and will practice researching, evaluating, and analyzing secondary sources. The course will culminate in a final research paper.

Senior Honours Seminar
Term 1
Th, 2:00 - 4:00 PM

This seminar explores trauma and memory in three historical contexts: the Holocaust (1933-1945); the First World War (1914-1918); and transatlantic slavery (circa 1600s-1800s). We will read from a range of scholarly disciplines to clarify key concepts and highlight particular controversies for group discussion. Short excerpts from documentary films will also inform our reflections. We will engage closely with three testimonies (Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved; Wilfred Owen, Selected Poems; Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl) as well as three contemporary works that grapple with the legacies of mass death for successive generations (Art Spiegelman, Maus I & II; Pat Barker, Another World; Toni Morrison, Beloved). We will situate each text in its time and place, often revealing the distinct preoccupations of survivors and descendants. We will also consider the contested meanings of historical trauma in the present. Overall, this class fosters a synthetic approach to the cultural and material analysis of challenging problems through multidisciplinary scholarship, multimedia resources and multiform writings. The assignments include participation; a reading journal; a presentation; an annotated bibliography; and a final research essay. Please note that discretion is advised: this course focuses on mature subject-matter.

Senior Honours Seminar
Term 2
T, 2:30 - 4:30 PM

Discourse analysis is an important area within language study that typically includes exploration of a variety of linguistic features as a means of elucidating meaning making in interactions or texts.  Aspects of language use examined can include semantics, grammar, lexical choices, conversation skills, narrative structure and situational features.  Analyses typically involve systematic descriptions of speech samples, 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.  The goal of this course is to develop skills in performing a discourse analysis and evaluating discourse analyses of other researchers.  These two skills are seen to be interconnected.  The focus of the course will be on evaluating recent research papers in discourse analysis, with an emphasis on linguistic discourse analysis.  Topics addressed in the readings include transcription, information structure, conversation analysis, cohesion, hesitation phenomena, forms of talk, narrative analysis and indirectness. A key part of learning discourse analysis is doing it.  Students will therefore need to collect and transcribe some data at the beginning of the term, and to analyze it using several approaches we study.  Students will also present 2-3 articles (depending on class size) from the required readings.  Evaluation will be based on data collection and transcription (10%), text analysis (15%), literature presentations (25% average), final presentation and paper (40%) and class participation (10%).  The reading for the course will be a package of articles including papers by Clark, Goffman, Johnstone, Kiesling, Labov, Schegloff, Schiffrin, Sherzer, Van Dijk, and others.

Senior Honours Seminar
Term 1
M, 12:00 - 2:00 PM

This course will explore various definitions of “Britain” and “Britishness” since the late 1970s, a period that has seen Great Britain attempting to negotiate its way, always ambivalently and anxiously, through its relationships with Europe, America, and its own colonial past. The texts we’ll be reading, watching and listening to suggest that the ways in which people in Britain have given voice to national identities and come to understand themselves as national subjects are complex, various, and implicated in different histories. In our engagement with these texts, we’ll discuss such issues as place, language, race, ethnicity, gender, history, religion, values, and traditions, in order to consider how an idea of a stable, essential, unified national identity has been, and continues to be, contested on a number of fronts. Given the terms of inquiry here, we will begin in the 1970s, when the post-war “politics of consensus” was increasingly challenged by a combination of economic, political, social, and ideological principles that were intent on restructuring everyday life in Britain, giving rise to the election of Margaret Thatcher as prime minister. Wilfully oblivious to the long history of Britain as a site of contestation among the nations from which it was constructed, Thatcherism insisted instead on a vision of the unified nation grounded in nostalgia, “heritage,” self-help and nationalism. Not surprisingly, we find a significant number of artists in various media rising up against the politics of moral populism, with its insistence on a homogeneous definition of the nation state and indeed of “British history” itself. Though the precise terms of such a definition shifted somewhat under subsequent New Labour and Tory governments, more recently Brexit has reminded us that the constitution of national identity has continued to be a pressing, at times violent, issue in British society. Through close engagement with the texts on our list – poetry by John Betjeman, Linton Kwesi Johnson, David Dabydeen, Tom Leonard and Jackie Kay; a play by Mark Ravenhill; films by Derek Jarman and Hanif Kureishi; sound recordings by The Clash and The Sex Pistols; and novels by Kazuo Ishiguro, Caryl Phillips, Zadie Smith and Irvine Welsh – we will look, then, at ‘Britain’ and ‘Britishness’ not as one imagined national identity but as a group of often competing voices seeking recognition of changed working terms for ‘England’ and ‘Britain’.

Senior Honours Seminar
Term 2
W, 1:00 - 3:00 PM

From around 1400 to 1700, Europeans converted their religious, social, political, and even sexual identities-sometimes voluntarily, sometimes by force. While theatrical play-acting and religious conversion might seem like opposites, the stage's critics and its defenders alike argued for the potential of the medium to effect material and affective transformations both on and off the stage.

This course will survey the religious and secular drama produced in England in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. This reading will be supplemented by a selection of influential conversion narratives (Ovid, St. Paul, St. Augustine) as well as a selection of modern theoretical reading on metamorphosis and transformation. In order to make our topic more far-reaching we will open up what counts as conversion, positioning religious conversion as but one kind of transformation within a field of interrelated variant forms that includes geopolitical reorientation, climate and environmental change, material transformation, commercial exchange, literary translation, class and sex change, and human-animal metamorphosis. We will ask, how did the theatrical forms of conversion translate knowledge and experience for early moderns, and how did theatre and theatricality integrate, critique, and enable forms of conversion? Are there aspects of theatricality and performance that depend upon an economy of conversion- page into stage, actor into role, audience into participants -regardless of, or in addition to, the capacities of theatre to represent moments of conversion on stage? How do Medieval and Protestant forms of drama compare to the dramas of conversion performed in the newly opened public theatres?

Senior Honours Seminar
Term 1
T, 9:30 - 11:30 AM

In this course we shall read Marvell’s “Upon Appleton House” and Barthes’s The Pleasure of the Text separately and together in order to try out theories of reading, appreciating, and even possibly understanding.

Assigned Texts:

  • Roland Barthes The Pleasure of the Text, trans. Richard Miller
  • Andrew Marvell Complete Poems, ed. Elizabeth Story Donno

Senior Honours Seminar
Term 2
Th, 9:30 - 11:30 AM

The course description for this section of ENGL 492 is not yet available. Please contact the instructor directly.

Senior Honours Seminar cross listed with ENGL 490-009
Term 2
T, 12:00 - 2:00 PM

This course will examine the influence of photography and cinema on literary form.  Photography has become such a common aspect of contemporary life that camera technology is now routinely built into our phones, computers, and automobiles. The photographic recording of everyday life provides an unprecedented archive of visual memories.

We will explore some of the following central questions:  Given the increasing power of photographs and cinematography in the formation of private and public judgments, how have novelists, poets, dramatists, and film makers responded to these visual influences?   What happens to the articulation of the written self when it confronts the power of photography?  How have writers incorporated some of the techniques of photographic and cinematic ways of seeing into their forms of writing?

Readings will include Roland Barthes' Camera Lucida, selected essays by Walter Benjamin, and Susan Sontag's On Photography.  We will also consider works of fiction, drama, and cinema that respond to our increasingly visual culture such as Michael Ondaatje's Coming Through Slaughter, Le Thi Diem Thuy's The Gangster We are All Looking For, and films by Alfred Hitchcock (Rear Window), Michaelangelo Antonioni, (Blow-up), and Christopher Nolan (Memento).

Course requirements include a presentation, participation in weekly discussion, and a major essay.

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