Overview of Graduate Courses, 2018-2019
Please scroll down to view detailed course descriptions.
Professionalization workshops (Required for all graduate students):
ENG 6302 Graduate Director, “Research Methods and Professional Development I” (offered in Fall 2018)
ENG 6303 Graduate Director, “Research Methods and Professional Development II” (offered in Winter 2019)
Academic seminars: Fall 2018, Winter 2019, and Spring/Summer 2019
The following seminars will be offered in Fall 2018, Winter 2019, or Spring/Summer 2019. The exact schedule will be determined later. For more information, contact the Graduate Assistant at artsgrad@uOttawa.ca.
ENG 6304 R. Stacey, “Critical Methodologies in Literary Studies” (Theory) – offered in Fall 2018
(Required for PhD students; MA students are welcome to register)
ENG 6330 I. Makaryk, “Shakespeare and Canada” (Renaissance/Canadian)
ENG 6360 S. Landreth, “The Body in Motion, 1660-1820” (Eighteenth-Century)
ENG 6380 L. Gillingham, “Sentiment, Sensation, and Melodrama in Nineteenth-Century Britain” (Victorian)
ENG 6381 M. Arseneau, “Victorian Women Poets: Gender, Poetics, and a Female Literary Tradition (Victorian)
ENG 7300 A. Raine, “Rethinking Modernity in the Anthropocene” (Modern)
ENG 7320 J. Blair, “Machines: The Ontological Turn in Canadian Literature” (Canadian)
ENG 7321 S. Mayne, “Canadian Long Poems: From E.J. Pratt to Contemporary Practitioners” (Canadian)
ENG 7322 C. Sugars, English-Canadian Literary Criticism: From the Pre-Confederation Era to the Present” (Canadian)
ENG 7381 A. Taylor, “Storytelling in a Digital Age” (Theory/Book History)
ENG 7382 R. Stacey, “Our Zombies, Ourselves: Ideologies of the Undead” (Theory/Contemporary)
ENG 6302 Research Methods and Professionalization, Part 1
Fall 2018 (1.5 credits)
Professor Graduate Director (TBA)
Introduction This course is a series of workshops designed to help students develop the skills they need to succeed in graduate studies. The amount of work required is minimal, as the sessions are designed not to add to students’ workload but to provide guidance and practical help with the scholarly tasks you need to be doing anyway. Some workshops will be led by the Graduate Director and others by guest speakers from within and outside the English Department. Topics will include research methods and library resources, preparing scholarship applications, teaching strategies for new TAs, and strategies for writing graduate-level essays and thesis proposals.
ENG6302 is required for all MA and PhD students.
Method Biweekly workshops (there may be a couple of extra sessions in September), with a minimal amount of preparatory reading for some sessions and some short follow-up assignments.
ENG 6303 Research Methods and Professionalization, Part 2
Winter 2019 (1.5 credits)
Professor Graduate Director (TBA)
Introduction This course is a series of workshops designed to help students develop the professional skills required for an academic career and/or for the transition from graduate studies to careers outside academia. The amount of work required is minimal, as the sessions are designed not to add to students’ workload but to provide guidance and practical help with the professional tasks you need to be doing anyway. Some workshops will be led by the Graduate Director and others by guest speakers from within and outside the English Department. Topics will include presenting papers at conferences, publishing in academic journals and other venues, course design and other advanced teaching skills, preparing for the academic job market, and preparing for non-academic careers.
ENG6303 is required for all MA and PhD students.
Method Biweekly workshops, with a minimal amount of preparatory reading and some short follow-up assignments.
ENG 6304 Critical Methodologies in Literary Studies: Literature and the Social Sphere
Fall 2018 (3 credits)
(Required for PhD students; MA students are welcome)
Professor Robert Stacey
Introduction This course is intended to introduce students to a variety of critical frameworks for doing literary criticism at an advanced level. But the history of literary criticism is so long and the variety of approaches so great that a comprehensive survey is impossible. To better focus our discussion, I have chosen texts that take the relationship between literature (or art) and the social sphere as their primary concern. In some cases, the question of society or community takes precedence over strictly literary matters; in other cases, the opposite is true—but all of the texts should give us a better purchase on the slippery question of how literature and social life are related. I have tried to be as representative as possible, but there is a definite slant towards materialist (ie. Marxist-ish) modes of enquiry. Even so, our readings will touch on matters of gender, sexuality, and race (in addition to class). The course begins with some classic studies (Frye, Arendt, Barthes) before moving on to more contemporary discussions. Where possible, I have elected to use published lectures and essays rather than more formal (and less penetrable) academic monographs. The point is to get at the governing ideas of these critics and how they can inform our work with literary materials. Having said that, more than a few of these texts are very demanding and will require your full attention if you are to get value out of them. Please have all of Frye’s The Educated Imagination read for our first meeting and be prepared to talk about it.
1 polemic (10%); 1 seminar presentation (30%); 1 essay (50%); participation (10%)
Texts Tentative list: (please contact the instructor for up-to-date information)
Northrop Frye, The Educated Imagination
Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition
Sigmund Freud, “Psycho-Analysis” and “The Uncanny”
Walter Benjamin, “The Story Teller,” “The Author as Producer” and “Theses on the Philosophy of History”
Roland Barthes, “Myth Today”
Slavoj Zizek, The Year of Dreaming Dangerously
Jean-Luc Nancy, The Inoperative Community
Alphonso Lingis, The Community of Those who Have Nothing in Common
Jacques Derrida, The Animal That Therefore I Am
Judith Butler, Notes Towards a Performative Theory of Assembly
Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study (Brightspace)
Jacques Rancière, Dissensus
William Morris, News from Nowhere
ENG 6330 Shakespeare and Canada
Professor Irene Makaryk
Introduction The most translated, adapted, and performed playwright in the world, Shakespeare found a home here on Canadian soil even before Canada officially existed. Beginning in the late 18th century with amateur theatricals, Shakespeare soon became embedded in Canadian political, educational, cultural, and (with the naming of towns such as Shakespeare, Ontario) even geographical terrain. Neither without controversy nor without facing resistance, Shakespeare has nonetheless become a naturalized part of our national imaginary.
The aim of this seminar is to examine some of the diverse roles that Shakespeare has played in Canada’s cultural and political history through an analysis of both archival documents and published texts. Among the questions we will be posing are How has Shakespeare been reconfigured in different ways for particular Canadian contexts? What part does Shakespeare play in Anglophone Canada? In Quebec? Among First Nations? Educational institutions? Popular culture? How have writers responded to Shakespeare? In what ways have they “talked with” or “through” Shakespeare? How have Shakespeare’s role and functions changed over the years? What function does Shakespeare serve in Canada today?
In analysing Shakespeare’s complex place in Canada, we will employ a multi-pronged emphasis on history, theory, text, and performance. We will be examining material in Library and Archives Canada, the National Arts Centre Archives, as well as our own University Archives. This will permit students to carry out original research on this topic and to contribute to the creation of a digital cultural map of Shakespeare in Canada. Our principal tools of analysis will be theories of translation, adaptation, and appropriation, since Canada’s most frequent (and perhaps most distinct) response to Shakespeare has been that of adaptation and parody, that is, the simultaneous validation of the (literary) past and its subversion.
Term work 65%; final project 35%
Texts Ric Knowles, ed. The Shakespeare’s Mine: Adapting Shakespeare in Anglophone Canada.
Playwrights Canada Press, 2009.
Leanore Lieblein, ed. A Certain William: Adapting Shakespeare in Francophone Canada. Playwrights Canada Press, 2009.
Irena R. Makaryk and Kathryn Prince, eds. Shakespeare and Canada: ‘remembrance of ourselves’ (University of Ottawa Press, 2017).
CASP (Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project). Online texts of Shakespeare adaptations.
Course reader of theoretical texts
ENG 6360 The Body in Motion, 1660-1820
Professor Sara Landreth
Introduction When we read words on a page, how do we envision moving images in our mind’s eye? In what ways do writers and readers conjure mental images and then set them in motion? This course will explore the aesthetics of motion from Restoration typographical techniques to 21st-century 3D printing. During the long eighteenth century, debates about how we represent motion ranged from the microscopic to the global, from the flow of humours and animal spirits within the human body to the bloody cartography of the Atlantic slave trade. Writers fiercely debated which of the “sister arts” could most realistically or most beautifully depict movement: Sculpture? Painting? Poetry? Music? Dance? Theatre? We will consider eighteenth- and nineteenth-century theories about rhetoric, comportment, and conduct, as well as ways in which the motions of marginalized bodies—the female, the queer, the poor, the differently-abled, and the non-European—were scrutinized, controlled, and inscribed.
N.B.: I am currently developing contacts in uOttawa’s Human Kinetics and Visual Arts departments with an aim to gain access to one of our university’s 3D printers for use in this course.
Texts Primary readings will include:
Cavendish, Philosophical and Physical Opinions
Hogarth, The Analysis of Beauty
Diderot, Paradox of Acting
Sterne, Tristram Shandy
Kilner, Memoirs of a Hackney Coach
Gay, Trivia, Or the Art of Walking the Streets of London
Smollett, Humphry Clinker
Anonymous, The Aerostatic Spy
Brown, Edgar Huntly
Wollstonecraft, Vindications on the Rights of Women
Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Secondary readings will include selections from Gilles Berthoz, Elaine Scary, G. Gabrielle Starr, Daniel Larlham, Wendy Lee, Danielle Bobker, Miranda Burgess, Kevis Goodman, James Chandler, Ruth Mack, and Jonathan Kramnick
ENG 6380 Sentiment, Sensation, and Melodrama in Nineteenth-Century Britain
Professor Lauren Gillingham
Introduction This course will take up the formative relationships among sentiment, sympathy, and the melodramatic that are forged in the novel in nineteenth-century Britain. Contemporary theorists of film and affect often point to the sentimentality, sensationalism, and melodrama of the nineteenth-century novel as the foundation of modern cinema as well as the representational ground of what Matthew Buckley calls the “unique modes of perceptual apprehension” associated with modernity: “sensations of suspense and of continual change, the thrill – and the threat – of shock, and . . . more complex formations of urban spectatorship.” Melodrama helped to form a modern mass culture; it also articulated the transformations of everyday life and subjective experience in the urban, industrialized nation. For a novelist like Dickens, sentiment and melodrama also formed the basis of a theory of community for the modern age: community forged by collective experience of shared emotions and by modes of communication premised, not on literacy, but on what Juliet John describes as the “bodily semiotics” of gesture, passion, spectacle, and music. Our focus will be predominantly on novels of sentiment and sensation from the 1830s through 1890s. We will also read selections from film and affect theory to help frame our investigations; some recent literary criticism on our novels and related issues; and a selection of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century prose texts on metropolitan life, performance, sentiment, sympathy, sensation, and melodrama.
Seminar presentation and write-up 35%
Participation including archive assignment 15%
Research Essay 50%
Texts (Subject to change)
William Harrison Ainsworth, Jack Sheppard
Rhoda Broughton, Cometh Up as a Flower
Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White
Charles Dickens, Bleak House
____, Oliver Twist
Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbevilles
Edith Johnstone, A Sunless Heart
Ellen Wood, East Lynne
Plus: a selection of readings (critical, theoretical, historiographic) to be posted on virtual campus
ENG 6381 Victorian Women Poets: Gender, Poetics, and a Female Literary Tradition
Professor Mary Arseneau
Introduction This seminar course will consider gender and poetics within the specific context of the nineteenth-century British female poet’s tradition. We will consider how women poets self-consciously identified themselves as working in a female tradition, how that identification informs their poetics, and the critical implications of approaching this female canon as sequestered from a mainstream, predominantly male, canon.
Beginning with Felicia Hemans and Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L.E.L.) as originators of a discernible female poetic tradition in the nineteenth century, we will trace the tradition of the “poetess” through Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Christina Rossetti, paying particular attention to these poets’ deliberate self-representations as female artists. Finally, through a study of late Victorian poets Augusta Webster and Michael Field (Katharine Bradley and Edith Cooper), we will consider how the Victorian woman poet’s tradition extends to the later part of the century. We will trace the poets’ emulations of Sappho, Corinne, and the "improvisatrice"; their experiments with genres including the epic, dramatic monologue, and sonnet; and their engagement with larger social issues. Throughout the course, we will examine these poets’ compromises and confrontations with dominant gender ideology as they attempt to negotiate a transgression into the public arena while asserting and performing their “femininity.”
Through brief seminar presentations we will also consider the poetry and critical reputations of other figures whose poetry is less well known, with particular focus on identifying promising areas for future scholarship. Other poets to be explored might include Dora Greenwell, Adelaide Procter, George Eliot, Matilde Blind, Bessie Rayner Parkes (Madame Belloc), Constance Naden, A. Mary F. Robinson (Madame James Darmesteter, Madame Mary Duclaux), Alice Meynell, Amy Levy, Mary E. Coleridge, and Graham R. Tomson (Rosamund Marriott Watson).
30% major seminar presentation and handout
15% “recuperating women poets” seminar and handout
45% final essay
Barrett Browning, Elizabeth. Aurora Leigh. Ed. Margaret Reynolds. Norton critical edition.
New York: W.W. Norton, 1995.
---. Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Selected Poems. Ed. Marjorie Stone and Beverly Taylor. Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 2009.
Field, Michael (Katharine Bradley and Edith Cooper). Michael Field, The Poet: Published and Manuscript Materials. Ed. Marion Thain and Ana Parejo Vadillo. Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 2009.
Hemans, Felicia. Felicia Hemans: Selected Poems, Prose, and Letters. Ed. Gary Kelly. Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 2002.
Landon, Letitia Elizabeth. Letitia Elizabeth Landon: Selected Writings. Ed. Jerome McGann and Daniel Riess. Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 1997.
Rossetti, Christina. Christina Rossetti: The Complete Poems. Text by R.W. Crump. Notes and introduction by Betty S. Flowers. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2001.
Webster, Augusta. Augusta Webster: Portraits and Other Poems. Ed. Christine Sutphin. Peterborough, ON: Broadview, 2000.
ENG 7300 Rethinking Modernity in the Anthropocene
Professor Anne Raine
Introduction At the turn of the 21st century, atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen argued that human activity has altered the earth’s biological, chemical and geophysical processes on such a scale that the human species must now be considered a geological agent and the present a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene. Even as scientists debate whether the Anthropocene is a true geologic epoch and how to define it, humanities scholars have taken up the term as a controversial but potentially useful way of organizing critical discussions of how to understand and respond to the radically altered socioecological conditions we now inhabit. Scientific research has provided empirical evidence of the nature and scale of human impact on the earth’s climate and ecology. But how to understand and live with the implications of this evidence remains an open question. Writers, artists, and activists face new challenges: how to find literary and cultural forms that express the uncertainties and anxieties of living in the Anthropocene; how to turn the “slow violence” of catastrophes like climate change, toxic contamination, and species extinction into cultural forms dramatic enough to motivate people to action; how to develop cultural forms that help us think beyond the face-to-face scale of our everyday interactions with the world and apprehend the much larger scales of human, evolutionary, and geological history; and how to rethink the assumptions about human and nonhuman nature, modernity, agency, selfhood, freedom, and progress that underlie the very concept of the humanities.
So, how do we do literary scholarship in the Anthropocene? How do recent debates about the Anthropocene change the way we think about human-nonhuman relations, and how do they change the way we read literary texts, and literary modernism in particular? This course will explore these questions in two ways. First, we will examine how contemporary novelists, poets, artists, and filmmakers are responding to the challenge of representing the Anthropocene. Secondly, we will consider how recent work on the Anthropocene might change how we read earlier novels, poems, and films that respond to some similar challenges. The socioecological crisis of the 1930s, with its spectacular iconography of flooding and drought, prefigures in many ways the current crisis provoked by global change on a planetary rather than a continental scale. We will therefore consider how literary and cultural responses to the Dust Bowl and related socioecological disasters anticipate, or differ from, 21st-century literary and artistic responses to the challenge of anthropogenic climate change. Can we find in 1930s modernist or social realist texts an Anthropocene sensibility that has something in common with that of contemporary writers and artists? Or do we see a decisive break between the humanistic politics and aesthetic strategies of the 1930s texts and the attempts of 21st-century writers, artists, and activists to articulate more sustainable and ethical relations between humans, nonhumans, and the earth?
Seminar work, 50%; seminar paper, 50%.
Seminar work will include two presentations, one on a primary text and one on a critical article.
Texts Tentative list of course texts:
Books and poems:
Juliana Spahr, Well Then There Now (2011)
Valerie Vogrin and Marina Zurkow, eds., The Petroleum Manga (2014)
Barbara Kingsolver, Flight Behavior (2012)
Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)
Paré Lorentz, The Plow that Broke the Plains (1936) and The River (1937)
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (1939)
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)
Muriel Rukeyser, The Book of the Dead (1938)
Gertrude Stein, The Geographical History of America (1936)
There will also be a course packet of theoretical, critical, and historical writings by scientists, journalists, cultural theorists and literary scholars like Paul Crutzen, Roy Scranton, Elizabeth Kolbert, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Timothy Clark, Donna Haraway, and Anna Tsing.
(Reading list to be confirmed; contact the instructor for the most up to date information.)
ENG 7320 Machines: the Ontological turn in Canadian Literature
Professor Jennifer Blair
Introduction What is a machine? From the steam engine to the search engine, machines shape life as we know it and also our understanding of what knowing is. They are the tools we depend on to survive, communicate, and move around in the world, sometimes so much so that they are part of us. According to some theorists, the human body is itself a kind of machine, if not a series of machines. Even though machines (more and less human ones included) are meant to serve a certain purpose or, at least, are expected to perform certain tasks, they have always contributed to outcomes their inventors or operators did not anticipate. This unforeseen productivity of machines might be their greatest utility of all.
This course examines new theorizations into the unique natures, causal capacities, and social and political impacts, of machines—that is, entities material and immaterial, human and non-human, that affect the social, material, economic, and political formations that shape daily life. We will read both theoretical and literary texts in order to explore how various elements of the ontological turn in cultural thought (including object oriented ontology, new materialism, and affect theory) might be applied to the study of works of Canadian literature that are somehow or other partial to machines—whether they were produced by non-human machines, like Erin Mouré’s book of computer-generated lesbian sex poetry and Christian Bök’s text of a poem “written” by a strand of bacterial DNA, or whether they take machines as their subject. In the case of the latter, some of the machines that are of particular interest to the literary texts on the reading list include the Briggs and Stratton two-stroke engine, tape recorders, codes, androids, pipelines, highways, and bombs. In looking specifically at the applications of machine theory to Canadian fiction and poetry, we will be focussing our discussions in the last eight weeks of the course on critical, political, and social contexts specific to Canada (and to the question of how machine-thinking might advance Canadian postcolonial criticism), but students may, if they wish, write their final papers on books that are not “Canlit.”
Seminar: 35%, Final Paper: 50%, Participation: 15%
Madeleine Thien, Certainty
Rawi Hage, De Niro’s Game
Sophie Yanow, War of Streets and Houses
“Erín Moure,” Pillage Laud
Christian Bök, The Xenotext: Book 1
Peter Culley, The Age of Briggs and Stratton
Larissa Lai, Automaton Biographies
Josh Massey, The Plotline Bomber of Innisfree
Sina Queryas, Expressway
Plus coursepack including works by: Diane Coole, Samantha Frost, Brian Massumi, Levi Bryant, Jane Bennett, William Connolly, Ian Bogost, Rosi Braidotti, and Timothy Morton
ENG 7321 Canadian Long Poems: From E.J. Pratt to Contemporary Practitioners
Professor Seymour Mayne
Introduction In this seminar we will examine the development of the long poem, focusing on key texts from the early modern period to the late twentieth century. Drawing on Dorothy Livesay's poetry and her controversial formulation of the documentary poem as a uniquely Canadian genre, we will study the narrative, sequential, and serial works of Pratt, Birney, Klein, Marriott, Page, Dudek, Cohen, Atwood, MacEwen, Ondaatje and others. The course will follow a chronological survey of the long poem, with a view to exploring the poetics and practice of some of the key exponents of the poetic form.
Seminar presentation and report, class participation 50%; term paper 50%
The following texts are either in print and/or on reserve at Morisset. Many are also available from online book dealers specialising in Canadiana. Students need not purchase all of them and should consult the instructor before acquiring texts.
Atwood, Margaret. The Journals of Susanna Moodie. Oxford University Press, 1970.
—. Power Politics. Anansi, 1971.
Birney, Earle. One Muddy Hand: Selected Poems. Ed. S. Solecki. Harbour Publishing, 2006.
Cohen, Leonard. The Spice-Box of Earth. McClelland and Stewart, 1961.
—. Death of a Lady's Man. McClelland and Stewart, 1978.
Dudek, Louis. Europe. Porcupine's Quill, 1991.
Klein, A.M. Selected Poems. Eds. Z. Pollock, S. Mayne and U. Caplan. University of Toronto Press, 1997.
Livesay, Dorothy. The Documentaries. Ryerson Press, 1968.
—. The Self-Completing Tree: Selected Poems. Dundurn (Beach Holme), 1999.
MacEwen, Gwendolyn. The T.E. Lawrence Poems. Mosaic Press/Valley Editions, 1982.
Marriott, Anne. The Circular Coast: Poems New and Selected. Mosaic Press/Valley Editions, 1981.
Ondaatje, Michael. The Collected Works of Billy the Kid: Left Handed Poems. Anansi, 1970.
Page, P.K. Hologram: A Book of Glosas. Brick Books, 1994.
Pratt, E.J. Selected Poems. Eds. S. Djwa, W.J. Keith, and Z. Pollock. University of Toronto Press, 2000.
ENG 7322 English-Canadian Literary Criticism: from the Pre-Confederation Era to the Present
Professor Cynthia Sugars
Introduction This course will survey the development of Canadian literary criticism, beginning in the decades immediately prior to Confederation with Thomas D’Arcy McGee and Edward Hartley Dewart and taking us to the present day. Discourse about Canadian literature in the 19th century was informed by an assumption that a national identity and a national literature went hand in hand. Indeed, it was felt that in order for Canada to exist as an independent nation, it required a national literature to confirm its existence and solidify its distinctive identity. Many of these early accounts also assumed an inherent link between cultural expression and Canadian geography, which means that one finds frequent articulations of Canadian literature as having emerged from the “soil” in some sense of the word. These expressions of literary maturation burgeoned in the post-Confederation period when authors and intellectuals were struggling to define Canada’s national status in a global context. In the early twentieth century, debates arose about the standards of Canadian literature vis-à-vis international models. This led to a series of debates during the modernist period when Canadian authors and critics argued about the relative merits of a locally based Canadian writing versus a writing that was more cosmopolitan in form and content. In the cultural nationalist period of the 1960s and 70s, Canadian writers were caught up in the wave of nationalist enthusiasm, leading to many influential literary critical publications by Margaret Atwood, Dennis Lee, Robertson Davies, and others. By the 1980s, this fervour had waned, giving way to the anti-thematic criticism of the late 1970s. This period not only sparked John Metcalf’s sceptical account of the “absence” of Canadian literature and other critiques of the Canadian canon, but it was succeeded by a body of counter-discursive approaches (feminist, postmodern, postcolonial) that interrogated the established institution of Canadian literature and sparked more self-critical reflections on the inherent multiplicity of Canadian socio-cultural contexts. In recent years, Canadian literary theory has expanded to include the perspective of Indigenous and diasporic critics, and, in the 21st century, has shifted towards an emphasis on transnational and global discussions of Canadian writing, with an emphasis on the effects of neoliberalism. By the end of this course, students will have a good grasp of the major movements and theorists in Canadian critical history. Our main text for the class will be a course reader containing the weekly critical readings.
Participation (10%); Weekly journals (15%); Seminar presentation (15%); Short paper (20%); Term paper (40%)
Texts Readings will be provided in a course pack, which will include essays and book chapters by Thomas D’Arcy McGee, Edward Hartley Dewart, Graeme Mercer Adam, Charles G.D. Roberts, Goldwin Smith, Duncan Campbell Scott, A.J.M. Smith, Earle Birney, Northrop Frye, E.K. Brown, Eli Mandel, Robertson Davies, Margaret Atwood, Dennis Lee, Frank Davey, Barry Cameron and Michael Dixon, Daphne Marlatt, Linda Hutcheon, Robert Kroetsch, John Metcalf, Robert Lecker, Barbara Godard, Heather Murray, Stephen Slemon, Diana Brydon, Terry Goldie, Thomas King, Armand Ruffo, Len Findlay, Jonathan Kertzer, Smaro Kamboureli, Arun Mukherjee, George Elliott Clarke, Daniel Coleman, Kit Dobson, Susie O’Brien, Herb Wyile, Winfried Siemerling, and Jeff Derksen.
ENG 7381 Storytelling in a Digital Age
Professor Andrew Taylor
Introduction “The stories of the world are without number.” Roland Barthes
The increased availability of previously analog material in digital form and the widespread use of social media and portable communication devices has transformed many areas of human activity (including commerce, politics, and journalism), while leaving some areas largely unchanged (gardening and law, for example). But what has been the effect of digitization on storytelling? Some argue that digitization has changed everything, from how authors create their works, to how they get them published or circulated, to how--and how much--they get paid for them. Others argue that digitization has had little effect on what really matters, what makes good writing. Still others, echoing Marshall McLuhan, go back a little further and argue that the age of mass electronic communication has brought us back to the world of oral culture, giving new impetus to a fundamental and perennial human drive, telling stories. In this view, the social transformation brought about by new forms of communication is fundamental, but digitization is just the most recent part of a transformation that begins with television, or radio, or the telephone, or even the steam press. Among those who argue for the decisive role of digitization, some see it as a threat to good writing or good storytelling, others as an opportunity. Cultural institutions, such as museums, libraries, archives, and galleries, speak of a “digital turn” that demands more extensive public participation, usually involving digitized narrative, as in the crowdsourcing of the U.K. National Archives, which aims to reveal “the story of the British Army on the Western Front.” Increasingly, as in the recent conference on “Restorying Canada,” stories are offered as the most powerful means of forging personal, communal, or national identity, and such calls usually presuppose that the stories will be digitized.
Reflecting on this bewildering situation, this course will pursue two key questions: what is a story and how are stories affected by digitization. We will attempt to uncover elements of what has been called the grammar of narrative, drawing on the work of Vladimir Propp, Roman Jakobson, Algirdas Greimas, Roland Barthes, Tzvetan Todorov, Umberto Eco, Mieke Bal, and Seth Gitner. Using the models they offer, we will explore various forms of narrative that are offered in a digital milieu, including cable drama, blogs, vlogs, twitter and other social media campaigns, and what is sometimes called digital storytelling (that is, the construction of personal narratives with user-friendly software). We will also consider several pre-digital works, including some examples of sustained trans-historical and trans-cultural narrative (tales from the Panchatantra) and some reflections on storytelling and widespread dissemination (Chaucer’s House of Fame, Salman Rushdie’s Luka and the Fire of Life).
The course will also introduce students to the open-source platform Omeka, currently much used by museums, and the question of how it can facilitate and channel storytelling. In groups of three or four, students will take an example of a digital work (e.g. a museum or professional website, a digital gallery or archive, or a series of blogs) and construct a mock-up on Omeka to show how the work’s underlying narrative structure might be reconfigured.
Narrative reconfiguration project on Omeka 25%; Class participation and short exercises 25%; Major paper 50%
Salman Rushdie, Luka and the Fire of Life (Penguin, 2011), available at Benjamin Books, 122 Osgoode
Plus: Course pack
ENG 7382 Our Zombies, Ourselves: Ideologies of the Undead
Professor Robert Stacey
Introduction My running list of zombie films, television series, and books currently exceeds 600 titles. Other than Antarctica, every continent is represented. The zombie transcends traditional divisions between high and low art, niche markets and popular culture. There are zombie romances, zombie comedies, zombie satires, zombie gothics, zombie bildungromans, and zombie tragedies. There is a camp outside London, Ontario where, for $2000, participants can spend a week training for a zombie attack. The zombie outbreak has emerged as a recurrent paradigm in international relations as a way of modelling governmental networks and their breakdown. A book on the mathematical modelling of zombie contagion has become a runaway bestseller (by math book standards).
The zombie currently occupies our social imaginary in a way unlike anything else. The mainstream plot of social collapse by way of zombie pandemic (ie. ‘the zombie apocalypse’) is unquestionably the dominant cultural narrative of our age. This course will explore the social, economic and cultural factors contributing to the zombie story’s own virus-like spread across global culture. It will also investigate the specific ideological implications—the meaning(s)—of the zombie as ontological subject (its being) and of the zombie narrative as social fantasy.
Texts Tentative List of Primary Texts
Colson Whitehead, Zone One
Joan Frances Turner, Dust
Max Brooks, World War Z
Robert Kirkman, Tony More, Charles Adlard, The Walking Dead (comic)
M.R. Carey, The Girl with All the Gifts
Seth Graham Smith, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
George Romero, Night of the Living Dead
Danny Boyle, 28 Days Later
Bruce McDonald, Pontypool
George Levine, Warm Bodies
Jake West Doghouse (I could add a dozen more… we may have to do a film festival)
Tentative List of Secondary Texts
Sara Juliet Lauro, Zombie Theory: A Reader
Daniel Drezner, Theories of International Politics and Zombies
Julia Kristeva, The Powers of Horror
Fredric Jameson, The Political Unconscious
Georgio Agamben, Language and Death
Jacques Derrida, The Animal that Therefore I Am