Overview of Graduate Courses 2021-2022
Spring/ Summer 2021
ENG 6310 Andrew Taylor, “Romance, Medieval to Contemporary” (Medieval)
ENG 7320 Jennifer Blair, “Canadian Literatures through and beyond the Black Atlantic: Texts and Influences” (Canadian)
ENG 6302 Graduate Director, “Research Methods and Professionalization, Part 1”
ENG 6304 Thomas Allen, “Critical Methodologies in Literary Studies” (Theory)
ENG 6360 Sara Landreth, “The 18th-Century Body in Motion” (Eighteenth Century)
ENG 6381 Mary Arseneau, “Traditional and Digital Approaches to the Pre-Raphaelite Movement” (Victorian)
ENG 7376 Victoria Burke, “Book History, Feminist Bibliography, and Early Modern Women’s Writing” (Book History)
Fall or Winter 2021/2022 (The exact schedule will be announced shortly)
Ian Dennis, "Romantic Orientalism"
Winter Courses 2022
ENG 6303 Graduate Director, “Research Methods and Professionalization, Part 1”
ENG 6350 Irene Makaryk, “Shakespeare and War” (Shakespeare)
ENG 6382 Lauren Gillingham, “The Melodramatic Moment, from Holcroft to Haynes” (Victorian)
ENG 7300 Anne Raine, “Rethinking Modernity in the Anthropocene” (Twentieth Century and Contemporary)
Spring/Summer Courses 2022
ENG 7310. Thomas Allen, “African-American Literature” (American)
ENG 7321 Robert Stacey, “Work and Labour in Canadian Poetry” (Canadian)
ENG 6310: Romance, Medieval to Contemporary
Spring/Summer 2021 (3 credits)
Professor: Andrew Taylor
“[N]o matter how great a change may take place in society, romance will turn up again, as hungry as ever, looking for new hopes and desires to feed on.” Northrop Frye
From medieval poems of love and adventure to contemporary gaming and fan fiction, the genre loosely called “romance” has entertained, educated, and embarrassed, providing a site for wish fulfilment, personal development, and sexual exploration. It is often regarded as trashy but includes major works of canonical literature.
In an effort to explore the force and appeal of the genre, we will focus on four works: the late twelfth-century northern French romance Lancelot or the Knight of the Cart, of Chrétien de Troyes; the anonymous late fourteenth-century Middle English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; Sir Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene; and the role-playing shooter game Borderlands, in its various iterations. The critics who guide us will include champions of the literary genre, notably Eric Auerbach, Northrop Frye, and James Simpson; moral critics, notably Toril Moi; and champions of fan fiction, notably Henry Jenkins, and of gaming, notably Sherry Turkle and Colin Milburn.
Grading: Seminar presentation and report, and class participation 40%; major paper 60%
Chrétien de Troyes, Lancelot: The Knight of the Cart. Trans. Burton Raffel; Afterword by Joseph J. Duggan. Yale UP, 1997.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Ed. Paul Battles. Broadview, 2012.
Edmund Spenser’s Poetry. Ed. High MacLean. Norton Critical Edition. 2nd ed. 1982.
Borderlands. Epic Games.
ENG 7320: Canadian Literatures through and beyond the Black Atlantic: Texts and Influences
Spring/Summer 2021 (3 credits)
Professor: Jennifer Blair
This course will consider Canadian texts written by women and men who were part of the African diaspora in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Some of the authors we will study moved to Canada from the United States as Black Loyalists who had served in the American Revolutionary War. Others were “fugitives” (some enslaved and some free) who had travelled on the Underground Railroad. While Canada played a prominent role in the shaping of debates, theories, and political structures around questions of race and nationhood at the time, literary criticism rarely considers the Canadian elements of this writing and its concerns. Seeking to fill this critical gap, our discussions will focus upon the representations and roles of Canada (or, what would become Canada) in this moment. We will also situate the Canadian texts alongside their transnational comparators, recognizing that the concerns addressed in them were directly caught up with debates and events taking place in England, the United States, Cuba, Mexico, and Sierra Leone. Some of the questions that class discussions will consider are: what constituted modern Western liberalism and how did it classify and affect different groups of people in the nineteenth century? What is the status of nationalism in the hemispheric and transatlantic contexts in which these texts are located? What role did print culture play in the construction and circulation of modern ideals, and how did the authors in question participate in and challenge these ideals? How has the now 25+ year-old “heuristic” of the “Black Atlantic,” as theorized by Paul Gilroy, shifted in recent years?
Grading: Article Analysis 15%, Seminar 30%, Participation 15%, Final Paper 40%
Texts available from Benjamin Books:
Mary Prince, Susanna Moodie (ed.), The History of Mary Prince (Penguin Classics)
Martin Delaney, Blake, or, the Huts of America (Beacon)
Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Random House)
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Oxford World Classics
Fredrick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, An American
Slave (Random House, in the same volume as Jacobs’s text)
Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (Broadview)
Winfried Siemerling, The Black Atlantic Reconsidered: Black Canadian Writing, Cultural History, and the Presence of the Past (McGill-Queen’s, 2015)
Texts available on course the website and/or the web:
John Marrant, A Narrative of the Lord's Wonderful Dealings with John Marrant, a Black
Boston King, Memoirs of Boston King
Josiah Henson, The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant o of Canada, as Narrated by Himself
Mary Ann Shadd, A Plea for Emigration
Benjamin Drew, The Refugee: Narratives of the Fugitive Slaves of Canada (selections)
Scholarly texts (accessible via the library and/or course website):
Rachel Adams, “Fugitive Geographies: Rerouting the Stories of North American Slavery.” Continental Divides: Remapping the Cultures of North America, University of Chicago Press, 2009, 61-99.
Diana Brydon, “Detour Canada: Rerouting the Black Atlantic, Reconfiguring the Postcolonial.” Reconfigurations: Canadian Literatures and Postcolonial Identities/Littératures Canadiennes Et Identités Postcoloniales. Edited by Marc Maufort, and Franca Bellarsi. Peter Lang, 2002.109-122.
George Elliot Clarke, Directions Home: Approaches to African-Canadian Literature. University of Toronto Press, 2012. (selections)
Pilar Cuder-Domínguez, “Canada and the Black Atlantic: Epistemologies, Frameworks, Texts.” Beyond “Understanding Canada”: Transnational Perspectives on Canadian Literature, edited by Tanti, Melissa, Haynes, Jeremy, Coleman, Daniel, York, Lorraine, 99-114. Edmonton, AB: U of Alberta P, 2017.
Paul Gilroy, Introduction. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness, Harvard University Press, 1993.1-40.
Yogita Goyal, “Africa and the Black Atlantic.” Research in African Literatures, 45.3, 2014, v-xxv.
Hartman, Saidiya. Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America. Oxford UP, 1997.
Lisa Lowe, “Autobiography Out of Empire.” Small Axe 28, March 2009, 98-232.
Tiya Miles, “‘His Kingdom for a Kiss’: Indians and Intimacy.” Haunted By Empire: Geographies of Intimacy in North American Slavery. Edited by Ann Laura Stoler. Duke University Press, 2006, 162-188.
Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. Duke University Press, 2016. (selections)
Jenny Sharpe, “‘Something Akin to Freedom’: The Case of Mary Prince.” Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 8.1, 1996, 31-56.
Robbie Shilliam, The Black Pacific: Anti-Colonial Struggles and Oceanic Connections. Bloomsbury, 2015. (selections)
Gillian Whitlock, “The Silent Scribe: Susanna and ‘Black Mary.’” International Journal of Canadian Studies 11, Spring 1995, 249-260.
ENG 6302 Research Methods and Professionalization, Part 1
Fall 2021 (1.5 credits)
Professor: Graduate Director
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.
ENG 6302 is required for all MA and PhD students.
Delivery 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 6304 Critical Methodologies in Literary Studies (Theory)
Fall 2021 (3 credits)
Professor: Thomas Allen
This is a course in a kind of thinking usually labelled “theory,” which can sound intimidating and distant from the literary writing that got most of us interested in graduate study in the first place. However, in Professing Literature, Gerald Graff makes the point that we are all “theorists,” whether we think of ourselves that way or not: “As I use the term, there is a sense in which all teachers of literature are ‘theorists’ and have a stake in theoretical disputes” (2). This course builds upon Graff’s contention that theory is relevant to everyone who studies or even just enjoys literature. In fact, the structure of this course endeavours to extend Graff’s claim even further by thinking about how theories developed in the context of literary interpretation can help us to analyze all sorts of topics, from politics and economics to science and environment. By the end of this course, students should recognize that critical theory addresses many of the same concerns and offers many of the same rewards that drew us to literature itself in the first place: the ability to think more clearly and deeply about the world around us and our own potential contributions to that world.
In surveying a wide range of theory from past and present practitioners, we will attempt to better understand our own practices of literary interpretation and teaching, as well as the institutional contexts for those practices. Throughout the semester, readings will juxtapose older, “classic” works of theory that remain influential with recent interventions that make use of or respond to those older works. For some weeks, we will also read some short introductory articles from reference works available online through the library website. The course should give students a sense of how theoretical debates have evolved over time as well as some tools for pursuing their own research projects during an MA or PhD program.
This course assumes that new MA and PhD students will have had little or perhaps sporadic exposure to the active study of theory on the undergraduate level. No one (including the instructor) is an expert on all of the areas of theory surveyed in this course. We will discuss the assigned readings together and attempt to learn from the different perspectives and experiences we will all bring to the course. While no prior knowledge of theory is assumed, all students are expected to come to each class prepared to discuss the readings. Some additional background reading of your own choice may assist you in your preparation. Try to develop thoughtful questions and discussion points that may be of interest to others.
Assignments and Grading: Because this course deals with theory, the assignments will be a bit different from the norm for a graduate seminar. Class discussion will be supplemented by required discussion board posts. Each student will complete one presentation/response paper during the term, followed by a “position paper” at the end that will be shorter than a typical graduate research paper.
Texts: Available at Benjamin Books (see notice from the bookstore, below).
Gerald Graff, Professing Literature: An Institutional History. The University of ChicagoPress, 2007. (ISBN 978-0226305592)
Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, trans. Alan Sheridan. Vintage, 1975. (ISBN978-0679752554)
Edouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation, trans. Betsy Wing. University of Michigan Press, 1997. (ISBN 978-0472066292)
Kathryn Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None. University of Minnesota Press,2018. (ISBN 978-1517907532)
Additional readings will be available on Brightspace or online through the library, as noted in the schedule.
ENG 6360 The 18th-Century Body in Motion (Eighteenth Century)
Fall 2021 (3 credits)
Professor: Sara Landreth
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 virtual reality and 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 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. Our course is divided into two units: Unit I (weeks 1-4) focuses on the aesthetics of motion in the long eighteenth century, and pursues key inquiries about how we perceive movement and how motion makes us feel. Unit II (weeks 5-13) examines seven states of motion in eighteenth-century literature: serpentining, transporting, wounding, digressing, travelling, sleepwalking, and marrying.
Texts to Purchase from Benjamin Books:
Elaine Scarry, Dreaming by the Book, Princeton UP, ISBN 9780691070766
William Hogarth, The Analysis of Beauty, Yale UP, ISBN 9780300073355
Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy, Oxford, ISBN 9780109532896
Tobias Smollett, Humphry Clinker, Oxford, ISBN 9780199538980
Charles B. Brown, Edgar Huntly…Sleepwalker, Broadview, ISBN 1554813387
Anonymous, The Woman of Colour, Broadview, ISBN 1551111764
Unit I: Aesthetics of Motion
How does motion move us? Addison, Hutcheson, Kames, Souriau.
How do we move images? Scarry, Cavendish, Baruth & West.
How does motor imagery move the mind? Dennis, Kames, Stern, Starr.
How can we understand excessive motion? Murphy, Diderot, Ngai.
Unit II: States of Motion
Serpentining: Hogarth, Kareem.
Transporting: “Adventures of Mons. Le Post-Chaise”, “Autobiography of a Hackney Chariot”, Bennett.
Wounding: Sterne, Alyrres.
Digressing: Sterne, Tristram Shandy, Drury.
Travelling: Smollett, Punday.
Sleepwalking: Brown, Ogden.
Marrying: The Woman of Colour, Ngai
ENG 6381 Traditional and Digital Approaches to the Pre-Raphaelite Movement” (Victorian)
Fall 2021 (3 credits)
Professor: Mary Arseneau
This seminar will chart the evolution of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, beginning with the moral aesthetic embraced by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (1848-1853), and tracing Pre-Raphaelitism through its diverse later expressions. Our study in this course will be organized around the poetry and prose of three central Pre-Raphaelite figures—Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, and William Morris—and a wide variety of critical and digital approaches will be embraced.
From its inception Pre-Raphaelitism was an inter-art movement. In keeping with this, our seminar will have an interdisciplinary dimension as we examine Pre-Raphaelite verbal/visual relations in Pre-Raphaelite painting, drawing, and book illustration. In addition, in this course we will include a digital humanities approach, and all students will be expected to learn some digital skills and apply them to scholarly research. Beginning with Jerome J. McGann’s Rossetti Archive, Pre-Raphaelite scholars have embraced digital formats, and our course will continue this trend in giving attention to the potential for digital humanities approaches to Pre-Raphaelite studies. We will also have the opportunity to examine musical settings of Pre-Raphaelite poetry as an emerging field in Pre-Raphaelite studies and consider interdisciplinary methodologies to describe how meaning functions in a text/music hybrid. In particular, students will engage in primary research on musical settings of Christina Rossetti’s poetry and will learn how to identify, catalogue, and archive digital materials using JSTOR Forum, an asset management system. For their major course assignment, students will have the choice of submitting traditional written scholarship in essay form or digital humanities projects of various kinds.
We will situate the Pre-Raphaelite movement in a broad historical context, first by exploring Pre-Raphaelite roots in the aesthetic principles of the early Christian church, early Italian painters, and the medieval poet Dante Alighieri; and second by situating Pre-Raphaelite arts within their contemporary Victorian social and cultural milieu. Themes and issues to be considered include Pre-Raphaelite medievalism, the Pre-Raphaelite interest in the “fallen woman” as subject and object, the place of the woman poet in the brotherhood, Tractarian poetics, the Rossettis and Dante, the Rossettis’ role in the Victorian revival of the sonnet sequence, and all three poets’ place in the evolution of the dramatic monologue. In the final stage of the course we will consider the later trajectories of our three main figures: Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s turn toward aestheticism; William Morris’s politicized views on art; and Christina Rossetti’s late-life devotional writing. Although the original impulse of Pre-Raphaelitism was diffused, to the end the movement retained an opposition to convention and to mainstream bourgeois Victorian culture.
Two seminar presentations: 30%
Attendance and participation: 10%
JSTOR Forum catalogue project: 25%
Major term paper or digital humanities project: 35%
Rossetti, Christina. Christina Rossetti: The Complete Poems. Text by R.W. Crump, notes and introduction by Betty S. Flowers. London: Penguin, 2001.
Rossetti, Dante Gabriel. Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Collected Poetry and Prose. Ed. Jerome McGann. New Haven: Yale UP, 2003.
Books available at Benjamin Books.
ENG 7376 Book History, Feminist Bibliography, and Early Modern Women’s Writing (Book History)
Fall 2021 (3 credits)
Professor: Victoria Burke
This course takes as its central question: what would a feminist approach to the history of the book look like? We will begin by reading some of the classic works in the field of book history, including articles by D.F. Mackenzie, Robert Darnton, Roger Chartier, and Pierre Bourdieu. We will then consider some recent scholarship that looks at the field using the tools of feminist theory and methodology, including Cait Coker, “Gendered Spheres: Theorizing Space in the English Printing House” (2018); Kate Ozment, “Rationale for a Feminist Bibliography” (2020); and Sarah Werner, “Working Towards a Feminist Printing History” (2020). We will consider the historical period 1500-1700 in particular (for example by reading some of Valerie Wayne’s edited collection Women’s Labour and the History of the Book in Early Modern England (2020), plus Michelle Levy, “Women and the Book in Britain’s Long Eighteenth Century” (2020)). We will also read a number of primary texts by women writers from this period, such as Margaret Cavendish and Hester Pulter. We will consider the work of Margaret Ezell and other scholars in relation to how book history has or has not made enough space for manuscript studies (a mode of circulation especially important to women writers). We will end the course by considering issues arising from the digital turn, reading articles such as Leah Knight’s “Digital Editions, or Handmade Tales: Remembering What Counts in Early Modern Women’s Manuscripts” (2020). Though much of our primary material will be taken from the early modern period in Britain, students will have the option of doing a final project on an aspect of feminist book studies from any historical period.
Seminar and discussion.
Participation and posting to the electronic discussion forum: 30%
Seminar presentation and write-up: 30%
Final project: 40%
Levy, Michelle, and Tom Mole. The Broadview Reader in Book History. Broadview, 2015.
Selected essays posted on the course webpage and available on the web.
Fall or Winter 2021/2022
Fall or Winter (3 credits)
Professor: Ian Dennis
“In a quite constant way, Orientalism depends for its strategy on this flexible, positional
superiority, which puts the Westerner in a whole series of possible relationships with the Orient without ever losing him the relative upper hand.” - Edward Said, Orientalism (1978)
“Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.” - James Joyce, “Araby” (1914)
This course will read a range of literary works with “oriental” themes or settings and sample the critical debate about them both before and after Edward Said’s influential Orientalism.
Although we will consider a somewhat broader historical range, our main focus will be the Romantic period and its immediate aftermath, in order to have a fresh look at works, mainly in English, produced during a period that was newly valuing difference of every kind. Were literary texts of this era expressing the self-satisfaction and dominance of European Enlightenment civilization, or creating oppositional accounts of cultural authenticity? How does this literature relate to the project of privileging the marginal, or to Romantic Nationalism? To what extent did images of the Orient express an experience of emptiness, even “anguish,” in the face of a model whose troubling difference seemed to suggest fullness? We will read Said, but also test such counter-claims as Raymond Schwab’s, that the period represented a kind of second, or “Oriental Renaissance” for Europe, as well as examine various works that have extended, critiqued or modified the thesis of Orientalism. We will also look at René Girard’s and Eric Gans’s meta-narratives of a cultural history driven by mimetic desire and resentment. Ideally, we will be able to advance some tentative hypotheses about the manner in which cultures represent each other.
Core works, read by the whole class, will be determined closer to the start of the course, chosen from the first list below. These will be supplemented by individual student seminars on others from either of the two lists. Almost all these works can be read online through our library or elsewhere, although students may in some cases prefer modern, scholarly editions where available.
Term essay, 50%; seminar work, 50%.
Anon, ed. Robert Mack, Arabian Nights Entertainments (1706)Or The Arabian Nights Entertainments (1792)
S. Johnson, Rasselas (1759)
C. Reeve, The History of Charoba, Queen of Ægypt (1785)
W. Beckford, Vathek (1786)
S. T. Coleridge, "Kubla Khan" (1797/1816)
S. Owenson, The Missionary (1811)
M. Edgeworth, Murad the Unlucky (1818)
Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage-II, The Giaour, The Bride of Abydos, Don Juan (selections) (1812-1824)
T. Moore, Lallah Rookh (1817)
P. B. Shelley, Alastor, The Revolt of Islam (1815, 1818)
T. De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater (1821)
J. J. Morier, Hajji Baba (1824)
W. Scott, The Talisman (1825)
T. Carlyle, On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History (1841)
A. Kinglake, Eöthen (1844)
B. Disraeli, Tancred (1847)
M. Arnold, "Sohrab and Rustum" (1853)
G. Flaubert, Salammbô (1862)
R. Kipling, Kim (1900)
W. Thesiger, Arabian Sands (1959)
Aesychlus The Persians (472 BCE)
Euripides The Bacchae (405 BCE)
Voltaire Zadig (1747)
L. M. W. Montagu “Turkish Letters” (in Complete Letters vol. 1) (1763)
Edmund Burke On the Impeachment of Warren Hastings (1788)
Charlotte Dacre Zofloya, or The Moor (1806)
Robert Southey The Curse of Kehama or Thalaba the Destroyer (1810)
F. R. Chateaubriand Itinéraire de Paris à Jérusalem ... (1811)
Lord Byron The Corsair, Lara (1814)
Thomas Moore Lalla Rookh (1817)
Thomas De Quincy Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821)
J. J. Morier The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan (1824)
Victor Hugo Les Orientales (1829)
A. de Lamartine Voyage en Orient (1835)
Eliot Warburton The Crescent and the Cross (1844)
W. M. Thackeray Notes of a Journey from Cornhill to Grand Cairo (1845)
Robert Curzon Visit to the Monasteries of the Levant (1849)
Gérard de Nerval Journey to the Orient (1851)
Richard Burton Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to al-Madinah and Meccah (1855-56)
Edward Fitzgerald The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (1859)
Edward Wm Lane An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians (1860)
Gustave Flaubert Temptation of Saint Anthony (1874)
George Eliot Daniel Deronda (1876)
W. S. Blunt Secret History of the English Occupation of Egypt (1907)
C. M. Doughty Travels in Arabia Deserta (1888)
T. E. Lawrence The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1926)
Wilfred Thesiger The Marsh Arabs (1964)
Bernard Lewis Islam and the West (1993)
ENG 6303 Research Methods and Professionalization, Part 2 Winter 2022 (1.5 credits)
Professor: Graduate Director
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 by 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.
ENG 6303 is required for all MA and PhD students.
Biweekly workshops, with a minimal amount of preparatory reading and some short follow-up assignments.
ENG 6350 Shakespeare and War
Winter (3 credits)
Professor: Irene Makaryk
From the earliest comedies through the histories and tragedies to the late romances, Shakespeare’s works are peppered with references to, debates about, and representations of war. In part a reflection of England’s almost continuous military engagements in this period (in Ireland, France, the Low Countries, on the high seas, and in the “New World”), the omnipresence of war in the theatre also mirrored the early modern belief of the seriality and “normalcy” of war. It was considered a “natural” state of human affairs merely punctuated by periods of peace.
Early modern scholar Andrew Hiscock claims that the period 1480 to 1700 -- during which England was engaged in 29 wars -- was the most bellicose age in history, matched only by the twentieth century. At the same time, however, a flood of war pamphlets decried what was perceived as a decay in military culture and an alarming retreat from masculine values principally signaled by an increased interest in “effeminate” activities such as poetry, music, dance, and rituals of courtship.
This course will study the deep engagement and the imaginative energy that war released in Shakespeare through a focus on the construction (design) of the plays. Among the topics of close study will be the relationship between war and gender, genre, national identity, and cultural memory. In addition to examining the work of contemporary pamphleteers, we will look at some classical war theorists (e.g, Machiavelli, von Clausewitz, and Sun Tzu) and will also explore some theories of the sociology and psychology of war, violence, and trauma that might be helpful in illuminating Shakespeare’s plays. We will conclude our course by looking at the way in which Shakespeare’s plays were, in turn, employed during 20th and 21st century wars.
Nota bene: This course assumes some knowledge of Shakespeare’s plays (ideally provided by a previously taken undergraduate Shakespeare course).
Grading: Term work: 75%. Final essay: 25%
Course Reader of theoretical texts available at Reprography, Unicentre;
Early modern war pamphlets available online through our library website;
Any good scholarly edition of Shakespeare’s works (that is, with an introduction and notes) of Henry VI (Parts I, II, III); Richard III; Henry IV (Part I); Henry V; Troilus and Cressida; Coriolanus.
ENG 6382 The Melodramatic Moment, from Holcroft to Haynes
Winter (3 credits)
Professor: Lauren Gillingham
Given its critical fortunes almost from its inception in the early nineteenth century, melodrama appears to be a literary genre and mode that is either marginal to or parasitic on canonical developments in Western literary history. Indeed, critic Marcie Frank asked recently whether the qualifier “melodramatic” has “ever yet been a term of praise?” With playscripts that subordinate dialogue to gesture and sound and eschew investigation of motive and interiority in preference for exterior signs of character and feeling, and novels that reach histrionic highs (or lows) in their representation of familial and social relations, melodrama can be frustrating to work with when our critical instincts still hew towards linguistic complexity and subjective depth. Despite its apparent oversimplicity, though, melodrama has been the object of growing critical interest in recent decades, generating new insights into its role in modernity, its participation in transformations of political and perceptual consciousness, and its relationship to media and genre of all sorts. This course will take its lead from that research, following melodrama’s developments in an Anglo-American context from its earliest incarnations in Romantic theatre and fiction, through mid-nineteenth-century drama and the novel, and ending with the women’s weepies of mid-twentieth-century film and their reconception in our own historical moment. We will investigate melodrama’s distinctive formulations of spectacle and performance, affect and non-linguistic communication, politics and cultural representation, in order to posit a theory of its engagement with modernity and its persistent role in the emergence of new media.
Tentative reading list:
Mary Wollstonecraft, Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman
Thomas Holcroft, A Tale of Mystery
Thomas Morton, The Slave
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Charles Dickens, Bleak House
Ellen Wood, East Lynne
Ellen Wood and Palmer, East Lynne, A Domestic Drama
Douglas Sirk, All That Heaven Allows
Douglas Sirk, Imitation of Life
Todd Haynes, Far From Heaven
Plus a selection of theoretical and critical readings
ENG 7300 Rethinking Modernity in the Anthropocene (Twentieth Century and Contemporary)
Winter (3 credits)
Professor: Anne Raine
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.
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 7321 Work and Labour in Canadian Poetry (Canadian)
Spring (3 credits)
Professor: Robert Stacey
ENG 7310. African-American Literature (American)
Summer (3 credits)
Professor: Thomas Allen
This course will trace the development of a distinctive tradition of African American literature from the colonial period through the present. We will explore historically important genres such as the slave narrative and the protest novel, periods of exceptional creative output such as the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement, and the work of major figures such as James Baldwin and Toni Morrison. Throughout the semester, we will pay attention to the ways in which Black writers have wrestled with social and political concerns such as slavery and its legacy, the construction of racial identity in America, anti-Black violence, and the intersections between race, gender, and sexuality.
Most of the shorter readings will be found in The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. The anthology also includes several full-length longer works, including the plays A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, Dutchman, by Amiri Baraka, Fences, by August Wilson, and Top Dog/Underdog, by Suzan-Lori Parks. By complementing the anthology with a small number of additional books, we will be able to explore the range of genres important in the African American literary tradition, including fiction, non-fiction prose, poetry, and drama.
Each week, we will also read a significant work of scholarship or theory, including texts by Hortense Spillers, Paul Gilroy, bell hooks, Henry Louis Gates, Saidiya Hartman, M. Jacqui Alexander, Fred Moten, Roderick Ferguson, Christina Sharpe, Frank Wilderson, and others. We will study the social history of race in America while also delving into Critical Race Theory, Black Feminist Theory, and Queer of Color Critique.
Assignments and Grading: Participation (20%); response paper and presentation (20%); research paper (60%).
The Norton Anthology of African-American Literature, 3rd edition
Zora Neal Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)
James Baldwin, Another Country (1962)
Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)
N. K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season (2015)
Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity (2016)
Available at Benjamin Books (see notice from the bookstore, below).
Gerald Graff, Professing Literature: An Institutional History. The University of Chicago Press, 2007. (ISBN 978-0226305592)
Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, trans. Alan Sheridan. Vintage, 1975. (ISBN 978-0679752554)
Edouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation, trans. Betsy Wing. University of Michigan Press, 1997. (ISBN 978-0472066292)
Kathryn Yusoff, A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None. University of Minnesota Press, 2018. (ISBN 978-1517907532)
Additional readings will be available on Brightspace or online through the library, as noted in the schedule