Overview of Graduate Courses, 2019-2020
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 2019)
ENG 6303 Graduate Director, “Research Methods and Professional Development II” (offered in Winter 2020)
Academic seminars: Spring/Summer 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020 and Spring/Summer 2020
The following seminars will be offered in Spring/Summer 2019, Fall 2019 and Winter 2020. The exact schedule will be determined later. For more information, contact the Graduate Assistant at firstname.lastname@example.org
ENG 7322 J. Blair, “Activism and CanLit in the Age of Distributed Agency” (Canadian)
ENG 7321 S. Mayne, “A.M. Klein and His Circle, including Leonard Cohen, Irving Layton, and
Miriam Waddington” (Canadian)
ENG 6304 Tom Allen, “Critical Methodologies in Literary Studies”
(Required for PhD students; MA students are welcome to register)
ENG 6360 Sara Landreth, “Losing Control in the 18th Century” (Eighteenth-Century)
ENG 6380 Mary Arseneau, “Traditional and Digital Approaches to the Pre-Raphaelite Movement” (Victorian)
ENG 7320 Seymour Mayne, “Canadian Long Poems: From E. J. Pratt to Contemporary Practitioners“(Canadian)
ENG 7332 James Brooke-Smith, “Artful Criticism: Arts Writing in an Expanded Field”
ENG 7323 Gerald Lynch, “Humour and Satire in Canadian Fiction” (Canadian)
ENG 6350 Irene Makaryk, “Shakespeare and War” (Shakespeare)
ENG 7310 Anne Raine, “Ecopoetics and the End of Nature” (American)
ENG 6355 Victoria Burke, “Experimental Genres and Women Writers of the Seventeenth Century”
ENG 7320 Cynthia Sugars, “English-Canadian Literary Criticism: From the Pre-Confederation Era to the Present”
ENG 6302 Research Methods and Professionalization, Part 1
Fall 2019 (1.5 credits)
Professor Graduate Director, Andrew Taylor
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.
ENG 6302 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 2020 (1.5 credits)
Professor: Graduate Director, Andrew Taylor
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 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.
Method: Biweekly workshops, with a minimal amount of preparatory reading and some short follow-up assignments.
ENG 7322 Activism and CanLit in the Age of Distributed Agency
Spring 2019 (3 credits)
Professor: Jennifer Blair
Introduction: This course explores, queries, critiques and celebrates the notion of “activism” in recent political and cultural life. What does it mean to act, to commit an act, to participate in an action, and to be an activist? How do we best understand the nature, source, and effects of our acting? How do various types of actions—individual, group, human, inhuman—change the world? How do events occur and create social, political, cultural, and/or environmental change (often changes that were not at all intended by those organizing and participating in those events)? This course examines literary and cinematic works that engage with the question of what action is, how we conceive of the activist figure, and the role of human action in the current critical era in which we understand agency to be something not entirely reducible to an individual person’s conscious intent, but rather as something distributed across a number of different bodies that are located within a network of environments. Our discussions and analyses will draw upon new critical theorizations that consider the unique natures, causal capacities, and social and political impacts of agency. We will focus on particular recent socio-political events and material realities, including: anti-globalization protests, the Quebec student uprising, Idle No More, Occupy Wall Street, and Petrocultures.
Grading: Seminar Proposal: 10%; Seminar: 35%; Essay: 40%; Participation: 15%
Books: (available at Benjamin Books on Osgoode St.)
Dionne Brand, What We All Long For (Vintage Canada)
Adam Dickinson, The Polymers (Anansi)
The Kino-nda-niimi Collective, editors, The Winter We Danced (ARP Books)
Larissa Lai, The Tiger Flu (Arsenal Pulp)
Leanne Simpson, This Accident of Being Lost (Astoria)
Annabel Soutar, Seeds (Talonbooks)
Juliana Spahr, The Winter the Wolf Came (Commune)
Fred Wah and Rita Wong, Beholden: A Poem as Long as the River (Talonbooks)
Sophie Yanow, War of Streets and Houses (Uncivilized Books)
Film: Nettie Wild, director, A Place Called Chiapas (Canada Wild Productions)
(to be screened in class)
Required Critical/Theoretical Readings (on Brightspace):
*Note: these are all samples taken from texts and anthologies and as such are segments of wholes. Because the reading in this course is relatively light, students are expected to fill out their reading where needed.
Aguila-Way, Tania. “Seed Activism, Global Environmental Justice, and Avant-Garde
Aesthetics in Annabel Soutar’s Seeds.” Studies in Canadian Literature vol. 43, no. 1,
Bennett, Jane. “The Agency of Assemblages.” Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things,
Duke UP, 2010, 20-38.
Connolly, William E. “Postlude: Role Experimentation and Democratic Activism.” The
Fragility of Things: Self-Organizing Processes, Neoliberal Fantasies, and Democratic Activism. Duke UP, 2013. 179-195.
Coole, Diana and Samantha Frost. “Introducing the New Materialisms.” New Materialisms:
Ontology, Agency, and Politics. Duke UP, 2010. 1-43.
Elyachar, Julia. “Upending Infrastructure in Times of Revolt.” Distributed Agency, edited by
N.J. Enfield and Paul Kockelman, Oxford UP, 2017. 49-55.
Giroux, Henry A. “The Quebec Student Protest Movement in the Age of Neoliberal
Terror.” Social Identities, vol. 19, no. 5, 2013, pp. 515-535.
Latour, Bruno. “‘What’s the story?’: Organizing as a Mode of Existence.” Agency without
Actors? New Approaches to Collective Action, edited by Jan-Hendrik Passoth, Birgit Peuker, Michael Schillmeier, Routledge, 2012, pp. 163-177.
Passoth, Jan-Hendrik, Birgit Peuker, Michael Schillmeier, Introduction to Agency without
Actors? New Approaches to Collective Action, Routledge, 2012, pp. 1-13.
Wilson, Sheena, Imre Szeman, and Adam Carlson. “On Petrocultures: Or, Why We Need to
Understand Oil to Understand Everything Else.” Petrocultures: Oil, Politics, Culture. 3-19.
ENG 7321 A.M. Klein and His Circle, including Leonard Cohen, Irving Layton, and Miriam Waddington
Summer 2019 (3 credits)
Professor: Seymour Mayne
Introduction: From the 1920s to the 1960s Montreal was the thriving literary center for poets of various cultural backgrounds. In recent years critics and literary historians of Jewish Canadian poetry have begun to examine the cross-cultural connections of this period, and have singled out A.M. Klein as the major figure in these active decades.
In this course we will focus on Klein’s writings, and we will also study the poetry of poets whose work is linked to his, in particular, Leonard Cohen, Irving Layton, Miriam Waddington, and others. In order to appreciate more fully the cultural contexts of Klein’s oeuvre, we will also read Yiddish Canadian poetry in translation. In addition, attention will be paid to Québecois poetry and poetics of the period. The course will also include field visits to Library and Archives Canada and choice venues in Montreal to enhance the possibilities for fruitful research.
Given recent interest in cross-cultural approaches, we will consider how Klein has influenced and shaped the development of Canadian poetry, and how he and his associates in Montreal prepared the ground for poets of other communities who have come to the fore in the past forty-five years.
Grading: Seminar presentations and short paper, class participation and attendance 50%; term paper 50%
Texts: The following texts are either in print and/or on reserve at Morisset. Many are also available online from book dealers specialising in Canadiana. Students need not purchase all of them and should consult the instructor before acquiring texts.
Cohen, Leonard, Stranger Music: Selected Poems and Songs (McClelland & Stewart)
____________, The Lyrics of Leonard Cohen (Omnibus Press)
Klein, A.M., The Second Scroll (McClelland and Stewart, New Canadian Library; University of Toronto Press)
___________, Selected Poems, Z. Pollock, S. Mayne, and U. Caplan, eds. (University of Toronto Press) Layton,
Irving, A Wild Peculiar Joy: The Selected Poems (McClelland & Stewart)
_____________, Engagements: The Prose of Irving Layton, S. Mayne, ed. (McClelland and Stewart)
Waddington, Miriam, The Collected Poems, R. Panofsky, ed. (University of Ottawa Press)
_____________, Apartment Seven: Essays Selected and New (Oxford University Press)
Atwood, Margaret, ed., The New Oxford Book of Canadian Verse (Oxford University Press)
Mayne, Seymour and B. Glen Rotchin, eds., A Rich Garland: Poems for A.M. Klein (Véhicule Press)
Telushkin, Joseph, Jewish Literacy (HarperCollins)
ENG 6304 Critical Methodologies in Literary Studies
Fall 2019 (1.5 credits)
Professor: Tom Allen
Introduction: In Professing Literature, Gerald Graff offers the following claim about literary theory: “As I use the term, there is a sense in which all teachers of literature are ‘theorists’ and have a stake in theoretical disputes. For that matter, there is a sense in which a literature department (and curriculum) is itself a theory, though it has been largely an incoherent theory, and this incoherence strengthens the impression that the department has no theory” (pp 2-3). This course builds upon Graff’s contention that theory is relevant to everyone who studies literature. 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.
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. By making use of the anthology edited by Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, we will attempt to gain an overview of different theoretical positions and how they relate to one another. The readings in the anthology will be supplemented by a few additional works that are available online at no cost. The students and the instructor will bring different forms of knowledge and expertise to the course readings. As a seminar, we will share knowledge and work through these often difficult, always rewarding texts.
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.
For most weeks, we will read a literary work along with the theory in order to have a test to discuss in relation to the theoretical ideas.
Grading: Class participation (20%), Presentation (30%), Short paper (20%), Term paper or final exam (30%)
Available at Benjamin Books, 122 Osgoode Street.
Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, eds., Literary Theory: An Anthology, 2nd edition
(Blackwell; ISBN 978-1-4051‐0696‐2)
Gerald Graff, Professing Literature: An Institutional History, 20th Anniversary Edition
(Chicago; ISBN 978‐0-226-30559‐2)
Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern, trans. Catherine Porter
(Harvard; ISBN 9780674948396)
Some additional readings will be available on Brightspace or online through the library.
N.B.: Benjamin Books has ordered used copies of the Rivkin and Ryan anthology. I chose to use the second edition, rather than the new third edition, so that the cost would be lower for you. Please use the second edition and not the first or third.
If you have an older copy of the Graff book, you may use that. The only difference between the editions is the new preface for the 20th Anniversary Edition. I think the preface is interesting, but it’s not worth buying a new book for if you already have the first edition.
ENG 6360 Losing Control in the 18th Century
Fall 2019 (3 credits)
Professor: Sarah Landreth
Introduction: This course explores eighteenth-century theories about self-control in a number of prose genres, including the epistolary novel, pornography, travel writing, diaries, medical treatises, the it-narrative, and abolition literature. In his Essay on Human Understanding (1690), John Locke notes that at times, self-control is simply impossible, as when “any extreme disturbance…possesses our whole mind, as when…love, anger, or any other violent passion, running away with us, allows us not the liberty of thought, and we are not masters enough of our own minds to consider thoroughly and examine fairly.” In certain cases, the passions can overthrow man’s volition to such an extent that he should not be held accountable. A formulation such as Locke’s was dangerous because it opened the door to an amorality that was not only excusable but even inevitable. If a person were merely an automaton at the mercy of her passions, then could she be held responsible for actions that were immoral and yet unintentional? Nearly sixty years after Locke’s Essay, Samuel Johnson’s Rambler 4 warned that new kinds of verisimilar fiction might turn a young reader into an automaton who would emulate unsavoury characters “almost without the intervention of the will.” Fears about novels were intimately connected to philosophical and aesthetic debates about the unknown recesses of the mind and the “secret springs” of our feelings and passions. Our course will explore a number of these lines of inquiry: How much voluntary control does one have over one’s feelings? Were certain passions evidence of the direct influence of God (or the Devil)? Or were emotions merely the automatic mechanical operations of “human nature,” a system set in motion by an absent God and animated by a self-moving soul? What caused involuntary actions, especially in response to reading? How do books make us get “carried away”?
Seminar Presentation: 25%
Article Critique: 15%
Final Essay: 30%
Texts: available at Benjamin Books, 122 Osgoode Street.
Eliza Haywood, Fantomina and Other Works, Broadview, ISBN 1551115247
John Cleland, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, Oxford, ISBN 0199540233
Samuel Richardson, Clarissa, Broadview abridged, ISBN 9781551114750
James Boswell, London Journal 1762-1763 Yale, ISBN 0300057350
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
ENG 6380 Traditional and Digital approaches to the Pre-Raphaelite Movement
Fall 2019 (3 credits)
Introduction: The Pre‑Raphaelite Brotherhood’s (P.R.B.) original impulse was to reform British painting by reintroducing the sincerity, high purpose, and attention to nature that had been lost since the time of Raphael. This course charts the evolution of the Pre‑Raphaelite Movement in art and poetry, beginning with the moral aesthetic embraced by the Pre‑Raphaelite Brotherhood (1848‑1853), and tracing Pre‑Raphaelitism through to its diverse later expressions. Our study will focus on the poetry and prose of three central Pre‑Raphaelite figures—Dante Gabriel Rossetti (DGR), Christina Rossetti (CR), and William Morris (WM)—and will also take into account Pre‑Raphaelite painting as well as the various nineteenth‑century statements on Pre‑Raphaelite aesthetics. From its inception Pre-Raphaelitism was an inter-art movement, and 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. We will also have the opportunity to examine musical settings of Pre-Raphaelite poetry as an emerging field in Pre-Raphaelite studies. In the final stage of the course, we will consider the later trajectories of our three main figures: Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s turn toward the Aesthetic Movement of the 1880s and 1890s; William Morris’s leadership and involvement in socialism and the Arts and Crafts Movement, 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.
In addition, in this course we will be including a digital humanities approach. 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. All students will complete a primary research and digital cataloguing assignment using JSTOR Forum. For their major course assignment, students will have the choice of submitting traditional written scholarship in essay form or a digital humanities project. Students in this course will have the opportunity to collaborate on the Christina Rossetti in Music project; furthermore, successfully completed final projects in Omeka will be considered for publication on the Christina Rossetti in Music website.
One context seminar presentation, with handout 10%
One literature seminar presentation, with handout 20%
JSTOR Forum cataloguing assignment,
Part 1: due Sept. 25 5%
Part 2: due Oct. 30 20%
Participation and attendance 10%
Final Essay (3000 words) or Digital Humanities project, due Dec. 16 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 and London: Yale UP, 2003.
Texts are available at Benjamin Books.
ENG 7320 Canadian Long Poems: From E.J. Pratt to Contemporary Practitioners
Fall 2019 (3 credits)
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.
Grading: Seminar presentations and short paper, class participation and attendance 50%; term paper 50%.
Texts: The following texts are either in print and/or on reserve at Morrisset. 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. 2/2
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.
Dudek, Louis and Michael Gnarowski. Eds. The Making of Modern Poetry In Canada: Essential Articles on Contemporary
Canadian Poetry in English. Ryerson Press, 1967.
Mandel, Eli. Ed. Contexts of Canadian Criticism. University of Chicago Press, 1971.
Rosenthal, M. L. and Sally M. Gall. The Modern Poetic Sequence: The Genius of Modern Poetry. Oxford, 1986.
ENG 7332 Artful Criticism: Arts Writing in an Expanded Field
Fall 2019 (3 credits)
Professor: James Brooke-Smith
Introduction: This course will explore the varieties of critical writing about literature, culture, and the arts that are flourishing today. The one genre of critical writing that we will not study is the one most familiar to aspiring scholars: the peer-reviewed article or book. Our aim, instead, will be to learn how writers both inside and outside the academy use techniques drawn from a range of different genres and disciplines to write artfully about the arts. We will investigate how to write about the things we love – books, films, artworks, authors, historical periods, etc. – without burying them under mountains of footnotes and losing sight of them amidst thickets of academic prose. We will study how to use humour, irony, melancholy, nostalgia, doubt, and wonder within critical writing. And we will learn how to bring criticism to life by borrowing features from biography, memoir, travelogue, history, fiction, collage, nature writing, and participant observation.
For their final projects, students may submit either a critical essay or a piece of artful criticism in the genre and medium of their choice (essay, video, podcast, website, etc.)
Seminar Presentation: 35%
Show and Tell Presentation: 15%
Final project: 50%
David Shields, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto
Christian Lorentzen, “Laugh or Die”
David Thomson on streaming and viewing
Elif Batuman, The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who love Them
Angela Carter, “Bath, Heritage City”
Agnes Varda, Murs/Mur
Brian Dillon, Essayism: On Form, Feeling, and Non-Fiction
Patricio Guzman, Pearl Button
Geoff Dyer, Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D.H. Lawrence
Kristen Johnson, Cameraperson
John Berger, Ways of Seeing
James Bridle, New Ways of Seeing
Jeremy Deller, Everybody in the Place
Mark Fisher, K-Punk: The Collected and Unpublished Works of Mark Fisher
John Akomfrah, The Stuart Hall Project
David Foster Wallace, “Authority and American Usage”
Frederick Wiseman, Ex Libris
Orson Welles, F is For Fake
Mark Cousins, The Eyes of Orson Welles
“Every Frame a Painting” Youtube Channel: try to watch everything, but especially “How Does and Editor Think and Feel?” and “F For Fake: How to Structure a Video Essay”
Tony Zhou, “Post-Mortem: Every Frame a Painting”
Sukhdev Sandhu, Nighthaunts
from Craig Taylor, from Londoners
Helen MacDonald, H is for Hawk
Grant Gee, Patience: After Sebald
ENG 6310 Fake News: Rumour, Fame, and the Medieval Poet
Winter 2020 (3 credits)
Professor: Andrew Taylor
Introduction: The House of Fame, one of Chaucer’s earliest English poems, depicts a chaotic world of misinformation and rumour-mongering, in which worldly fame bears no relation to actual merit. A reflection on the uncertainties of literary reputation, the poem also provides plausible models for the interaction of oral and textual culture and the social circulation of poetry.
In the late Middle Ages, paranoid rumours swept the country: dead kings returned to reclaim their throne, living kings were seduced by love philters or proved to be illegitimate, women took priests as lovers, murdered their husbands, and pushed the bodies down wells. Anxieties about shifts in gender relations and shifts in political power magnified each other. Gossip was an uncontrollable political force. A burgeoning cash economy eroded traditional social norms, as did the increased use of written documents in legal transactions, as troth, a pledge between two people, was displaced by a more abstract and remote truth. Chroniclers, minstrels, and heralds sold their services, singing the praise of their patrons and denigrating their opponents. Courtiers and court poets alike had to navigate murderous factional politics without reliable information. But poetry could also be a stabilizing force, forming national foundation stories known as “matters” (such as the matter of Rome, Troy, or Britain). Poetic form could hold back the chaos of rumour while this chaos could also generate new literary forms.
Examining works by Chaucer, Langland, the chronicler Froissart, the poet and moral critic Christine de Pisan, and a number of heralds and professional memorialists, we will explore late medieval efforts to construct national and dynastic narratives and public identities in world of ubiquitous fake news.
Grading: Seminar presentation and report, and class participation 40%; major paper 60%
The presentation should be the standard conference length (18 to 19 minutes), either read as a paper or delivered from notes. The report should be a written version of no more than 12 pages (excluding notes) and incorporating whatever changes seem desirable.
The final essay may incorporate material from the initial report and should be no more than 20 pages.
Texts: Geoffrey Chaucer, selections from The House of Fame, Troilus and Criseyde, and The Canterbury Tales and from works by Langland, Froissart, Christine de Pisan, and others will be available in the course-pack.
ENG 6350 Shakespeare and War
Winter 2020 (3 credits)
Professor: Irene Makaryk
Introduction: 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, nation and national identity, and history. 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 theories of the sociology and psychology of war, violence, and trauma that might be helpful in illuminating Shakespeare’s plays.
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; Much Ado about Nothing, Othello, Troilus and Cressida; Coriolanus.
A list of recommended secondary sources will be made available On Reserve at the Morisset Library.
ENG 7310 Ecopoetics and the End of Nature
Winter 2020 (3 credits)
Introduction: This seminar will investigate the vibrant field of contemporary ecopoetry and ecopoetics, focusing on the work of American poets from the 1950s to the present. Our reading list will include both activist ecopoetry in the popular Romantic tradition and experimental work influenced by avant-garde modernist poetics and/or by Marxist and poststructuralist critiques of the lyric self and the concept of nature. As we explore various forms of ecopoetry that have emerged since the 1950s, our goal will be not simply to locate and celebrate poems that express ecological values, but also to investigate what conceptions of nature, ecology, or environment are operating in each text (and in our own critical discourse); to consider what social-material discourses inform those conceptions; and to consider how different poetic strategies reflect, complicate, unsettle, or enrich our understanding of the more-than-human world and the place of humans within it.
We will historicize both the poetry and the criticism by situating them in relation to relevant events such as the development of ecology, both as a science and as a popular political movement; the emergence of a “culture of spontaneity” in the 1950s and 60s; the poststructuralist turn in literary and cultural studies; the emergence of the environmental justice movement in the 1980s, and of new materialist theory in the 1990s and 2000s; the global climate crisis and the shift from Romantic poetics of nature to postnatural poetics of the Anthropocene.
Grading: Seminar work, 50%; seminar paper, 50%. Seminar work will include two presentations, one on a primary text and one on a critical article.
Mary Oliver, House of Light (Beacon, 1990)
Charles Olson, Selected Poems (U of California P, 1993)
Gary Snyder, Turtle Island (New Directions, 1974)
Susan Howe, Singularities (Wesleyan UP, 1990)
A. R. Ammons, Garbage (Norton, 1993)
Derek Walcott, Omeros (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1990)
Linda Hogan, The Book of Medicines (Coffee House Press, 1993)
Patricia Smith, Blood Dazzler (Coffee House Press, 2008)
Evelyn Reilly, Styrofoam (Roof Books, 2011)
Juliana Spahr, That Winter the Wolf Came (2015)
There will also be a course packet containing theoretical and historical materials on ecology, ecocriticism, and ecopoetry/ecopoetics, as well as critical readings of particular poems.
ENG 7323Humour and Satire in Canadian Fiction
Winter 2020 (3 credits)
Professor: Gerald Lynch
Introduction: Canadian writers have been achieving distinction as humorists and satirists since the early nineteenth century. Influenced by and influencing American and British humour and satire, literary humour in Canada developed something of a middle-way position between the characteristic overstatement of the American tall tale and the traditional understatement of the British. Through an examination of some of the high points of humour and satire in English-Canadian prose fiction, we will test this hypothesis of a middle-way humour and the assertion of distinctiveness. Mainly, though, in a chronological survey from Haliburton to King, we will be seeking answers to two questions: What have we Canadians been laughing at? and Why are we laughing?
Grading: class work 50%, essay 50%
Texts: Atwood, M., Lady Oracle (Bantam)
De Mille, J., A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder (McGill-Queen’s UP)
Haliburton, T.C., The Clockmaker (Tecumseh)
Hiebert, P.G., Sarah Binks (M&S)
King, T., Medicine River (Penguin)
Leacock, S., Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (Tecumseh)
__. Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich (Tecumseh)
Montgomery, L.M., Anne of Green Gables
Munro, Lives of Girls and Women
Richler, M., The Incomparable Atuk (M&S)
ENG XXXX Experimental Genres and Women Writers of the Seventeenth Century
Spring/Summer 2020 (3 credits)
Introduction: The main focus of this course will be on the work of three seventeenth-century authors: Lucy Hutchinson, Margaret Cavendish, and Hester Pulter, all of whom wrote during the middle decades of the century. Each produced an astonishing range of work in poetry and prose, and each is now receiving substantial scholarly attention. This course will place them in context with other writers of the period, and interrogate to what extent each writer was experimenting with genre, subject matter, form, and aspects of material culture.
Another focus of the course will be on scholarly editing. We will examine two new websites (The Pulter Project at Northwestern University and the edition of Margaret Cavendish’s Poems and Fancies at the University of Toronto) and the new Oxford University Press multi-volume edition of Lucy Hutchinson’s works. Engaging with theoretical work in the field, we will consider the limits and the possibilities of digital editing, and current views of the best practices in producing editions of these works for today’s readers.
Cavendish, Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle. Poems and Fancies with The Animal Parliament. Edited by Brandie R. Siegfried, The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: Toronto Series volume 64, Toronto: ACMRS, 2018.
Hutchinson, Lucy. Order and Disorder. Edited by David Norbrook, Blackwell, 2001.
Pulter, Hester. Poems, Emblems, and The Unfortunate Florinda. Edited by Alice Eardley, The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe: Toronto Series volume 32, Toronto: ACMRS, 2014.
Additional readings posted on the course webpage and available on the web.
ENG XXXX English-Canadian Literary Criticism: From the Pre-Confederation Era to the Present
Spring/Summer 2020 (3 credits)
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, 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, queer, and diasporic critics, and, in the 21st century, has shifted towards an emphasis on transnational and global discussions of Canadian writing. Our main text for the class will be a course reader containing the weekly critical readings.
Grading: Two seminar presentations (20%); One short response paper (10%); In-class essay (25%); Term paper (35%); Participation and Attendance (10%)
Text: Readings that are not readily available online will be included in a course pack. Other readings (indicated on the syllabus) are available as e-books in the library or are accessible online through journal archives or JSTOR. Students should bring copies of all readings to class so that the readings are readily available for class discussion and mark-up.