courses at the 3000 or 4000 level require successful completion of at least one unit of literature at the 1000 level. at least one unit at the 2000 level is recommended.
an english department seminar. photo: krista hill
engl/writ 3330 myths and theories about writing / half unit
tuesday and thursday 10:30 – 11:45
instructor: dr. nathaniel street
is writing just second-rate speaking? what does it mean to be an author? does writing communicate and, if so, what? and what is writing, anyway? beginning with plato’s phaedrus, wherein socrates warns that writing will degrade “living” thought, this class tackles several cornerstone assumptions — or are they myths? — about writing.
this class is structured as an extended meditation on the question of writing. at all points, we could reduce the class and its texts to a handful of simple questions: what is writing? how does it work? how does it affect us? our course texts will engage these questions from a variety of angles that take into account the mythos of writing. we will treat myth in several ways: as false beliefs about writing that must be re-considered, as legendary points of origin that need to be sifted through, and as a kind of power that must be articulated. we’ll do this by discussing key philosophical and literary texts in class, but you’ll do much of your thinking-work by writing through the texts and the problems and theories they engage thus, part of the class’ goal is to both theorize and perform the mythological and thinking power of writing.
engl 3346: contemporary literature / half unit
monday and wednesday 12:00 – 1:15
instructor: dr. graham fraser
this course examines some of the concerns of contemporary postmodern fiction. we will pay particular attention to postmodern conceptions of authorship, history, memory, autobiography, and the role of material objects in culture and fiction. we will also examine the ways in which these texts challenge the traditional boundaries between fiction and other textual forms (poetry, the image, non-fiction genres) and their efforts to bend or re-create language and fictional form into new shapes. some of these works are popular in orientation and others are more obscure – all, however, are important and compelling works of literature which offer a great deal to think about and enjoy.
tentative text list:
baker, the mezzanine; beckett, nohow on; brossard, mauve desert; carey, alva and irva; carson, the autobiography of red; hoban, riddley walker; johnson, the unfortunates; marcus, the age of wire and string; sebald, rings of saturn; shapton, important artifacts…
engl 3352: nineteenth-century american literature/ full unit
fall – winter terms
monday and wednesday 10:30 – 11:45. synchronous online.
instructor: dr. stephen cloutier
focusing on american literature of the long nineteenth century (c. 1776 to 1900), this course will examine constructions of a national identity from the declaration of independence and american revolution to the civil war and emancipation proclamation, ending with the turn of the century. we will address topics such as indigeneity, race, gender, subjugation, slavery, resistance, american romanticism and transcendentalism, and transatlantic relations. authors may include alice callahan, kate chopin, james fenimore cooper, emily dickinson, frederick douglass, ralph waldo emerson, margaret fuller, charlotte perkins gilman, nathaniel hawthorne, herman melville, edgar allan poe, harriet beecher stowe, henry david thoreau, and phyllis wheatley.
engl 3356: seventeenth-century literature / half unit
monday and wednesday 3:00 – 4:15
instructor: dr. reina green
in this course, we will examine english poetry and prose written from the end of elizabeth i’s reign in 1603 through the english civil wars and interregnum to the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. this period includes some of england’s most turbulent political history and there were equally seismic shifts in the literature of the time. we will explore the poetry of well-known authors such as ben jonson, john donne, george herbert, and john milton, along with the prose of francis bacon, thomas hobbes, and robert burton. we will also explore the work of several women writers, including lady mary wroth, margaret cavendish, and katherine philips. texts will be considered for the way they engage with major issues of the period, including the relationship between individual and society, religion and politics, and nature and art.
engl / writ 3377: old english: translation theory and practice/ half unit
tuesday and thursday 12:00 – 1:15. synchronous online.
instructor: dr. anna smol
translation is both an academic subject of study and a creative art. learning to translate old english will give you the opportunity to experience first-hand the processes and challenges of translation, raising your awareness of translators’ choices no matter what language you are reading. in this course, you will start with the basics of grammar while reading widely in modern translations of old english poetry to gain an understanding of this early medieval literature. you will then learn to translate for meaning before crafting a polished translation of a short passage on your own. our readings will cover theories of translation and introduce you to a growing body of contemporary texts that have been termed the “new old english” poetry.
old english is a language that was spoken and then written in britain between approximately the fifth and eleventh centuries. we study the language in order to read and translate it but not to speak it as you would a modern language. learning to read old english will acquaint you with a fascinating literature, challenge your historical preconceptions, and allow you to engage creatively with the texts in workshopping your own translations – and, of course, in the process improving your understanding of how language works, essential knowledge if you hope to become a teacher, writer, editor, or effective communicator in any role.
this course is a pre-requisite for engl 3378 beowulf: then and now. students who have taken engl 3361 cannot take this course for credit.
for more information, see //annasmol.net/teaching/englwrit3377
engl 3378: old english: beowulf, Then & Now / half unit
tuesday and thursday 12:00 – 1:15
instructor: dr. anna smol
pre-requisite: engl/writ 3377. please note: if you are enrolled in engl/writ 3377 you can register for engl 3378 before completing the fall-term 3377 course.
beowulf is an old english heroic and elegiac poem written down at some point in the early medieval period, though its subject matter looks back in history to legends of the european ancestors of the early english people. in this course, we will first examine beowulf in the light of old english heroic poetry and in its manuscript context, where it appears with other stories of monsters. you will continue practicing the translation skills gained in engl/writ 3377 as we examine significant passages of the poem and discuss critical debates about such topics as heroism and masculinity, monstrosity, the representation of women, and historical and legendary elements of the poem. we will also have an opportunity to examine the choices made by various translators of the poem in a further application of the translation theories covered in engl/writ 3377.
our study will also extend beyond beowulf in the old english period to examine the function of the poem in later eras, from nationalistic exhortations in the nineteenth century to study the poem as a “sacred book of our origins,” as one victorian writer put it, to the many adaptations in the twenty-first century in films, graphic novels, children’s books, and fiction. as part of the course assignments, you will have options for creative adaptation or translation projects.
students who have taken engl 3361 cannot take this course for credit. for more information, see //annasmol.net/teaching/engl3378
engl 4415: studies in children’s literature:
always coming home: the quest for belonging in children’s literature by and about the african diaspora / half unit
monday and wednesday 3:00 – 4:15. synchronous online.
instructor: dr. rhoda zuk
the concept of “home,” of belonging, is a central trope in children’s literature that, in picture books, novels, and folklore authored by writers of the african diaspora, is complicated by the displacement, material insecurity, and physical and symbolic violence attendant on systemic anti-black racism. this course will be grounded in readings selected from recent, influential studies of racialized childhood and children’s literature, including robin bernstein’s racial innocence: performing american childhood from slavery to civil rights, philip nel’s is the cat in the hat black?: exploring dr. seuss’s racial imagination, and rudine sims’s free within ourselves: the development of african american children’s literature. having supplemented that preparation with a consideration of the cultural theorists bell hooks and ta-nehisi coates, we will move on to an analysis of folklore, poems, picture books, stories, and novels for children and young adults created by iconic as well as emergent black canadian, american, and west indian writers and illustrators.
engl 4427: studies in victorian culture: victorian gothic
tuesday and thursday 3:00-4:15. synchronous online.
instructor: dr. karen macfarlane
the victorians were weird and nowhere is that more obvious than in the popular gothic literature of the period. through their stories of ghosts, strange encounters, monsters, and haunted technology victorian authors worked through their anxieties about the unprecedented social change they were experiencing. in this course, we will explore the work of arthur conan doyle, bram stoker, robert louis stevenson, edgar allan poe and others, as well as elements of popular culture that embraced the gothic mode such as spirit photography, seances, and mourning rituals to think about the ways in which popular literature and culture can be seen to express the deepest worries and secrets of a society. and, as our readings of these cultural texts will show, we will see the extent to which we are, without a doubt, the heirs of victorian weirdness.
watch the course trailer: also available here: //msvuenglish.wordpress.com/2020/07/10/coming-soon-victorian-gothic/