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ENGL 201 Course Descriptions (Fall 2017)

ENGLISH 201:  APPROACHES TO LITERATURE


ENGL 201 Lecture 01: "Brevity: A Short History of Short Fiction"
Instructor: Will Best
Schedule: M/W/F 1:00

Description:

This course introduces students to the literary styles, tropes, and techniques from an array of time periods and cultures, but focuses particularly on the development of a singular, arguably under-studied genre: short story. Beginning with early precursors in folktales and amatory fiction, the course will track how the form develops into the “birth” of the modern short story in the 19th century and what changes (or doesn’t) as it enters the Modernist and Postmodernist eras. Particular interest will be paid to the stylistic qualities of specific eras and locales, as well as exploring how the short story as a genre differs from the novel: how does the length restriction on a piece of fiction affect not only the length of the narrative, but also the style? Are there distinguishing stylistic differences between short fiction of different lengths – does the novella have a unique style in contrast to both the novel and the short story? And how might materiality and the publishing industry – based largely on the stand-alone codex, but arguably changing in the digital era – correlate with the lengths of written works? 


ENGL 201 Lecture 02: "Where is Here?: Place(less)ness at the Margins of the Canadian Canon
Instructor:  Jordan Bolay
Schedule: M/W/F 9:00

Description:

Northrop Frye famously asserts that the question of Canadian identity is “less … ‘Who am I?’ than … ‘Where is here?’” (The Bush Garden 220). In this class, we will examine books that play with, complicate, and challenge notions of place while simultaneously occupying a space at the outskirts of the Canadian canon. We will investigate the relationship between place(less)ness and Canadian literary identity through a variety of poems, novels, and graphic narratives that occupy marginal spaces within the tradition of English literature. Finally, we will discuss the place of these works in relation to the centre of institutional academia and the canon in Canada. Why are these works in the borderlands of what we consider “Canadian Literature” and how tightly does place tie into this notion of national identity? 


ENGL 201 Lecture 03: "Cyberpunks and the Networked Self"
Instructor: Tom Sewel
Schedule: M/W/F 10:00

Description:

This course will explore a small selection of cyberpunk texts, focusing on the unanticipated political implications of a genre that often figures itself, perhaps too generously, as inherently radical. The course will look at how these books deal with representations of artificial intelligence, constructions of heroism, the role of nostalgia, questions of authenticity, the potential for liberation, and the function of language itself as it prompts students to question what it might mean to be human in a networked world. 

The course’s primary aim is to cultivate strong critical writing skills, with particular attention given to economy and clarity of written communication. To this end, students will read several key genre works and formulate original critical arguments about them in essay form. Students will also be asked to engage with brief excerpts from relevant theoretical texts and provide short critical summaries of the arguments they propose. 

Written assignments early in the term will be slightly longer than typical for the time of year but the required length of written assignments will become progressively shorter as the term continues, encouraging students to develop a parsimonious writing style that centers the critical argument. 


ENGL 201 Lecture 04: "Writing Our Selves of Gender in Literature"
Instructor:  Peter Forestell
Schedule: M/W/F 11:00

Description:

In this course, we will read, discuss, and write about texts that explore the intersectionof gender and identity. What possibilities—and what limitations—do these authors imagine for themselves or their characters by writing about this often fraught relationship? Can marginalized peoples create new, better worlds for themselves by asserting their identities and resisting gender norms? These questions will
take us to the red muck of Prince Edward Island, to the moors of Northern England, across to the gutters of Paris, back to island of Hawaii, and beyond. Through engagement with many forms of literature—novels, short stories, poetry, and memoir—students will explore these questions and more, all while learning and applying techniques of close reading and critical writing.


ENGL 201 Lecture 05: "Stories, Various"  
Instructor: Dawn Bryan
Schedule: M/W/F 12:00

Description:

Variation on a theme is one of the tried and true methods of composition across the arts, and in Stories, Various we will exercise our curiosity
about the effect of variation on narrative. For example, how does a city transform when shaped by different writers? Or , how does a narrative
change over two hundred years of reinvention? Which story elements alter and which stay the same when radically different artists tell the same story? Finally, what happens when contemporary authors write new variations on traditional tales? By considering the role of variation on the form and content of fiction, Stories, Various will expand students’ strategies for reading and writing about literature.


ENGL 201 Lecture 06: "Literary Journeys"

Instructor: Kirsten Inglis
Schedule: T/R 11:00

Description:

This class will approach a series of literary texts – some canonical, some less familiar – that have the journey as a structuring principle. We will study the journey as a central literary trope from Greek poetry through the twenty-first century novel. We will consider the significance of themes like home and exile, self and other, wandering, pilgrimage, utopia/dystopia, and coming of age. This class will introduce students to a wide range of texts, both in terms of historical breadth and literary genre. Journeys in the texts studied will be of both the external (geographical) and internal (philosophical) variety. Students will learn to read texts closely and critically and will consider how the fantastic or historical journey in literature allows writers to explore pressing socio-political and philosophical questions. 

ENGL 201 Lecture 08: "Modernizing the Fairytale"
Instructor:  Eden Lackner
Schedule: T/R 9:30

Description:

This course emphasizes fundamental skills: how to read a text accurately and critically; how to write logically, clearly, and persuasively.
Modernizing the Fairy Tale considers the interconnectedness of literature through examination of twentieth and twenty-first century fairy tale
retellings. Within this course, students will read a selection of fairy tales in their historically-recorded forms–as transcribed by authors such as Hans Christian Andersen and Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm–and modern twists on these narratives that highlight the importance of storytelling to our conceptions of social and cultural identities. Students will also be introduced to the application of critical theory to both the texts covered in class, and the wider literary world. This course emphasizes engaged, considered readings of these works, and focuses on how our conceptions of literature change alongside our cultural contexts.

ENGL 201 Lecture 09: "‘Ha Ha’...’Hmmm’: Satire and Social Commentary"

Instructor: Christian Olbey
Schedule: T/R 11:00

Description:

Have you ever told a joke about a serious subject or issue? Have you ever laughed at a joke, or funny statement about a serious subject? Do you like comedians who make you laugh to make you think? If you answer yes to any of these questions, then you have participated in the ancient device of satire and there is a very good chance that you will laugh, and think, in this class. This course will provide instruction in critical reading and writing through the exploration of stories that use humour to generate critical commentaries on various aspects of society. How can humour be used to generate meaningful statements about society? What cultural relevance does satire hold, if any, in the context of the twenty-first century? What is the relationship between satire and other forms of social and political commentary? Is satire an effective form of political protest? How does satire facilitate the critical engagement with uncomfortable, perhaps even unspeakable, subjects of gender, race, politics, class, and other significant aspects of life and society? Our analytical engagement with these stories - reading, thinking, discussion, research and writing - will produce an exploration of these and other questions, challenges, issues and implications, generated through and connected to these examples of literary satire. 

ENGL 201 Lecture 11: "Firefight: Heated Literary Dialogues Across the Colonial Divide"
Instructor: Christian Olbey
Schedule: T/R 12:30

Description:

Have you ever heard the expression that the best way to fight fire is with fire? For the writers on our course list, the metaphor is particularly apt. This course will provide instruction in critical reading and writing through the exploration of how two twentieth century writers (Jean Rhys and Chinua Achebe) develop narrative responses to classic nineteenth century novels that feature discourses on and around colonialism. Why would later writers take the time to engage so deeply with stories from the previous century? What types of debts do the later writers owe to the earlier ones in terms of story, structure, and social commentary? How do the later stories alter our initial reading and understanding of the earlier narratives? How do the later stories illuminate gaps or give voice to silences in the earlier narratives? What is the relationship between history, historical struggles and literary fiction? Our analytical engagement with these stories - reading, thinking, discussion, research and writing - will produce an exploration of these and other questions, challenges, issues and implications, generated through and connected to these examples of fighting through fiction. 

ENGL 201 Lecture 11: "Post-Apocalyptic Fiction"
Instructor: Murray McGillivray
Schedule: T/R 2:00

Description:

A themed approach to works of representative approach to representative works of poetry, prose, and/or drama. Emphasizes fundamental skills: how to read a text accurately and critically; how to write logically, clearly, and persuasively.


ENGL 201 Lecture 12: "Civilization and its Discontents"
Instructor: David Sigler
Schedule: T/R 3:30

Description:

We take our title from Sigmund Freud, who, in 1930, asked : why do people feel dissatisfied with or in their society? What does it mean to “fit in” in a community? Who is able to do this and who isn’t? Surprise answer: no one can. Or rather, although everyone is asked to do this, and although some people fit in more completely than others, there isn’t anyone who can do it wholly successfully. There is always something extra in a person that can’t fit in or won’t conform. His book theorizing how and why that is, entitled Civilization and its Discontents (1930), is one of those influential books that an educated person is supposed to have read and thought about. So, in the spirit of no time like the present, let’s read and think about it together, along with literary texts (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama) that ask similar questions. We’ll think about characters and authors who feel uncomfortable about their “civilization,” so-called, or who bear the brunt of its violence and hostility. We will ask: what is a community? where does a sense of belonging come from? To what extent does social cohesion depend upon the repression or exploitation of the people trying to live in that community? What does a community ask from its individual members? What does it mean to “fit in” somewhere, and to what extent is that possible, or even admirable? 

ENGL 201 Lecture 13: "Women Writers, Writing Woman"
Instructor: Celiese Lypka
Schedule: M/W 8:00

Description:

 Is there such a thing as “women’s writing” and , if so, what are its characteristics? All of the texts we will read in this course are written by  women, with a focus on female archetypes and heroine narratives. This course will explore the ways in which women have contributed to literary tradition both by working within and by challenging mainstream movements . In examining women’s use of literary forms as aesthetic, personal, and political sites, we will consider how issues of identity and historical context affect and influence writing strategies. In this class, students will learn to develop skills in close reading, essay writing, and critical thinking.


ENGL 201 Lecture 14: 
Instructor: Jenny McKenney
Schedule: M/W 2:00

Description:

ENGL 201 is an introduction to how we read, write about, and discuss literature in a university setting. In this section, students will read a variety of short stories and contemporary non-fiction essays thainspire us to contemplate how literary works reflect who we are, where we come from, and the best and worst we can be. We will ask and answer the question: Why does literature matter today? As talking and writing about literature will be central to the course, students can expect to review the fundamentals of clear expression.


ENGL 201 Lecture 15: "Women Writers, Writing Woman"
Instructor: Aruna Srivastava
Schedule: M/W 3:30

Description:


ENGL 201 Lecture 16: "Approaches to Literature"
Instructor: Derritt Mason
Schedule: T/R 3:30

Description:

Through a variety of genres and forms (including poetry, graphic narrative, film, and a novel), this course will introduce students to post-secondary studies in English. In additional to developing a critical vocabulary for analyzing a variety of texts, students will spend the term

sharpening their close reading and writing skills. The theme of this section, “Truth, Lies, and Storytelling,” invites students to consider how we tell stories and produce meaning through generic and formal conventions.

ENGL 201 Lecture 17: "Translation and Respect for the Other"
Instructor: Shaobo Xie
Schedule: T/R 2:00

Description:

This course focuses on some of the contemporary literary works whose shared central concern is cross-cultural translation. Readings and discussions will be structured along the following questions: What does translation mean and involve when it refers to processes of shuttling between cultures and idioms? How does translation between cultures affect the shifting boundaries of identity? Why and how does translation
cultivate appreciation and respect for other ways of being human and other modes of communication? What is that which makes cultural translation a productive site of decolonization? This course will emphasize fundamental skills such as how to read rhetorically and critically, and how to write logically and persuasively.