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ENGL 201 Course Descriptions (Winter 2018)

ENGLISH 201:  APPROACHES TO LITERATURE


ENGL 201 Lecture 01: “Where Is Here?” : Place(less)ness at the Margins of the Canadian Canon"
Instructor:  Jordan Bolay
Schedule: M/W/F 8:00-8:50

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? 

Goals: This course aims to teach students close reading, essay writing, and basic research skills while introducing them to foundational concepts of literature and Canadian culture. Students will be introduced to a variety of tools, methods, and approaches to interpretation, allowing them to write strong, argumentative, and well-supported essays on creative, interesting, and relevant topics. Students will develop their writing skills in-class, through take-home assignments, and through peer-review. They will learn to write a research proposal, incorporate feedback, respond to secondary sources, and compare/contrast texts. Most importantly, they will discover how invaluable critical thinking is, and how studying literature can serve as a medium for applying that skill to the world around them. 


ENGL 201 Lecture 02: "Women Warriors"
Instructor:  Jaclyn Carter
Schedule: M/W/F 9:00-9:50

Description:

 A themed 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 03: "Literature, in Brief"
Instructor: Will Best
Schedule: M/W/F 10:00-10:50

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, 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 04: "Cyberpunks and the Network Self"
Instructor: Tom Sewel
Schedule: M/W/F 11:00-11:50

Description:

This course will explore a small selection of cyberpunk texts, focusing on the unanticipated social and political implications of a genre that often presents itself as 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. 

Pre-requisites: Undergraduate, non-English major 


ENGL 201 Lecture 05: "Stories, Various"
Instructor: Dawn Bryan
Schedule: M/W/F 12:00-12:50

Description:

Variation on a theme is one of the tried and true methods of composition across the arts. In Stories, Various we will exercise our curiosity about the effect of variation on narrative. For example, how is the theme of identity different in the hands of different writers? Or, how does a narrative change over two hundred years of reinvention? Or, 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 thinking and writing about literature.