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ENGL 201 Course Descriptions (Fall 2018)

ENGLISH 201:  APPROACHES TO LITERATURE


ENGL 201 Lecture 01: "Women Warriors"
Instructor: Jaclyn Carter
Schedule: Mon/Wed/Fri 1:00-1:50

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 02: "Modern Identities, City Life, and Twentieth-Century Literature"
Instructor:  Isabelle Groenhof
Schedule: Mon/Wed/Fri 9:00-9:50

Description:

No pre-requisites. Emphasizing fundamental skills, this course will focus on turn-of-the-century American literature. It will focus on authors who are concerned with their characters’ intricate and conditional relationships to the social constructs of race, class, and gender. This course will help students build a foundation for studying works in greater depth by introducing them to key concepts, contexts, critical approaches, and vocabulary in literary scholarship. 


ENGL 201 Lecture 03: "The Monstrous"
Instructor: Eden Lackner
Schedule: Mon/Wed/Fri 10:00-10:50

Description:

This course emphasizes fundamental skills: how to read a text accurately and critically; how to write logically, clearly, and persuasively. The Monstrous considers the interconnectedness of literature and identity by examining the Other through the medium of monstrous metaphors. Within this course, students will read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, as well as a selection of related short stories, poems, and novels that highlight the ways in which we tell stories about ourselves and others. 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 04: "2SQ Indigeneity"
Instructor:  Joshua Whitehead
Schedule: Mon/Wed/Fri 11:00-11:50

Description:

In our current post-Residential, pro-TRC cultural moment we bear witness and are accountable to a wave of 94 calls to action demanding that reconciliation include the revitalization of FNMI (First Nation, Metis, and Inuit) languages and cultures, access to health care, legal equity, access to education, and the historicization of Indigeneity within Mikinaakominis’s museums and archives (Turtle Island). That being said, within the TRC we see no direct call for Two-Spirit and/or queer Indigenous (2SQ) peoples. In fact, within each subheading we see instances of lateral violence that delimit and dispossess 2SQ folks from reconciliation via an intersection of toxic masculinity, ingrained colonization, cultural genocide, and traumatization of sex and sexuality in residential schools. Under the subheading of “Health,” for example, there is no reference to sexual/reproductive health (including venereal diseases such as HIV/AIDS); within legal equity we bear no witness to the incarceration and criminalization of 2SQ sex workers, nor do we see an active attempt to label MMIW as it rightfully is within Indigenous grassroots activism, that is, MMIWG2S; and under the heading of education and historicization we once again see no mention of healthy 2SQ narratives that might contribute to the ongoing conversation about the disappearance and deaths of 2SQ youth (e.g. the Attawapiskat, Pine Ridge, and Alaskan suicides). Moreover, within the broader culture’s identity categories of LGBTQ+, 2SQ identities are again displaced; their hi/stories are actively dismantled and re-augmented as veneers for white settlers to proclaim their queerness, and their queer utopias are often situated upon unceded/stolen territories (re: Toronto’s 2016 Pride Festival and the intersectional work of Black Lives Matter with Indigenous activists, Jason Mraz and Joseph Boyden naming themselves 2S, and the Orlando Pulse Shooting). 

Our class will track 2SQ Indigeneity in ways that allow us to write, think, and read against the colonial and lateral violences that displace their bodies, sexualities, histories, and identities through a variety of cultural texts that are heterogeneous and intersectional. Through such a reading we can begin the much needed work to help rightfully reconcile not only settler C/Kanadians and FNMI (First Nation, Métis, Inuit) peoples, but also do the much needed work of native-to-native reconciliation by historicizing 2SQ Indigeneity and contributing to its survivance in the now amidst waves of intergenerational trauma.

This introductory course will highlight important questions pertaining to Indigenous sexualities, genders, and sexes outside of, beyond, and sometimes aligned with Western conceptions of LGBTQ+. We will begin by unpacking the pan-conceptualization of Two-Spirit and queer Indigenous identities (2SQ) and instead locate it within the specific regional, cultural, and sovereign nations from which they emerge. We will think heavily on how 2SQness became/becomes traumatized from Christianity, contact, internal colonization, and intergenerationally and how it is becoming resurgent through contemporary and hi/storical literature and various cultural texts. We well then ponder where 2SQness sees itself going futuristically in conjunction with Can Lit and American Lit including possible conversations with two of the storytellers themselves. Students will develop a critical and decolonial understanding of queer and trans Indigeneity within its current colonized state as well as build a vocabulary of terminologies, both literary and linguistic, to use as lenses of analyses for the texts we will undertake. This class will take upon a breadth of texts that disrupt borders, time periods, and genres from a variety of peoplehoods such as: the Cree (incl. Plains and Driftpile), Cherokee, Lumbee, Osage, Inuk, Kumeyaay, Métis, Anishinaabe, and non-Indigenous. 


ENGL 201 Lecture 05: "The Monstrous"
Instructor: Eden Lackner
Schedule: Mon/Wed/Fri 12:00-12:50

Description:

This course emphasizes fundamental skills: how to read a text accurately and critically; how to write logically, clearly, and persuasively. The Monstrous considers the interconnectedness of literature and identity by examining the Other through the medium of monstrous metaphors. Within this course, students will read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, as well as a selection of related short stories, poems, and novels that highlight the ways in which we tell stories about ourselves and others. 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 06: "Living on the Edge: Literary Representations of Life on the Canadian Margins"
Instructor:  Chris Olbey
Schedule: Tue/Thu 12:30-1:45

Description:

When you look around at your world out there, or even the one represented through your device, does it ever seem like human identity is being defined more and more in terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’? From a wide variety of political events like national elections, political leaders, on and off-line bullying to more seemingly innocuous expressions like sporting events where thousands dress in team colours and jerseys to support their team’s battle against the latest threat to the identity construction of a community, school, city, province or nation, it can appear there is an increasing tendency to develop human identity in terms of valued, affirmed selves and devalued, rejected others. This course will provide instruction in critical reading and writing through the exploration of literary representations of otherness in four very different stories that present a range of ‘other’ experiences. The stories detail potentials and problematics arising from the dynamics of otherness, and suggest the possibility, perhaps even the necessity, of mediating or overcoming altogether some of the more devastating consequences of constructing human identity in these terms. In most cases, our analytical engagement with these stories - reading, thinking, discussion, research and writing - will be used as tools to understand how a critical understanding of the dynamics of otherness can help us to map and grapple with key aspects of our own contemporary historical moment. 


ENGL 201 Lecture 07: "Siblings"
Instructor:  Rod Moody-Corbett
Schedule: Tue/Thu 8:00-9:15

Description:

Beginning with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813) and ending with David Chariandy’s Brother (2017), this course will consider the various ways in which novelists have represented sibling relationships. Whether friendly or fractious, the books in this class examine a range of relationships between brothers and sisters. What differences and what commonalities exist across texts? What might this enduring writerly interest in siblings tell us about literature and/or the way we mediate the unchosen relationships in our own lives? Students will learn skills in close reading and critical thinking. An emphasis will be placed on clear and concise writing. 


ENGL 201 Lecture 08: "Living on the Edge: Literary Representations of Life on the Canadian Margins"
Instructor:  Chris Olbey
Schedule: Tue/Thu 9:30-10:45

Description:

Have you ever felt like there is some traditional, mainstream understanding of Canada and Canadian identity? If so, do you feel that this construction accurately describes your experience, or does your own lived experience seem far from normative definitions of Canada and Canadian identity? This course will provide instruction in critical reading and writing through the exploration of literary representations of Canada and Canadian identity in four novels written by Canadian writers whose stories, characters, and events are located, in a variety of ways (religion, race, class, sexuality, gender etc.), on the margins of what is called mainstream Canadian society. This critical engagement will allow us to explore different responses to some of the following questions: what is the value or the problematics of traditional notions of the nation and national identity? What is life like for those who do not possess the privilege of easy assimilation into valued notions of Canadian identity? How do these categories evolve over time and how do they reflect and respond to the contemporary dynamics of globalization? What types of benefits or hindrances arise from the relationship between individual and communal subjects and specific definitions of Canada and Canadian identity? What are some of the potentialities and problematics around contemporary constructions of Canadian identity? What was, what is, and what will Canadian identity mean in the future? 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 representations of life on the Canadian margins. 


ENGL 201 Lecture 09: "Between Logic and Imagination: Reading Speculative Fiction"
Instructor:  Anthony Camara
Schedule: Tue/Thu 11:00-12:15

Description:

Whether it be science fiction, horror, fantasy, or so-called weird literature, many of us are avid readers of speculative fiction. While we already might get tremendous delight from the works of writers such as H. P. Lovecraft, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Philip K. Dick, the objective of this class is to enable you to approach speculative fiction in the rigorously analytical way that scholars do—that is, with reference to a body of literary-critical terminologies, concepts, theories, and lively academic debates that will further enhance your understanding and enjoyment of this massively popular genre. This course will not only impart a richer, keener, and more pleasurable intellectual appreciation of speculative fiction, but it will also afford you a critical introduction to the discipline of English literary studies that includes a set of intensive reading, thinking, writing, and verbal skills that will benefit you in any field or endeavor that you pursue. Speculative fiction, we will see, places special cognitive and emotional demands on its readership, requiring us to exercise and successfully coordinate our powers of logic, imagination, and empathy as we interpret the texts on this syllabus. The reward for carefully and effectively meeting these demands is nothing less than a better understanding of who and what we are as human beings; where we fit into a cosmos that includes entire inhuman worlds of animals, objects, and ecosystems; what ethical responsibilities we must satisfy in order to do justice to others who may differ from us in terms of gender, race, class, ability, and sexual orientation, among many other possible ways of being; and what problems, prospects, and adventures our pasts and futures may hold. Surely speculative fiction speaks to our desire for the fantastic and the strange, but at the same time it admonishes us to never lose sight of the realities hidden right before our very eyes. 


ENGL 201 Lecture 10: "Civilization and its Discontents"
Instructor:  David Sigler
Schedule: Tue/Thu 12:30-1:45

Description:

We take our title from Sigmund Freud, who, in 1930, asked: why do people feel a lingering dissatisfaction with their place in the world? 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 can 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. Freud’s theory of 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, 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 out of place in their “civilization,” so-called, or who bear the brunt of its violence and hostility. We will ask: what is a community? What does it mean to join a community? Where would 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, and why? What does it mean to “fit in” somewhere, and to what extent is that possible, or admirable? 


ENGL 201 Lecture 11: "Love and Romance in Literature"
Instructor:  Michael Clarke
Schedule: Tue/Thu 2:00-3:15

Description:

Do concepts of love and romance vary over time and across social groups? What can romance stories tell us about our culture(s), including differences across cultures and the power of our social environment to shape some of our most intimate desires and beliefs?

In this course we will explore contemporary notions of romantic love that sustain the romance novel, arguably the most popular form of North American literature today. We will also consider the origins and development of those notions and the history of the romance genre. Our readings will begin with a pioneering modern romance, Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. Next we will study its descendants, Harlequin romances of the middle of the twentieth century. We will end with a novel that challenges the romance tradition, Xiaolu Guo's A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, considering how and why it intervenes in the romance tradition.

This course will use assigned texts to introduce students to literary studies as an academic discipline on the university level. Through close reading, critical writing and rewriting, and thoughtful discussion of specific texts, students will develop the practical skills necessary in the discipline. Writing will be considered as both a process of discovery and an academic practice with particular forms and conventions.


ENGL 201 Lecture 12: 
Instructor: Bart Beaty
Schedule: Tues/Thu 3:30-4:45

Description:


ENGL 201 Lecture 13: "The Monstrous"
Instructor: Eden Lackner
Schedule: Mon/Wed 8:00-9:15

Description:

This course emphasizes fundamental skills: how to read a text accurately and critically; how to write logically, clearly, and persuasively. The Monstrous considers the interconnectedness of literature and identity by examining the Other through the medium of monstrous metaphors. Within this course, students will read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, as well as a selection of related short stories, poems, and novels that highlight the ways in which we tell stories about ourselves and others. 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 14: "Approaches to Literature"
Instructor: Katherine Zelinsky
Schedule: Mon/Wed 2:00-3:15

Description:

This section of “Approaches to Literature” will explore representations of gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, and social class in selected literary and theoretical works. We will examine the ways in which writers incorporate these identity categories into thematic, structural, and characterological elements of the text. We will also look at how these representations provide inquiries into and commentaries on the social, historical, and cultural contexts of the works. There is no prerequisite for the course. 


ENGL 201 Lecture 15: "Futuristic Fiction"
Instructor: Stefania Forlini
Schedule: Mon/Wed 3:30-4:45

Description:

This course will examine a wide range of fictional works that imagine possible futures. We will consider not only how such works end up “entangled with the burning questions” of the author’s own time (as H.G. Wells suggests) but also how they continue to speak to us even when they inevitably become “futures past”. We will consider these stories as forms of cultural meaning-making and as thought experiments (“what if?”) often meant to estrange, unsettle, critique, warn, and/or instill hope by modelling how we might imagine the world otherwise. The course focuses on developing foundational skills of literary study: critical, accurate, nuanced reading and writing. To this end, the course incorporates both low-stakes in-class exercises and formal written assignments. 


ENGL 201 Lecture 17: "Contemporary Australian Women Re-Write the Wars"
Instructor:  Donna Coates
Schedule: Tues/Thu 2:00-3:15

Description:

This course will explore contemporary novels and several short stories on World War Two and the Vietnam War by Australian women writers who are exploring subjects such as the trauma prisoners-of-war endure and/or the effect on families of returned veterans suffering from PTSD. As the course calendar suggests, the course will “emphasize fundamental skills” such as “how to write logically clearly, and persuasively.”