English & Writing StudiesWestern Arts and Humanities

4000 Level Courses (Seminar)

2015-16 Academic Year

4040G - The Gothic Child
When UNESCO declared 1979 the International Year of the Child, it brought international visibility to a set of assumptions that the West had held for almost 200 years: that the child, although innocent, is a being full of potential for knowledge, productivity, and the social good, if only his/her needs for food, shelter, love, education, and medical care are adequately met.  At the same time, though, the last century and a half has witnessed a flood of narratives that would suggest otherwise: the child is equally capable of familial destruction or global annihilation; the child’s innocence is often a screen for sexual knowledge and selfish aggression; the child can exploit a well-meaning adult’s desire to protect by turning that adult against his/her own best interests. This course looks at a wealth of narratives of the Gothic Child, and asks the questions: Why are we so fascinated with this evil child, whose existence we often so hurriedly deny?  What needs are served by imagining this child and the fates we invent for it? Why are we drawn to narratives that seem to punish us for having the very children our culture validates us for wanting? The archive of examples may include those late nineteenth-century children, Miles and Flora, of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, through 1950s Cold War fictions like John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos or The Bad Seed, and on to the veritable explosion of Gothic Children in the late 1960s and 1970s, the age of women’s rights, gay rights, civil rights.  Here we find the demonically sired Rosemary’s baby and The Omen’s Damien Thorn, the demonically possessed Regan MacNeil of The Exorcist, and the vampire children of Stephen King and Anne Rice.  This course will employ the Gothic Child to help us think about the work The Child does more generally in our culture.

Winter 2016  4040G / 001 S. Bruhm

4050F - The Modernist Moment
This course explores literary, photographic, and cinematic approaches to the representation of time in the context of rapid urban and industrial change. In particular, we will focus on the work of writers, artists, and filmmakers who exemplify a modernist preoccupation with the moments of epiphany or stretches of banality that punctuate city life at the turn of the twentieth century. Our investigations of modernist literature and visual culture will be guided by the following questions: under what conditions does the modern experience of boredom give way to revelation? What motivates modernism’s abiding commitment to capturing the evanescent past and the fleeting present? How do ethical and aesthetic imperatives inflect each other in various hallmarks of modernist experimentation, such as Baudelaire’s correspondances, Proust’s mémoire involontaire, Joyce’s epiphanies, and Woolf’s moments of being? How do the poles of attention and distraction structure modern experiences of time? How do visual and linguistic forms compare in their representations of temporal rupture and continuity, change and stasis? Our syllabus may include works by Baudelaire, Benjamin, Bergson, Chaplin, Eliot, Flaubert, Joyce, Kracauer, Lang, Léger, Man Ray, Proust, Stieglitz, Shklovsky, Simmel, Stein, Woolf, and others.

Fall 2015  4050F / 001 K. Stanley Syllabus .pdf

4050G - The Mimetic Animal (offered at Huron)
Like a chameleon or camouflaged guerrilla, the idea of mimesis has insinuated itself in every kind of contemporary cultural and theoretical discourse. Copies, imitations, impersonations, reproductions and representations: the products of the mimetic process pose a staggering number of metaphysical and political problems to the student of literary and cultural studies. This course will examine contemporary literary, cultural and theoretical works that engage with the idea of mimesis as both process and product and relate it to concerns of class, gender and race. Selected works of literature, film, television and popular culture will be studied in relation to such theorists as Walter Benjamin, Zora Neale Hurston, Luce Irigaray and Michael Taussig.

Winter 2016  4050G / 550 Vanderheide

4060F - Consuming Difference: Food and Multiculturalism in Contemporary Canadian Literature
What is the relationship between food and multiculturalism? How does Canada’s official policy of multiculturalism shape constructions of “ethnic food” and cultural difference? What is the relationship between food and ethnicity, race, class, gender, and sexuality, and how are these relationships informed by broader notions of community, desire, longing, and memory? This course will consider these questions by exploring a range of literary works (novels, short stories, poems, memoirs), cultural texts (visual art, recipes, food blogs), and theoretical essays. As part of the course, students will write their own restaurant reviews, which will be posted on a food blog created for the class.

Fall 2015  4060F / 001 S. Oliver Syllabus .pdf

4060G - Studies in Solitude and Isolation (offered at King's)
As long as we have lived collectively in societies, humans have been both fascinated and frightened by the figure of isolato, the individual who, despite the ostensible benefits of social life, chooses to live in solitude. What might explain the persistent cultural relevance of physical isolation, and what impact might such gestures of social withdrawal have on the collective consciousness? What threat did the solitary individual pose to community? What benefits did isolation afford society? How might the security and well-being of community depend upon the existence of figures such as the hermit, the castaway, the recluse, the monk/nun, and the ascetic? This course will examine these and other questions about the cultural relevance of solitude and isolation from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, from a psychological, philosophical, religious, aesthetic, and political perspective. Possible texts may include Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Pope’s “Eloisa to Abelard,” Haywood’s The British Recluse, Rousseau’s Reveries of the Solitary Walker, Thoreau’s Walden, Jewett’s The Country of the Pointed Firs, Maysles’ Grey Gardens, and Krakauer’s Into the Wild.

Winter 2016  4060G / 570 Dowdell

4220G - Reading Food in Early Modern Literature
Like us, the early moderns were fascinated with food. In this course, we’ll look at how the drama, poetry, and prose of the period addressed the topic through depictions of hospitality and gift-giving, foreign trade, travel, and local cultivation, cooking and feasting. Approaching food through a variety of perspectives, we’ll examine how it intersects with the discourses of gender, class, nation, and just plain pleasure.

Winter 2016  4220G / 001 M. Bassnett

4420F - The Pre-Raphaelites
Using as a focal point and lens the poetry, painting, and short fiction of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, this seminar will study the works and aesthetics of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (1848-53), its associates, and its successors.  After situating the Pre-Raphaelites in the political, religious, and aesthetic contexts of the Victorian period and examining some of their principal paintings, the seminar will focus on Rossetti’s depiction of different female types: the Virgin Mary in such works as “Ave,” the prostitute or “fallen woman” in such works as “Jenny,” and the femme fatale in such works as Lilith. In addition to providing seminar members with a broad, detailed, and enriching understanding of Pre-Raphaelitism, the seminar will examine Rossetti’s later poetry and painting in the aesthetic and symbolist modes and chart the impact of Pre-Raphaelite art, literature, and ideas not only on William Morris, Walter Pater, Oscar Wilde, and other Victorians, but also on such major Modernists as W.B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, and T.S. Eliot.

Fall 2015 4420F / 001 D. Bentley

4430F - Blake and Shelley: Visionary Poetics (offered at Brescia)
William Blake and P.B. Shelley are poets central to what Harold Bloom has called the AVisionary Company@. This seminar shall examine the writings by these two poets in light of the visionary and/or prophetic status or claims made by themselves or their critics. Prophecy will be considered as a genre with mystical, political and moral implications, and visionary language examined as a poetic style. Blake and Shelley seek to mediate through language visionary or prophetic positions and experiences. These experiences and their expression raise various linguistic and theoretical problems, which will be considered in light of a variety of literary critical positions.

Fall 2015 4430F / 530 M. Lee

4440F - Jane fic: Jane Eyre and Parallel Fiction (offered at King's)
Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre has always had its fans. Published in 1847, it continues to compel readers with its Gothic textures, its rich exploration of Victorian social contexts, and its self-assertive heroine. Such is the appeal of Jane Eyre that the novel continues not only to be read but to be written; since Jane Eyre first appeared, other writers have gone on to produce their own versions. The original novel has spilled over into prequels, sequels, stage and film adaptations, illustration, and fan fiction and mash-ups. In addition to examining Brontë’s own novel, this course will consider some of these iterations. These may include a Victorian evangelical version, Thornycroft Hall (1864); the bestseller, Rebecca (1938); the post-colonial prequel, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966); a detective novel, The Eyre Affair (2001); a sci-fi re-telling, Jenna Starborn (2002); the zombie mash-up, Jane Slayre (2010); Dame Darcy’s The Illustrated Jane Eyre (2005); and the children’s graphic novel, Jane, the Fox and Me (2013. Our aim is not merely to conclude that Brontë’s novel remains relevant today, but to account for the ongoing work of Jane Eyre with reference to theories of authorship, adaptation, intertextuality, and parody, and of consumption, readership, and fan culture.

Fall 2015 4440F / 570 K. Lysack

4630G - Reading the City: Representations of New York City in American Literature
New York City has long occupied the imagination of individuals around the world, and it has also figured prominently in American Literature.  Whether it is merely the setting , the place characters aspire to live, or a character itself, New York has intrigued and fascinated American writers for centuries.  In this course, we will attempt to “read” the city by considering how New York has been represented in American literature from the late-18th century through the early 21st century.   Writers may include Edith Wharton, Toni Morrison, Theodore Dreiser, Washington Irving, Walt Whitman, Jonathan Safran Foer, Stephen Crane, Ann Petry, and Suki Kim, among others. Finally, the course will include an optional travel component.  Interested students will travel with the course instructor to New York during Reading Week.

Winter 2016 4630G / 001 M. Green-Barteet

4640G - The Fiction of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (offered at Brescia)
Long seen as the embodiment of the ethos of the American 1920s, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald shaped their place in American literary history through a relentless process of self-historicising and self-mythologizing.  In this seminar, we will examine in some detail the fiction of the two writers and explore the implications and consequences  of their myth of themselves for their fiction.  Part of this exploration will necessarily involve excursions into the realms of literary history and literary biography as well as the literary marketplace of America between the wars.  Some attention will also be given to the creative dynamic that existed between the two writers, particularly as it is expressed in the circumstances surrounding the publications of Tender is the Night and Save Me the Waltz.

Winter 2016 4640G / 530 B. Diemert

4740F - Literature Crossing the Canada/United States Border (offered at Huron)
The border that has been drawn between Canada and the United States from both an historical and geographic perspective often seems arbitrary but from a political perspective has great significance. This course will examine literary works which have settings on both sides of that border and determine how it can function as representative of other human constructed borders such as those used to define race and culture. Authors studied may include Margaret Atwood, Richard Ford, Lawrence Hill, and Thomas King.

Fall 2015 4740F / 550 Brooks