English Studies Courses

To complement English modules, our courses focus on narrower themes and issues which better reflect the current state of the field and the research interests of our faculty.

featured courses

See Western Academic Timetable for course delivery details.

fall/winter 2023-24 Courses (Subject to change)

1000 Level Courses

1000-level courses initiate students to the university-level study of English literature. Students will be introduced to the rich diversity of English literature and to the scholarly research tools which make the study of English possible. Discussions, activities and assignments focus on close reading practices which allow students to move beyond arguments based primarily on questions plot. Students will be expected to begin to develop their own critical point of view and to take responsibility for their own engagement with the texts at hand. 1000-level courses are an ideal way to enter an English module, but they also provide the foundations of analysis and argument essential to university-level scholarship in any text-based discipline (e.g. history, philosophy, sociology, classics, etc.). Learn more >>

1020E (001) - Understanding Literature Today
By studying a broad range of exciting and important literary works from the past and present, this course will increase your understanding and appreciation not just of the richness and power of the works themselves, but also of the role of literature in reflecting and shaping our perceptions of the world and of ourselves. 2 lecture hours, 1 tutorial hour, 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 1020E / 001 Syllabus 

1020E (002) - Understanding Literature Today
Poems, plays, and stories are the most vital way people and cultures understand themselves, and as we read together we will enter a conversation between generations of writers in English that will illuminate their different cultures and our own. You will learn the techniques of scholarly interpretation that enable us to understand writers from four hundred years ago and from our own time and you will study the forms and genres they use. You will learn to write critical and interpretative essays and how to present evidence from the works we read to support your arguments about their meaning. 2 lecture hours, 1 tutorial hour, 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 1020E / 002 Syllabus 

1020E (003) - Understanding Literature Today
By studying a broad range of exciting and important literary works from the past and present, this course will increase your understanding and appreciation not just of the richness and power of the works themselves, but also of the role of literature in reflecting and shaping our perceptions of the world and of ourselves. 2 lecture hours, 1 tutorial hour, 1.0 course


1020E / 003 (Evening)


1022E - Enriched Introduction to English Literature
Why does literature matter? This course will pose this question by examining works of literature from the fourteenth century to now and through assignments that ask you to hone a range of interpretive, critical, and creative skills necessary to your future success as students and leaders. Above all the course will explore how the writing and reading of literature are inherently political acts that ask us to think through our most pressing issues – environment, sexuality, race, gender, class – with tolerance for others and hope for the future. 2 lecture hours, 1 tutorial hour, 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 1022E / 001 DRAFT Syllabus 

1027F - The Storyteller’s Art I: Introduction to Narrative POPULAR!
The act of storytelling has been essential to human culture from the time of the ancient Greeks to the present day. Stories are integral to the way we define ourselves – and manipulate others. This course will examine the story teller’s art not only through novels and short stories but also in its ancient and modern forms, ranging from the epic to more recent forms such as the graphic novel. As diverse as these stories may seem, they share a central concern with the way we represent ourselves and interpret others. 2 lecture hours, 1 tutorial hour, 0.5 course

Fall 2023 1027F / 001 Syllabus 
Fall 2023 1027F / 002 Syllabus 

1028G (001) - The Storyteller’s Art II | Introduction to Narrative: The Rise of the Machines POPULAR!
This course explores a particular theme, mode, or genre of storytelling. Consult the Department of English for details of current course offerings. Instruction is by lecture and tutorials; emphasis on developing strong analytical and writing skills. 2 lecture hours, 1 tutorial hour, 0.5 course

Winter 2024 1028G / 001 Syllabus 

1028G (002) - The Storyteller’s Art II | Introduction to Narrative: Stories About Stories: Realism, Fantasy, Fairy Tale POPULAR!
Since the time of Jane Austen, literary excellence has been associated with realism. The nomination lists for major literary awards are often dominated by texts characterized by realistic settings, complex characters, and an attention to the small details that make up the fabric of ordinary life. Nevertheless, in recent years the cultural landscape has come to be dominated by the fantasy genre: ranging from the Harry Potter series to post-apocalyptic fantasies like The Last of Us, fantasy tropes have become increasingly central to the way we tell our stories, examine our politics, and think about our future. This course will examine the dominance of realism by looking not only at realist novels but also at texts that feature characters who are themselves authors (or artists) struggling to balance the demands of realism with the appeal of fantasy and fairy tale. 2 lecture hours, 1 tutorial hour, 0.5 course

Winter 2024 1028G / 002 Syllabus 

2000-2099 Level Courses (No prerequisites)

2017 - Reading Popular Culture
"If Shakespeare were alive today, he'd be writing for television." This course addresses the many forms of popular culture, including television, music, popular fiction and film, urban myths, and celebrities. The aim of this course is to encourage students to develop a critical understanding of all aspects of popular culture. 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 2017 / 001 Syllabus 

2018B - The Culture of Leadership I
This course addresses the complex nature of leadership represented in key works of literature and culture, from Malory to Alice Munro, Shakespeare to David Mamet. We will focus on the ethical dilemmas and moral choices faced by leaders to ask what role a leader plays: hero, manager, thinker, strategist, artist, figurehead, authority? 0.5 course

Winter 2024 2018B / 001 Syllabus 

2033E - Children’s Literature
This course examines the development of literature for and about children from its roots in fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and nonsense literature. Animal stories, adventure tales, picture books, and domestic novels will be considered alongside visits to fantasy realms like Wonderland, Neverland, or the Land of Oz. A central focus will be the assumptions about children and childhood that shape these texts, all produced by adults based on what they believe children enjoy, want, or need. 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 2033E / 001 Syllabus 
Fall/Winter 2033E / 650 (Online) Syllabus 

2041F - Special Topics in Drama: The Cherry Orchard
In this course, students participating in the Department of English and Writing Studies' Drama Production - The Cherry Orchard, explore in theory and practice approaches to text in performance. Only students working as an actor, director, stage manager, assistant stage manager, lighting, set or costume designer may enroll. Please note: Auditions are held prior to the course start date so that students can register and receive a course credit for their part in the production. See course page for more details. Permission required to enroll. 0.5 course

Fall 2023 2041F / 001 Syllabus 

2071F and 2071G - Speculative Fiction: Science Fiction
From Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, a consideration of the history and development of science fiction. Will include science fiction themes such as the Other, new technologies, chaos theory, cybernetics, paradoxes of space/time travel, first contact, and alien worlds. 0.5 course

Fall 2023 2071F / 650 (Online) Syllabus 
Winter 2024 2071G / 001 Syllabus 

2072F and 2072G - Speculative Fiction: Fantasy
Wizards, vampires, fairies, and the Chosen One – these figures are no longer confined to a genre ghetto but have instead moved to the mainstream. This course examines the roots of the fantasy genre in novels such as Dracula and The Lord of the Rings and considers how the tropes of the genre have been reproduced and transformed by authors like J.K. Rowling and Angela Carter. We will examine the continuing appeal of stories about magic, whether they involve supernatural intrusions, visits to the realm of faerie, or extraordinary powers hidden in apparently ordinary places. 0.5 course

Fall 2023 2072F / 001 Syllabus 
Winter 2024 2072G / 650 (Online) Syllabus 

2073G - Speculative Fiction: Utopias and Dystopias
An examination of major utopian and dystopian texts. Will concern ways in which humanity has tried to imagine a perfect world, fix the current world, or construct an exaggerated version of the world in order to demonstrate its flaws and weaknesses. 0.5 course

Winter 2024 2073G / 001 Syllabus 

2074G - Mystery and Detective Fiction
Mystery stories aren’t just light entertainment. They explore matters of life and death. They investigate problems involving the law, justice, and morality. They address fundamental questions of security, identity, and agency. This course introduces students to the critical study of popular mystery and detective fiction from a range of historical periods and national contexts. It will examine a selection of fiction, film, television, and radio narratives. 0.5 course

Winter 2024 2074G / 001 Syllabus 

2076G - Medieval Heroes, Villains and Other Outsiders
This course will explore the role of medieval heroes and villains in European literature and culture. We will focus our attention on the stories surrounding King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table to examine the development of models of heroism and villainy. Using Arthur himself, but also Gawain, Lancelot, Yvain, Mordred, Morgana and a rogues gallery of giants, sorcerers and witches, we will trace the developments of stories that pit good versus evil and that problematize the relationship between the two. 0.5 course

Winter 2024 2076G / 001 Syllabus 

2091F - Special Topics: The Personal Essay
This is a course is for students interested in the liberal arts. We will study a particular kind of writing—the personal essay—but the goal is an introduction to the humanities. The personal essay has been called the freest form in all of literature and it covers an enormous range of topics including politics, journalistic observation, intimate confessions, and meditations on life and death. Their only commonality is that they express the personal perspective of the writer. In this course, we study the history of the personal essay from the premodern to modern era, engaging with writers of diverse backgrounds and experience. 0.5 course

Fall 2023 2091F / 001 (Evening) Syllabus 

2099F - The Alice Munro Chair In Creativity: The Creative Moment (cross-listed with ARTHUM 3391F)
The Creative Moment is an experimental, improvisational course in artistic creation and the development of the creative personality. Students who are interested in creative writing, especially, but in any of the arts, who would like to figure out ways to connect in a more natural and exciting and open way to their own creative process, and to other students, should consider taking this course. Rigour, curiosity, seriousness, and a sense of play will be encouraged. 0.5 course

Fall 2023 2099F / 001 Syllabus 

2100-2999 Level Courses

2000-level courses welcome students into the community of literary scholarship. Literary surveys focus on the development of textual traditions across time while courses in theory introduce students to the multitude of tools available for text analysis. Developing research skills and methods of investigation will allow students to begin to articulate their own questions and to situate their own analysis within the discourse of previous scholarship. Assignments will demand independent study in which students develop and explore their own areas of interest and grapple with the difficulties and challenges of the discipline. For students in an English module, 2000-level courses provide the basic tools necessary for more advanced and independent study. For non-English students, 2000-level courses are an excellent way to complement other modules while indulging in some of the great literature available in the language. Learn more >>

These courses require prerequisites. Students are responsible for ensuring that they have successfully completed all course prerequisites and that they have not taken an antirequisite course, as stated in the Academic Calendar.

2112F - Adapting Across Page, Stage, and Screen (cross-listed with Film 2212F and Theatre Studies 2212F)
How does the shape an artwork takes contribute to its aesthetic and political power? When artworks flex across form and media how do their messages change? What did Marshall McLuhan mean when he said “the medium is the message”? How do genre and form shape social and political discourse? In this course, students explore these questions and more as they investigate texts that assume multiple cultural forms and represent a diversity of perspectives. 0.5 course

Fall 2023 2112F / 001 Syllabus 

2200F - History of Theory and Criticism
An introduction to important issues in the history of literary criticism and theory from Plato to the twentieth century. 0.5 course

Fall 2023 2200F / 001 Syllabus 

2201G - Contemporary Theory and Criticism
This course builds on the historical foundations of English 2200F/G to concentrate on important issues in contemporary literary theory and criticism. English 2200F/G is recommended as preparation for English 2201F/G0.5 course

Winter 2024 2201G / 001 Syllabus 

2202F - Studies in Poetics
An introduction to important issues and concepts in the theory and analysis of poetry from different periods. 0.5 course

Fall 2023 2202F / 001 Syllabus

2301E - British Literature Survey
This course investigates the changing forms of literature produced in the British Isles from the Middle Ages to the present. It addresses key movements and styles through careful analysis of both major authors, such as Shakespeare, Austen, Woolf, or Yeats, and some less well-known yet engaging figures. 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 2301E / 001 Syllabus 

2401E - American Literature Survey
A survey of American literature from the contact period in North America to the postmodern era. In this class, we will read some of the most fascinating literary works of the United States in a variety of modes and genres—from novels to sentimental poetry to postmodern short stories. We will consider the aesthetic and formal properties of each text and consider how writers were shaped by the social conditions, ideological conflicts, economic forces, and political developments of their times, such as the forced displacement of Indigenous peoples and the practice of chattel slavery. As we study the evolution of major artistic movements and periods, we will also trace the development of important assumptions, myths, and fundamental beliefs about the United States that still influence American discourse today.

In this survey, we will also pay close attention to the voices that are heard—and not heard—in different moments of US history. The pressure of attempting to read 400 years of literary history will force us to pose questions about the limits of the American literary canon. Why do we read what we read, and who benefits from that? How have ideas of what constitutes “literature” (or “America,” for that matter) changed over time? What could lesser-known writers contribute to our understanding of the US nation and its literature? And is it possible to read so-called canonical writers in a way that produces new kinds of knowledge?

Readings will include novels such as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time, and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar; short fiction by Herman Melville, Henry James, William Faulkner, and Alice Walker; life writing such as Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Zitkala-Sa’s Impressions of an Indian Childhood and Henry David Thoreau’s Walden; and poetry by Anne Bradstreet, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, Allan Ginsberg, and Sherman Alexie. 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 2401E / 002 Syllabus 

2501E - Canadian Literature Survey
What does literature tell us about the making of a nation and its citizens? Spanning the period from imperial exploration to Confederation to the present day, this course examines Canada’s vibrant literary culture. Students will encounter a diverse range of genres and authors, from accounts of early explorers to current internationally acclaimed and award-winning writers. 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 2501E / 001 Syllabus REV 

2601E - Global Literatures in English Survey
This course offers students a great opportunity to survey of the links between and among different literary traditions and innovations across such diverse geographic regions as Asia, Africa, Australia, South America, and the Caribbean. Through close reading of literary texts written in English, students will explore how cultures produce different--often competing--ways of making meaning. 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 2601E / 001 (Evening) Syllabus 

3000-3999 Level Courses

3000-level courses allow students to focus on topics, whether an historical period, a cultural tradition or a literary theme, which pique their own critical curiosity. Class discussions will address the interactions of texts with one another, with their historical moment or with larger social trends. Students will also explore how scholarship has evolved over time and learn how to place their own thought and writing within a developing and ongoing critical tradition. Advanced research skills, tailored to specific critical problems, will allow students to develop habits of independent exploration and analysis which will lead to nuanced and persuasive written work which fully participates in the discipline of English studies. Typically, students in an English module will be enrolled in 3000-level courses in their third and fourth years. A reasonable amount of choice in the modules will allow English students to pursue their own interests while becoming members of an academic community. Students not in English modules will find courses which stimulate their critical imaginations while complementing their own module offerings. Learn more >>

These courses require prerequisites. Students are responsible for ensuring that they have successfully completed all course prerequisites and that they have not taken an antirequisite course, as stated in the Academic Calendar.

3200F - Feminist Literary Theory
An introduction to critical debates in twentieth-century feminist literary theory. Students will study (1) the diversity of feminist approaches to literature, literary production, the politics of language, questions of genre and subjectivity; and (2) the intersections among feminist literary theories, postcolonialism, Marxism, anti-racist criticism, queer theory, and post-structuralism. 0.5 course

Fall 2023 3200F / 001 Syllabus

3201G - Introduction to Cultural Studies
An introduction to cultural studies methodology and theory, and the history of cultural studies as a discipline. 0.5 course

Winter 2024 3201G / 001 Syllabus

3204F - Critical Race Theory (cross-listed with GSWS 3324F)
This course explores key concepts in critical race theory, focusing on: cultural constructions of race and their connection to settler colonialism and imperialism; the links between race, class, gender, and sexuality; processes of racialization; whiteness as an “invisible” category; the hypervisibility of racialized subjects; and anti-racist cultural production. 0.5 course

Fall 2023 3204F / 001 Syllabus

3300 - History of English Language
A study of the historical development of English phonology, morphology, orthography and syntax from Old English to the modern period. At the same time, we examine the changing roles of English (commercial, literary, and administrative) and the different varieties of the language available to its many speakers. 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 3300 / 001 Syllabus 

3316E - Love in the Middle Ages
This course explores representations of love and desire in the culture of Europe from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries. While introducing the Middle English language, we will read romances, dream visions, mystical visions, love letters, and plays in their scientific, historical, and religious contexts. 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 3316E / 001 Syllabus 

3321F - Paradise Lost
This half-course will examine such topics as Milton’s grand style, Satan, epic heroism (is Paradise Lost an epic or anti-epic?), the nature of innocence, what it means to “fall,” and whether there can be a “fortunate fall.” Attention will also be paid to seventeenth-century politics, science and astronomy. 0.5 course

Fall 2023 3321F / 001 Syllabus 

3327B - Remediated Shakespeare
This half-course will explore four major plays through a range of media including early and later print, staged performance, film, and live stream. Study of Shakespeare as text and performance will include students annotating, editing and staging scenes, and creating websites and/or blogs to reflect on their acts of making. 0.5 course

Winter 2024 3327B / 001 Syllabus 

3330E - Shakespeare
Shakespeare has inspired poems, novels, films, and new drama, and his plays remain a touchstone of artistic achievement, both on the stage and the page. There is also much to interrogate about Shakespeare’s place in the canon of literature in English. This course, taught by one of the department’s awarding-winning professors, will introduce you to twelve of Shakespeare’s plays. We will study comedies, histories, and tragedies, beginning with Richard II, which we will see at the brilliant new Patterson Theatre at the Stratford Festival. There will be emphasis on the plays in production and students will be given the interpretive tools and confidence to make Shakespeare their own. 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 3330E / 001 DRAFT Syllabus 

3341F - Sex, Death, and Philosophy: Libertinism and Eighteenth-Century British Literature
The restoration of the monarchy in 1660 ushered in a new and sometimes frightening era of philosophical, social, and sexual freedom. This course explores Libertinism, a subversive doctrine that challenged cultural and sexual norms, through the poems, plays, and prose of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. 0.5 course

Fall 2023 3341F / 001 Syllabus

3349G - Topics In Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Literature: Poetry and Well Being
This course will explore a narrow topic within Restoration or eighteenth-century literature. It may concentrate on a shorter historical span, a particular genre, or use some other principle of selection. 0.5 course

Winter 2024 3349G / 001 Syllabus

3351G - Romantic Revolutions
Revolt, radicalism, counter-revolution, reaction, reformation; hope, crisis, peace, war, invention, imagination, catastrophe, wonder, terror. What shadows did revolution cast upon the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries? This course examines a range of texts that reflect Romantic and post-Romantic transformations, upheavals, and reversals in aesthetic, socio-political, scientific, and/or psychological thought and writing. 0.5 course

Winter 2024 3351G / 001 Syllabus 

3353F - The Woman Question: Nineteenth-Century Woman Writers
In the nineteenth century, women readers and women writers were an important part of the new mass market for English literature, often leading in the emergent campaign for women’s rights. This course will discuss these and other issues in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry by women from the 1790s to 1900. 0.5 course

Fall 2023 3353F / 001 Syllabus 

3369F - Topics in Nineteenth-Century Literature: Dandies, Decadents, and the New Women
Embracing the call of "art for art’s sake,” the dandies, decadents, and New Women of late-Victorian Britain set out to redefine what it means to be modern. Drawing on the remarkable holdings of rare books and magazines in Western Libraries’ Special Collections, this course explores fiction, poetry, drama, and visual art by Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley, Vernon Lee, Amy Levy and many others0.5 course

Fall 2023 3369F / 001 Syllabus 

3449F - Topics in Early American Literature: The American Renaissance
In the first half of the nineteenth century, the rapid territorial expansion of the United States generated intense pressure to clarify the purpose of the nation and the meaning of American identity. This expansion also produced an era of intense literary output that scholars have since termed the American Renaissance. The term has been used to identify a period between roughly 1845 and 1865 when the “‘possibilities of democracy’ became powerfully central to American literature” (Philips 1). As U.S. printing houses expanded and magazines and newspapers proliferated, U.S. authors became household names. Scholars now examine the American Renaissance as “a period and an event” (Philips 1) that fostered a sense of national self-consciousness that would permanently reshape U.S. culture.

This course will examine how key authors of the American Renaissance represented and responded to the ideals of American democracy. Some authors embraced the idea of U.S. democracy and saw the U.S. as an exceptional nation—one that could shed its historical baggage with Britain, become an egalitarian nation, and develop into a benevolent empire. Others sought to contest the success of U.S. democracy by pointing out the profoundly exclusive nature of U.S. citizenship. Our course texts will introduce us to some of the most important debates that took place in nineteenth-century U.S. culture about gender, sexuality, racial identity, class conflict, slavery, U.S. exceptionalism, and U.S. imperialism. Our class will also recognize how the process of U.S. nation formation that was celebrated by many American Renaissance authors fundamentally depended upon the enslavement of people of African descent and the domination of Indigenous peoples. 

Over the course of the semester we will read some of the best-known novels, short stories, and non-fictional prose of mid-nineteenth century, including Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables, Melville’s “Bartleby” and “The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids,” Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket and Fanny Fern’s Ruth Hall. We will also study works by Ralph Waldo Emerson Margaret Fuller, and Frederick Douglass. 0.5 course

Fall 2023 3449F / 001 Syllabus 

3480G - Reading America Now
How does the American literary imagination engage contemporary issues? This course approaches recent American fiction and poetry to explore national identity, sexual and racial difference, social and economic injustice, and the significance of media technology. Readings may be accompanied by studies of contemporary visual culture and music. 0.5 course

Winter 2024 3480G / 001 Syllabus 

3572F - Canadian Literature and Multiculturalism
This course explores Canadian literature in relation to "multiculturalism," one of Canada's most celebrated and contested national attributes. Readings may include works published before and/or after the passing of the Official Multiculturalism Act in 1982, as well as critical debates about the term "multiculturalism" itself. 0.5 course

Fall 2022 3572F / 001 Syllabus REV 

3573G - Black Writing in Canada
This course offers advanced study of writing by authors of the Black Diaspora in Canada. Its focus and scope may vary by course offering, from multiple genres (e.g., theatre, fiction, poetry, documentary film) to a single mode (e.g., Afrofuturism, neo-slave narratives) to Black writing in a particular region (e.g., the Prairies, West Coast, East Coast, Toronto) or a particular historical period (e.g., 19th century, 21st century, 1960s to 1990s). Attentive to historical, literary historical, and other contexts, the course celebrates the aesthetics and artistry of Black writing in Canada and the knowledges it produces. Anti-requisite(s): English 3579G (2021-22). 0.5 course

Winter 2024 3573G / 001 Syllabus 

3581F - Toronto: Culture and Performance (cross-listed with Theatre 3581F and and ARTHUM 3390F)
In Toronto: Culture and Performance we explore the GTA’s contemporary theatre ecology as a city-making enterprise. We ask: how does performance help to build a city, to enable its communities to tell their stories, and to work towards the decolonization of our shared, lived spaces? We will see live performance, watch cool stuff on the internet, meet artists and creators, and explore the many provocative and empowering ways cities and their theatre and performance landscapes intertwine. 0.5 course

Fall 2023 3581F / 001 Syllabus 

3680F - Indigenous Literatures of Turtle Island (cross-listed with Indigenous Studies 3880F)
This course engages with concepts and practices of storytelling from Indigenous nations across Turtle Island (North America) while considering the many shapes that Indigenous storytelling takes, including oral narratives, literature, and film. In many Indigenous communities, stories are an important way of teaching—they transmit knowledges and histories and offer powerful insights about how to live in good relation with each other and the world around us. Come join us in learning from the brilliance of Indigenous storytellers! 0.5 course

Fall 2023 3680F / 001 DRAFT Syllabus 

3915E - Special Topics: Lives and Literature of Black North Americans (cross-listed with GSWS )
Through reading a variety of genres (poetry, autobiographies, fiction, histories, speeches, letters, legal briefs), we consider what it means to be Black in North America. We ask: how do the experiences of Black Canadians and Black Americans compare? How do Black Canadian and Black American authors influence, engage, and respond to one another? How do the histories of each nation affect Black authors? In analyzing this rich body of literature, we contemplate the diverse experiences, including joys and sorrows, struggles and successes, of Black North Americans. The course includes field trips to local Black history sites and engagement with Black community organizations, including the Fugitive Slave Chapel at Fanshawe Pioneer Village, the Black Mecca Museum, and the London Black History Coordinating Committee. 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 3915E / 001 Syllabus 

4000 Level Courses

4000-level courses are designed for Honors students (whether those in an HSP or a Double Major). Fourth-year, non-Honors students with a 70% average may also enroll in 4000-level courses. These courses typically explore narrowly defined topics: a particular work or author, a brief historical moment, or a clearly defined theoretical issue. Students and faculty will engage with the texts at hand and the surrounding critical tradition. Deploying and expanding their critical skills, students will find and explore their own research questions while situating their argument within an ongoing conversation. 4000-level seminars are an opportunity for sustained, independent study within the structure of a communal seminar. The small, seminar setting prepares English students for continued study at the graduate level. 4000-level courses are typically not suitable for students not in English modules unless the topic specifically compliments the student’s work in their home module. Learn more >>

4311E – Seminar in Medieval Language and Literature: Tolkien and Old English (cross-listed with English 9171)
When he was sixteen, Ronald Tolkien acquired an Anglo-Saxon primer from a master at King Edward’s School in Birmingham, which he devoured with enthusiasm before turning to the reading of Beowulf, then Middle English, then Old Norse, and then Germanic philology in general. After that, he turned to inventing languages. In this course, we will study Old English as Tolkien did, beginning with introductory short prose texts, then some of the shorter poems, and then Beowulf, making links with Tolkien’s life and work along the way. When we get to Beowulf, we will read his landmark Gollancz Lecture from 1936, which arguably turned the study of the poem away from the quarrying philologists and archaeologists and towards scholars of literature and culture. We will also consider the other poems which Tolkien addressed in his scholarly role as Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon in the University of Oxford, and the changes he brought to the curriculum of the Faculty of English Language and Literature along with his friend C.S. Lewis. We will also engage with the works that Tolkien wrote himself, inspired by the medieval texts he studied professionally, reading The Lord of the Rings, and some of his other works. If time and energy permit, we will also delve into Tolkien’s own compositions in Old English, and his other engagements with issues of early medieval English culture. The course is set up so that individual students can learn Old English in detail, or can choose to focus more on Tolkien and his engagement with the medieval as a principal feature of the interdisciplinary subject of medievalism. 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 4311E / 001 Syllabus 

4320G – Seminar in Renaissance Literature: Animals and the Environment in Renaissance Literature
This course engages with the current critical interest in animal studies, ecocriticism, and climate studies to investigate the poetry, prose, and drama of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In this period, England was significantly affected by a period of global cooling we now know as the Little Ice Age, which created extreme weather patterns similar to those we experience today. In addition to climate change, early modern English relationships with animals and the environment were shaped by traditional practices of farming and hunting, as well as by the more recent developments of urbanization, industrialization, and colonialism. To explore these topics, we will look at texts such as Shakespeare’s King Lear and As You Like It; country house poems such as Ben Jonson’s “To Penshurst”; and Margaret Cavendish’s anti-hunting poems and her early sci-fi prose work, The Blazing World, which depicts a land peopled with human/animal hybrids. 0.5 course

Winter 2024 4320G / 001 Syllabus 

4350F – Seminar in Nineteenth-Century Literature: Voice, Image and Politics in Victorian Poetry
Depending who you ask, the long reign of Queen Victoria (1827-1902) was either a golden age of English poetry or its most decadent. It was period when major poets like Alfred Tennyson and Elizabeth Barrett Browning were celebrities who became wealthy from the royalties on their work and whose opinions on politics and culture were quoted in the press. It was the last period in English literary history when poetry had more cultural prestige than the prose fiction, and when poetry was a medium for political art and for writing about sex with a frankness that was not allowed in popular forms like the novel.  It was period of intense formal and generic innovation, which saw the reintroduction of metres from Medieval poetry as well as experiments with free verse. Victorian poets introduced important modern genres like the dramatic monologue.

This course will survey the major poets of the period, including Tennyson and Barrett Browning, as well as Robert Browning, Matthew Arnold, Christina Rossetti, D. G. Rossetti, Algernon Swinburne and others. We will discuss metre as the written expression of bodily rhythms. We consider poetic treatments of politics and sexuality and the relation between developments in poetry and developments in print technology and in the mass reproduction of images. 0.5 course

Fall 2023 4350F / 001 Syllabus 

4351G – Seminar in Nineteenth-Century Literature (Brescia University College)
This course will explore novels by Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë in the context of nineteenth-century British literature, Romanticism, Victorian social history, narrative, and ideologies of class, gender, religion, and empire. We will examine and question the myth-making which surrounds the Brontës (through biography and popular adaptation), as well as the mythic structures and patterns in their texts. Students will engage in critical analysis of narrative, stylistic, symbolic, and theoretical aspects of their writings. 0.5 course

Winter 2024 4351G / 530 Syllabus 

4370F - Seminar in Twentieth-Century British and Irish Literature: Weird Fiction
Course description TBA. 0.5 course

Fall 2023 4370F / 001 Syllabus 

4571G - Seminar in Canadian Literature: The Economics, Politics, and Aesthetics of Canadian Poetry to the First World War
Using the lenses of aesthetics, politics, and economics, this course will trace the evolution of what became Canadian literature from the writings of explorers and fur traders to the First World War. Although poetry will be the primary focus, attention will also be paid to a few of short prose works and to visual manifestations of aesthetic and economic ideas. Foci of the course will include the “picturesque,” the “four stages” theory of social development,  and the “mind-cure” movement. Among the writers discussed will be a selection of  Henry Kelsey, Oliver Goldsmith, Adam Kidd, Catherine Parr Traill, Susanna Moodie, Isabella Valancy Crawford, Charles G.D. Roberts, Archibald Lampman, Bliss Carman, Duncan Campbell Scott, L.M. Montgomery, and Stephen Leacock. 0.5 course

Winter 2024 4571G / 001 Syllabus 

4771F - Seminar in Literary Studies: Indigenous Futurisms
What role does Indigenous storytelling in its varied forms play in envisioning—and building—futures beyond colonization? Guided by this question, our course will engage with a range of literature, drama, and film that draws upon Indigenous nation-specific knowledges, languages, and practices from across Turtle Island to imagine sovereign Indigenous futures. 0.5 course

Fall 2023 4771F / 001 DRAFT Syllabus 

4851F - Seminar in Literary Studies: Unlocking James Joyce's Ulysses (King's University College)
One of the most influential novels in the English language, Joyce's 1922 masterpiece Ulysses is also one of the most difficult. Students in this class will have the opportunity to tackle the novel with the benefit of guides, annotations, and lecture material to assist them, giving the opportunity to appreciate its richness and beauty and better understand the many literary experiments which came after it. The class will begin with a selection of stories from Joyce's collection Dubliners, as well as his first novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, before dedicating the rest of the course to Ulysses and its historical contexts. 0.5 course

Fall 2023 4851F / 570 Syllabus

4871G - Seminar in Literary Studies: (auto)affective (dis)order(s) (King's University College)
This seminar considers various forms of (auto)affective writing (e.g., creative nonfiction, lyric memoir, neoconfessional, etc.). Traditionally the purview of female, queer, dis/abled, and/or racialized communities, such self-accounts push back against the narrative assumptions and chrononormativities of auto/biographical writing, revealing the inability of the supposedly "right" kinds of “human” stories to plot the affective plurality of diverse lifeworlds. Using relevant concepts from psychoanalytic, feminist/queer/trans*, critical race, and narrative theory, we will assess the extent to which (auto)affective writings deconstruct the generic assumptions of conventional life writing and its insistence on a coherent, fully narratable individual Self. Based on shared interests, we will collaborate on a short list of required readings. Possible texts may include: Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Reveries of a Solitary Walker (1782); Walt Whitman's Specimen Days (1882); Gertrude Stein's The Autobiography of Alice B. Tolkas (1933); Jean Genet, A Thief's Journal (1949); Cheryl Strayed's Wild (2012), Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts (2015); Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric (2013); Carmen Maria Machado's In a Dream House (2019); Alice Wong's Year of the Tiger: An Activist's Life (2022). 0.5 course

Winter 2024 4871G / 570 Syllabus 

4881F - Seminar in Literary Studies: Conflict in 20th Century and Contemporary Women's Drama (Huron University College)
This course considers how conflict intersects and reflects on changing social realities, alongside the ways in which conflict is re-imagined, redefined, and confronted in the work of twentieth-century and contemporary women’s drama by Lorraine Hansberry, Suzan-Lori Parks, Tara Beagan, Sarah Kane, Paula Vogel, and Young Jean Lee, among others. We will assess what themes, linguistic conventions, affective states, and body language emerge consistently from the varied representations studied. 0.5 course

Fall 2023 4881F / 550 Syllabus

4881G - Seminar in Literary Studies: Reading Literature Since the Digital Turn (Huron University College) - CANCELLED
How are changes in new media affecting the ways we read, study and access English literature?  How is the increased availability of digitized literary drafts, notebooks and other primary documents changing our understanding and study of authorship, textual production and mise-en-page?  What does it mean to read literature when the digital text combines audio, video and other media? What is the potential for social reading, annotation and editing in digital settings and how might new platforms be employed to increase global collaboration?  These are just some of the questions central to Reading Literature since the Digital Turn. 0.5 course

Winter 2024 4881G / 550 Syllabus

4899G – The Alice Munro Chair in Creativity Seminar: Creative Writing Workshop POPULAR!
A workshop course directed by the Alice Munro Chair in Creativity. The course is aimed at students interested in developing a sustained creative work, whether an early draft of a prose narrative, story collection or poetry. See the Department Website for the specific focus of this year’s seminar. 0.5 course

Winter 2024 4899G / 001 Syllabus 

4999E - Thesis
Individual instruction in the selection of a topic, the preparation of materials, and the writing of a thesis. Students who wish to take this course must apply to the Chair of Undergraduate Studies, Department of English and Writing Studies. This course is restricted to students in fourth year of an English Program with a minimum A average. Additional registration in 4000-level English courses require permission of the Department. See English Studies 4999E - Undergraduate Thesis for details. 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 4999E / 001 Various Consent form 

Course listings are subject to change. See Western Academic Timetable for date, time, and location of specific courses. See Undergraduate Sessional Dates for more details and deadlines.

Previous Courses Offered & Course Outlines