Undergraduate English 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.


2019 SPRING/SUMMER COURSES (Tentative schedule)

Distance Studies (May 6-Jul 26)

1020E - 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.

Summer 1020E / 650 Instructor: tba Syllabus

2033E - Children’s Literature
Readings from significant books written for children, selected primarily for literary quality. Some attention will be given to the historic evolution of "Children's Literature" as a separate class, but the principal aim of the course will be to consider the nature and development of the two major genres: nonsense verse and romance.

Summer 2033E / 650 Instructor: tba Syllabus

2071F - 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.

Summer 2071F / 650 Instructor: tba Syllabus

2072F - Speculative Fiction: Fantasy
A study of the purposes and historical origins of fantasy, and modern developments in fantasy: alternate worlds, horror or ghost stories, sword & sorcery, heroic fantasy. May include writers such as Tolkien, Simmons, Peake, Herbert, Beagle, Rowling.

Summer 2072F / 650 Instructor: tba Syllabus

3330E (formerly 3227E) - Shakespeare
Shakespeare remains one of the most influential of English writers. This course studies twelve plays across a range of genres. Instructors may integrate theatre-oriented exercises and/or other dramatic or non-dramatic material, depending on individual emphasis.

Summer 3330E / 650 Instructor: tba Syllabus

Intersession (May 13-Jun 21)

2033E - Children’s Literature
Readings from significant books written for children, selected primarily for literary quality. Some attention will be given to the historic evolution of "Children's Literature" as a separate class, but the principal aim of the course will be to consider the nature and development of the two major genres: nonsense verse and romance. 2 lecture hours, 1 tutorial hour, 1.0 course

Summer 2033E / 001 Instructor: tba Syllabus


See MASTER TIMETABLE for dates, times and locations

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: The Art of Belligerence
This course invites students to consider what it means to read literature today. How does literature help us understand our lives in the early twenty-first century? We will consider literature’s engagement in history and politics, and our role, as readers of literature, in conversations that shape the worlds in which we live. Through readings of prose, poetry, and drama, we will explore the power of disobedience (whether in face of the state, gods, or family) and the desire to belong. We will also consider, more specifically, aesthetic questions, such as: What is literature? What formal means do writers use to engage thematic preoccupations? How do writers and literary texts speak to one another, sometimes across centuries? Just as importantly, students will learn to make persuasive arguments, honing their writing craft, oral communication, and research skills. 2 lecture hours, 1 tutorial hour, 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 1020E / 001 M.J. Kidnie DRAFT Syllabus 

1020E  / 002 - 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 / 002 A. Lee Syllabus

1020E / 003 - Understanding Literature Today: Literatures of Violence
Violence, in its many forms, represents both a deadly threat to, and expression of, human culture. It is a force of social cohesion and disruption; it is horror and pain and injustice, and yet also an almost obligatory element of human entertainment. We condemn it as inhumane, but our histories insist that it is a fundamental component of being human. And it looms as both the end, and sometimes the ends, of art. This course will examine the complexity of our culture engagement with violence through a diverse range of texts. We will study representations of violence in the contexts of history and society, as well as with reference to its impact upon identity, and its relationship to gender, class, ethnicity, and culture. 2 lecture hours, 1 tutorial hour, 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 1020E / 003 (Evening) M. McDayter Syllabus

1022E - Enriched Introduction to English Literature
The principal aims of English 1022E are: (1) to give students an overview of English literature from the Middle Ages to the present, with some attention to recent Canadian writers; (2) to introduce students to a variety of literary genres, historical perspectives, and critical approaches; (3) to permit students to strengthen their writing and research skills and to apply them to the study of literature; and, last, but by no means least, (4) to enable students to deepen their interest in and enjoyment of the study and use of English. Among the authors studied are William Shakespeare, John Milton, John Keats, Christina Rossetti, Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen, and Anne Michaels. 2 lecture hours, 1 tutorial hour, 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 1022E / 001 D. Bentley Syllabus 

1027F - The Storyteller’s Art I: Introduction to Narrative
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 2018 1027F / 001 G. Ceraldi Syllabus 

1028G - The Storyteller’s Art II: Topics in Narrative - Realism, Fantasy, Dystopia
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 the post-apocalyptic fantasy The Road, fantasy novels 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 with the demands of realism. We will also examine the appeal of fantasy by looking at texts that foreground their reasons for rejecting the restrictions of realism. 2 lecture hours, 1 tutorial hour, 0.5 course

Winter 2019 1028G / 001 G. Ceraldi 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. 3 lecture hours, 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 2017 / 002 (Evening) N. Joseph Syllabus 

2018A - 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? 3 hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 2018A / 001 (Evening) J. Lambier 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. 2 lecture hours, 1 tutorial hour, 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 2033E / 001 G. Ceraldi Syllabus 
Fall/Winter 2033E / 650 (Online) C. Suranyi Syllabus 

2041F - Fall Theatre Production - Dido, Queen of Carthage
In this course, students participating in the Department of English and Writing Studies' Fall Theatre Production - Dido, Queen of Carthage, 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 were held in March 2018 so that students can register and receive a course credit for their part in the production. Permission of the Chair of Undergraduate Studies required to enroll. 3 lecture/tutorial hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 2041F / 001 J. Devereux Syllabus 

2071FG - 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. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 2071F / 650 (Online) J. Kelly Syllabus  
Winter 2019 2071G / 650 (Online) M. Stephenson Syllabus

2072F - Speculative Fiction: Fantasy
A study of the purposes and historical origins of fantasy, and modern developments in fantasy: alternate worlds, horror or ghost stories, sword & sorcery, heroic fantasy. May include writers such as Tolkien, Simmons, Peake, Herbert, Beagle, Rowling. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 2072F / 650 (Online) J. Kelly Syllabus

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 Neil Gaiman. 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. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Winter 2019 2072G / 001 G. Ceraldi Syllabus 

2074F - Mystery and Detective Fiction
Mystery stories explore matters of life and death. They engage problems involving the law, justice, and morality. They address fundamental questions of 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. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 2074F / 001 M. Jones Syllabus 

2076G - Medieval Heroes, Villains and other Outsiders
This course will oscillate between the stories of historical medieval individuals and medieval literary figures, considering how these diverse entities embodied their beliefs and scratched out a sense of agency in the Middle Ages.  By fighting monsters, Beowulf in an Old English poem rebuilt one kingdom and maintained another, but in the end failed as a king.  Arthur, in a broad range of medieval texts, built a kingdom with a code of conduct and a good marriage, but both failed him and the kingdom. Richard the Lionheart and his great opponent Salah ah’Din are figures both of history and literature in the Third Crusade. Sir Morien, the Moorish relative of the Grail quester Perceval in Arthurian legend, boldly marches into Arthurian tradition and carves out his own powerful and striking place at the Round Table.  He is often confused with St Maurice, the Roman commander who died with all his men rather than persecute Christians in Egypt, and lived again in the lance of St Maurice carried at the head of Charlemagne’s armies. Hildegard of Bingen by her own account and by the reports of several others who dealt with her, built a nunnery and many intellectual and musical works by dint of her obstinacy and her faith; her work disappeared into obscurity.  Eleanor of Aquitaine was queen-consort of France, and queen of England, along the way going on the Second Crusade (and contributing essential strategic decision-making in one battle), and perhaps creating the concept of courtly love, a notion that we continue to wrestle with in the present day.  Pope Sylvester II was a remarkable historian and scientist, but his brief papacy at the turn of the first millennium led to his being labelled a devil-worshipper and apostate in later days. Other medieval figures exist in the borderlands between what would today be called literature and what would today be called history: Joan of Arc led the French to victory in retaking their lands from the hated English, but her story is as much myth as it is history; and Robin Hood might be an outlaw dwelling in the greenwood under Richard the Lionheart, or a displaced earl practising local justice and demonstrating archery under Edward III.  In this course we will attempt to disambiguate history from literature, and to discuss the many and multifarious modes of medieval heroisms and antiheroisms. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Winter 2019 2076G / 001 (Evening) J. Toswell Syllabus 

2091F - Special Topics - Forever Young: Literature for Adolescents
This course considers novels written for and about adolescents, drawing on a range of historical periods and genres while paying particular attention to the political and social history of young adults and their lived experiences. We also consider the place of young adult literature within larger scholarly trends and conversations. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 2091F / 001 M. Green-Barteet Syllabus 

2091G - The Creative Moment
This course will explore some of the factors that promote creativity, examining significant historical examples of turning-point moments across a range of disciplines and encouraging students to apply some basic principles of creativity to their own work. Texts may include The Tempest by William Shakespeare and Creativity by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as well as selections from such works as The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn and from such writers as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and T.S. Eliot. We will also be looking at some seminal moments in the history of visual art, film, and the social sciences.

Grading will be based on a series of quizzes on assigned readings and on a major project that will be completed and graded in several stages over the course of the term, from outline to first draft to revision and final submission. The project will be developed in consultation with the instructor and may range from a research paper to a piece of creative writing or a creative work in another medium. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Winter 2019 2091G / 001 (Evening) N. Ricci Syllabus

2092F - Special Topics - The Many Faces of Harry Potter
This course will examine the Harry Potter series in relation to the multiple genres that it draws on, including the gothic novel, detective fiction, fantasy, adventure, and even the dystopian novel. We will read all seven books alongside other novels and short stories that illustrate the generic conventions Rowling is working with. There will also be opportunity to consider the translation of the series into film. 3 lecture hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 2092F / 001 (Evening) G. Ceraldi Syllabus 

2096F - Special Topics in Popular Literature - Ready, Reader One: Video Games and Literature
Are video games a form of literature? What unique opportunities do games present to storytellers? This course examines the intersections of narrative and play by placing games alongside other pieces of popular culture, ranging from comic books to poetry. Students will combine close readings of texts and personal gameplay with class lectures and discussion in order to analyze literary concepts in games and popular culture more broadly. We will explore a range of topics including trauma, the body, and transmedia storytelling. NOTE: while previous experience with games is not necessary, students are expected to spend significant amounts of time reading and playing all course texts. 3 lecture hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 2096F / 001 M. Adams Syllabus

2096G - Special Topics in Popular Literature - Winter is Coming: A Game of Thrones
Like most universities, Western has a coat of arms: two Lions rampant double queued issuant Ermine Ducally crowned Gold; in base a Stag trippant of the second; on a Chief of the third a Sun Rising Gules. This looks like a composite of several sigils from George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire (our heraldic device is alarmingly close to that of Joffrey Baratheon), but then the eye falls on our motto: Veritas et Utilitas, Truth and Usefulness. What could be less true or useful than fiction, especially fantasy fiction? The aim of this course is to earn its place in Western’s coat of arms. Our emblem is not the Baratheon stag, or Lannister lions, or Martell rising sun, but the one Western places “in Chief”: an Open Book proper edged and Clasped Or. We shall go deep into Martin’s books and deep into their historical sources to find both veritas and utilitas. 3 lecture hours, 0.5 course

Winter 2019 2096G / 001 J. Leonard 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.

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. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 2200F / 001 G. Donaldson Syllabus

2201G (formerly 2210FG) - 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/G. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Winter 2019 2201G / 001 N. Joseph Syllabus

2202FG (formerly 2230FG) - Studies in Poetics
An introduction to important issues and concepts in the theory and analysis of poetry from different periods. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 2202F / 001 J. Schuster Syllabus 
Winter 2019 2202G / 001 J. Schuster Syllabus

2301E (formerly 2307E) - 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. 3 hours, 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 2301E / 001 (Evening) M. Stephenson Syllabus 

2401E (formerly 2308E) - American Literature Survey
This course offers a survey of important texts and authors from the Puritan and Revolutionary periods to the present. It addresses not only the major movements and styles of American literature associated with such authors as Poe, Dickinson, Twain, Hemingway, and Morrison, but also the innovative work of less familiar Indigenous and ethnic authors. 3 hours, 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 2401E / 002 A. MacLean Syllabus 

2501E (formerly 2309E) - 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. 3 hours, 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 2501E / 001 D. Pennee Syllabus 

2601E (formerly 2310E) - Global Literatures in English Survey
This course introduces students to South Asian, Australian, Caribbean, and African literatures in English. Over the last four decades, these literatures have been studied under rubrics such as commonwealth, post-colonial, world and global literatures. The course will address the relations between postcolonial literary studies and literary globalism. Following an introduction to these terms, students will study works by authors from a range of cultural and historical contexts. These writers engage with the consequences of colonialism, decolonization, nationalism, and globalization in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. 3 hours, 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 2601E / 001 N. Joseph 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.

3200G (formerly 2240FG) - 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. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Winter 2019 3200G / 001 A. Schuurman Syllabus 

3203F - Human, All Too Human
This course considers the figure of the posthuman as it emerges in the work of contemporary theorists. Beginning with an attempt to define the posthuman, it will then move to answer a series of critical questions regarding what is at stake in posthumanism’s critique of the humanist subject. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 3203F / 001 J. Boulter Syllabus 

3209F - Topics in Theory: Contemporary Topics in Critical Race Studies (cross-listed with Women's Studies 3324F)
This course offers advanced study in a narrowly defined area of theory and criticism. Specific content will vary from year to year depending on the instructor. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 3209F / 001 W. Gooding Syllabus 

3300 (formerly 3001) - 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. 3 hours, 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 3300 / 001 M. Stephenson Syllabus 

3316E - Love in the Middle Ages
Love may seem like a universal emotion, but as Chaucer notes:

Ek for to wynnen love in sondry ages,
In sondry londes, sondry ben usages.

If people express their love differently in different ages and lands, does it follow that they also feel love differently? This course will explore the different expressions and experiences of love in the medieval period. We will focus on the literature of late-medieval England, but we will place the English within a broader European context. We will also look at a variety of manifestations of love: the familial, divine and platonic in addition to the more obvious romantic and erotic. While exploring this most fundamental of emotional states, we will learn to read and enjoy Middle English literature. We will begin with Chaucer’s short lyric poems which are relatively easy, and work our way to more challenging genres and dialects of the language. 3 hours, 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 3316E / 001 R. Moll Syllabus 

3322F - Witchcraft, Magic and Science in Renaissance English Literature
This course examines witchcraft, magic, and the emergence of science in a variety of dramatic and/or non-dramatic English Renaissance texts. These may include, but not be limited to, works by Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson, Middleton, Spenser, Milton, Donne, Bacon and Burton, as well as select contemporaneous witchcraft, exorcism, and demonology pamphlets. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 3322F / 001 J. Devereux Syllabus 

3323G - Drama After Shakespeare
The decades following Shakespeare’s retirement witnessed the production of some extraordinary drama. This half-course will range from dark tragedies, by authors such as Middleton and Ford, to improbable romances by the likes of Heywood and Fletcher. Island princesses, miraculous reunions, lycanthropy, bloody murders, sexual obsession, and redemption lie in wait. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Winter 2019 3323G / 001 J. Purkis Syllabus

3327A - Remediated Shakespeare (cross-listed with Theatre Studies 3327A)
Be creative! This intensive hands-on study of four Shakespeare plays gives you the opportunity to explore the drama from the inside out. Students edit their own texts, stage short live performances, and transfer their work to digital media. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 3327A / 001 M.J. Kidnie DRAFT Syllabus 

3329G - Topics in Renaissance Literature: Pain and Suffering in Renaissance Literature
Must one suffer to create? This course explores various and recurrent ways in which pain and suffering presented early modern writers with compelling ways of defining, understanding, and mediating one's relationship to others, whether that relationship was political, amorous, or confessional in nature. Elaine Scarry’s now thirty-year old book The Body in Pain offers the seminal discussion of how pain is something both fundamentally resistant to and powerfully productive of language. With some of Scarry’s most important insights as a starting point, this course surveys a variety of key sixteenth and early seventeenth-century writers and literary forms to identify and interrogate varied, often fraught relationships between the profoundly private experience of suffering and the inherently public nature of the language that documents such an experience. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Winter 2019 3329G / 001 J. Johnston Syllabus

3330E - Shakespeare
This year-long course offers intensive study of one of the world’s greatest playwrights. It will range across twelve plays that illustrate the variety of writing Shakespeare produced for the stage. We will discuss how theatrical conventions and political pressures gave – and in different ways, continue to give – this drama meaning. 3 hours, 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 3330E / 001 J. Purkis Syllabus 

3342G - Body, Soul and Person in the Eighteenth Century
Are we hard-wired for immortality? Poets seem to think so. This course is about how literature, and poetry in particular, expresses the idea of soul and its relation to the body and to the mind. We focus on the eighteenth century when all these ideas were changing dramatically. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Winter 2019 3342G / 001 M.H. McMurran Syllabus 

3352F - Am I to be the Hero of my own Life: Nineteenth-Century Fictions of the Individual and the World
Nineteenth-century philosophers celebrated the individual, but the period also saw the emergence of new forms of social control in politics, the market, and the workplace. This course examines the individual’s relation to society and the world in nineteenth-century English literature. Besides fiction, it may include poetry, drama, and non-fiction. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 3352F / 001 J. Devereux Syllabus 

3353G - 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. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Winter 2019 3353G / 001 J. Devereux Syllabus 

3362G - Endless Forms: Life Sciences and Nineteenth-Century Literature
This class will centre on two of the most challenging and transformative books of the Victorian period: Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species and George Eliot’s novel Middlemarch. Darwin’s work had a profound impact on Victorian thinking about religion, time, history, and relations between human beings and other living species. George Eliot’s fiction shows one of the period’s greatest novelists developing new narrative forms in response to this impact. In this course we will have the luxury of reading their work slowly and with careful attention to its implications. Some shorter nineteenth century works will also be covered to provide context for the two books that are the major focus of the course. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Winter 2019 3362G / 001 M. Rowlinson Syllabus 

3373G - The Poetry of Nostalgia
Pound cried “Make It New!” The modern and contemporary poet may attempt to define the radically “modern”, but many major poets — Eliot, Yeats, Pound, Heaney, Oswald — use history to define the modern experience. This course explores how history —mythological, literary, real — is “new”, how nostalgia defines the modern poet’s project. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Winter 2019 3373G / 001 J. Boulter Syllabus

3379F - Topics in Twentieth-Century British and Irish Literature: Deformed Space/Time in 20th-Century British and Irish Literature
This course will consider the intersection of space and time in twentieth-and twenty-first century literature. We will discuss how literary constructions like continuous narratives, narrative omniscience, objective perspectives, psychologically stable characters, and ideas of progression all come under attack in Modernism, allowing new literary forms and structures to grow in post-relativistic time. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 3379F / 001 C. Riddell Syllabus

3440G - What is an American? Early American Literature
Pilgrims. Heretics. Witches. Revolutionaries. Luminaries. Activists. This course will examine topics in American literature before the Civil War, which may include the pressures of contact, the turbulence of the revolution, and the growing complexity of a new nation as it settles into patterns of territorial expansion, slavery, and literary output. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Winter 2019 3440G / 001 A. MacLean Syllabus

3471F - Ballots and Bullets: US Literature and Civil Rights
This course will consider ways in which the concept of civil rights, so fundamental to the constitutional democracy of the US, is both produced and negotiated in American literature from the sixteenth-century and American Revolution to the era of Donald Trump. We will begin by probing the integrity of the notion of America as a secular democracy by observing how colonial literature forms its ideal human subject through concepts and affects such as conversion, depravity, hierarchy, sympathy, tolerance, and free will that blur the lines between religious and secular civil discourse. Moving forward, we will read the founding texts of American democracy with an eye to understanding how, through the production of literature, civil rights enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States of America have historically been applied to a severely limited group of people, while women, black Americans, indigenous groups, LGBTQ2 people, and other minorities have not been considered as human subjects of civil rights. We will then observe how both minority and canonical literatures both before, during, and after the American Revolution have sought to achieve equality either through participation in the language of civil rights or through a critique of the very notion of civil rights itself. One key theme in the course will be critically examining the complex historical connection between religious and secular language that underpins American discourses of civil rights. A second key theme will be examining ways in which literature critiques or remediates discourses of civil rights in American culture that have been restricted to white male populations. In the final weeks of the course we will consider the Obama and Trump presidencies, observing how the White House’s crystallization of race relations and other civil rights issues in the U.S. has impacted literature and culture. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 3471F / 001 T. Kraayenbrink Syllabus 

3572F - Canadian Literature and Multiculturalism
Explore "multiculturalism," one of Canada's most celebrated and contested national attributes! An official designation since the 1980s, multiculturalism unofficially has always been part of the making of Canada. Study representations of multiculturalism, from the 1890s to 2018, through detailed analysis of literary texts and critical debates about multiculturalism. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 3572F / 001 D. Pennee Syllabus 

3579G - Topics in Canadian Literature: Canadian Medievalism
This course will explore a narrow topic within post-confederation Canadian literature. It may concentrate on a shorter historical span, a particular genre, or use some other principle of selection. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Winter 2019 3579G / 001 J. Toswell Draft Syllabus 

3581F - Toronto: Culture and Performance (cross-listed with Theatre Studies 3581F and Arts & Humanities 3393F)
How does the theatre that appears on Toronto’s stages reflect, extend, challenge and question the City of Toronto’s global-city aspirations? This is just one of a host of questions we’ll be asking in this exciting new course, as we travel to Toronto regularly to see live theatre of all kinds, talk with actors, directors, and reviewers, and explore the city’s contemporary theatre ecology through readings drawn from performance studies as well as urban studies. Students can expect to make at least four class trips into the city to see live performance, and to read a handful of scripts from the city’s most recent theatre seasons alongside some contextual materials. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 3581F / 001 (Evening) K. Solga Syllabus 

3671G - Testimony, Trauma and Revitalization in Indigenous Writings
Students will study Indigenous writings including memoirs, graphic novels, poetry and prose. Students will also read theoretical materials on trauma and healing in decolonial contexts. Topics for discussion may include the land and environment, the missing and murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Idle No More, and language and literary revitalization. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Winter 2019 3671G / 001 A. Bowes Syllabus

3678G - Cultures of African Queer Representations - CANCELLED
This course examines representations of LGBTQ figures in African literature, film, and political discourse, all of which have recently focused on LGBTQ identity when addressing ideas of Africa, and new national and transnational networks. We will explore creative responses to the legal and social predicaments faced by African sexual minorities. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Winter 2019 3678G / 001 T. Osinubi 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 Anglo-Saxon (cross-listed with English 9171)
At the age of sixteen, a master at King Edward's School in Birmingham lent Ronald Tolkien an Anglo-Saxon primer, which he devoured with enthusiasm before turning to the reading of Beowulf, then Middle English, then Old Norse, and then Germanic philology as a subject of some fascination.  And then 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, always comparing our approach to Tolkien's, and the primer and reader that he used with our own introductory texts.  When we get to Beowulf, we will read his landmark Gollancz Lecture from 1936, which arguably turned the study of the poem from the quarrying philologists and archaeologists, and towards scholars of literature and culture.  We will briefly consider the other poems which Tolkien addressed in his scholarly role as Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon in the University of Oxford, before turning to the works that Tolkien wrote himself, inspired by the medieval texts he studied professionally.  We will read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and consider their reception during and after Tolkien's life, and will delve somewhat into Tolkien's own compositions in Old English, and his other engagements with Anglo-Saxon matters. 3 hours, 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 4311E / 001 J. Toswell Syllabus 

4312G – Seminar in Medieval Language and Literature: Geoffrey Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde
This course is an in-depth study of Geoffrey Chaucer's masterpiece. Troilus and Criseyde was composed in the 1380s and tells the love story of Troilus, son of Priam and prince of Troy, and Criseyde, daughter of Calchas the traitor, as it unfolds during the siege of Troy. Widely considered to be the pinnacle of medieval romance, Troilus and Criseyde was also profoundly influential on English writers after Chaucer, including Shakespeare. Our study of the poem will entail some exploration of Chaucer's sources, such as Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, Boccaccio's Il Filostrato, and Benoît de Saint-Maure's Roman de Troie, as well as selected readings in the poem's rich afterlife, with such texts as Henryson's Testament of Cresseid and Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida. We will read Chaucer's Middle English but all Latin, Italian, and French texts will be read in modern English translations. Our reading will be supported and informed by lectures and seminar discussions on such topics as Middle English poetics and the romance genre; philosophical ideas about time, free will, and necessity; key concepts and practices of textual transmission, translation, and adaptation; and late medieval politics of sex and gender. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Winter 2019 4312G / 001 A. Schuurman Syllabus 

4470F – Seminar in American Literature: Reading "Eaarth"
Recent environmentalists argue we live on a new planet, hence the new spelling "Eaarth." We will read fiction, poetry, essays, and films from recent decades that use experimental techniques to understand our new Eaarth and what kind of planet it might become in the near future. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 4470F / 001 J. Schuster Syllabus 

4570F – Advanced Fiction Workshop
A workshop course directed at students interested in writing a novel or a collection of linked short stories, with a focus on the crucial early stages of the writing process. Students will be expected to complete 25 to 40 pages of an early draft of a novel or story collection over the course of the term. Readings will include excerpts from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction, Stephen King’s On Writing, and James Wood’s How Fiction Works, as well as selected short stories and novel excerpts. Grading will be based on submitted creative work, on class participation, and on written critiques of fellow students’ work. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 4570F / 001 N. Ricci Syllabus 

4851F - Seminar in Literary Studies: Creative Indigeneity: Indigenous Literature, Popular Culture, and Film from the Settler Colonies (Huron College)
This fourth-year seminar course in English and Cultural Studies will explore writing, filmmaking, and visual texts by indigenous authors, directors, and artists located in such settler states as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. As a class we will examine a number of works of literature, popular culture, and film as well as various academic essays, endeavouring to come to some understanding and knowledge about both the global and local significance of such texts. Because this is a research learning course, students will also be expected to conduct their own research, which will involve locating poems, films, graphic novels/comic books, and short stories by indigenous authors, directors, and artists that have not yet been subject to scholarly analysis and developing original interpretations of them. This course will take students through the full process of research: from the discovery of the research text through to the publication of the research outcomes. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018 4851F / 550 T. Hubel Syllabus

4851G – Seminar in Literary Studies: Studies in Solitude and Isolation (King's University College)
This course examines the cultural relevance of solitude and isolation from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century, from a psychological, philosophical, religious, aesthetic, and political perspective. Possible texts may include Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, 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. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Winter 2019 4851G / 570 C. Dowdell Syllabus

4871F – Seminar in Literary Studies: Comics and Life Writing (King's University College)
Despite the familiarity of the phrase, many of the most celebrated “graphic novels” are in fact autobiographies, personal narratives of lived experiences ranging from the mundane to the traumatic.  Surveying recent examples of this burgeoning genre, this seminar will consider some of the issues arising from this distinctive form of self-representation. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018  4871F / 570 B. Patton Syllabus

4871G – Seminar in Literary Studies: Version Control: Process, Variation and Flux in Literary Authorship (Huron University College)
This course will examine the versions and variants of poems and prose by authors such as Emily Dickinson, John Donne, Will Eisner, John Milton, Michael Ondatjee, Harriett Beecher Stowe, T.S Eliot and Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman and others. Special focus will be placed on the authorial, literary process (e.g. notetaking, drafting, visualizing) and textual variation (versions of works, differing editions, and the influence of media, e.g. works in manuscript, print and digital). In addition to studying archival and rare materials, students will have a chance to design their own digital archive. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Winter 2019  4871G / 550 S. Schofield Syllabus

4881F – Seminar in Literary Studies - "Words are Victims": Poetry, Decreation, and the Ruins of Language
This course will explore the poetic and theoretical ways in which several poets grapple with what Wallace Stevens calls "metaphor as degeneration." What does it mean to think of poetry as an allegorical space in which language is fragmented, broken or lying in ruins? How might poets "decreate" language? How does poetry express or conjure such spaces into being-or conversely, mourn their collapse? How do poetic obsessions with precision and concentration victimize language in the guises of suspicion and skepticism, of nostalgia or novelty, to rescue concepts like truth or beauty? Or are they beyond rescue? How are such fraught spaces--of memory, the city, the body, the interior, the metaphoric and metonymic, even death itself--examples of what Maurice Blanchot describes as the fragmentation which "denounces thought as experience...no less than thought as the realization of the whole"? We will work to situate these questions in the work of Wallace Stevens, Mina Loy, Li-Young Lee, and Anne Carson. We will read the works of these poets together with such thinkers as Maurice Blanchot, Martin Heidegger, Walter Benjamin, Georges Bataille, Simone Weil, René Guénon, and Alain Badiou. 3 hours, 0.5 course

Fall 2018  4881F/ 001 A. Pero Syllabus 

4999E - Thesis
English 4999E is 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 Undergraduate Thesis Course 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