200-level / Introductory courses

All 500-level courses and a certain number of 200-, 300- and 400-level courses have limited enrolment and require instructors' permission. Students hoping to enroll in these courses should consult notices outside the English Department General Office (Arts 155) for the procedures for applying for admission.

An asterisk beside a course number means that the course may be used as part of the pre-1800 English Literature requirement of the Literature Option.

ENGL 199 FYS: Literature and Democracy

The American Literary Renaissance and American Democracy

Professor Peter Gibian 
Winter Term 2012
Monday and Wednesday 11:35 am – 12:55 pm 

Full course description

Prerequisites: None.

Description: Intensive survey of classic writings of the "American Renaissance" in their aesthetic and cultural context. The mid-19th century was a crucial era for the formation of a distinctive American literature and for the testing of American conceptions of democracy. Through close readings of selected works by Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Dickinson, Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville, we will study these authors' responses to urgent literary questions about authorship, readership, symbolism, and language as well as to urgent social questions raised by Jacksonian democracy, the era of the Common Man, the splintering effects of American individualism and diversity, and the problem of slavery in the land of the free. 

Texts: (Tentative): Works selected from those mentioned in course description. 

Evaluation: (Tentative): Participation in discussions, 15%; series of one-page textual analyses, 15%; two critical essays, 20% each; take-home final exam, 30%. 

Format: Lecture and seminar discussion. 

Average Enrollment: 20-25 students

ENGL 200 Survey of English Literature

Instructor: Ms. Karen Oberer
Winter Term 2012
Tuesday and Thursday 4:05 – 5:25 pm

Full course description

Prerequisites: None.

Open only to students not registered in English Major and Minor Literature programmes.

Description: This course will familiarise students with the development of English poetry, drama and prose from the medieval period to the eighteenth century. We will study a series of major works, including Beowulf, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Spenser’s Faerie Queen, Shakespeare’s King Lear, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language, and attending to influential examples of shorter poetic and prose forms. We will also interrogate the notion of canonicity and discuss what it means to study “major” authors and their works.

Texts: The Norton Anthology of English Literature, vol. 1, 8th edition. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. New York: Norton, 2006.

Evaluation: Quizzes 10 %; Midterm exam 25%; Essay 25%; Final exam 30%; Conference participation 10%

Format: Lecture and discussion sections

Average Enrollment: 180 students

ENGL 202 Departmental Survey of English Literature 1

Professor Folkerth
Fall Term 2011
Monday and Wednesday 1:05 – 2:25 PM

Full course description

Prerequisite: None.

Not open to students who have taken ENGL 200. Open only to students in English Major and Minor programs.

Description: This course will familiarize students with the development of English poetry, drama and prose from the medieval period to the 18C. We will strike a balance between studying a series of major works, including Beowulf, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Spenser's Faerie Queen, Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, Milton's Paradise Lost, and Swift's Gulliver's Travels, and attending to influential examples of shorter poetic and prose forms. We will also explore the early modern project of translating the Bible into English. ENGL 202 is a required course for, and therefore intended for, students in English Department's major and minor programs.

Texts: The Norton Anthology of English Literature, vol. 1, 7th or later edition.

Evaluation:Midterm exam 25%; Essay 35%; Final exam 30%; Conference participation 10%

Format: Lecture and discussion sections

Average Enrollment:180 students

ENGL 203 Departmental Survey of English Literature 2 

Professor Miranda Hickman 
Winter Term 2012
Wednesday and Friday 10:05 – 11:25 am

Full course description

Prerequisites: English 202. Not open to students who have taken English 201, the non-Departmental Survey of English Literature.

Please note: this course is intended for Faculty of Arts or Faculty of Science Students in a Major or Minor Program in literature in the Department of English.  Not open to students in other Faculties. 

Description: This course surveys English Literature from the years following the French Revolution to the early twentieth century, with particular emphasis on poetry. We will pay close attention to the constructs of Romanticism, Victorianism, and Modernism that have traditionally governed the periodization and study of literature covered by this course.  We will also address how to develop critical, argument-governed essays on literature. 


  • The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. 2
    • Will include selections from Mary Wollstonecraft, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Blake, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Alfred Tennyson, Robert Browning, Matthew Arnold, John Ruskin, Christina Rossetti, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, James Joyce, and George Orwell.
  • Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice 
  • Charles Dickens, Hard Times 
  • Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway 

Evaluation: 2 essays (5-6 pp.), final examination, conference participation. 

Format: Lecture and discussion conferences 

ENGL 226 American Literature 2

Instructor: Dr. Joel Deshaye
Winter Term 2012
Tuesday and Thursday 8:35 – 9:55 am

Full course description

Prerequisites: ENGL 225 recommended, but not required

Description: This course is a survey of canonical American poetry, short fiction, and novels from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It focusses on major literary and cultural themes such as self-reliance, individualism, and freedom, often in the context of places such as the city and what Huck Finn calls “the territory” (or the frontier). Developing chronologically in general, the course presents some of the historical milestones of transcendentalism, realism, and modernism in American literature. The course introduces its themes in three literary forms beginning with poetry from Emily Dickinson and from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1855), with Herman Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener” (1856), and with Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885). With Twain’s novel as a transition, the second unit in the course will focus on issues of gender, race, and class in novels such as Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth (1905), William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying (1930), and James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953). The course will then conclude with modernist short fiction by writers such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Richard Wright, and Eudora Welty; and with modernist poetry by the likes of Gertrude Stein, Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, and Wallace Stevens.

Texts: The Norton Anthology of American Literature (Shorter Seventh Edition), Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, and James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain. In support of local business and culture, these books will be available for purchase (cash or cheque only) at The Word Bookstore, 469 Milton Street. Students are encouraged, as always, to begin reading and reflecting in advance of the course.

Evaluation: a mid-term exam (20%); an essay (30%); a final exam (30%); participation and improvement (20%).

Format: Lecture.

ENGL 229 Canadian Literature 2 

Professor Robert Lecker 
Winter Term 2012
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 12:35 – 1:25 PM

Full course description

Prerequisites: None.

Description: A survey of English Canadian poetry and prose from the Second World War to the present. We will read poetry, short fiction, and novels to explore the development of Canadian literature. In addition to looking at the work of specific authors from 1945 to the present, the lectures will cover such topics as Canadian literary nationalism, realism, postmodernism, and different forms of experimentation. We will also look at the idea of nordicity as a central metaphor in Canadian writing and discuss the economic and cultural forces accounting for the construction of a national literature. Weekly conference sections are designed to encourage individual participation and collaborative exploration of a wide range of issues and problems related to the study of Canadian literature.   

Texts: Lecker, Robert, ed. Open Country: Canadian Literature in English. Toronto: Nelson, 2007. 

Evaluation: 30% short quizzes; 25% essay; 25% final exam; 10% conference attendance; 10% participation in conference discussions. 

Format: Lecture and conference sections. 

Average Enrollment: 150 students

ENGL 230 Introduction to Theatre Studies

Professor Erin Hurley
Fall Term 2011
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 11:35 am – 12:25 pm

Full course description

Prerequisites: None.

Description: This course provides a critical introduction to theatre studies, in its branches of dramatic literature, dramatic theory, and theatre history.  Our point of departure for this introduction to the field will be plays drawn from the major episodes of world theatre history, beginning with Ancient Greek and Japanese Noh drama through contemporary Canadian and postcolonial performance, and including the Department of English mainstage show.  Through the plays, we will examine what "theatre" is in different periods and places, how it is constituted by the material conditions of performance, codified in dramatic genres, and conceptualized in dramatic theory.  NB: This course is introductory in the sense of 'foundational'; it offers the fundaments to the study of theatre, encasing them in a broad historical narrative about the theatre's development over time.

"Introduction to Theatre Studies" is divided into units and ordered according to chronology. Each unit is built around a representative play or performance and explores a particular question or issue in theatre studies, for instance, the actor's body, theories of genre, or women on stage.

Required Texts: Available at the McGill Bookstore and on Reserve

Worthen, W.B., ed. The Wadsworth Anthology of Drama 5th Edition.

Required Event: Department of English mainstage play – Moyse Hall Theatre, end of November

Evaluation: Midterm Exam - 20%; Final Exam - 35%; Season-selection assignment – 20%; Article abstract – 15%; Conference Participation – 10%  

ENGL 269 Introduction to Performance

Winter Term 2012
Section 1: Ms. Jennifer R. Heywood - Monday & Wednesday 12:35 – 2:25 pm
Section 2: Ms. Jennifer R. Heywood - Tuesday & Thursday 9:35 – 11:25 am
Section 3: Ms. Amanda Kellock - Tuesday & Thursday 2:35 – 4:25 pm

Full course description

Prerequisites: Permission of instructor required. Open to Drama and Theatre Majors

Description: The focus of this course is on the actor as communicator, and on those things (material, physical, and textual) which are inescapably central to the theatrical performance.

Texts: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

Format: TBA

ENGL 275 Introduction to Cultural Studies

Professor Trevor Ponech
Fall Term 2011
Tuesday and Thursday 8:35 – 9:55 am

Full course description

Prerequisites: None.

Description: "Introduction to Cultural Studies" is one of three required courses for the Cultural Studies concentration in the English major.  This year's version of the course will have three principal objectives: 

  1. "Culture" is a difficult term to define.  Just what it refers to is a matter of ongoing controversy.  Our course will survey some of the things that philosophers and social scientists have associated with the concept of "culture."  We shall be particularly interested in exploring the notion that "culture" refers to a dynamic, inter-personal phenomenon: the non-genetic emergence and transmission, from one human population or generation to another, of knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, values, norms, conventions, and ways of life.
  2. We will explore a key and privileged relationship between culture and art.  Perhaps culture, in some sense, can exist without art.  But the making and enjoyment of art, when these activities do emerge and persist within a human population, jointly comprise a centrally important cultural phenomenon in its own right.  Indeed cultural studies might usefully be understood as the investigation of the formative roles artistic activity and aesthetic experiences play in culture.  We therefore need to think about what art is, how it is made, what its typical effects are, and why it's especially relevant to the study of culture. 
  3. The study of culture requires a capacity for critical reasoning.  ENGL 275 will introduce students to a repertoire of basic ideas and skills associated with analytic thinking as employed across the humanities and social sciences.

Texts: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

Format: Lectures, class discussion, in-class screenings. 

Average Enrollment: 200 students

ENGL 277 Introduction to Film Studies  

Professor Derek Nystrom 
Fall Term 2011
Wednesday and Friday 4:05 – 5:25 pm (class)
Thursday 3:35 - 5:25 pm  (screening)

Full course description

Prerequisites: The course is limited to majors in Cultural Studies and/or minors in World Cinemas. 

Description: This course is designed to prepare students in the Cultural Studies major and/or World Cinemas minor for future film courses at McGill. The course will introduce the student to central concepts in film form and aesthetics, as well as key theories of film production and reception. The main goal of the course is to familiarize the student with analytical tools to investigate and explain how a film generates its multiple effects—in short, to articulate how a film works.

Evaluation: TBA 

Format: Lectures, weekly TA-led discussion, weekly screenings. 

Required Texts: David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, Film Art: An Introduction (8th or 9th edition)

Course pack (available at the McGill bookstore) 

Required Films: All films are available on 4-hour reserve at Redpath-McClennan 

The Man With A Movie Camera (U.S.S.R., Dziga Vertov, 1929)

Exotica (Canada, Atom Egoyan, 1994)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Germany, Robert Wiene, 1920)

Taxi Driver (U.S.A., Martin Scorsese, 1976)

Breathless (France, Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)

The Conversation (U.S.A., Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (U.S.A., John Ford, 1962)

Stella Dallas (U.S.A., King Vidor, 1937)

The Hole (Taiwan, Tsai Ming-Liang, 1998)

The Thin Blue Line (U.S.A., Errol Morris, 1988)

Dog Man Star: Prelude (1961), Mothlight (1963), The Wold Shadow (1972), Rage Net

      (1988), Black Ice (1994) (all U.S.A., Stan Brakhage)

Scorpio Rising (U.S.A., Kenneth Anger, 1964)

Meshes of the Afternoon (U.S.A., Maya Deren, 1945)

Vertigo (U.S.A., Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)