400-level / Advanced Courses

All 500-level courses and a certain number of 200-, 300- and 400-level courses have limited enrollment 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 404 The Early Nineteenth-Century English Novel

Women and Work

Instructor: Ms. Hilary Havens
Winter Term 2012
Monday and Wednesday 10:05 – 11:25 am

Full course description

Expected Student Preparation: Previous university classes in English Literature

Description: This course will scrutinize the period between the Jacobin movement of the 1790s and the emergence of the "woman question" in the late nineteenth century. The early nineteenth century featured major changes in the workplace and gender relations. As the definition of a "gentleman" evolved from "idle landowner" to include "working professional", possibilities of women's work appeared as well, in spite of prevalent "separate sphere" doctrines. We will begin with novels by Austen and Shelley, which depict and question "conservative" attitudes towards the workplace. We turn next to novels by Edgeworth and Gaskell, which celebrate working gentlemen, and finally to novels by Brontë and Oliphant, which consider the possibility of "genteel" women entering the workplace. This course asks, is there a steady acceptance of working individuals in the first half of the nineteenth century or is progress more fraught? Another important question for the course is what is the significance of studying these questions through the lens of a female author? Throughout the class, we will draw on various contemporary documents to supplement our readings, including nineteenth-century conduct manuals and philosophical treatises by Rousseau, Wollstonecraft, and Mill.

Evaluation: Participation 10%; Mid-term exam 25%; Short essay (6-8 pp.) 25%; Final comparative essay (10 pp.) 40%. Evaluation may alter according to class size.

Format: Lecture and discussion


  • Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (Broadview)
  • Mary Shelley, Lodore (Broadview)
  • Maria Edgeworth, Patronage (I will provide a Word document of the 1814 first edition)
  • Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South (Penguin)
  • Charlotte Brontë, Shirley (Penguin)
  • Margaret Oliphant, Miss Marjoribanks (Penguin)
  • Coursepack and handouts with supplemental readings and critical essays

All of the novels (excepting Patronage) will be available at The Word bookstore (469 Milton Street). Payment there is by cash or cheque only. A small coursepack will also be available for purchase at the McGill Bookstore. Since nineteenth-century novels are generally long, all of the novels on the syllabus, excluding Pride and Prejudice, will be assigned "skippable" sections, i.e. parts of the texts will be optional-reading and will not be tested or covered in class so that the reading assignments will remain at a manageable level.

    Maximum enrolment: 50

    ENGL 407 The 20th Century

    Counter-Currents at the Margins

    Professor Patrick Neilson
    Winter Term 2011
    Tuesday and Thursday 1:05 - 2:25 PM

    Full course description

    Office: Arts 375


    patrick.neilson [at] mcgill.ca (Email Professor Neilson)

    Description: In the latter half of the twentieth century the broad mainstream of Canadian drama has contained strong counter-currents at its margins. These are the plays that deal with uncomfortable or difficult subjects and often contain characters that are very different from mainstream audience members. Homosexuality, the challenges faced by refugees, racism, the every day realities of Canada' s Native communities, are a few of the issues given voice in these dramas. This course will look at some canonical plays that fit into the above categories as well as some recent works that continue to challenge mainstream complacency.

    Required Texts: TBA

    • Ross, Ian. FareWel.
    • Highway, Tomson. Ernestine Shuswap Gets Her Trout
    • Tremblay, Michel. Hosanna
    • MacLeod, Joan. The Shape of a Girl and Jewel
    • Wasserman, Jerry. Modern Canadian Plays. Vol.II

    Highly Recommended Background Readings: (All are available in the library.)

    • Fennario, David. Balconville.
    • Ryga, George. The Ecstasy of Rita Joe.
    • Tremblay, Michel. Les Belles-Soeurs.

    Evaluation: 15% Class Presentation, 15% Class Participation, 20 % Midterm Paper or project, 50 % Term Paper. Class participation means regular attendance (no more than 3 missed classes), keeping up with course readings and spirited, thoughtful participation in class discussions.

    ENGL 409 Studies in a Canadian Author

    Margaret Atwood

    Instructor: Dr. Joel Deshaye
    Fall Term 2011
    Monday, Wednesday, Friday 1:35 – 2:25 pm

    Full course description

    Description: This course focuses on the work of Margaret Atwood as a poet, novelist, critic, and writer of short fiction and children’s literature. Atwood, probably the most widely recognized and studied Canadian author, earned that status partly because of her highly varied and abundant contributions to Canadian literature and culture, and partly because her writing is timely—always engaging in contemporary debates, such as nationalism, feminism, and environmentalism. Beginning with her early poetry, we will consider the influence of Northrop Frye on her developing ideas about mythopoeia, Canadian nationalism, and selfhood. Our main text at the start of the course will be Atwood’s Selected Poems, 1965-1975 (1987). In the second unit of the course, we will reflect on Atwood’s critical strategies, first as seen in her textbook on Canadian literature, Survival (1972), then in Second Words: Selected Critical Prose (1982), in a recent lecture from Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (2008), and finally in some of her early novels: Surfacing (1972) and Lady Oracle (1976). These critical strategies, often related to feminism and environmentalism, will lead into a unit on Atwood’s genre fiction, namely speculative and science fiction, in The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) and Oryx and Crake (2003). In the final unit of the course, we will read a selection of her short stories and briefly consider her work in children’s literature..

    Texts: In support of local business and culture, the novels and poetry listed above will be available for purchase (cash or cheque only) at The Word Bookstore, 469 Milton Street. The critical texts will be available in a coursepack at the McGill Bookstore and on reserve at the library. Students are encouraged, as always, to begin reading and reflecting in advance of the course.

    Format: Lecture

    Evaluation: short essay (30%), research essay (60%), participation and improvement (10%).

    ENGL 410 Studies in a Theme or Movement in Canadian Literature

    Ethical Readings in Canadian Modernism

    Professor Brian Trehearne
    Winter Term 2012
    Tuesday and Thursday 1:05 - 2:25 pm

    Full course description

    "When practiced in a spirit of intellectual give-and-take, the particular mode of warning used by responsible ethical critics produces discussion and argument, not dogmatic assertion. Moralizing shuts topics down. Ethical criticism powers them up. The point to performing a piece of ethical criticism is neither to bully works of art nor to foreclose further discussion. The responsible ethical critic assumes that the ethical issues raised by stories are complex, subtle, thorny, and best analyzed within a community of thinkers who all agree about the importance of ethics in general but who do not necessarily make the same ethical judgments about particular narratives. And since we don't all agree, discussion is needed, not in order for one view to win out over all others but in order for us to learn what we think is important."
    (Marshall Gregory, Shaped by Stories: The Ethical Power of Narratives 122)

    Description: Canadian modernist writing has been read through successive critical and theoretical regimes: at first for its major themes, which were chiefly of interest at the time if they supported a nationalist cultural agenda; later for its emulation and development of a number of Anglo-American and European modernist aesthetics, forms, and styles (such work has preoccupied the present instructor); and, most recently, for the special textual and editorial problems underpinning its canonical decline. As a period and body of Canadian writing, our modernism has never been taken to articulate a significant strand of Canadian ethical consciousness, nor, indeed, to have significant philosophical content of any kind. This course will constitute an effort to re-direct Canadian modernist literary studies towards philosophical questions and to clarify the complexity of the writers' intellectual heritage and gravity.

    In discussion we will seek to articulate the often conflicting notions of "the good," of "human excellence," and of "the well-lived life" that Canadian modernist writers take for granted, suppose, represent, critique, and urge in their poetic and fictional works. We will take our methodological cues primarily from readings in the work of Wayne Booth, Martha Nussbaum, and Marshall Gregory, not only to familiarize ourselves with such key concepts as "moral luck" but also to respond to their common demand for and defence of ethical approaches to the study of literature. None of the three attends extensively to poetry, but we will address Canadian modernist poetry on an equal footing in the course, on the hypothesis that a typically non-narrative, impersonal, fragmented poetics may speak with particular acuteness to the author's philosophical concerns. While this cannot be a course per se in modernist poetics, we will work continually to understand the ways in which poetic and novelistic form can further, and/or can call into question, the apparent ethical interests of given personae, characters, narrators, and authors. It will be our constant challenge to disentangle the ethical notions we explicate in our discussions of poetry and fiction from the notion of authorial intention, but in the process we will hope to arrive at a more complex model of authorial intention that is not reducible to a single conscious impulse moving each literary work to hermeneutic closure.

    Because substantial attention will be paid to poetic and fictional form and style, this advanced course's discussions will be directed chiefly to English Literature majors who have completed the required Poetics course (ENGL 311). Students in all other programs must have my permission to register; registration on Minerva alone does not guarantee you a place in this course. This course is not open to U1 students. A prior course in modernism will be helpful background preparation.

    Texts: TBA, but drawing six to eight authors from:

    • Buckler, Ernest. The Mountain and the Valley. (1952)
    • Cohen, Leonard. Beautiful Losers. (1966)
    • Dudek, Louis. Infinite Worlds: Selected Poems.
    • Glassco, John. Selected Poems.
    • Grove, Frederick Philip. Fruits of the Earth. (1933)
    • ---. The Master of the Mill. (1944)
    • Klein, A.M. The Second Scroll. (1951)
    • ---. Selected Poems.
    • Layton, Irving. Selected Poems 1945-1989: A Wild Peculiar Joy.
    • Livesay, Dorothy. The Self-Completing Tree: Selected Poems.
    • Page, P.K. Kaleidoscope [Selected Poems].
    • Pratt, E.J. Selected Poems.
    • Scott, F.R. Collected Poems.
    • Smart, Elizabeth. By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. (1945)
    • Smith, A.J.M. The Complete Poems of A.J.M. Smith.
    • Watson, Sheila. The Double Hook. (1959)
    • Webb, Phyllis. Selected Poems: The Vision Tree.
    • Wilson, Ethel. The Equations of Love. (1952)

    Evaluation: Essay, 8 pages, 25%; essay, 12 pages, 35%; formal or take-home final examination, 30% (please note before registering for this course: I assess active participation in discussion and not attendance. Full attendance through the semester without speaking will earn 0/10 in this category and substantially affect your final grade). Evaluation may alter according to class size.

    Format: Lecture and substantial discussion

    Average Enrollment: new course. 35 students anticipated

    ENGL 414 Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature 1

    H.D. and Modernism

    Professor Miranda Hickman
    Fall Term 2011
    Tuesday and Thursday 2:35 – 3:55 pm

    Full course description

    Expected student preparation: some familiarity with poetry and modernist literature.

    Description: Since the mid-1980s, American expatriate poet H.D. (Hilda Doolittle, 1885-1961), once on the periphery of the official canon of modernist literature, has been acknowledged as a major modernist writer. For decades associated chiefly with the poetic movement of Imagism, H.D. is now recognized for a wide-ranging oeuvre including not only her early Imagist poetry, but also more complex verse inspired by the work of Greek antiquity, as well as the epic poetry of her later career: Trilogy is now read as a major poetic response to the conditions of World War II; and Helen in Egypt, like much of H.D.'s work, transmutes traditional mythic narratives into feminist counter-mythologies. Recently, criticism has highlighted H.D.'s experimental prose fiction, little of it published during her lifetime, which traces H.D.'s struggle to fulfil her vocation as a poet, develop a lexicon for diverse modes of desire, and understand what, through her work with Freud, she came to think of as her bisexual identity.

    H.D.'s work engages many of the major themes and problematics we now associate with modernism: how to forge a new aesthetics suited to twentieth-century modernity; how to draw upon cultures of the past to discover resources and wisdom toward the future; how to re-imagine spirituality in an era in which "God" was thought to be "dead"; how to transcend culturally received gender and sexual identities and understandings of desire toward greater freedom for women and men; and how to recover from the cultural trauma of war. As a result, H.D.'s oeuvre provides a valuable window on to the major questions, debates, and generative communities of modernist literature.

    Our course material includes a variety of H.D.'s poetry (Imagist, mythic, epic) as well as excerpts from several autobiographical novels—which, among much else, register the maturation of her artistry; her feminist critiques of social convention; her responses to conditions of wartime; her relationship to Ezra Pound, to whom she was at one time engaged; and her narrative strategies for encoding desire. We will also address her ambivalent memoir of Freud (which critiques and rewrites psychoanalytic assumptions even as it tributes the man she called "The Master"); her work with avant-garde cinema; and her meditations on visionary consciousness, partially inspired by D.H. Lawrence. We will address excerpts from her letters to many correspondents, including poet Richard Aldington, her husband; Norman Pearson, the Yale professor who became steward of her archive; and Bryher (Winifred Ellerman), her life partner and adoptive mother of her daughter.

    We will also address the work of many other modernists whose work and lives intersected in significant ways with hers—including T.S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, W.B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, D.H. Lawrence, and Amy Lowell.

    Format: Lecture and Discussion

    Evaluation: 2 brief critical essays (6 pp.); one imaginative response (4 pp.); final paper (15 pp.); class participation

    ENGL 415 Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature 2

    The Art of the Manifesto

    Professor Miranda Hickman
    Fall Term 2011
    Tuesday and Thursday 11:35 am – 12:55 pm

    Full course description

    Expected preparation: Some familiarity with early twentieth-century literature and culture

    Description: In 1913, F.T. Marinetti, charismatic leader of the avant-garde movement of Italian Futurism, noted his command of the "art of making manifestoes." As Marjorie Perloff observes, Marinetti was writing from the "avant-guerre" moment, just before the First World War, when "manifesto fever" was sweeping European artistic contexts. The Futurists, renowned for their manifestoes, were among the first to use in the domain of artistic practice an edgy genre that had been associated with political dissent (linked famously, for instance, to the French Revolution, and used notably by Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto). Shortly afterward, manifestoes would become widespread among early twentieth-century avant-gardists in Britain and continental Europe for voicing dissatisfaction with the status quo and articulating programs for change. Manifestoes became both markers and engines of the era's many artistic revolutions.

    This course explores the manifesto as a genre, considering its signature language, conceptual logic, and power as a means of imagining and fostering aesthetic and social change. As Janet Lyon notes, manifestoes are typically marked by rhetorical extravagance: deliberately incendiary, strategically uncompromising, they are apparently simple in ways that mask complex persuasive techniques. Part of our work will be devoted to unpacking the intricate, not immediately obvious ways in which a manifesto achieves its force. We focus chiefly on artistic manifestic work of the early twentieth century, from movements in the arts in Britain and continental Europe including the Futurists, the Imagists, Vorticists, Dadaists and Surrealists. As we will discuss, use of the manifesto in the early twentieth century rose in tandem with the historical "avant-garde," a cultural formation emergent in the late nineteenth century which established a type of artist opposed to dominant cultural norms and artistic standards, whose innovative art was at odds with mainstream aesthetic practice and dedicated to resisting the bourgeoisie. Manifestoes also developed from an early twentieth-century artistic culture characterized by movements—intentional collective efforts committed to aesthetic and social reform. Manifestoes both gave voice to and helped to drive such movements.

    Moreover, we also use the manifesto as a way to address the making of "modernism"—the multimedia revolution in the arts (in the visual arts, music, and dance as well as literature) of the first half of the twentieth century. Manifestoes, with their proclamations, visions, and statements of dissent, provide windows on the cultural currents that generated and sustained the development of modernism. In their time, manifestoes also contributed significantly to the construction of modernism—to the making of a modernist culture that both fostered iconoclastic artistic practice and created an audience receptive to its experiments. Our primary focus will be literary, with forays into the visual arts and other media along the way. As a result, our readings will include not only manifestoes, but also other related work for which manifestoes paved the way. We will read manifestic documents from the Imagists, for instance, alongside Imagist poetry by Ezra Pound, HD, and Amy Lowell; consider Mina Loy's 1914 "Feminist Manifesto" in tandem with her poetry; engage Futurist, Vorticist, Dadaist and Surrealist manifestoes together with poetry, visual art, and performance art; and in the arena of the Anglo-American novel, which saw an upsurge of manifestic work in the 1920s, read manifestic statements of modernist writers such as Virginia Woolf and D.H. Lawrence along with groundbreaking novels such as Mrs. Dalloway and The Rainbow.

    More generally, we will explore the potential of the manifesto as a genre through which to empower and give voice to marginalized communities, recognize and articulate dissatisfaction, think and work for change, and dream toward a better future. We will also consider the limitations of the manifesto—what it risks and costs through its simplified rhetoric, sometimes mystified historical accounts, and inflammatory rhetoric discouraging reflection. Our theoretical work reaches beyond modernism and the avant-garde to other now legendary instances of political manifestoes, including the 1919 Manifesto of the Communist International, the 1948 Refus global that ignited the "Quiet Revolution" of Québec, and the feminist "Redstockings Manifesto" of 1969.

    Texts: Reading will include manifestoes and other work by the Futurists, Imagists, Vorticists, Dadaists, and Surrealists; poetry and prose by T.S. Eliot, HD, Amy Lowell, Mina Loy, and Ezra Pound; fiction by D.H. Lawrence, Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf.

    Evaluation: 1 brief critical essay (5-6 pp.); final essay (12 pp.); oral presentation; creative manifesto; class participation

    Format: Lecture and Discussion

    *ENGL 416 Studies in Shakespeare

    The Politics of the Past
    Writing the Nation in the Drama of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries

    Professor Paul Yachnin
    Winter Term 2012
    Tuesday and Thursday 10:05 – 11:25 am

    Full course description

    Description: Shakespeare's time saw an efflorescence of historical writing, including works on classical and modern history, global histories such as Walter Ralegh's History of the World (1614), translations of the historical writings of Antiquity and modern Italy and France, local histories and "chorographies," and studies of historical method. History played a central role in the polemical struggles of the English Reformation, with a work such as John Foxe's Acts and Monuments of the English Church (1563), arguing for the apostolic primacy of the England itself. Perhaps most important were the many histories of England, like those by Raphael Holinshed, Edward Hall, and Samuel Daniel, which inculcated national pride, aroused a sense of civic belonging, and cultivated habits of critical, political analysis of the past and the present.

    The theatre played a vital role in telling the story of England to the English. Shakespeare's history plays and the historical dramas of many of this fellow playwrights shaped the historical consciousness of very many English men and women (many of them commoners and many illiterate), sharpened their political intelligence, and contributed to the formation of the political culture of modernity. In the course we will focus on Shakespeare's English histories and also read and think about a number of other history plays by writers such as Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Middleton, and Thomas Heywood. We will consider history writing in other forms including prose, poetry, and visual image. We will work toward an understanding of how dramatic history helped write the nation and also how it helped create a new public culture in early modern England.

    Evaluation: TBA

    ENGL 419 Studies in 20th Century Canadian Literature

    Six Contemporary Canadian Poets

    Professor Robert Lecker
    Fall Term 2011
    Tuesday and Thursday 1:05 – 2:25 pm

    Full course description

    Prerequisites: None.

    Description: A detailed consideration of the works of six major Canadian poets whose work came to prominence after 1975: Michael Ondaatje, Robert Kroetsch, Anne Carson, Patrick Lane, Ken Babstock, and Karen Solie. This course is designed for students who are interested in contemporary poetry, Canadian literature, and the making of Canadian culture. The poems under study allow us to explore ideas about gender, genre, race, agency, and differing concepts of poetic form. They also allow us to look into the beautifully warped minds of criminals, eccentrics, hangmen, homicide victims, mythological artists, and "those / who sail to that perfect edge / where there is no social fuel," to quote Ondaatje. We will examine the career of each poet in detail and read selections from the poet's entire body of work. Students are encouraged to explore multi-media material related to each poet in question.

    Texts: To be announced via WebCT. List will be available from The Word Bookstore (call 514- 845-5640) in July.

    Evaluation: A series of short journal entries on each of the poets studied in the course, 80%; attendance, 10%, participation, 10%.

    Format: Lecture and discussion.

    Average Enrollment: 20 students

    ENGL 422 Studies in Nineteenth-Century American Literature

    Herman Melville: The Varieties of Cosmopolitan Experience

    Professor Peter Gibian
    Winter Term 2012
    Monday and Wednesday 2:35 - 3:55 pm

    Full course description

    Prerequisites: None.

    Expected Student Preparation: Previous coursework in American Literature before 1900, or in 19th-century British fiction, or permission of instructor. (This course is designed as a participatory seminar for advanced students of literature.)

    Description: Intensive study of short stories, short novels, and longer fictions spanning the literary career of Herman Melville. We will analyze Melville's experiments in narrative form in the context of contemporary developments in intellectual history as well as of emerging social and cultural formations. One special focus throughout the term will be Melville's lifelong fascination with the dynamics of global, oceanic travel and cross-cultural encounter. The mid-19th-century was a crucial transitional era in which an earlier Age of Exploration began to give way to an Age of Travel anticipating modern forms of mass tourism in a rapidly globalizing world. Through close readings of a series of fictions that both speak for and critique the vision and experience of a "traveling culture" emerging in this era, we will hope to arrive at a detailed and nuanced understanding of Melville's investigation of the varieties of "cosmopolitan" vision, comparing and contrasting the stances of a broad spectrum of Melville's global travelers: leisured Western tourists or expatriates who choose a life of international voyaging; non- Western seamen forced out of their homelands to join multicultural crews in lives of constant migration between the world's ports; restless young American beachcombers in the South Seas pushing the limits of a Romantic reverence for the innocence of the truly Other; intellectual travelers testing the continuing relevance of the classic model of world citizenship inherited from the European Enlightenment; modern tourists traveling through Holy Lands to compare world religions in a modern version of the spiritual quest or pilgrimage; an inter-national and inter-racial array of common sailors beginning to sense and express a cross-cultural solidarity based on their shared experience as oppressed workers of the world; and a series of non-Western "sacred travelers" (such as Marnoo in Omoo, Queequeg in Moby-Dick, or the Handsome Sailor in "Billy Budd") who emerge as powerfully-defined models of inter-cultural or inter-tribal mediation. Readings will be selected from among the following: Typee, Omoo, Redburn, White- Jacket, Mardi (selections), Moby-Dick, The Confidence-Man, "Billy Budd," "Bartleby, the Scrivener" "Benito Cereno," and "The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids," as well as selections from the long poem Clarel.

    Texts: TBA. Selections from Melville short stories, short novels, and novels, as described above; in many weeks the readings will be lengthy and demanding.

    Evaluation: (Tentative): Participation in discussions, 20%; class presentation, 10%; two critical essays, 20% each; take-home final exam, 30%.

    Format: Lecture and seminar discussion.

    Average Enrollment: 25-35 students

    ENGL 430 Studies in Drama

    David Garrick

    Professor Fiona Ritchie
    Fall Term 2011
    Tuesday and Thursday 1:35 – 2:55 pm

    Full course description

    Prerequisite: None.

    Expected student preparation: previous university-level coursework in drama and theatre, e.g. ENGL 230 or ENGL 370

    Description: David Garrick was the most important figure in the London theatre world of the 18th century. This course will examine his work as an actor, theatre manager, dramatist and adapter of plays, as well as his role in popularising Shakespeare and improving the status of the acting profession. Texts studied will include critical descriptions of his acting style, his original plays (in various genres), his dramatic adaptations (notably of Shakespeare) and accounts of his influence on society and culture in the period (including the Shakespeare Jubilee of 1769). In addition to reading and discussing theatre history documents and play texts, students will also participate in practical workshops in which they will direct their peers in performing scenes from the plays studied in order to elucidate aspects of Garrick's career. By focusing on Garrick, we will come to better understand the theatre of the 18th century and how an individual can achieve such dominance over a collaborative art form such as theatre.

    Texts: a coursepack of required readings will be available for purchase from the McGill University Bookstore

    Evaluation (tentative): participation 10%; practical assignment 30%; midterm research assignment 25%; essay (10-12 pp.) 35%

    Format: Format: lecture, discussion, group work, practical work

    ENGL 434 Independent Theatre Project.

    Fall & Winter Terms 2011-2012

    Full course description

    This course will allow students to undertake special projects, frequently involving background readings, performances, and essays. This course is normally open to Major or Honours students in the Department. Permission must be obtained from the Department before registration.

    The application deadline for Fall 2011 registration is Wednesday, September 7, 2011 and for Winter 2012 is Friday, January 13, 2012.

    Application forms are available in the Department of English General Office, Arts 155.

    ENGL 437 Studies in Literary Form

    18th-Century Autobiography

    Professor David Hensley
    Winter Term 2012
    Tuesday and Thursday 1:05 – 2:25 pm (class)
    Thursday 2:35 – 5:25 pm (screening)

    Full course description

    Prerequisites: None.

    Description: This course will approach the form of autobiography in the Enlightenment through a brief survey of the European tradition of autobiographical texts from antiquity to the Renaissance. Against this background the readings will include not only "real" autobiographies but also contributions of first-person narrative to philosophy as well as fiction in the "long" eighteenth century (1650-1850). Reference to classic models such as Plato's Apology, Marcus Aurelius's Meditations, and Saint Augustine's Confessions should help us appreciate intellectual developments and problems in the motivation and methods of later writing in autobiographical form. In particular, we will relate these models to the emergence of the novel, which, insofar as it represents and reflects on inner experience, cannot be understood without taking into account the conventions of spiritual autobiography and the presuppositions of the construction of selfhood in other forms of first-person storytelling such as dramatic monologue, letter writing, and the diary. Although much work in this seminar will concentrate on the interpretation of particular autobiographical narratives, we will thus constantly be concerned with general theoretical issues. The historical range of our primary readings should provide a meaningful basis for addressing such issues while the written work for the course will invite careful thinking about critical concepts through focused analysis of the texts that we will study and discuss.

    Texts: The required reading for this course will include most or all of the following books, which will be available at The Word Bookstore (469 Milton Street, 845-5640). Photocopies may supplement the books on order. (The list of texts below is tentative and incomplete, to be confirmed in January 2012.)

    • St. Augustine, Confessions (Hackett or Oxford)
    • Benvenuto Cellini, My Life (Oxford)
    • John Bunyan, Grace Abounding (Oxford or Penguin)
    • Daniel Defoe, Roxana (Oxford or Penguin)
    • Denis Diderot, The Nun (Oxford or Penguin)
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Sufferings of Young Werther (Penguin)
    • Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Confessions (Oxford or Penguin)
    • Edward Gibbon, Memoirs of My Life (Penguin or BiblioBazaar)
    • Benjamin Constant, Adolphe (Oxford or Penguin)

    Evaluation: Paper (60%) and participation (40%). Regular attendance is required for a passing final grade (a maximum of two absences will be allowed except for documented medical or similar emergencies).

    Format: Seminar discussion

    ENGL 440 First Nations and Inuit Literature and Media

    Professor Marianne Stenbaek
    Winter Term 2012
    Monday, Wednesday, Friday 1:35 -2:25 pm

    Full course description

    Prerequisites: None.

    Description: This course offers an introduction to Canadian First Nations and Inuit literature and media. The course will look at oral literature such as legends, stories, and songs handed down through generations, "collaborative life stories" as well as written pieces. The use of modern media such as television and film has been carried out very successfully by First Nations and Inuit and will be emphasized.

    The course will emphasize the Inuit component which will be examined mainly in the context of Nunavik (Northern Quebec) and to a lesser extent Labrador and Nunavut.

    Texts & Evaluation: Texts and evaluation methods will be posted on the blog thestenbaekfile.net by April 30. 2011. Excerpts from films and videos will be shown in class. Many of these will be up-to-date video excerpts from APTN

    Format: Lectures and discussions

    ENGL 441 Special Topics in Canadian Cultural Studies

    Westerns and the West

    Instructor: Dr. Joel Deshaye
    Winter Term 2012
    Tuesday and Thursday 1:05 - 2:25 pm

    Full course description

    Description: This course is a survey of post-1945 mostly Canadian literature and film of the Wild West. It begins in the United States because Westerns are set in a time and place where national borders were only beginning to be policed, and because comparisons of national ideologies are especially valuable for understanding Westerns. The readings in this course will focus on novels and other book-length texts by writers such as Louis L’Amour, Michael Ondaatje, Robert Kroetsch, Thomas King, and Guy Vanderhaeghe, but they will also include a short story by James Warner Bellah and a poem by Margaret Atwood. The screenings will involve films such as George Stevens’ Shane (1953), Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven (1992), the Campagna brothers’ Six Reasons Why (2008), and William Phillips’ Gunless (2010). Students are encouraged to watch John Ford’s Rio Grande (1950) and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) prior to the start of the course to be familiar with classic Westerns. (Other supplementary films include Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon (1952), Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future Part III (1990), Tim Evans’ Billy the Kid Unmasked! (2004), and Leonard Farlinger’s All Hat (2007).) The texts by L’Amour and Bellah establish the conventions of the classic Western in print, and the remainder—raise critical questions about the Western genre—questions about the voices and writings of history and myth, the spatial politics of borders and nationality, ambition and destiny, and gender and other de facto laws in a supposedly lawless and dislocated culture. This course will help us reflect on how, after 1945, Western characters and settings were increasingly questioned by authors who were critical of the myths that established ideologies of the West.

    Texts: Louis L’Amour, The Tall Stranger (1957); Michael Ondaatje, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (1970); Robert Kroetsch, The Studhorse Man (1970); Thomas King, Green Grass, Running Water (1993); Guy Vanderhaeghe, The Last Crossing (2002); Patrick DeWitt, The Sisters Brothers (2011). 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 short essay (20%); a research essay (30%); two scene analyses (20% each); participation and improvement (10%).

    Format: Lecture.

    ENGL 447 Cross-Currents of English and European Literature

    The Literature of Metamorphosis

    Professor Jamie Fumo
    Fall Term 2011
    Wednesday and Friday 1:05 – 2:25 pm

    Full course description

    Prerequisites: None.

    Description: This course explores the phenomenon of metamorphosis, or radical transformation, in a variety of imaginative discourses. A favorite literary topic in classical antiquity, metamorphosis was moralized by medieval Christian writers and later reconceived in light of modern theories of psychology and evolution. The historical attraction of shapeshifters, monsters, hybrids, grotesques, and werewolves remains alive and well in contemporary literature and cinema. In this course, we will approach metamorphosis as a cultural, artistic, and philosophical issue. What is the relationship between identity and change? Why has the notion of the self's fluidity—its inclination to cross the permeable borders of bestiality, sexuality, and spirituality—proven such an enduring fascination and anxiety? Our approach will be broadly historical, aiming to explore how notions of change themselves change over time and across cultures. Though our primary interest will be in representations of metamorphosis in literature (English and European), we will also consider the relevance of other cultural forms, including visual art, medical science, documentary records, and biological theory.


    1. Ovid, Metamorphoses, trans. Charles Martin (Norton Critical Edition)
    2. Apuleius, The Golden Ass, trans. P. G. Walsh (Oxford World's Classics)
    3. Petrarch, Canzoniere, trans. Anthony Mortimer (Penguin Classics)
    4. William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream (Signet Classics)
    5. Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis, trans. Stanley Corngold (Norton Critical Edition)
    6. Italo Calvino, Cosmicomics, trans. William Weaver (Harvest/Harcourt Brace)
    7. Coursepack

    Evaluation: 20% shorter essay (4-6 pages), 40% longer essay (10-12 pages), 30% take-home final exam, 10% class participation.

    *ENGL 456 Middle English

    Literature and Material Culture

    Professor Michael Van Dussen
    Winter Term 2012
    Tuesday and Thursday 11:35 am – 12:55 pm

    Full course description

    Prior coursework strongly recommended: A minimum of three credits of prior coursework (from at least the 300-level) in either Middle English or Old English is strongly recommended (e.g., ENGL 306, 337, 342, 356, 357, 358, 452, 456, 500—courses in which Middle English or Old English texts were read in the original, or in which the languages were studied substantially). Students with no prior coursework in Middle English or Old English must seek approval from the professor.

    Note: Students who have taken ENGL 456 under a different course topic are free to take this version of the course. Although the course number is the same, the content is entirely different; therefore, these will count as two different courses toward university and program requirements.

    Description: Attending to the material culture of the Middle Ages allows us to think of literature not just in terms of style (and the hierarchies of aesthetics that accompany such an approach), but also in terms of the materials that mediate texts to us, and which conditioned the circumstances in which medieval texts were produced, read and circulated in the first place. At the same time, we can study the ways that medieval people "read" the material world around them and expressed themselves in terms of the material. What happens when we read the Middle English Pearl in terms of relics and reliquaries? How can the study of the Jack Upland series inform us about textual practices before the age of print? And how do print and digital editions condition our own interaction with medieval texts in different ways? The course will be organized around the following general categories: "Piety and the Mundane"; "Literacy and the Material Text"; "The Poetics of Material Objects"; "Medieval Materials in Early Modern Hands"; and "The Digital Middle Ages". A primary aim of this course will be to introduce students to the study of original materials in the Middle Ages. Students will learn to read and transcribe major scribal hands from the late-medieval period in England using authentic materials in a workshop setting.

    Texts (provisional):

    • The Book of Margery Kempe
    • Jack Upland, Friar Daw's Reply, and Upland's Rejoinder
    • The Book of John Mandeville
    • Langland, William, Piers Plowman
    • Leland, John (and John Bale), The laboryous journey & serche for Englandes antiquitees
    • The N-Town Plays
    • Poems of the Pearl Manuscript (Pearl, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight)
    • The Shewings of Julian of Norwich
    • WebCT materials, including: Letters of Lucifer; Charters of Christ; readings in medieval literary and translation theory; secondary scholarship

    Evaluation (provisional): Mid-term essay, 20%; Final essay with transcription project 50%; Rare books session responses, 10%; In-class translation, 5%; Presentation, 5%; Participation, 10%

    Format: Seminar and workshop

    Average Enrollment: 25

    ENGL 459 Theories of Text and Performance 2

    The Theatrical Avant-Garde

    Instructor: Dr. Jennifer Spiegel
    Fall Term 2011
    Monday and Wednesday 1:05 - 2:25 pm

    Full course description

    Description: This course will offer a selective survey of Avant-garde drama, theatre, and performance from the turn of the 20th century to the present. With a focus on transcultural performance, political theatre, and experiments with and beyond the boundaries of institutional theatre, we will trace the changing aesthetics and politics of some of the key texts and performances that exemplified and influenced avant-garde theatre and its legacies. The class will be framed by an opening consideration of the role played by the rejection of the mainstream theatre and art institutions by theatre artists at the turn of the 19th century and by a closing unit on the influence of this rejection and of the experiments that ensued on contemporary experimental theatre and performance, from street theatre to performance art. Units of study may include some of the following: the relationship between theatre and politics; intercultural performance and cultural appropriate; the use of intertextuality; the relationship between text and performance; the changing role of training and “process”; changing audience/spectator relationships. Each unit will culminate in a creative praxis project.

    Evaluation: presentation -30%; short essay 1 -10% short essay 2 - 15%; final paper - 30%; class participation - 15%

    Format: Lectures and discussion

    Texts may include:

    • A course pack of articles and text excerpts
    • Ubu Roi, Alfred Jarry
    • Dada Manifesto, Tristan Tzara
    • Theatre and Its Double, Antonin Artaud
    • Sophocles’ Antigone, Brecht - translated by Judith Malina
    • The Mother of Us All, Gertrude Stein
    • The Empty Space, Peter Brooke
    • Toward a Poor Theatre, Jerzy Grotowski
    • Theatre of the Oppressed, Augusto Boal
    • Manifestos of the Situationists International

    Average Enrollment: 30

    ENGL 465 Theatre Lab

    Professor Myrna Wyatt Selkirk
    Fall Term 2011 and Winter Term 2012
    Monday and Wednesday 2:35 - 5:25 pm

    Full course description

    Limited enrollment. Permission of instructor required. Priority will be given to Drama and Theatre students. Admission to the class requires attendance at a workshop and an interview, which will be held in mid April. Please see application information on the door to Arts 240.

    Prerequisites: ENGL 230, ENGL 269 and/or permission of instructor.

    Description: In this course students will engage in the analysis and investigation of dramatic texts(s) as well as study of the playwright(s) and their context. It will involve a very physical approach to acting. Clown, mask, puppets and theatre as game playing will be explored. The course will culminate in a production in March of 2012. Students interested in acting, directing and design will be admitted. Directors and designers must be part of the acting ensemble. This course is an extremely large time commitment with a great deal of rehearsal and preparation outside of class time.


    • The Viewpoints Book: A Practical Guide to Viewpoints and Composition. Anne Bogart and Tina Landau. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 2005.
    • Why is that so Funny? A Practical Exploration of Physical Comedy by John Wright (New York: Limelight Editions, 2006).
    • Playscript(s): TBA

    Evaluation: Class participation and attendance (attendance is mandatory) 15%; Compositions 10%; November Presentation 10%; Research Paper 15%; March Production: Compositions, Engagement, Development, Rehearsals, Performances 30%; Journals, Reflections, Critiques 20%

    Average enrollment: 16 students

    ENGL 467 Advanced Studies In Theatre History 3

    Seminar on the Actress

    Professor Denis Salter
    Winter Term 2012
    Tuesday and Thursday 11:35 am —12:55 pm

    Full course description

    Prerequisites: None.

    Expected Student Preparation: Previous university-level courses in drama and theatre, literature, or cultural studies.

    Description: This line from the distinguished American stage and screen actress, Ethel Barrymore, sums up in a witty fashion the complex subject who is at the front and centre of this research seminar: "For an actress to be a success, she must have the face of Venus, the brains of Minerva, the grace of Terpsichore, the memory of Macaulay, the figure of Juno, and the hide of a rhinoceros."

    There are literally hundreds of biographies of and autobiographies by actresses. There is a large body of scholarly and non-scholarly literature on the history of the actress, on the lives, times, and careers of individual actresses, and on how the actress has been re/ presented in diverse ways, some of which are contradictory, paradoxical, and bogus.

    There are plays and films in which actresses are traduced, celebrated, venerated, and demonized.

    There are novels in which actresses (or their surrogates) are major and minor characters, frequently involved not only in acting but in acts of theatrical self-fashioning.

    In so many of these works, the actress is mimesis-in-action, portrayed as a whore or as an angel or as somebody in-between, a hybrid, liminal, protean, threatening and / or comforting figure, often a Jungian archetype, a bewitching figure haunting, and haunted by, a dream grotto, someone 'made up' rather than 'real.'

    There remains, however, so much more to learn about the actress: not only about her ever-shifting complexly gendered "iconic" status—and why, how, and to what ends it is constructed / has been constructed to create sexuality, identity, image, and re/ presentation--but also about the material conditions which she has faced and continues to face as she has sought to create or been forced to assume that iconic status.

    These conditions include training (both in formal acting programs and as tyros on the stage), actually getting work and being properly paid, being chosen and not chosen for particular (ideally star) roles, experimenting with innovative interpretations and sometimes subversive, sometimes conventional styles of performance, working within an ensemble, recognizing her perhaps ascendant position within a long genealogy of performance traditions, making or not making the transition from silent film to sound film, developing a repertoire defining the singularity of her persona both on and off the stage, wooing her fans, becoming and not becoming a sex symbol, dealing with both popular and specialist criticism, going into management as a practical act of agency, touring both at home and abroad, contesting social, family, and social stigmas, challenging racism and white-only casting and anti-theatrical hostility, struggling through the difficulties of aging, including the devastating impact of memory loss, and problematically achieving iconic autonomy and emancipation in a theatrical world often dominated by men exercising patriarchal principles and practices. And this is just a short list of some of those material conditions.

    This is a research seminar which will allow you the opportunity to engage in research into primary and secondary sources—memoirs and biographies, photographs and drawings, indeed all types of iconographic material, performance reviews, histories of the theatre, plays, films, and novels, the growing catalogue of scholarly work about the figure of the actress, etc.—with the following interrelated objectives, among others:

    • To interpret the multiple significances of these different kinds of sources;
    • To rethink the functions, forms, and limitations of extant scholarship about the actress;
    • To reconsider the functions, forms, and, in some cases, the ideological and perhaps hidden agendas of the signifying codes in artistic representations of the actress;
    • To expand our collective understanding of why, how, and to what effects the actress has functioned, continues to function, in society as both a complex, mobile heterogeneous sign system and as a working woman;
    • To enable all members of the seminar to undertake original research and to develop original scholarly analysis;
    • To learn about the careers of individual actresses and about movements of actresses;
    • To learn about performance genealogies; the stage history of a given role and how actresses have situated themselves in relation to that stage history, both in interpreting it and in executing it;
    • To come to an understanding, in a preliminary way, of the material conditions of actresses' performances;
    • To develop effective ways by which to analyze the work of actresses within socio-political, historical, aesthetic, geographic, broadly cultural, and gendered contexts.

    Text: The Cambridge Companion to the Actress, ed. Maggie B. Gale and John Stokes (Cambridge UP, 2007)

    Film: Stage Beauty (2004), written by Jeffrey Hatcher, directed by Richard Eyre

    Evaluation (tentative): Continuing full participation in the intellectual life of the seminar 15%; an annotated and / or written-out 'bibliographic / methodologies' report 15%; a presentation on an actress or group of actresses, analytical and issue-related 30%; a scholarly essay on an individually-negotiated topic in connection with our subject in the order of 15 to 20 pages (approximately 4000—5,000 words) 40%

    ENGL 469 Acting 3

    Professor Myrna Wyatt Selkirk
    Winter Term 2012
    Monday and Wednesday: 10:35 am - 12:25 pm

    Full course description

    Limited enrollment. Permission of instructor required. Admission to the course will be by application and interview. Please check the door of Arts 240 for details.

    Prerequisites: ENGL 230 and 269 and/or permission of instructor.

    Description: This course enhances skills already acquired by addressing the demands of public performance. Units of work will be based on diverse theatrical periods before 1900 and will involve study of some of the major European and North American acting theories and practices. Scenes and poems will be analyzed and explored in a variety of ways in an effort to understand and own the text. The needs of individual students will be addressed in terms of acting and interpretive skills. Students will be introduced to the skills needed to speak verse and other heightened language.


    • Five Approaches to Acting by David Kaplan (West Broadway Press, 2001).
    • Actions: The Actors' Thesaurus by Marina Caldarone, Maggie Lloyd-Williams, 2004.
    • Plays TBA.

    Average Enrollment: 14 students

    Evaluation: Attendance and Participation; Scenes and Presentations; Written Analysis, Journals and Research.

    Format: Text interpretation; voice and movement exercises; background research; scene and sonnet work; warm-ups; discussion; presentations.

    ENGL 477 Alternative Approaches to Media 2

    Scriptwriting for Film and Television 

    Instructor: Mr. Sam Wendel
    Winter Term 2012
    Wednesday: 11:35 am - 2:25 pm

    Full course description


    Admission Requirements: Permission of the instructor is required. Enrolment limited to 15 students. To apply, please submit either a description of the story you want to develop (1-2 pages) OR a scene you’ve written (4-5 pages max.). This material must be submitted to the Department of English Office, Arts 155, by Friday, November 25. Please include your email address with your submission. Students will be notified about their applications via email, on or before Friday, December 16. Questions regarding the application process should be directed to Professor Trevor Ponech (trevor.ponech [at] mcgill.ca).

    Description: Students will learn the fundamentals starting with laying down the foundation for a screenplay, going through the stages of writing a pitch, an outline and finally a treatment so that they end up with a roadmap that will organize their story, scene by scene, and keep it on track. In this way, they will learn in detail about the most common, prevalent elements of the standard script and how to apply them in writing the first act of their script.

    Students will learn to make use of the lesson material firsthand by working on successive drafts of their story. They’ll be shown how the aforementioned elements overlap and fortify each other to create the final script. Students will be given readers’ reports to analyze Oscar winning scripts from Europe and Hollywood for independent films like the “Queen” and “Crash”, Canadian films like “Barney’s Version” and Quebec films like “Incendie”. They will screen the films and by critiquing the scripts, have a chance to see how the fundamentals they’re learning are applied. They will become familiar with how a TV series is created and examine how writing for TV differs from film. Every student developing material for TV will learn to write a TV bible, the document that accompanies every pitch to a broadcaster and also shapes the pilot script in the same way a treatment does for film. Scripts from series such as “The Office”  and “Mad Men” will be critiqued to better understand what goes into creating a hit show.  

    By the end of the course, students will be at an advanced stage of developing their story. They will know how to create a roadmap for their script and know how to use all the screenwriting tools available to them. They will have acquired a strong instinct for questioning their character and plot decisions so they don’t lose sight of the story’s essence. Through understanding constructive peer assessment, they will have learned how to critique the work of others and benefit from their comments. Lastly, they will have become familiarized with the industry and specifically, the business of being a screenwriter – how to approach production companies, protect one’s material, have a successful pitch meeting, grasp the role of unions, get an agent and comprehend the process of development once the script is sold. They will be conscious of the creative and commercial differences between independent films and studio pictures, foreign films and North American films, Canadian English language films and Quebec films so they can see where their story fits in.

    Reading for the class will include:

    • Lajos Egri – The Art of Creative Writing
    • Robert McKee – Principles of Screenwriting
    • Syd Field – The Screenwriter’s Handbook
    • Various screenplays TBA which will be available on reserve at the McGill Library

    Evaluation (tentative): Students will be graded based on completion of a pitch, an outline and treatment for their script, the progress of their script development, their written critiques of produced scripts, essays on selected screenwriting books, and class participation.

    Format: Workshop and seminar

    ENGL 481 A Filmmaker 2

    Guy Maddin

    Professor Alanna Thain
    Fall Term 2011
    Class: Monday and Wednesday 2:35 – 3:55 pm
    Screening: Wednesday 4:05 – 6:55 pm

    Full course description

    Prerequisites: None.

    Expected Student Preparation: Previous university-level course work in film and/or cultural studies.

    Description: From the docu-fantasia delirium of the "me trilogy" (Cowards Bend the Knee, Brand Upon the Brain! and My Winnipeg), to his first films, deranged fugitives from an earlier cinematic era (Careful, Tales from the Gimli Hospital), to shorts from ranging from The Dead Father's cannibalistic Oedipal complex through Sissy Boy Slap Party and his recent tribute to Jack Smith (of Flaming Creatures fame) The Little White Cloud that Cried, Winnipeg filmmaker Guy Maddin's kleptomaniacal repurposing of cinema history has produced a body of work that is amongst the most unique, eccentric and fascinating in cinema today. In this class we will explore Maddin's work in dialogue with a range of historical reference points: German Expressionism, melodrama, Soviet propaganda films, ephemeral cinema and others, as well as across key concepts from Maddin's work: memory, history, the archive, perversion, place and a "love affair with degraded imagery". This class also has a research-creation component focusing on sound and cinematic performance, in relation to Maddin's recent features, which have been performed with live orchestration, a full accompaniment of Foley effects and narrators from Isabella Rosselini to Lou Reed to John Ashbury. Students should be prepared to regularly participate in all screenings, and prepared, informed discussion is key to the course.

    Texts: TBA

    Evaluation: TBA

    Films: Maddin' s complete filmography and relevant other works.

    Format: Lecture, screening, discussion

    Average Enrollment: 35 students

    ENGL 483 Seminar in the Film:

    Contemporary Narrative Film

    Professor Ned Schantz
    Winter Term 2012
    Thursday 2:35 – 5:25 pm (class)
    Monday 4:35 – 6:55 pm (screening)

    Full course description

    Prerequisites: None.

    Description: This course will test Garrett Stewart's recent claim that, in the past few decades, narrative film has come to suffer from "plot exhaustion," from an inability to render contemporary social forces and lived experience in the form of a coherent, forward-moving story with a satisfying resolution. Homing in on three of the more striking tendencies in recent fiction film—the time-manipulation narrative, the multi-plot melodrama, and the inward turning meta- film—we will consider to what extent these narrative strategies confirm our worst dilemmas in the way Stewart suggests, and to what extent they offer new ways of conceptualizing the relations that make up our world. Possible films include The Double Life of Veronique, Code Unknown, Memento, After Life, Primer, and The Hurt Locker.

    Texts: coursepack of narrative theory and film theory

    Evaluation: film journals 35%; paper proposal 5%; term paper 40%; participation 20%

    Format: Seminar

    Average Enrollment: 25 students

    ENGL 485 Special Topics in Theatre History 1700-1900

    19th Century Melodrama from The Vampire to Twilight

    Professor Patrick Neilson
    Fall Term 2011
    Monday & Wednesday 4:05 PM-05:25

    Full course description

    Description: This course explores the 19thC. origins of the theatrical genre that came to dominate North American popular culture in the 20thC. The plays are filled with action and spectacular stage effects. Sentimentality is celebrated and exploited rather than disdained, and the villains are truly villainous. Some of the plays on the reading list, such as The lady of the Camelias, continue to influence such contemporary plays and films as Rent and Moulin Rouge. As suggested by the course title, students will be encouraged to explore other links.

    Texts: Course pack and Early American Drama. Both are available in the University Bookstore.

    Evaluation: 15% participation; 15% presentation; 30% short paper; 40% final paper

    ENGL 486 Special Topics in Theatre History

    History of Costume: 1850 to 1976

    Ms. Catherine Bradley
    Winter Term 2012
    Tuesday and Thursday 1:05 – 2:25 pm

    Full course description

    Prerequisites: None.

    Expected Student Preparation: Previous University level course work in English, Art History, Architecture, other relevant fields and/or experience in costuming.

    Permission of the instructor required. E-mail the instructor for details.

    Description: Costumes do not exist in a vacuum. They are a response to social and political factors specific to the era in which they were created. They are inextricably linked to the art and architecture of their day as they are to the current political and moral beliefs. A micro mini skirt comments on the sexual mores of the 1960's as succinctly as any treatise on sexual liberation. The structure of this course will alternate between instructor information and student response. The instructor will present the costume history of each specific era through slide format, example pieces, and embodied learning. In the next class, students will present their oral projects which respond to the specific era. They will answer questions such as: What is the common aesthetic between furniture and clothing design of the Victorian era (or "How the heck did they sit down in that"?). How does the music of the 1920's effect dance, and in turn, clothing styles? How do the political and economic realities of the day impact upon the clothing of the 1930's?

    Historical overview of costumes will be enhanced by embodied learning and an inquisitive look at the link between clothing and the culture that created them.

    Texts: none required. Expect one museum entrance fee during the semester.

    Evaluation: attendance/participation, oral presentations, short paper or independent project, 2 short quizzes, long paper or major independent project.

    Format: Alternating lectures by the instructor and oral presentations by the students.

    Average Enrollment: cap of 25 students

    ENGL 488: Special Topics in Communications and Mass Media 2

    Contemporary Theories of the Spectator in Film and Television

    Professor Derek Nystrom
    Winter Term 2012
    Monday and Wednesday 1:05 – 2:25 pm (class)
    Screening: F 11:35 am – 1:25 pm (screening)

    Full course description

    Prerequisites:There are no official prerequisites for this course. However, since much of the reading material will be highly theoretical in nature, some familiarity with cultural studies concepts and terminology will be useful. Furthermore, previous experience with courses in film and/or television studies, while not required, will obviously aid you in navigating the material under consideration.

    Description: This course will survey recent critical and theoretical work in film and media studies on the question of spectatorship, one of the central questions of the past forty years of film and television theory. We will mainly focus on two related questions: (1) How do film and television texts "position" the viewer? and (2) How do certain viewers and audiences position themselves with respect to film and television texts? The course will begin with a fairly in-depth survey of work on film spectatorship, especially that influenced by psychoanalysis and feminism. In doing so, we will explore both the benefits and the limits of textual analysis in understanding how actual spectators view and respond to a given film. We will then move on to studies of television, and explore the ways in which this different medium entails a different understanding of spectatorship. We will also survey accounts of the recent points of convergence between these two media, and the effect of such convergence on spectatorship. We will consider the more reception- and audience-based cultural studies work in both film and television studies that has suggested ways in which viewers resist the text's efforts to position them.


    • Kaja Silverman, The Subject of Semiotics (Oxford UP)
    • Sue Thornham, ed., Feminist Film Theory: A Reader (NYU Press)
    • Course pack with essays by such critics as Jean-Louis Baudry, Laura, Mulvey, Gaylyn Studlar, Jackie Stacey, Raymond Williams, David Morley, Tania Modleski, Ien Ang, Anna McCarthy, and others.

    Format: Lecture, discussion, weekly screenings

    ENGL 490 Culture and Critical Theory 2

    The Silent Figure in Literature and Film

    Professor Berkeley Kaite
    Fall Term 2011
    Monday, Wednesday, Friday 3:35 – 4:25 pm (class)
    Thursday 11:35 am – 2:25 pm (screening)

    Full course description

    Prerequisites: None.

    Description: The course problematizes silence and the silent figure in film, literature and media texts. The focus is not on silence as a sign of repression or oppression but silence as a productive site which has the effect of amplifying voices, anxieties, forces around it. That is to say, we will ask what interests are filled in to replace the silence of the silent figure. One could say this is a course about cultural ventriloquism. The theoretical orientation is drawn, primarily, from the ideas of Michel Foucault. We will read fiction and screen films in which there is a mute character and, we will consider other cultural texts which feature the omnipresent yet pseudonymously silent 'characters,' for example, blood.


    • Kathryn Harrison, The Seal Wife (New York, Random House, 2002)
    • Barbara Gowdy, Mr Sandman
    • Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005)
    • The Piano (dir. Jane Campion, 1993)
    • Persona (dir. Ingmar Bergman, 1966)
    • Johnny Belinda (dir. Jean Negulesco, 1948)
    • Talk to Her (dir. Pedro Almodovar, 2002)
    • Sweet and Lowdown (dir. Woody Allen, 1999)
    • Mandy (dir. Alexander Mackendrick, 1952)

    Evaluation: (tentative) short précis of books and films (60%); participation (10%); quizzes and oral reports (30%)

    Average Enrollment: 40

    ENGL 491 Honours Essay

    Fall & Winter Terms 2011-2012

    Full course description

    Prerequisite: ENGL 491D1
    No credit will be given for this course unless both ENGL 491D1 and ENGL 491D2 are successfully completed in consecutive terms ENGL 491D1 and ENGL 491D2 together are equivalent to ENGL 491

    Restrictions: Open to Honours English Students in U3.

    Average Enrollment: 40

    ENGL 492 Image and Text

    The Graphic Novel

    Sean Carney
    Winter Term 2012
    Monday & Wednesday 1:05 - 2:25 pm

    Full course description

    Description: This course will introduce students to contemporary graphic novels from a variety of different theoretical perspectives, attending to the form as a popular medium while also considering its unique aesthetic qualities. Considerable attention will be paid to close reading and to the analysis of formal and stylistic elements that distinguish comics as a unique artistic phenomenon. Students will be encouraged to develop their own approaches and bring diverse critical and theoretical frames of reference to bear upon the texts studied, taking full advantage of the many research possibilities that exist in respect to this form. The course will be organized into approximately four thematic groupings: revisionist narratives within the mainstream, memoirs and confessionals, new journalism, and auteur comix. The texts will be chosen based not only on historical impact, verifiable influence or general popularity with readers but also with an eye to comics that experiment and expand the boundaries of the medium. So, while students will no doubt recognize some familiar names and titles, there will also be some less well-known books represented. Writers and artists to be chosen from include: Will Eisner, James Sturm, Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, Eddie Campbell, Art Spiegelman, Julie Doucet, Chester Brown, Frank Miller, Daniel Clowes, Charles Burns, Alison Bechdel, Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Chris Weston, Warren Ellis, David Collier, Ben Katchor, Marjane Satrapi, Rutu Modan, Jason Lutes, Kurt Busiek, Alex Ross, Jeff Smith, Guido Crepax, Joe Sacco, David B., Chris Ware, Los Bros. Hernandez, Nick Abadzis, Rick Veitch, Phoebe Gloeckner, Neil Gaiman, Harvey Pekar, R. Crumb, Adrian Tomine, Jack Jackson, Craig Thompson, James Kochalka and Scott McCloud.

    Texts: TBA

    Evaluation: TBA

    Format: Group Discussions

    ENGL 495 Individual Reading Course

    Fall Term 2011

    Full course description

    Prerequisites: By arrangement with individual instructor. Permission must be obtained from the Department before registration.

    Description: Intended for advanced and/or specialized work based on an extensive background in departmental studies. This course is normally not available to students who are not Majors or Honours students in the Department

    Application deadline for fall 2011 registration Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    ENGL 496 Individual Reading Course

    Winter Term 2012

    Full course description

    Prerequisites: By arrangement with individual instructor. Permission must be obtained from the Department before registration.

    Application deadline for winter 2012 registration Friday, January 12, 2012. Application forms are available in the Department of English General Office, Arts 155.

    Description: Intended for advanced and/or specialized work based on an extensive background in departmental studies. This course is normally not available to students who are not Majors or Honours students in the Department

    ENGL 498 English Internship

    Fall and Winter Terms 2011/2012

    Full course description

    Internship with an approved host institution or organization.

    Restrictions: Open to English Majors in U2 or U3

    Open to U-2 and U-3 English majors after they have completed 30 credits of a 90 credit program or 45 credits of a 96-120 credit program, with a minimum CGPA of 3.0, and permission of the Director of Undergraduate Studies in English. This course will not fulfill English program requirements. Students will normally register in the Fall semester for Summer internships.

    Students wanting more information on how to apply for ENGL 498 should go to the Internships website. This page contains downloadable application forms as well as links to further information about internship programs supported by the Faculty of Arts.