2015-16 Graduate Courses

Note on graduate course numbers and levels:

Please note that each course carries, along with the ENGL which identifies it as an English Department course, a three digit number, the first digit of which describes the general level of the course, as follows:

5 - MA students and U3 undergraduates (usually Honours BAs);

6 - MA and PhD students only;

7 - MA and PhD students only. 


Note on maximum and minimum enrolments for graduate seminars:

All graduate courses are generally limited to a maximum enrolment of 15 students. 500-level courses with an enrolment of fewer than 7 students, and 600- or 700-level courses with an enrolment of fewer than 4 students, will not be offered except in special circumstances.

Note on registration in 500-level courses:

500-level courses are restricted to an enrollment of 15 students and are open to Master's and advanced undergraduate students. B.A. students must receive permission from the instructor before registering for a 500-level course.   As a general rule, M.A. students are permitted to take two courses at the 500-level and Ph.D. students may only register for 500-level courses after receiving permission from the Graduate Program Director. But PhD students should certainly not overlook 500-level courses when making their course selections. If the subject matter of a particular course makes a good fit for a PhD student’s research interests, then that student should simply contact the Graduate Program Director to be given permission to register for that course. Similarly, an M.A. student who has a good justification for taking a third 500-level seminar should contact the Graduate Program Director to be given permission to register for it.

Please click on the “full course description” link below any of the following course titles to find a detailed description of the course goals, the reading list, and the method of evaluation.

ENGL 500 Middle English

Monsters, Saints and Heroes – the Fantastic in the Middle Ages

Professor Dorothy Bray
Fall Term 2015
Wednesday 11:35 – 2:25

Full course description

Description: This course aims to examine the idea of the fantastic and the grotesque in some of the most popular forms of literature in the Middle Ages - heroic romances and legends of saints - in the light of medieval heroic tradition, popular culture, and medieval ideas of monstrosity.
The fourteenth-century poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, provides a starting point to explore depictions of the grotesque and the discourse of both monstrosity and sanctity. Reading about saints was not confined to the cloister; these stories were read and heard alongside secular tales, both of which could feature demons, dragons and damsels in distress. The fantastic extended to human-animal interaction, the perception of the foreign and exotic (the ‘other’), and certain tropes in both secular and ecclesiastical narratives where virtue must win out (such as prophecy or loss and recovery).
The course includes (but is not confined to) readings from the South English Legendary and other saints’ Lives (such as the legends of St Eustace, St. Margaret, and St George (with that dragon!)), the fantastic pilgrimage in St Patrick’s Purgatory, as well as popular Middle English romances (such as Sir Isumbras, Octavian, Sir Eglamour, among others), the werewolf tale of Bisclavert by Marie de France, the Welsh tales of Arthur and of Merlin, and the romance of Alexander the Great, whose travels to the East provided much influential, fantastic fare.

Evaluation: Seminar presentation, 15%; essay, 25%; term paper, 50%; attendance and participation, 10%

Texts: TBA

Format: Seminar

Average enrollment: 15 students maximum

ENGL 501 Sixteenth Century

Sex Differences and Sexual Dissidence in Early Modern Culture: Literary and Social Contexts

Professor Kenneth Borris
Fall Term 2015
Wednesday 2:35 – 5:25

Full course description

Description: A study of dissident views and practices of love and sex in early modern culture from the later fifteenth through seventeenth centuries, encompassing viragos, prostitutes, sodomites, tribades, sapphists, and hermaphrodites, among others.  Their treatment and representation according to various discourses and intellectual disciplines will be considered.  For example, these will include, with varying degrees of emphasis, medicine and the other former sciences (such as physiognomy and astrology), as well as erotica, theology, philosophy, and law.  Our readings of primary sources will thus involve non-literary as well as literary texts--such as Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Milton’s masque Comus, and, in translation, Nicholas Chorier’s Dialogues of Venus, some of Michelangelo’s sonnets, and Montaigne’s essay on friendship.  Depending on class size, each member will likely do two seminar papers, each in a different part of the term.  According to their own particular interests, seminar members will determine their own topics for seminar presentations and hence related discussions, as well as discussion topics in the final period.  Insofar as possible, presentations will be grouped in a series of informal “conference sessions” on related matters according to a schedule we will establish at the start of the course.  This format aims to create a diverse, open, and responsive seminar.

Evaluation: Two seminar papers, about 9/10 pages of text each (12 point), to count 45% each class attendance and participation, 10%


  • General Course Reader, Same-Sex Desire in the English Renaissance: A Sourcebook of Texts, 1470-1650 (copies on reserve, electronic copy in McLennan Library on-line catalogue)
  • Supplementary Course Reader with various additional readings including Milton’s Comus
  • Shakespeare, Twelfth Night (edition is optional)
  • Caterina de Erauso, Memoirs of a Basque Lieutenant Nun (paperback)
  • The last three texts will be available at the Word Bookstore, 469 Milton Street, 514.845.5640.

Format: Seminar with papers and discussion

Average enrollment: 7 to 10 students

ENGL 503 Eighteenth Century

The Villain-Hero

Professor David Hensley
Fall Term 2015
Thursday 2:35-5:25 (and film screenings every Thursday starting at 5:35 pm)

Full course description

Description: This course will contextualize the villain-hero of eighteenth-century English literature in a European tradition of philosophical, religious, and political problems, social criticism, and artistic commentary from the Renaissance to Romanticism. Against the background of representations of the desire for knowledge and power in Elizabethan drama, the anthropology of Caroline political theory, Satanic revolt in Milton, and libertine devilry in Rochester and Restoration plays, we will examine the villain-hero as a figure of persistently fascinating evil power – a power subversively critical as well as characteristically satiric, obscene, and cruel in its skepticism, debauchery, and criminality. The readings will focus especially on two examples of this figure, Faust and Don Juan, whose development we will consider from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century.

Evaluation: A substantial amount of careful reading, a class presentation, and a close analysis of texts both in seminar discussion and in a final 20-page paper will comprise the work in the course. The evaluation of this work will be weighted as follows: paper (60%), presentation (20%), and general participation (20%). Regular attendance is mandatory.

Texts: The reading for this course includes the following books, which will be available at The Word Bookstore (469 Milton Street, 514-845-5640). (The list of texts below is tentative and incomplete, to be confirmed in September 2015.)

  •  Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince (Norton or Hackett recommended)
  • Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus
  • Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (Hackett, Oxford, or Penguin recommended)
  • La Rochefoucauld, Maxims and Reflections (Oxford recommended; or Penguin)
  • John Wilmot, second earl of Rochester, Selected Poems (Oxford) or Selected Works (Penguin)
  • William Wycherley, The Country Wife
  • William Congreve, The Way of the World
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust. Part One (Oxford or Norton)
  • Pierre Choderos de Laclos, Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Oxford or Penguin)
  • Giovanni Giacomo Casanova, The Story of My Life (Penguin)
  • Lord Byron, Don Juan (Penguin)
  • Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin (Penguin recommended)

Films: Usually one film will be shown each week. Viewing the films is a requirement of the course, and attendance at the screenings is an expected form of participation. Most screening sessions will last about two hours; some will be longer. (The following list of films is provisional.)

  •  Jan Svankmejer, Don Juan (1970) and Faust (1994)
  • Marlowe, Doctor Faustus (Greenwich Theatre, London; Stage on Screen, 2010)
  • F. W. Murnau, Faust (1926)
  • Hector Berlioz, La Damnation de Faust (dir. Sylvain Cambreling, 1999)
  • Charles Gounod, Faust (dir. Antonio Pappano, 2010)
  • Alexandr Sokurov, Faust (2011)
  • Wycherley, The Country Wife (1992); and Congreve, The Way of the World (1997)
  • Stephen Frears, Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
  • Josée Dayan, Les Liaisons Dangereuses (2003)
  • Mozart, Don Giovanni (dir. Nikolaus Harnoncourt, 1996; and others)
  • Rupert Edwards, The Real Don Giovanni (1996)
  • Benoit Jacquot, Sade (1999)
  • Wong Kar Wai, 2046 (2004)
  • Frederico Fellini, Fellini’s Casanova (1976)
  • Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky, Eugene Onegin (dir. Daniel Barenboim, 2007; and others)

Format: Seminar

Average enrollment: 15 students maximum

Note on Enrollment: Permission of the instructor is required. As a rule of thumb, enrollment is limited to 15 M.A. and advanced undergraduate students (honours majors in their final year have priority). M.A. and honours students may register for this course but must confirm their registration with the instructor in the fall. All others must consult the instructor before registering. The registration limit may be raised above 15 at the instructor’s discretion. Students who are interested in taking this seminar but cannot register in Minerva should contact Professor Hensley. (Please bear in mind that electronic registration does not constitute the instructor’s permission.)

ENGL 504 Nineteenth Century

The Victorian Novel and the Working Class

Professor Tabitha Sparks
Fall Term 2015
Monday 8:35 – 11:25

Full course description

Description: The rise of the Victorian industrial working class is carefully if unevenly documented in the realist fiction of the period.  This course examines seven novels about the working class that variously call upon fiction as a form of social and political intervention into the widespread problem of poverty.  The novels we will read include early period 'Condition of England novels' that write about the poor for the edification of the middle classes (Dickens, Gaskell), to later-century novels that attempt to portray the subjective experience of the poor in realist form (Gissing, Harkness).  Central to the course discussions will be the ability of the novel -- largely a form created by and for the middle classes that assumes both education and leisure time in its readers-- to represent working-class experience.  An autobiography (Thompson) and excerpts from working-class memoirs will provide examples of first-person narrators whose stories, while still mediated by conventional narrative paradigms, are comparatively free from novelistic objectification. 



  • A course pack of critical and autobiographical writings
  • Gaskell, Mary Barton
  • Dickens, Hard Times
  • Eliot, Felix Holt
  • Gissing, Workers in the Dawn
  • Harkness, A City Girl
  • Thompson, Lark Rise to Candleford

Format: Seminar

Average Enrollment: 15 students maximum

ENGL 505 Twentieth Century

Collaborative Modernisms

Professor Miranda Hickman
Winter Term 2016
Wednesday 2:35 – 5:25

Full course description

Description: This course starts from the premise that the concepts of “collaboration” and “modernism” are mutually illuminative: on the one hand, a critical approach focused on collaboration can shed valuable light on modernism, the influential early twentieth-century experimental movement in literature involving writers such as T.S. Eliot, H.D., James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and Virginia Woolf. Moreover, because the work of modernism, both on and off the page, offers a particularly rich collection of collaborative practices, the modernist movement provides a site especially apt for theoretical exploration of collaborative literary production.  Accordingly, the course situates itself at the intersection of collaboration studies and modernist studies.

Collaboration was one of the modernists’ signature practices: modernist work emerged from a cultural milieu that fostered, prized and rewarded collaborative endeavor. Writers and artists often banded together under the banners of movements or the umbrellas of “little magazines”; interacting through the conversational fora provided by salons, cafés, periodicals and letters; critiquing and promoting one another’s work, conceiving of the modernist revolution as a shared project.

Sometimes evidence of these collaborations appears overtly in the pages of a text, in the form of a co-signature or otherwise; at other times, it does not.  In some instances, texts we consider will have been composed collaboratively by two authors working in tandem; in others, one writer will have played a significant role in the editing and revision of another’s writer’s text; in still others, collaboration of another kind will be involved—such as an extra-literary relationship between two individuals, preceding the production of a literary text—that significantly informs, and is registered in, a text produced by one of them.

This course is partly inspired by a wave of theoretical work on collaboration in literary studies that first arose in the 1990s—initially led by commentators such as Wayne Koestenbaum and Jack Stillinger, and more recently, by Holly Laird, Bette London and Lorraine York. Such work has often focused on collaboration in order to interrogate established notions about the nature of authorship, especially to interrogate the widespread tendency to assume and prefer the model of single authorship. From a variety of theoretical perspectives—feminist, queer, cultural-materialist, textual-scholarly—many of these commentators have undertaken to trouble, as Stillinger puts it, “the myth of solitary genius.”

Evaluation: Book review (15%); oral presentation (20%); brief essay (20%); longer essay (30%); seminar participation (15%)

Texts (provisional):

  • Djuna Barnes, Nightwood (1937)
  • T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound, ed. Valerie Eliot (1971)
  • H.D., Tribute to Freud (composed 1944, 1948; first published in its entirety, 1974)
  • Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, Mule Bone (1930)
  • Marianne Moore, selections from The Complete Poems
  • Gertude Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933)
  • Virginia Woolf, Orlando (1928)
  • Oscar Wilde, Salomé (first French edition, 1893; first English edition, 1894)
  • We will also address additional poetry by such modernist poets as H.D., T.S. Eliot,  Ezra Pound, and William Butler Yeats

Format: Seminar

Average Enrollment: 15 students 

ENGL 525 American Literature 

19th-Century American Writing and City Life

Professor Peter Gibian
Fall Term 2015
Monday 2:35 – 5:25

Full course description

Description: Intensive study of a diverse range of American literary writings that attempt, over the course of the long nineteenth century, to develop new aesthetic forms appropriate to expression of new modes of consciousness associated with the experience of life in the modern city. Readings will include selected works by authors such as: Franklin, Hawthorne, Poe, Melville, Lippard (or other “city mysteries” writers), Whitman, the diarist George Templeton Strong, Holmes, Cable, Crane, Dreiser, Alger, L. Frank Baum, Jacob Riis, Chopin, Howells, James, Wharton. At the same time, we will study diverse critical analyses of the city in literature, and theoretical works (often coming out of Walter Benjamin’s seminal studies) defining the dynamics of an emerging "city consciousness." To deepen our sense of the urban context for these primary writings, we will make side trips to explore secondary readings surveying the cultural history of urban crowds, urban periodicals, flanerie, bohemian enclaves, urban parks, shows and amusements, arcades and department stores, world's fairs, museums, hotels, tenements, and also parallel developments in other arts related to the urban scene (painting, photography, panorama, cinema).

Texts: TBA--selections from authors listed above

Evaluation: Tentative: Participation in discussions, 20%; series of one-page textual analyses, 20%; class presentation, 15%; final research paper, 45%

Format: Seminar

Average enrollment: 15 students

ENGL 527  Canadian Literature

Canadian Modernism

Prof. Brian Trehearne
Fall Term 2015
Friday 11:35 – 2:25

Full course description

Description: In close study of four novels and a wide range of poetry, the course will examine the birth, growth, and consolidation of Canadian modernist writing from 1920 to 1970.  Canadian modernism is currently enjoying a critical renaissance triggered by a recent wave of activity in the scholarly editing and publication of little-known or out-of-print works.  As a result, the canon of Canadian modernism is more fluid than ever before, and so is the critical understanding of “modernism” that underpins much of this recent activity.  We will read our authors as individuals participating consciously in the global modernist project, and as Canadians fashioning a distinct national course and qualities for that project.  In the process, we should gain a sense of global modernism’s essential characteristics—of what may and may not rightly be called modernist—as well as of its possible national variations.  We will be attentive to the Anglo-American and European sources of Canadian modernism, in particular to T.S. Eliot’s ideal of “impersonality” and its eventual supplanting by a newly lyric modernism in the 1950s, and the little-noticed Surrealist vein in Canadian modernist writing; to the fruitful interaction of late realism and modernism that is particular to Canadian fiction of the period; and to the complex relation of mid-century women writers to modernism.  Our later readings will give us an opportunity to reflect on the period and conceptual boundaries of modernism and post-modernism.


The following texts will definitely be assigned—feel free to purchase and read ahead:

  • Trehearne, Brian, ed.  Canadian Poetry 1920 to 1960.  Toronto: McClelland and Stewart [New Canadian Library]: 2010.
  • Watson, Sheila.  The Double Hook. (1959)
  • Wilson, Ethel.  The Equations of Love. (1952)

At least two more novels will be selected from the list below:

  • Buckler, Ernest.  The Mountain and the Valley. (1952)
  • Cohen, Leonard.  Beautiful Losers. (1966)
  • Grove, Frederick Philip.  The Master of the Mill. (1944)
  • Klein, A.M.  The Second Scroll. (1951)
  • Richler, Mordecai.  The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.  (1956)
  • Smart, Elizabeth.  By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. (1945)

Evaluation: Textual exercises and/or reading reviews and/or presentations, 25%; major research paper (20-25 pages), 50%; participation in class discussion, 25%.  NB: consistent and informed participation in class discussion is optional neither in post-graduate studies nor in the academic profession and so cannot be in this course.  Perfect attendance is expected at the 500-level and will not be relevant to this portion of your grade.  A failing grade will be given in this category to those who don’t participate consistently, constructively, and in an informed way in class discussions.

Format: Seminar

Average Enrollment: 10 students

Engl 529 Topics in American Studies

Hollywood’s Great Depression

Professor Derek Nystrom
Fall Term 2015
Friday  2:35 – 5:25

Full course description

Description: The 1930s marked a period of massive change for the U.S. as a whole and its film industry. The Great Depression that ravaged the nation’s economy also threatened to destroy the Hollywood studios, forcing them to re-organize themselves less as family businesses and more as modern corporations. The labour radicalism ignited by the Depression sparked union drives within Hollywood as well. Concern over the influence of films on America’s youth prompted the expansion and stricter enforcement of the industry’s Production Code, which imposed multiple constraints on both film form and content. In addition, Hollywood’s transition to synchronized sound necessitated a series of changes, both technological and aesthetic, that transformed the vocabulary of cinema. Operating from an understanding of these multiple social, industrial, and aesthetic contexts, this course will examine several different film genres and cycles that attempted to address—directly and indirectly—the Great Depression while it was underway. Of key interest will be questions of narrative form: how did classical Hollywood narration—whose causal structure is driven by the agency of its individual protagonists—represent a social world that dramatized the ineffectual nature of personal agency in the face of economic collapse? The course will pay special attention to genres and cycles that treated forms of life whose position in the social order was precarious—the gangster film, the fallen woman cycle, the social problem film—while also examining film styles whose relationship to the Depression may seem more tenuous, such as screwball comedy and the musical. 


  • 10-15 minute class presentation: 15% of final grade
  • Class contribution: 25%
  • 2pp proposal for end-of-term paper: 10%
  • End-of-term paper (15-20pp): 50% 

Required films:

  • Little Caesar (Mervyn LeRoy, First National/Warner Bros., 1931)
  • Trouble in Paradise (Ernst Lubitsch, Paramount, 1932)
  • American Madness (Frank Capra, Columbia, 1932)
  • Prosperity (Sam Wood, MGM, 1932)
  • I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (Mervyn LeRoy, Warner Bros., 1932)
  • Wild Boys of the Road (William A. Wellman, First National/Warner Bros., 1933)
  • Baby Face (Alfred E. Green, Warner Bros., 1933)
  • 42nd Street (Lloyd Bacon, Warner Bros., 1933)
  • Gabriel Over the White House (Gregory La Cava, MGM, 1933)
  • Stand Up and Cheer! (Hamilton MacFadden, Fox Film, 1934)
  • It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, Columbia, 1934)
  • Our Daily Bread (King Vidor, King W. Vidor Productions/United Artists, 1934)
  • Black Fury (Michael Curtiz, First National/Warner Bros., 1935)
  • My Man Godfrey (Gregory La Cava, Universal, 1936)
  • Modern Times (Charles Chaplin, Charles Chaplin Productions/United Artists, 1936)
  • Fury (Fritz Lang, Loew’s/MGM, 1936)
  • Marked Woman (Lloyd Bacon/Michael Curtiz, Warner Bros./First National, 1937)
  • Black Legion (Archie Mayo, Warner Bros., 1937)
  • Make Way for Tomorrow (Leo McCarey, Paramount, 1937)
  • The Grapes of Wrath (John Ford, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1940)                   
  • Sullivan’s Travels (Preston Sturges, Paramount, 1941)

Format: Seminar, weekly screenings

Average enrollment: 15 students

ENGL 545/PLAI 500 Activism in Revolution(s)

The Micromechanics and Poetics of Changing the World

Professor Monica Popescu and Professor Tassos Anastassiadis (History)
Fall Term 2015
Tuesdays 11:35-2:25

Full course description

Description: This course examines from an interdisciplinary perspective the anatomy and evolution of the discursive and concrete practices of activism. It aims at understanding the micromechanics of activism, i.e. the process through which the interaction of various individual experiences can lead to revolutionary outcomes, as participants subscribe to narratives of social justification and personal fulfillment. It also tackles the poetics of revolutionary action by looking at its discursive practices.

Toussaint Louverture, the leader of the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804), foretold that his overthrow would not be the end, as the slave revolt “will spring back from the roots, for they are numerous and deep.” How do these roots connect to other activist and revolutionary movements and what are their offshoots across the globe? To understand such connections we look at a selection of sites of social action from the late 18th century to the present, which we set in dialogue. What were the networks of sociability and the discursive connections at play when disenchanted European liberals traveled hundreds of miles away and decided to enroll to fight and even give their life in the Greek War of Independence (1821-1827), as the Romantic poet Byron did? Was their action spontaneous or homogeneously meditated, and what legacy did it leave for the future? How is this connected to later perceptions of international mobilization and political friendship? How do ideas of radical political transformation, such as the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, travel to other sites and historical eras, animating ideas of decolonization or the struggle against apartheid in the second half of the 20th century? What is the role of intertextuality, reading practices as well as practices of analogical identification, in this process? Memoirs, novels, poetry, films, paintings, manifestos and other cultural texts will be read in dialogue with essays by Karl Marx, G. W. F. Hegel, Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Walter Rodney, Jacques Derrida, Kwame Nkrumah, Aghostino Neto, Ruth First, etc. We will also reflect on these topics by occasionally excursing into the domains of religious, educational and scientific activism, or by concretely engaging in a contemporary activist agenda.

Texts: (tentative, the final list will be available in July)

  • François-René de Chateaubriand Memoirs From Beyond the Tomb
  • Charles Dickens Hard Times
  • Frantz Fanon The Wretched of the Earth
  • C. L. R. James: The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution
  • Marjane Satrapi Persepolis
  • Mongane Wally Serote To Every Birth Its Blood


  • Sergei Eisenstein October
    Gillo Pontecorvo The Battle of Algiers
    Andrzej Wajda Danton

Evaluation: TBA

Format: Seminars

ENGL 568 Studies in Dramatic Form

Contemporary Canadian Aboriginal Theatre

Professor Denis Salter
Winter Term 2016
Fridays 11:30-2:30

Full course description

Description: This seminar is a study of the extraordinary efflorescence of First Nations Drama in English from the 1970s through to and including 2016.  We will both historicize and theorize, as we concentrate our attention on theatre movements, dramatic modes, a matrix of recurrent themes and subjects, particular plays and playwrights, and on the continuous/continual encounters between Native and (primarily) European cultures.  The seminar will ask and seek to answer a number of problematic questions, among them: what is meant by the words First Nations, Indians, Natives, and Indigenes? What is meant by the words drama, play, performance, ritual, dance, and theatre?  We shall travel into worlds occupied by “The Trickster,” who appears in multiple guises as Coyote, Weesageechak, Nanabush, Raven, Rabbit, Spider, Monkey, Agouti, or Koshare. We shall learn the languages of translation, for as Monique Mojica and Ric Knowles write in the first volume of their co-edited anthologies entitled Staging Coyote’s Dream, “One of the tasks of First Nations Theatre artists, and one of the subjects of most of the plays in this collection, is translation, broadly understood: translation between cultures and world views; translations between the unseen and the material worlds; translation between interior and exterior realities; translation between languages and discourses, including the values and ideologies they embody; and translation of the ways in which First Nations peoples navigate identity,” together with “the language of conquest, the language that Native peoples were brutalized into speaking.” We shall come to apprehend, literally and figuratively, Coyote’s dream of the “dream world, that realm of intangible reality in which the ethereal and the material coexist and are co-extensive.”  All of this is theatre in a never-ending process, as Native artists have created and create hybrids of traditions and experiments, of cultures and counter-cultures, of what is old and what is new, of what was then and what is now; and as they engage in the recuperation, creation, and memorialization of different kinds of embodied knowledge, and of what Mojica has described as “blood memory.”

Among the plays we shall read, considering both their generative identities and their afterlives, particularly in the here and now, are Aria by Tomson Highway, Reverb-ber-ber-rations by Spiderwomen Theatre, Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots by Mojica, Almighty Voice and His Wife  and The Indian Medicine Shows  by Daniel David Moses, Job’s Wife or The Delivery of Grace and Annie Mae’s Movement  by Yvette Nolan, Lady of Silences and Governor of the Dew: A Memorial to Nostalgia and Desire by Floyd Favel, Girl Who Loved Her Horses by Drew Hayden Taylor, The Unnatural and Accidental Women and Burning Vision by Marie Clements, Confessions of an Indian Cowboy by Margo Kane,  Please Do Not Touch the Indians by Joseph A. Dandurand, and The Scrubbing Project by Turtle Gals Performance Ensemble. We shall also be reading articles by some of these artists along with scholarly studies of contemporary Canadian aboriginal theatre from the set-text edited by Rob Appleford and from the quarterly magazine published under the aegis of Teesri Duniya Theatre, alt. theatre: cultural diversity and the stage.

Evaluation: A presentation on a key issue, play, theatre movement, group of interrelated themes, etc. (20%); an 8-page paper arising from that presentation in the form of a distilled critical argument (20%); a scholarly paper, topics individually-negotiated (35%); and regular and instructive contributions to the intellectual and creative life of the seminar (25%).


  • Appleford, Rob. Ed. Aboriginal Drama and Theatre. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2005.
  • Mojica, Monique and Ric Knowles. Eds. Staging Coyote’s Dream, 2 vols. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2003 and 2008.
  • Course Pack of pieces from alt. theatre: cultural diversity and the stage.

Format: Seminar

Average enrollment: 15 students

ENGL 586 Modes of Communication 2

Affect, Emotion, and Artistic Performance

Professor Trevor Ponech
Winter Term 2016
Wednesday 11:35 – 2:25

Full course description

Description: Theoretically informed discourse about affect and emotion is now integral to humanistic inquiry into literature, cinema, theatre, and cultural forms in general.  This seminar should appeal to students seeking a foundational understanding of basic concepts, topics, and puzzles underlying such discussions and the theories that they embrace.

Our course will have two distinct but intermeshing facets.  One of these consists of a survey of some major contemporary theoretical statements about the nature of affect, emotion, and passion, with special attention to problems associated with differentiating between affective, emotional, and various other possible species of feelings with motivational and dispositional powers.  These theoretical statements will be drawn exclusively from recent studies within cognitive psychology and the philosophy of mind.  The seminar's other aspect consists of a somewhat historical survey of major philosophical statements about the relevance of affect and emotion to the production, reception, appreciation, and critical understanding of artworks.  Topics up for discussion will include: whether it is the special nature or function of artworks to express emotions; debates over the existence of specifically fictional emotions in response to fictional works; the relations between emotions and moral evaluations of artworks; the role of emotion and affect in the identification of genres; and the nature of beauty and aesthetic experience, viewed from the perspective of theories of emotion and affect.

Our reflections on affect and emotion will range widely across art forms, including but not limited to literature, cinema, theatre, music, and painting.  Rather than thinking of works of these kinds mainly as objects, artefacts, or products, we'll conceive of them as performances, that is, as generative processes undertaken by historically and culturally situated agents pursuing artistic projects and engaging in exercises of artistry.  Hence we shall ask whether it is ever best, for the sake of interpretation, to inquire into the artists' affective and emotional histories, insofar as these psychological features are parts of agents' artistic performances.   

Evaluation: Short paper of approximately 1200 words, to be given as a seminar presentation (25%); participation (15%); term paper of approximately 5000 words (60%)

Texts: Gaut, Art, Emotion and Ethics; Prinz, Gut Reactions: A Perceptual Theory of Emotion; Robinson, Deeper Than Reason: Emotion and Its Role in Literature, Music, and Art; Solomon,Thinking About Feeling: Contemporary Philosophers on Emotions; Walton, Mimesis as Make-Believe; a course reader assembling selected research from cognitive psychology and philosophical aesthetics.

Format: Seminar

Average enrollment: 15 students

ENGL 587 Theoretical Approaches to Cultural Studies

Some Assembly Required: New Collectivities and Techniques of Togertherness

Professor Alanna Thain

Winter Term 2016
Thursday 11:35 – 2:25; Screening Monday 11:35 – 2:25

Full course description

Description: This course will explore the emergence of new modes of collectivity in recent cultural theory and political and aesthetic practices.  Our central question is: what are the techniques of togetherness being developed by artists, cultural theorists and citizens today? How have people responded to the challenges of new forms of technology, communication, labour, social assembly and creative practice in re-imagining how we might act and live together, including or engagement with the non-human world (such as the concerns of media ecologies, environmental activism and new materialisms)? We will read broadly in contemporary critical theory to explore concepts such as networks, distributed aesthetics, new ecologies, nonhuman affinities, the commons, the multitude and others. We will alternate these readings with case studies of collaborative aesthetic and social practices.

Evaluation: Participation 20%; Presentation 30%; Final Paper/ Project 50%

TextsReadings may include: The Invisible Committee. The Coming Insurrection; Paolo Virno and Michael Hardt, eds. Radical Thought in Italy: A Potential Politics; Isabelle Stengers, Cosmopolitics; Jane Bennett. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things; Donna Haraway, The Companion Species Manifesto, Felix Guattari. The Three Ecologies; Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus; Jussi Parikka, Insect Media: An Archaeology of Animals and Technology, Alex Galloway, Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization, Pierre Levy, Collective Intelligence.

Format: Seminar

Average enrollment: 15 students

ENGL 607 Middle English

Medieval Literature and the Manuscript Book

Professor Michael Van Dussen
Winter Term 2016
Friday 11:35 – 2:25

Full course description

Description: The idea of a “book”—including many of the characteristics that we still expect this form to include—cannot be understood properly without considering the medieval manuscript environments in which the codex form took shape between ca. 500 and 1500 (though beginning earlier and continuing later). Print technology in Europe developed in the later Middle Ages out of a vibrant manuscript culture that saw the production and circulation of books reach unprecedented levels by the mid-fifteenth century. Before the introduction of print technology (but certainly not ending with its appearance), the manuscript (i.e., hand-written) medium in which all medieval texts were produced before the 1450s was registered in striking ways in the texts themselves. Textual forms of all kinds were conditioned by the materials on which they were inscribed and which conditioned their use, and literary texts in particular often commented on their situation within a wider manuscript culture in sophisticated ways.
This course explores the intersections of bibliography (codicology, palaeography), medieval literary theory, and the sociology of the manuscript book. Its temporal emphasis will be on the later Middle Ages, ca. 1350-1500, though some readings will come from before and after that period. Several seminar discussions will be spent analyzing medieval literary and theoretical commentaries on aspects of manuscript culture (e.g., authorship, scribal practice, manuscript corruption, and the “poetics” of certain material and documentary forms). Readings will also include modern scholarship on the history and sociology of the medieval manuscript book, as well as scholarship that interrogates the intersections between manuscript, print, and digital media. A major emphasis of the course will be on working with original manuscript materials from McGill’s substantial manuscript holdings. Students will meet frequently for workshops on palaeography and codicology in McGill’s Rare Books and Special Collections and in the Osler Library of the History of Medicine. This course is expected to run concurrently with manuscript studies courses offered in History and Art History, and occasional sessions will be co-taught by the professors of these courses (Prof. Faith Wallis and Prof. Cecily Hilsdale). One objective of this course, in conjunction with the concurrent seminars, will be to contribute to an exhibition of items from McGill’s medieval manuscript holdings, including a virtual component. Many course texts will be read in the original Middle English, though no prior experience with the language is necessary. Introductory work with Middle English will be included throughout the course.

Evaluation (provisional):    

  • workshops and exhibition projects 30%
  • long paper 40%
  • presentation 10%
  • translation 5%
  • participation 15%

Texts (provisional):

  • Course pack containing readings in manuscript studies, book history, sociology, and select medieval writings on literary theory and manuscript culture (authors will include Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Hoccleve, William Langland, John Wycif, and others)
  • Van Dussen and Johnston, eds., The Medieval Manuscript Book: Cultural Approaches (Cambridge University Press 2015).


Average Enrollment: 15 students maximum

ENGL 608 Chaucer I

Le Grand Translateur: Chaucer and the Dynamics of Translation

Instructor Michael Raby
Fall Term 2015
Tuesday 2:35 – 5:25

Full course description

Description: Shortly after his death in 1400, Geoffrey Chaucer was being hailed as the “father” of English literature; a less well-known but equally pertinent sobriquet was bestowed upon him by his French contemporary Eustache Deschamps: “grant translateur.” Many of Chaucer’s works were indeed translations. But the modern English word “translation” does not adequately capture the complexity of the medieval concept of translatio, nor does it convey the centrality of translation to the process of textual production in the Middle Ages. In this course, we will explore the medieval practice and theory of translation by reading a selection of Chaucer’s earlier works alongside some of the French and Italian sources (in translation) from which he drew, including works by Machaut, Guillaume de Lorris  and Jean de Meun, Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch. We will pay special attention to how Chaucer creates textual personae in his work that foreground questions about translation and the literary process. Why, for instance, does the narrator of Troilus and Criseyde invent a fictional auctor whom he claims to be following? The study of Chaucer’s engagement with the continental tradition has long been a staple of Chaucerian criticism, but the topic has received fresh impetus in recent years as critics such as Ardis Butterfield have drawn attention to the pervasive multilingualism of Chaucer’s England. One of the goals of the course will to be to reassess the status of English in the late Middle Ages—and the narrative of “the rise of the vernacular”—by focusing on its relation to other vernacular languages, as well as Latin.

The Middle Ages developed a significant body of writings on translation. These texts demonstrate that there was no single, monolithic medieval theory of translation, but a plurality of ideas, arguments, and models. In addition to excerpts by premodern thinkers such as Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, we will read a selection of modern critics whose work intersects productively with the issues raised by the course (e.g. Benjamin, Steiner, Bloom). A guiding premise of the course is that medieval theories of translation can help to contextualize and complicate ongoing critical conversations about intellectual copyright, linguistic identity, and transnationalism. We will also have occasion at the end of the course to consider how Chaucer himself has been translated over time by writers ranging from John Dryden to William Wordsworth to Patience Agbabi.

Note: We will be reading Chaucer’s works in the original Middle English. No prior experience with Middle English is required. There will be some language instruction provided.


  • Geoffrey Chaucer, Dream Visions and other Poems, ed. Kathryn L. Lynch (New York: Norton, 2007).
  • Geoffrey Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, ed. Stephen A. Barney (New York: Norton, 2006).
  • Paul Strohm, Chaucer: 1386 and the Road to Canterbury (New York: Viking, 2014) [please read in advance of our first meeting].
  • Coursepack

Evaluation (tentative): participation 20%; presentation 15%; prospectus and annotated bibliography 15%; essay 50%.

Format: Seminar

Average Enrolment: Maximum 15 students.

ENGL 620 Studies in Drama and Theatre

Theatre and Diaspora 

Professor Katherine Zien
Fall Term 2015
Thursday 2:35 – 5:25

Full course description

Description: In the volume Diasporas: Concepts, Intersections, Identities (2010), Helen Gilbert and Jacqueline Lo describe stagings of diaspora. Performances, they assert, can “activat[e] a wide range of links with homelands and host lands, situating diaspora within specific cultural, political, geographical and historical contexts” (151). Engaging both abstraction and materiality, performances can bring together bodies, spaces, and affects in dynamic convergences. As such, performances of diaspora have the power to make local, palpable pedagogies of long-distance communities and diasporic histories. These representations, however, necessarily take up the contentious term “diaspora” and push us to reconsider its many significations. Does “diaspora” imply an originary trauma or a lost homeland? Can we locate the concept in particular places and times, or are diasporas ongoing, evolving phenomena?
This course examines the ways that theatre and performance practitioners have approached the knotty concept of “diaspora.” How have artists and audiences made meaning of diaspora’s theories, histories, ethnographies, and aesthetics? We will analyze changing definitions of “diaspora” alongside play texts and performances that engage the concept from multiple angles, in past, present, and future-looking scholarly and popular treatments, alongside diaspora’s intersections with gender and sexuality, critical race studies, and theories of (post-)coloniality, (neoliberal) globalization, cosmopolitanism, and the transnational. We will ask why and how certain groups are labeled “diasporic,” while others are excluded from this category. Our critical comparative survey of diasporic formations will address communities situated in Canada, the United States, Europe, and globally, as we note how diasporas take shape in performance’s polysemous terrain. 


  • In-class participation: 10%
  • Presentation and Discussion Facilitation: 15%
  • Analytical essays (2-3 pages): 20%
  • Review Essay (2-3 pages): 15%
  • Research paper (8-10 pages) and symposium: 40%



  • Authors: Ama Ata Aidoo, Trey Anthony, Amiri Baraka, Abdias do Nascimento, Aimé Césaire, Lorraine Hansberry, CLR James, Adrienne Kennedy, Mustapha Matura, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Lorena Gale, M. NourBese Philip, Winsome Pinnock, Dennis Scott, Derek Walcott, August Wilson

Secondary Sources:

  • Selected readings from the volume Theorizing Diaspora (Braziel and Mannur)
  • Theorists: Arjun Appadurai, Daphne Brooks, Jenny Burman, Kim Butler, James Clifford, Gayatri Gopinath, Brent Hayes Edwards, Paul Gilroy, Tanika Gupta, Stuart Hall, Michael Hanchard, Paul Carter Harrison, Anthea Kraut, Kobena Mercer, Sandra Richards, Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Rinaldo Walcott


  • Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s Black in Latin America series
  • My Beautiful Laundrette
  • Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge

Format: Seminar

Average enrollment: 15 students maximum

ENGL 661 Seminar of Special Studies

Contemporary Memoir

Professor Berkeley Kaite
Fall Term 2015
Monday 2:35 – 5:25

Full course description

Description: This course is devoted to some contemporary memoirs with a view to investigating issues of truth value (not truth!), memory, silence, confession, authority, authenticity, discourse, storytelling and imagination.  There are many ways to focus a course such as this and a focus is necessary given the historical sweep of the genre and given the current mania for autobiography and memoir writing.  Our focus for the most part will be on “fathers.” All the books we will read, with two exceptions, address that issue head-on, and obliquely, and all are written by adult children about their parents/father (rather than parents about their children).  


  • Short précis of the books (60%)
  • Class presentation (20%)
  • Attendance and participation (20%)


  • Short theoretical readings from Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Ben Yagoda, Sven Birkerts
  • Short essays by Steve Martin, Zadie Smith, David Sedaris
  • Kathryn Harrison, The Kiss
  • Alison Bechdel, Fun Home
  • Alison Bechdel, Are You My Mother?
  • Paul Auster, The Invention of Solitude
  • Paul Auster, Winter Journal
  • Bernard Cooper, The Bill From My Father
  • Shalom Auslander, Foreskin’s Lament
  • Philip Roth, Patrimony

Format: Seminar

Average enrollment: 15 students maximum

ENGL 662 Seminar in Special Studies

Ecology of Film

Professor Ned Schantz
Winter Term 2016
Tuesday 11:35 – 2:25

Full course description

Description:  This reading-intensive course will consider film’s fundamental representational and transformational capacities from a broad ecological perspective—which is to say, in terms of the sustainable flourishing of life in any number of environments, including the unforgiving terrains of deserts and cities (and desert cities). Our concern will be to understand film ecologies socially, which means in terms of their principles of association, of how human and nonhuman members come into relationship. The course will therefore be as much about cinematic form as about “green” themes, considering how cinema itself produces environments in specific relational terms (character/landscape, subject/object, figure/ground). In short, the premise of this class is that film inevitably is social theory (whether implicit or explicit), and the procedure of this class will be to put film in conversation with other social theory, including Critical Space Theory, Ecofeminism, and Actor-Network Theory. Prior experience in film is not necessary. 


  • film journals 50%
  • presentation 10%
  • participation 40%


  • Temple Grandin, Animals in Translation
  • Alexandra Horowitz, On Looking
  • Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern
  • and a coursepack

Possible films include The Gleaners and I, Two-Lane Blacktop, Killer of Sheep, After Life, The Missing Picture, and Los Angeles Plays Itself.

Note: Please read Grandin and Horowitz before the first class meeting.

Format: Seminar

Average enrollment: 15 students

English 680 Canadian Literature

Canada's Fictional Geographies

Professor Nathalie Cooke
Winter Term 2016
Monday 11:35 – 2:25

Full course description

Description: This course sets out to identify, expose, and possibly exorcise the ghosts of Canada's geographical imaginaries. It also aims to provide opportunities for students to explore digital tools for textual analysis, and to introduce them to the emerging field of literary geography.

Earle Birney famously remarked that Canadians were haunted by our lack of ghosts. It seemed to ring all too true in 1947. But in the years that followed, Canadian writers revealed no shortage of ghosts--skeletons in our national closet, historical figures and episodes looming large on our collective conscience, stories to become the stuff of myth. Together they helped to galvanize our sense of who we were and who we are. Some ghosts continue to haunt us, hovering persistently but often just out of sight, and are therefore all the more powerful: they represent our geographical imaginary or sense of "where is here."

We will begin by pointing the flashlight at one persistent old ghost: a geographical imaginary that places Canadians in a vast country of open spaces swept by challenging climatic conditions. In this section of the course we will explore stories generated by curiosity, where protagonists vanish from sight, while the fascination with them remains and continues to lure Canadian writers back to the scenes of their disappearance to ponder the events and to solve the mysteries through fiction. What is it about these impenetrable mysteries, set in Canada's remotest regions, which captivates the imagination of writers from such a highly urbanized country as Canada? What can and does the fictional imagination contribute to these stories?

Canada's urban imaginary will be the next focus of attention. In urban fictions, Canadian cities have enjoyed starring roles, at first going incognito and then more recently, bared in full geographical and socio-historical detail. What prompted Canadian writers first to disguise and later to expose the city in their fictions? What role does the fictional imagination play in the development of a city and its cultural life? Readings will explore the evolution of the depiction of one Canadian city; class presentations will address depictions of other Canadian locales over time.

Finally, we will turn to a selection of award-winning Canadian fiction to explore the range and function of contemporary geographical imaginaries. Readings will include: narrative feasts where place is transformed into folklore and characters into mythic heroes; evocations of small-town Canada; depictions of Canadian cities at moments of pivotal political and social upheaval; and explorations of the lived reality of Canada's social policies (for example, the residential school system, race-based immigration regulations); and literature that takes on the challenge, through fictionality, of reimagining our history and remapping our geographical imaginaries. 

Texts: Short fictions in the list below will be collected in a course pack

Margaret Atwood, "Age of Lead" and from Strange Things (on Franklin expedition)
Rudy Wiebe, "The Naming of Albert Johnson" (see for context, The Mad Trapper)
Mordecai Richler, Solomon Gursky Was Here
Margaret Atwood, The Edible Woman
Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of a Lion
Dionne Brand, What We All Long For 
Louise Penny, Still Life
Joseph Boyden, Three Day Road
Fred Wah, Diamond Grill (read in conjunction with Gabrielle Roy's "Where Will You Go Sam Lee Wong?")


  • annotated bibliography of literary representations of Montreal, with abstract for a proposed research paper based on the material 20%
  • 5 short analytical papers 25%
  • group presentation geoparsing an urban literary locale 20%
  • individual presentation on class text 15%
  • response statements (to in-class presentations) 10%
  • participation 10%

Format: Seminar

Average enrolment: 15 students 

ENGL 694 Bibliography

Graduate Research Methods

Prof. David Hensley
Fall Term 2015
Thursdays 11:35-2:25

Full course description

Prerequisite: This required course is open to new MA students in English only

Description: This course aims to familiarize students with a variety of research methods necessary for study at the graduate level. Topics of discussion in this course will include: developing effective work habits, using research resources in the discipline, understanding scholarly editions and editing, exploring libraries and archives.  Students will be introduced to methodologies from literature, drama and theatre, and cultural studies, in order to prepare them to conduct their own independent research.

Evaluation: Pass / Fail. Evaluation is based on attendance and any required in-course assignments.

Format of class: Lectures by invited speakers; seminar.

Average enrolment: 30 students maximum

ENGL 716 Special Studies in Shakespeare

The Birth of Bardolatry: 18th-Century Shakespeare

Professor Fiona Ritchie
Winter Term 2016
Friday 11:35 – 2:25

Full course description

Description: How did Shakespeare come to occupy his preeminent place in English literature, culture and society?  Shakespeare’s fame waned after his death and in 1660 he was a little-known dramatist, but by 1814 a character in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park could declare Shakespeare “part of an Englishman’s constitution” and the idea of Shakespeare’s cultural capital remains strong today.  This course will explore how Shakespeare achieved this reputation.  It will therefore be relevant to students with interests in:

  • the eighteenth century,
  • Shakespeare and the early modern period,
  • drama and theatre studies,
  • celebrity culture,
  • reception studies,
  • memorialisation,
  • iconicity.

The roots of Bardolatry can be traced to the 18th century, a period in which society became fascinated both by the man and his works and in which Shakespeare was deliberately constructed as a national hero, the archetype of theatrical and literary culture and the arbiter of all things English.  We will examine the phenomenon of Bardolatry in the period 1660-1769 by analysing a variety of texts, including some of the following:

  • adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays which sought to make the works conform to new cultural and aesthetic standards (such as Nahum Tate’s “happy ending” King Lear),
  • editing and criticism of the works which often advanced a separate agenda (including Elizabeth Montagu’s Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shakespear, which mobilised the Bard against the French in the service of English nationalism),
  • discoveries and forgeries of Shakespeare plays (such as Lewis Theobald’s Double Falshood, an adaptation of the lost Shakespeare play, Cardenio),
  • performances of Shakespearean drama which portrayed his characters in line with 18th-century behavioural norms (such as David Garrick’s sentimentalised portrayal of Leontes in The Winter’s Tale as a “man of feeling”),
  • representations of Shakespeare in visual culture (including paintings, sculptures and souvenirs of the man, his works and the actors who performed his characters),
  • social groups who promoted appreciation of Shakespeare (such as the Shakespeare Ladies Club, a group of women who petitioned theatre managers to stage more Shakespeare plays),
  • cultural events which popularised the Bard (including the most (in)famous event of 18th-century Bardolatry, David Garrick’s Shakespeare Jubilee)


  • participation (15%)
  • research presentation (25%)
  • paper proposal and annotated bibliography (10%)
  • paper (50%)

Texts (provisional):

  • The texts studied will be supplied in a course pack available for purchase from the McGill University Bookstore
  • We will also be studying several of Shakespeare’s plays, therefore a good edition of the complete works (e.g. Oxford, Norton, Riverside) or of the individual plays (e.g. Arden, Cambridge, Oxford, Penguin) is recommended
  • We will make good use of the essays and resources in Shakespeare in the Eighteenth Century, ed. Fiona Ritchie and Peter Sabor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012)

Format: Discussion seminar, possibly some performance work with adaptations

Average enrollment: 15 students

ENGL 722 Milton

Professor Maggie Kilgour

Winter Term 2016
Monday 2:35 – 5:25

Full course description

Description: A close reading of Milton’s major poetical works, focusing on Paradise Lost, but beginning with selected early poetry and some prose, and finishing with a brief look at the double volume of Samson Agonistes and Paradise Regain’d. We will trace Milton’s development as a poet and its relation to his political thought, considering especially the relations between poetry, freedom, and change.  From Areopagitica on, Milton is a passionate defender of the freedom of the imagination as essential to a democratic society. His God is above all a creator who inspires creativity in others – not only Adam and Eve, but also the poet himself. Paradise Lost has itself inspired many later responses and reworkings by writers and visual artists, from Dryden’s State of Innocence to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. Through critical readings and individual projects we will consider Milton’s pivotal role in the canon and the many myths of Milton, as Romantic revolutionary as well as the source of Bloom’s anxiety of influence.

Evaluation: Book review 10%; Editorial exercise 10%; Reception project 10%; Participation (includes class Prolusion) 20%; Final 20-page paper 50%


  • Stella Revard ed, John Milton: Complete Shorter Poems (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009)
  • Barbara Lewalski, ed. John Milton: Paradise Lost (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007)
  • Selections from the prose, on-line on WebCT
  • Selected criticism

Format:  Seminar

Average: Enrolment:15 students maximum

ENGL 734 Studies in Fiction

Literary Landscapes of the Long Nineteenth Century

Professor Sandeep Banerjee
Winter Term 2016
Tuesday 8:35 – 11:25

Full course description

Description: “Landscape” means both a kind of space (such as the “cultural landscape” or the “natural landscape”) and a form of representation (for instance, a genre of painting or photography). Importantly, landscapes – as representations or as places – are also particularly interesting points of political and cultural struggle. In this course we will analyze literary and visual texts from the Long Nineteenth Century to understand how they articulate the power of landscapes. Drawing on work by literary critics, cultural theorists, art historians and human geographers, we will examine how these literary landscapes represent the interests of specific social groups; how they settle questions of belonging; how landscapes naturalize relations of power; and, most importantly, how they shape and transform social relations between people.
We will begin by examining what is meant by the term “landscape” and look at how that spatial category has been conceptualized. While continuously examining the relationship between landscape representation, the built environment of the land, and their social significance, we will also engage with the questions of how, and why, landscape is an important conceptual category for thinking about ideas of aesthetics, home, nation, colony, and the world from the Romantic and Victorian eras. As we read the texts of the course, we will also pay close attention to how the landscape form informs, and is in turn informed by, the questions of class, gender, and race. Focusing on the historical moment of the Long Nineteenth Century, we will interrogate how literary texts made claims on space, and how these claims were contested or negotiated. 

Evaluation: Participation 10%; Presentation 15%; Analytical Papers (x7) 35%; Final Paper Abstract 10%; Final Paper 30%

Texts (provisional):

  • Poems by James Thomson; William Blake; William Wordsworth; John Keats; Mary Robinson; Alfred Tennyson; Matthew Arnold; Rupert Brooke; Wilfred Owen.
  • Mary Shelley – Frankenstein
  • Thomas Carlyle – “Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question”
  • Henry Rider Haggard – King Solomon’s Mines
  • Samuel Bourne – “Narrative of a Journey to the Higher Himalaya”
  • Thomas Hardy – Tess of the d’Urbervilles
  • H G Wells – War of the Worlds
  • Richard Marsh – The Beetle
  • Rudyard Kipling – Kim
  • Raymond Williams – The Country and the City

Format: Seminar

Average enrollment: 15 students

ENGL 757 Modern Drama

Contemporary English and Irish Theatre

Professor Sean Carney
Winter Term 2016
Friday 2:35 – 5:25

Full course description

Description:  This course is concerned with representative plays by both established playwrights and the new generation of young dramatists in the United Kingdom.  The syllabus will be made up of plays that demonstrate an interest in the unique aesthetics of theatre while simultaneously evincing a social commitment and an engagement with politics.  We will begin with theatre of the 1960s and 1970s that challenged censorship and opened new possibilities for controversial content.  The 1980s saw playwrights responding to the election of Margaret Thatcher and to the failure of the post-war consensus, and we will focus upon the responses of predominantly leftist playwrights towards this conservative turn.  Then, examining plays by English writers that continue to revitalize the major London theatres, we will situate the work in its particular cultural moment, namely post-Thatcher and now post-Blair England.  The overall goal of the course is to provide students with an overview of contemporary English and Irish theatre in its historical context while also considering what makes theatre unique as an art form.


  • Seminar presentation with accompanying written component, 20%
  • Two ten page essays, 30% each
  • Class participation, 20%  

Texts (tentative):

  • The Methuen Book of Modern Drama (Methuen)
  • Bond, Edward Saved (Dramatic Publishing Company)
  • Friel, Translations (Dramatic Publishing Company)
  • Churchill, Caryl  Top Girls (in The Methuen Book of Modern Drama)
  • Daniels, Sarah The Gut Girls (Samuel French)
  • Edgar, David  Pentecost (Nick Hern Books)
  • Kane, Sarah Blasted (in The Methuen Book of Modern Drama)
  • Hare, David Plenty (Samuel French)
  • Butterworth, Jerusalem (Nick Hern)
  • Ravenhill, Mark Shopping and Fucking (in The Methuen Book of Modern Drama)
  • Chandrasekhar, Disconnect (Nick Hern)
  • Barry, The Steward of Christendom (Dramatists Play Service)
  • Khan-Din, Ayub East is East (Nick Hern Books)
  • Mullarky, The Wolf From the Door

Format: Seminar

Average enrollment: 15 students maximum

ENGL 761 Studies in 20th-Century Literature 1

Human Rights and Literature

Professor Allan Hepburn
Fall Term 2015
Wednesday 8:35 – 11:25

Full course description

Description: This course surveys points of overlap between literature and human rights, with a focus on narrative fiction. The primary readings include works by twentieth-century authors of different nationalities. Guided by historical and theoretical readings and discussions, we will think about the genealogy of rights, from eighteenth-century declarations of freedoms and liberties, such as the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in 1789, to pacts and conventions signed in the twentieth-century, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948, the Geneva Conventions, and the European Convention on Human Rights. Although the UDHR remains aspirational rather than actualized in its advocacy of universal rights, it sets a template for discussions of justice for individuals, regardless of nationality, belonging, citizenship, or other criteria. This course will not follow a strict chronology or national literature. Nonetheless, the Second World War and its aftermath establish parameters for discussion of rights; the arbitration of genocide and crimes against humanity emerge because of atrocities committed during the war. The majority, but not all, of the texts on the syllabus were written after 1945. Attention will be paid to citizenship, humanitarianism, intervention, the United Nations, immigration, race, torture, queerness, women, and warfare. This course will refer to law and history, but it will focus on the representation of rights in literature. Critical and contextual readings will include Lynn Hunt, Ian Baucom, Hannah Arendt, Giorgio Agamben, Lyndsey Stonebridge, Seyla Benhabib, Joseph Slaughter, Michael Ignatieff, and others.


  • short paper: 25%
  • long paper: 60%
  • participation: 15%

Texts: This list is provisional. Approximately 12 novels will be drawn from the following list:

  • Nadine Gordimer, July’s People
  • Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent
  • Ngugi wa Thiong’o, A Grain of Wheat
  • Caryl Phillips, Foreigners
  • Storm Jameson, A Cup of Tea for Mr. Thorgill
  • John Le Carré, Mission Song
  • Martha Gellhorn, A Stricken Field
  • George Orwell, Nineteen Eight-Four
  • Joseph Skvorecky, The Cowards
  • Primo Levi, If This is a Man
  • Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon
  • Samuel Beckett, Rockaby, Happy Days, Not I, Rough for Radio II
  • Gil Courtemanche, Sunday in the Pool at Kigali

Format: Seminar

Average enrollment: 15 students

ENGL 770 Studies in American Literature

Professor TBA
Fall Term 2015
Time TBA

Full course description

Description: TBA

Evaluation: TBA

Texts: TBA

Format:  Seminar

Average: Enrolment:15 students maximum

ENGL 785 Studies in Literary Theory

Approaches to Book History

Professor Eli MacLaren
Winter Term 2016
Wednesday 8:35 – 11:25

Full course description

Description: The material forms and circumstances of texts fundamentally affect their meaning. This is the premise of the history of the book, an approach to literature aimed at understanding the circulation of ideas in connection with technology, sociology, and economics. If the book is not only a vessel of ideas but also a thing of industrial manufacture that is marketed and consumed, then knowledge of the book industry and of the forces that influence it becomes important to critical interpretation. In this course we will become acquainted with defining contributions to the history and theory of the book, reading works of literature in light of classic and recent studies on the socioeconomics of literary creativity. Topics will include the cultural history of authorship, publishing, and literacy; copyright; analytical bibliography; scholarly editing; the evolution of books from ancient to modern times; e-books and digital culture; the Canadian niche in the Anglo-American publishing sphere; and the rise of the writer-run small press. As the last topics suggest, emphasis will be placed on the history of the book in Canada. The course will introduce participants to primary research opportunities involving the outstanding resources in Canadian literature housed at McGill Rare Books and Special Collections. The Department of English at McGill is home to Canada’s oldest book-history journal – Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada / Cahiers de la Société bibliographique du Canada – and its presence will offer first-hand experience in procedures of academic publishing. Overall in this course, students will learn to orient themselves as scholars of book history, acquiring proficiency in a set of theoretical questions that can be applied to works of literature of any region or period. 

Evaluation (tentative):

  • bibliography assignment 10%
  • scholarly editing assignment 10%
  • seminar presentation 25%
  • research paper 40%
  • participation 15%

Texts: Assigned readings in the history of the book will be selected from the work of Robert Darnton, Roger Chartier, D.F. McKenzie, Adrian Johns, Pierre Bourdieu, William St. Clair, G. Thomas Tanselle, Philip Gaskell, Jerome McGann, Meredith McGill, John Feather, Michael Clanchy, Patricia Lockhart Fleming, George L. Parker, Carole Gerson, Ruth Panofsky, and Jacques Michon.

 A few primary works of literature will be selected from the following tentative list:

  • Shakespeare, Hamlet
  • Samuel de Champlain, 1613 Voyages
  • The Jesuit Relations
  • David Thompson, Travels
  • Byron, Don Juan
  • Edgar Allan Poe, “The Fall of the House of Usher”
  • Robert Michael Ballantyne, Snowflakes and Sunbeams
  • Ryerson Poetry Chap-Books (e.g., Lionel Stevenson, A Pool of Stars)
  • Margaret Atwood, The Circle Game
  • Alice Munro, Runaway
  • Daryl Hine, &: A Serial Poem

Format: Seminar

Average enrollment: 15 students

ENGL 787 Proseminar 1

Professor Erin Hurley
Fall Term 2015
Monday 11:35 – 2:25

Full course description


Prerequisite: This required course is open only to PhD2 students in English.

Description: The first semester of the PhD Proseminar will focus on discussion of theoretical texts and issues. The aim of the course is to situate critical theories and their various loyalties, histories, and methodologies. The seminar will also emphasize critical exchanges—how and why they function as they do. At the same time, the Proseminar will introduce PhD students to the program. The main concern, however, is to orient participants towards a theoretically informed and professionally appropriate plan for doctoral study.

Evaluation: Seminar presentations and short written assignments.

Texts: TBA

Format: TBA

Average enrollment: 7-8 students

ENGL 788 Proseminar 2

Professor TBA
Winter Term 2016
Thursday 2:35 – 5:25

Full course description


Prerequisite: This required course is open only to PhD2 students in English; it is a continuation of ENGL 787

Description: The emphasis of this course is divided between preparation of the Compulsory Research Project and a discussion of issues related to the profession of English studies broadly conceived. Topics of conversation include conference papers and conference-going, academic publishing, archival research, editing, expectations for the Compulsory Research Project, the dissertation, and so forth. Related issues of pedagogy, collegiality, professionalism, and originality in research may also arise.

Evaluation: Pass / Fail based on attendance and presentation of the CRP proposal.

Texts: None

Format: Seminar with invited speakers

Average enrollment: 7-8 students


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