Department of English


English Language and Literature

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English Graduate Courses


2019-2020 Course Descriptions

ENGL 803 and 903 Research Forum I and II
Instructor: Various Speakers
Offered: Fall and Winter Terms
Description: A required presentation and discussion course in which first-year MA and PhD students, along with the Department as a whole, will be presented with a number of model research problems and methodologies by members of the English Department faculty and visiting scholars. The aim of the course is to provide and discuss a range of contemporary research models in literary and cultural studies drawn from different fields and supported by different methodologies. There will be twelve scheduled meetings of the forum throughout Fall and Winter terms. The course is graded on Pass/Fail based on attendance and the completion of required assignments.




ENGL 800 and 900 Introduction to Professional and Pedagogical Skills I and II

Instructor: Molly Wallace

Description: This course is designed to train beginning graduate students in the skills they will need as Teaching Assistants and to help them make the transition to advanced literary study. Areas to be covered include essay-marking, academic counselling of undergraduate students, writing research papers, time management, academic and non-academic careers, and applying for grants. The course consists of a series of seminars and workshops involving faculty members and it is graded as Pass/Fail based on attendance and the completion of required assignments..

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ENGL 827 Topics in Medieval Literature: Medieval Drama and Devotional Culture

Instructor: Margaret Pappano

Description: This course will introduce students to the fascinating world of medieval religious practices--hagiography, eucharistic devotion, relic worship, pilgrimage, blood piety, monasticism, imitatio christi, visionary experience, etc.—to examine the creative ways that medieval people sought to understand and participate in the divine. Drama and other bodily performances constituted key channels to accessing spiritual experience, drawing upon the unique power assigned to divine things to shape social relations, including gender relations. As such, drama was much more than a mimetic art in the Middle Ages; it could be a site of transformative thaumaturgical power. This course will consider liturgical ceremonies, vernacular plays, and public performances such as processions and executions from the twelfth century to the early Protestant period to chart how encounters with the divine influenced representational practices. Requirements include regular attendance and participation, oral presentation, research paper.

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ENGL 841 Topics in Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Literature: 18th-Century Narrative Satire and the Novel

Instructor: Christopher Fanning

Description: This course traces the development of the novel by attending to a tradition of prose fiction that emphasizes not the details of everyday life, or the convincing portrayal of the inner workings of the mind—i.e., the traits associated with the “realistic” novel—but rather narratives that exist to expose and test ideas and types (whether philosophical, scientific, or social-cultural). What is the relationship between this narrative mode and what we have come to call the novel? How do the different modes of satire, comedy and irony reflect cultural and generic attitudes toward the self and society?

Syllabus: ENGL 841

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ENGL 857 Topics in Victorian Literature: Fallen and Falling Women

Instructor: Maggie Berg

Description: Jacqueline Rose, among others, has argued that Victorians’ concerns about social cohesion and class difference focussed on women’s sexual morality. This course will examine the figure of the “fallen” woman, who has lost her “virtue,”—as well as those in danger of “falling”— as a vector of mid-century anxieties about social identity. Concerns about the “Great Social Evil” (prostitution) and the “Great Social Disease” (venereal disease), link the individual woman’s body to the health or degeneration of the social body. Whereas William Gladstone called his efforts to redeem fallen women “the chief burden of my soul,” Josephine Butler—who organised to repeal the Contagious Diseases Acts—claimed that there was a “stampede of terror” of men from a spectre of their own making. We will also examine cultural texts such as William Acton’s Prostitution Considered in its Moral, Social and Sanitary Aspects, alongside Functions and Disorders of the Reproductive Organs, Josephine Butler’s Personal Reminiscences of a Great Crusade, and Gladstone’s diaries. We will also consider the visual art of the period.

Evaluation: Participation worth 10%; Seminar worth 30%; Presentation of 1 visual image worth 20%; Term paper (of 10-15 pages) worth 40 %

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ENGL 864 Topics in Modernism: Modernism in Literature, Arts, and Entertainment

Instructor: Glenn Willmott

Description: This course will take us on a whirlwind tour across the jagged landscapes of modernist innovation, both avant-garde and popular—taking in literary fiction, poetry, drama, pulp genres (crime, horror, science fiction), comic strips and books, visual arts and architecture, music and dance.  Our starting point will be current debates about the scope and meaning of the term modernism, followed by an exploration of its diverse formal experiments and social and intellectual concerns in the first half of the twentieth century.  Evaluation is based on weekly micro-analyses, one or two seminar presentations, and a final research paper.

Syllabus: ENGL 864

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ENGL 868 Topics in Contemporary Literature: Indigenous Poetics: Poetry and Prose

Instructor: Armand Garnet Ruffo

Description: In his landmark essay, “Aboriginal Text in Context,” Cree scholar, and former Indigenous publisher of Theytus Books, Greg Young-Ing remarked that “The creation and/or expression of culture by Aboriginal peoples, through any traditional medium or any contemporary medium or any combination thereof, constitutes an expression of what can be referred to as ‘the Aboriginal Voice’.” Given that Young-Ing’s essay appeared some 15 years ago, and that contemporary Indigenous cultural expression has continued at an ever-increasing level of creativity and production, this course will consider a selection of literary work by self-identified Indigenous authors through which we might examine what constitutes this “voice.”  We will begin by considering spirituality as a fundamental component of Indigenous identity, and a jumping off point to questions associated with Indigenous aesthetics, along with the numerous themes arising from colonialism in our assessment.  To provide context for this body of literature, our study will draw upon criticism that has framed the reception of the writing around cultural and socio-political issues.

Evaluation: Participation in class discussion, one in-class presentation based on a primary reading to be handed in as a short paper, and a final critical paper.

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ENGL 872 Topics in Canadian Literature: Reconfigurations of Vancouver’s Urban Imaginary

Instructor: Petra Fachinger

Description: This seminar will explore the representation of Vancouver in contemporary literature (and film).Vancouver, situated on unceded Musqueam, Squamish, Sto:lo, and Tsleil-Waututh territory, has been ranked among the world’s most liveable cities. In this seminar we will focus on texts that contest this assessment by drawing attention to continuing colonization, social injustice, poverty, and gentrification and that imagine alternative communities and new forms of solidarity. We will include narratives concerned with the theft of Indigenous lands, Vancouver’s missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, the history of Chinatown, the incident of the Komagata Maru, the forced evacuation of Japantown, the demolition of Hogan’s Alley, and contemporary life in the Downtown Eastside. The seminar will be informed by critical race theory, Indigenous literary and cultural criticism, theories of decolonization, human rights literary studies, and urban theories.

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ENGL 884 Topics in American Literature: Race, Repertoire, Archive

Instructor: Kristin Moriah

Description: In a recent issue of the journal Social Text, Black feminist scholar Jennifer L. Morgan explained that "the archive carries “the force of law,” and through the conservation of documents and evidence it is situated at the intersection where change and stasis meet—it is both “revolutionary and traditional." In this course, we will tarry a while at the juncture of change and stasis. We will attempt to mine the relationship between Black Studies, Black literary criticism, and the archive. We will take for granted that the history of the Black diaspora is written corporally and textually. How, then, do archival theories and practices supplement interdisciplinary modes of knowing and reading or illuminate issues like embodiment, performance, and representation? How have Black writers and theorists mined the archives, and what might we learn from them? To answers these questions, we will turn to the work of Paul Gilroy, M. NourbeSe Philip,  Afua Cooper, Saidyah Hartman, Robert Reid-Pharr, C. Riley Snorton, and others. Course requirements include one presentation: 20%; one research prospectus: 20%; one book review: 20%; one final essay or archival project 40%.

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ENGL 892 Literary Internship

Instructor: Various

Description: This course is a pass/fail credit course which offers MA students placements in research, literacy, language, and arts-related community organizations, with the aim of providing those students with job experience that is directly related to literary studies. Sample placements may include such organizations as Kingston WritersFest, or the Strathy Language Unit at Queen’s University. To achieve a pass in ENGL 892, the student shall submit to the Graduate Chair a time sheet (signed by his/her placement supervisor) stating that 50 hours of work have been completed satisfactorily, and hand in a brief written summary report (1200 words) on the experience to the Graduate Chair.

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ENGL 815 Topics in Literary Study: Keeping a Diary: Time, Self, and Writing

Instructor: Marta Straznicky

Description: This course will function as an exploration of the diary and other forms of chronologically-ordered life writing and the many critical and theoretical issues raised by the genre: Why do people ‘keep’ diaries? Who writes diaries, and who reads them? How do diaries organize time? What emotional work is done in diaries? What discourses find their way into diaries, and what discourses do not? Is there a role for orality in diary keeping? What forms and practices of dating are used in diary writing? What materials and methods are used? How are diaries categorized, preserved, archived, and studied? We will read a core set of diary excerpts and theoretical texts as we build a framework for engaging critically and creatively with this genre. These texts will represent a wide range of forms and formats (manuscript, print, and digital media), be drawn from diverse locales (ships, prisons, bedrooms, military camps and war zones, farms, schools, trails, paths and roadways, among others), and range from 11th-century travel diaries to contemporary blogs. A significant part of the course will entail original research on one of a number of diaries held at Queen’s Archives.

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ENGL 817 Publishing Practicum

Instructor: Molly Wallace

Description: This seminar takes students through revision and submission stages from draft essay to article publication. The first section of the course will be devoted to discussion of the differences between coursework papers and published articles, and to a presentation and peer revision cycle of each student’s work. The second section of the course will discuss how to decide where to send article submissions, how to present them, and what to expect of the process. If there is time, we will build in a conference proposal/presentation stage. Students must have a complete draft essay to bring to the start of the course and be ready to welcome reading and response from peers. Success in the course requires regular attendance, constructive participation, revision responsive to instructor and peer review, and submission to an appropriate scholarly venue for publication. Note: Doctoral students are strongly urged to enroll in this course, and while the course is open to all students, doctoral students will have enrolment priority.

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ENGL 824 Topics in Medieval Literature: King Arthur: Medieval to Modern

Instructor: Ruth Wehlau

Description: Arthurian legend has enthralled audiences over a period of more than a thousand years, from its first inception as a legend of British resistance to the Anglo-Saxon invasion up to its current iterations in a multitude of movie and television interpretations. This course will examine the earliest Arthurian texts and follow the tradition into the present day. Works to be read include selections from major interpreters such as Geoffrey of Monmouth, Sir Thomas Malory, Alfred Lord Tennyson and T. H. White. Most medieval texts will be read in English translation, but some will be in Middle English; no prior acquaintance with medieval literature or Middle English is required. Apart from the better-known writers, many other authors and poets have employed Arthurian themes and narratives in their work, and students will be asked to research some of these lesser-known versions of the Arthurian story, and to present on the results of their research. We will thus be able to piece together a history of the tradition that includes a variety of high cultural and popular interpretations of the narrative over time. Throughout the course, we will return to the following central questions: what cultural purposes do myths of King Arthur serve? Whose values do they reflect? To what extent do they engage with the past, or with their contemporary present?.

Assessment: Class Presentation and Report: 25%, Class Participation: 25%, Essay: 50%.

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ENGL 831 Topics in Early Modern Literature and Culture: The Merchant of Venice in Context

Instructor: Elizabeth Hanson

Description: This course will focus on The Merchant of Venice, one of Shakespeare's most controversial plays. While public controversy centers around the question of the play's anti-Semitism, early modern scholars tend to approach the play in terms of other determinants: contemporary economic preoccupations, religious questions and generic expectations. This course will explore the ways in which the play's fascination and capacity to produce discomfort arises from the "over-determination" of its action, the fact that there are too many interpretive frameworks that are pertinent to the play and with which the play engages. In probing play's effects, we will read a wide range of material: other "Jew" and "usury" plays, Italian comedies and novellae, economic history, the Bible, and a wide range of criticism and theory. The goals of this course include developing an historical and theoretical understanding of topics such as the emergence of capitalism, the intersection of literary genre and material history, and ethics. Students will be expected to deliver an in-class seminar to be handed in as a short paper, and to write a final critical paper of 15-20 pages.

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ENGL 842 Topics in Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Literature: Comedy in the Eighteenth Century

Instructor: Leslie Ritchie

Description: This course considers comedy, both as a dramatic genre and more broadly, as the expression of something amusing or satirical in nature, in Britain during the Restoration and eighteenth century. Readings will range widely over several literary forms, and will include plays, farces, essays, caricatures, verse, jestbooks, and novels. Texts are likely to include Evelina (Fanny Burney); The Clandestine Marriage (George Colman and David Garrick); A Modest Proposal (Jonathan Swift); Joe Miller’s Jests; and many others. Secondary readings in genre theory and modern literary criticism will complement our primary source readings.

Requirements: leading seminar in examining a modern critical article (25%); presenting a formal abstract of the final seminar paper (15%); final seminar paper (40%); participation (20%). A sense of humour is crucial.

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ENGL 859 Topics in Victorian Literature: Victorian Vampire

Instructor: S. Brooke Cameron

Description: “The blood is the life!” - Bram Stoker, Dracula

The nineteenth-century was a period of social and economic instability, and the border-bending nosfuratu seemed the perfect embodiment of the period’s fears—as well as its forbidden desires. This course will look at both the range among, and legacy of, vampire narratives. We will begin with Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819) on the link between the monster and romance, and then we will move onto to the popular penny dreadfuls’ Varney the Vampire (1845-47). Selections from Karl Marx’s Capital (1867) will help us to understand the parasitic figure as a metaphor for a new capitalist economy, while Le Fanu's Carmilla (1872) will lead us to a discussion of the vampire and unrestrained libidinal appetites. We will also study iconic texts such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), which links vampirism with both the old world aristocracy and new world technologies of mechanical reproduction. We will finish the course with a unit on adaptation, looking at the monster’s neo-Victorian legacy in film (Bram Stoker’s Dracula [1992]), television (True Blood), and comics (American Vampire). Ongoing comparative conversations will reference themes such as nationhood, consumption and consumerism, as well as sexual self-discipline and dissidence.

Assignments: regular participation, a presentation, a blog essay, and a research paper.

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ENGL 862 Topics in Modernism: Modernist Elegy

Instructor: Patricia Rae

Description: This seminar will explore the discourse of elegy in British and American modernist literature (1914-1939). Our starting point will be the tension between elegy and “anti-elegy” in writing on loss inspired by the First World War: that is, between the kind of writing encouraging what Freud considered “success” in mourning, and the kind that disrupts closure, fostering melancholia. We’ll then go on to consider the ways in which modernist formal experimentation (for example, devices such as depersonalization, allusion, fragmentation, and ellipsis) reflect and develop this tension. While our starting point in war literature will lead us to consider the ways nationalism shapes mourning practices (and vice versa), modernism was a transnational movement, and elegy, as a genre, lends itself to cross-pollination across national divides. We will therefore be alert to the ways in which various cultural traditions inflect the injunctions to mourn (or resist mourning) in the works we study. As we move through term, we will also trace an increasing self-consciousness in the use of consolatory discourse during the 1930s, as the threat posed by Fascism intensifies and the prospect of another World War looms. We’ll see writers asking pragmatic questions about which consolations have a chance of surviving the repetition of World War, and adjusting their standards for truthfulness in elegy accordingly.

The seminar will encourage the close reading of poetry and both fictional and non-fictional prose. It will also incite discussion about the politics of mourning practices and about how the concepts of elegy emerging from World War I may have produced problematic distortions in the literary history of modernism as we know it.

Authors considered will include Rupert Brooke, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Vera Brittain, T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, W.H. Auden, Stephen Spender, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, John Cornford, Margot Heinemann, Wallace Stevens, Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, Kenneth Porter, Tom Wintringham, and Edwin Rolph, but students will be free pursue work in their term papers on other modernist authors of special interest to them.

Requirements: one seminar presentation, preparation of discussion questions, final research paper.

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ENGL 871 Topics in Canadian Literature: Hockey[,] Literature and Canadian National Mythologies

Instructor: Sam McKegney

Description: The game of hockey has a steady grip on the Canadian national imaginary. According to literary scholar Jason Blake, “hockey envelops us like second-hand smoke, and, some would argue, it is just as dangerous because it beclouds other cultural options or more serious issues” (4). The game has been conceived as a breeding ground for social cohesion and civic virtue, as a source of national unity and pride, and, in poet Richard Harrison’s words, as a tool with which to make meaning out of winter. Yet the dominant mythologies that paint hockey as binding Canadians both to each other and to the landscape they/we inhabit serve simultaneously to entrench often problematic paradigms of gender, sexuality, race, and language that exclude as well as include. This course interrogates the role of hockey in supporting and disrupting discourses of Canadian nationhood; it examines how depictions of the country’s national winter sport serve to police Canadian identity by characterizing certain behaviours and traits as licit and desirable and others as illicit and aberrant. We will consider topics like gender, sexuality, nationalism, embodiment, play, mentorship, economics, regionalism, environmentalism, militarism, and violence by studying novels, poetry, life-writings, media representations, song lyrics, and films in which hockey plays a significant role.

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ENGL 863 Topics in Modernism: Modernist Poetics: Exploring the Sacred In T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, W.B. Yeats, and Rainer Maria Rilke

Instructor: Gabrielle McIntire

Description: Friedrich Nietzsche writes in 1882—the year both Virginia Woolf and James Joyce were born—“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him . . . . With what water could we purify ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we need to invent?” (The Gay Science). His startling pronouncements had enduring effects on nascent modernist aesthetics, poetics, and ethics from the 1880s through the Second World War. In many ways Nietzsche had summed up a key dilemma of a post-Darwinian cultural and philosophical climate: aboulie, atheism, and secularism seemed to be the new creeds, while poets and authors increasingly found themselves called upon to negotiate both the absence and presence of the sacred. The four writers who will be the focus of the course—T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, W.B. Yeats, and Rainer Maria Rilke—were central to early twentieth-century European literature, and we will explore the ways their texts wrestle (both overtly and covertly) with questions about sacred experience, spirituality, mysticism, belief, and transcendent meaning.

Course Requirements: In-class presentation; engaged participation; final essay.

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ENGL 878 Topics in Postcolonial Literature: "Inglan is a Bitch": An Introduction to the Postcolonial Condition

Instructor: Asha Varadharajan

Description: This course will serve as a broad introduction to the historical depth and geographical scope of what has come to be known as the "postcolonial" condition. We will read Anglophone literatures from colonies of the British Empire contending with the cultural, political, economic, and psychic legacy of imperialism. The emphasis in this course will be on postcolonial "writing" as a passionate and tongue-in-cheek repudiation and rearticulation of colonial language, values, and systems. Some of the questions we might ask are: how do postcolonial writers communicate in a language not their own, an experience all their own (Chinua Achebe)? how has the colonial experience contributed to the current shape of our world –its economic disparities and its social and cultural mélange? what is the difference between mimic and creole identities? how do gender and sexuality intersect with postcoloniality? how has the long history of independence from colonization altered the literary forms and socio-political and cultural concerns of postcolonial writing? how has the shift to the environmental, the global, the cosmopolitan, or the biopolitical, diluted or enhanced the force of anti-colonial struggle? Some authors we might consider are Mark Behr, Wole Soyinka, Mohsin Hamid, Kiran Desai, Derek Walcott, Sally Morgan, Sam Selvon, Imraan Coovadia, Indra Sinha and Helen Oyeyemi. Attendance requirements will be stringent to facilitate voluntary and assigned participation, journals/writing in a public voice and a major research project (multi-media and multi-generic work encouraged) will account for the remaining graded assessments.

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