Department of English


English Language and Literature

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English Graduate Courses


2020-2021 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: Margaret Pappano

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 816 Topics in Literary Study II: Talking on the Page: Oral History as Art and Testimony

Instructor: Laura Murray

Description: Oral history is both an art and a research methodology. In recording and representing the spoken expression of real people, it translates from one medium to another, and one context to many other contexts. Ethically, it is extremely complex. Oral historians often seek to amplify marginalized voices. But what power dynamic or even violence is at play in what was sometimes called the “capturing” of “live” speech? Artistically, too, oral history offers many challenges. But while transcription and editing are often associated with loss of authenticity, the choices required also allow for enriching transformation. This course is a hybrid of practical and critical work and may be of interest to students in History and Cultural Studies as well as English. Assigned readings will include excerpts and entire works of oral history (TBA, but e.g. Alexievich, Voices from Chernobyl; Hurston, Barracoon; Minde/Ahenakew/Wolfart, Their Example Showed me the Way, etc.), and critical articles on orality, method, and historiography. The course will also offer training in some basics of oral history interviewing. In addition to participating in class discussion, each student will undertake an interview project including transcription and/or editing and/or transformation, and write a paper; the relative scale and weighting of the two assignments will depend on each student’s goals for the course.

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ENGL 858 Topics in Victorian Literature III: Queer Victorians

Instructor: Maggie Berg

Description: A great deal of attention has been paid to Oscar Wilde as a key figure in the rise of awareness of homosexuality in the late nineteenth century and to Michel Foucault’s claim that in 1870 “the homosexual became a species.” This course will trace literary representations of queerness beginning much earlier. We will read histories of gay identity in the nineteenth century, recent queer theory including Judith Butler and Robert McRuer, and a selection of poetry and prose works by Charlotte Brontë, R.L. Stevenson, Christina Rossetti, Oscar Wilde, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Michael Field. The course will explore what it means to employ the current term “queer” for nineteenth century literary figures and texts. We will explore the difficulties and joys of uncovering a queer literary history. Assessment will be based on: a seminar presentation; a presentation of a visual image; an essay; participation.

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ENGL 862 Topics in Modernism II: Literature and Culture of the Spanish Civil War

Instructor: Patricia Rae

Description: A study of poems, memoirs, journalism, fiction and other forms of cultural production inspired by the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939). Widely regarded as the opening act of the Second World War (though its veterans were derided as “premature anti-fascists”) the war against Franco’s Fascist-backed coup in Spain inspired volunteers from 53 nations to migrate to that country in support of the cause. As Auden famously put it, they heard the call of Spain “on remote peninsulas, / on sleepy plains, in the aberrant fishermen’s islands…”; they “heard and migrated like gulls or the seeds of a flower…. They floated over the oceans; / They walked the passes: they came to present their lives” (EA 211–12). They did so, however, in what rapidly became a lost cause. This course will examine the literature and culture, primarily but not exclusively in English, inspired by this war. Authors considered will include George Orwell, Nan Green, John Cornford, Margot Heinemann, Tom Wintringham, Jack Lindsay, Ernest Hemingway, Martha Gelhorn, Edwin Rolfe, Langston Hughes, Norman Bethune, Dorothy Livesay and Ted Allen, and we will look at anthologies of elegiac poetry (many no longer in print) from Britain, Canada and the United States. We’ll also pay attention to the small newspapers and literary magazines publishing elegiac tributes to the veterans, most notably the soldiers’ own publication, Volunteer for Liberty. We’ll give some consideration, too, to the visual art inspired by the war (the paintings of Picasso, Miro, and Dali, the documentary photography of Robert Capa), and especially to the much belated memorials produced in memory of the volunteers across Britain, the United States and Canada. Theoretical and historical questions we’ll address include why so much about this war and its volunteer effort has been forgotten by governments and mainstream media; why it has been such an object of nostalgia on the political left; why the critical language devised for the literature of the Great War is so inadequate to account for it; the place of women both in the work of the war and in its iconography; the role of the war in changing the face of journalism and in inspiring a resurgence of certain modernist literary practices rejected by the political left in the 1930s.

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ENGL 864 Topics in Modernism IV: Modernism, Mysticism, and the Divine

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 modernist aesthetics and ethics from the 1880s through at least the Second World War, and most critics agree that Nietzsche helped to herald an age of spiritual and religious uncertainty. Secularism was on the rise, but, so, too, was mysticism, individual spiritualities, and interest in the occult, while during the First World War attendance at traditional places of religious worship surged. This course will consider representations of immanence, transcendence, sacred experience, the mystical, and the divine in fiction, poetry, and non-fictional prose from the 1860s through the early 1940s by writers such as Gerard Manley Hopkins, Thomas Hardy, Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, W. B. Yeats, Sigmund Freud, and Rainer Maria Rilke.

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ENGL 872 Topics in Canadian Literature II: Environment in Contemporary Canadian and Indigenous Literature

Instructor: Petra Fachinger

Description: This seminar will be concerned with contemporary Canadian and Indigenous texts that take environmental issues as their major topic. It intends to acknowledge the historical, cultural, and social specificities that affect environmental writing in this country within the global context. We will consider a variety of modes and genres, including the novel, Indigenous ways of storytelling, creative nonfiction, ecopoetry, and ecodrama to explore questions of environmental poetics and social justice. Our discussion will be informed by various ecocritical approaches including ecofeminism, ecocriticism and urban environments, environmental justice, and the intersection between environmental humanities and Indigenous studies.

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ENGL 877 Topics in Postcolonial Literatures II: Creole Dreams Syncretic Vision

Instructor: Asha Varadharajan

Description: This course will serve as a snappy and provocative introduction to anglophone African and Caribbean cultural expression.  Where appropriate, and for purposes of comparison, we will discuss African-American and diasporic Afro-Caribbean cultural production.  We will read poetry, fiction, plays, essays; sample lyrics and music; appreciate cinema, art and photography; encounter new media and other forms of the virtual ; and revel in comedy and performance.  The works we will explore contend with ecology and economy; language, culture and society; body, sexuality, psyche, and spirit.  While colonialism has no doubt left violence and suffering in its wake, our "authors" exude joy, cheek, danger, and sex appeal.  Tropes/concepts such as negritude, creolization, syncretism, apartheid, animism, the postcolony, and so on will merit sustained scrutiny and redefinition.  Every effort will be made to introduce both canonical and emergent cultural producers in a range of genres and modes.  Multi-media and crossdisciplinary approaches to assignments will be encouraged.  The proposed remote, asynchronous teaching in the Fall  will result in a range of inventive forms of assigned participation, group discussion forums, and short, focused writing tasks designed to trace a discernible learning curve and promote an exponential ease and familiarity with postcolonial thought, anti-colonial resistance, and tactics of decolonization.

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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 813 Literary Theory III: Creative Research Workshop

Instructor: Glenn Willmott

Description: Have you ever asked: Could my interest in creative writing be more involved with my curiosity as a scholar? Is it possible to pursue creative writing and scholarship at the same time? This course is about what happens when you answer yes. We will explore the methodology of what has awkwardly been named “research-creation”: the pursuit of new ideas and questions through the practice of the creative arts – poetry, fiction, comics, or other forms of verbal and written media. We will undertake traditional graduate seminar activities of shared scholarly readings and discussion about research-creation alongside creative writing activities in which you will workshop your own short creative writing / research assignments and a larger creative project developed in the latter part of the term. The course is very much individually driven as to content: you should be prepared to choose your own area of literary studies to research and get creative about. No previous experience in creative writing is required, only your curiosity and willingness to think outside the essay genre. Assessment is based on three or four short assignments, one longer assignment, and contribution to peer reviewing and editing.

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ENGL 815 Topics in Literary Study I: Performing Blackness: Black Drama and Performance Theory

Instructor: Kristin Moriah

Description: Zora Neale Hurston’s play Color Struck (1926), opens with a journey to a cakewalk competition in St. Augustine, Florida. Caught up in a debate around colourism, the main character John insists that “dancing is dancing no matter who is doing it.” But as John and his companions learn, for Black performers, the issues raised by dance and performance are almost always closely tied to race. To whit, Daphne Brooks reminds us that “in the context of an evolving African American literary tradition questing for existential meaning and an avenue to state with conviction that ‘I was born,’ a diverse array of political activists, stage performers, and writers utilized their work to interrogate the ironies of black identity formation.” In this course, we will closely examine the work of activists, stage performers, and writers who do just that. This course will provide students with an opportunity to study foundational works of Black performance theory like Daphne Brooks’ Bodies in Dissent and E. Patrick Johnson's Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity alongside Black performance art, drama, and television.

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ENGL 817 Topics in Literary Study III: Publishing Practicum

Instructor: Gabrielle McIntire

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 826 Topics in Medieval Literature III: Medieval Travel Literature and Ethnography

Instructor: Margaret Pappano

Description: This course will explore the representations produced by medieval travelers—pilgrims, crusaders, missionaries, merchants, and emissaries, among others—in the high and later Middle Ages, largely focused on Christians of medieval Europeans but with some consideration of the Jewish and Islamic traditions. As medieval people traveled to distant lands, they encountered peoples and customs different from their own. We will analyze how medieval people wrote about ethnic differences and in doing so, consider the discourses available to the medieval person to frame their experience of difference. While medieval travel writing was bound up with the system of auctoritas and thus heavily indebted to preceding traditions, travelers could and did produce alternative ways of seeing the world. We will explore the tensions between the universalizing discourses of Christendom and the individual experience of the traveler, charting the evolving patterns of ethnographic and geographic thought in relation to changes wrought by centuries of contact and exchange of information between Europe and its “others.”

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ENGL 851 Topics in Romanticism I: Romantic Women Writers and the Cultural Context of the 1790s

Instructor: Shelley King

Description: Despite two decades or more of scholarship designed to expand the canon of Romantic literature, the study of British Romanticism has tended to remain quite  firmly fixed on the “Big Six” of Blake, Byron, Coleridge, Keats, Shelley, and Wordsworth. That is not the case in this course that takes as its focus women writers of the Romantic period [c. 1790-1830], with special emphasis on their participation in salon culture. Studies of the later eighteenth century, such as Gillian Russell and Clara Tuite’s Romantic Sociability: Social Networks in Literary Culture in Britain, 1770-1840 (2002), Christopher Rovee’s Imagining the Gallery: The Social Body of British Romanticism (2006), and more recently Susanne Schmidt’s British Literary Salons of the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries (2013) have emphasized the importance of social interconnections in the period, replacing the long dominant myth of the Romantic artist as solitary genius with a more complex narrative of public and private affiliations. In revising the myth of isolated creativity, such studies locate our understanding of artistic production–both literary and graphic--within the debate concerning public and private spheres of interest that has emerged in criticism concerning the long Eighteenth Century and Romantic periods over the past two decades. The aim of this course is to explore the ways in which women writers participated in both the marketplace for literature and debates regarding contemporary culture. Of the women who published poetry, drama, and fiction during these years, only Jane Austen remains a household name. However, she was but one of a multitude of women who published in all genres during the Romantic Era in Britain and who participated in vibrant intellectual circles. We will explore topics ranging from the political thought of the Wollstonecraft-Godwin circle and the refiguring of Godwin's Political Justice in the fiction of Mary Hays and Amelia Opie, to the political poetry of writers such as Charlotte Smith and Mary Robinson, to emergence of the Romantic construction of childhood and the concomitant rise of a market for literature for children dominated by women writers such as Maria Edgeworth, Eleanor Fenn, and Anna Letitia Barbauld. Genres studied will include poetry, fiction, and non-fiction prose to provide an introduction to scope of literary work by women in this period.

Assignments: Commonplace book/reader’s journal (3 submissions of 2-3 pages each); seminar presentation; Final Project--Students will select from a range of final projects designed to enable focus on specific aspects of professional development: 1) Conference Paper; 2) Standard Essay/Article; 3) Virtual Exhibit: Working with the Special Collections at the Jordan Library.

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ENGL 866 Topics in Contemporary Literature II: Incarcerating Indigenous People

Instructor: Armand Garnet Ruffo

Description: This seminar will examine the concepts and reality of incarceration for Indigenous people in Canada and the role of writing. We will consider a variety of literary strategies that authors have adopted to tell their stories of incarceration with the end goal of confronting and destroying colonialism. The texts for this seminar may include memoir, biography, fiction, and poetry, as well as a selection of critical writing, histories and journalism, which serve to open the literature to analysis. Our focus will necessarily connect to related themes such as diaspora, racism, residential schools, violence, self-determination, and empowerment.

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ENGL 874 Topics in Canadian Literature IV: Literature, Nationality and Territoriality

Instructor: Heather Macfarlane

Description: This graduate course examines narratives from diaspora, Indigenous and settler populations in Canada that highlight territorial claiming, whether it be in rural or urban environments, and in forms as varied as traditional Indigenous stories or hip hop’s practice of “reppin’ ”. In the landmark 1997 land claim Delgamuukw vs. British Columbia, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that traditional Indigenous story was admissible in court as evidence of land ownership, legitimizing a kind of literary land claim. How do the narratives in question claim land, and what does that say about the various communities? What are the politics of claiming stolen land, and how do class, race, cultural practice, gender and sexuality play into questions of territorial belonging, nationhood and connection to place?

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ENGL 877 Topics in Postcolonial Literatures II: Caribbean Modernisms

Instructor: Chris Bongie

Description: In this seminar we will situate Caribbean literature from the 1930s to the 1960s in the broader context of transatlantic modernisms, with a specific focus on the novel as a genre. Engaging with the fields of Caribbean, postcolonial, and modernist studies, the course will be divided into four units. The first unit, “Remembering Haiti,” will introduce the problem of modernism in relation to the Caribbean via a number of texts focused on Haiti, including Alejo Carpentier’s The Kingdom of this World (Cuba, 1949) and the opening chapters of David Scott’s Conscripts of Modernity: The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment (2004), an influential reading of C.L.R. James’s pioneering account of the Haitian Revolution in The Black Jacobins (1938/1963, Trinidad) that will provide the primary theoretical point of reference for the course as a whole. In the second unit, “Post/Colonial Canons,” we turn to the Anglophone Caribbean, and (following critics like Alison Donnell, Belinda Edmondson, and Leah Rosenberg) trace how the tenets of “hegemonic modernism” have shaped our understanding of the emerging Caribbean canon, looking in particular at intersections of race and gender in Claude McKay’s Banana Bottom (Jamaica, 1933) and Jean Rhys’s Voyage in the Dark (Dominica, 1934). The third unit, “Queer Migrations,” carries the story of Anglophone Caribbean literature forward to the post-war Windrush Generation, attending (in the wake of critics like J. Dillon Brown, Peter Kalliney, and Malachi McIntosh) to the “migrant modernism” of Sam Selvon’s Lonely Londoners (Trinidad, 1956) and George Lamming’s the Emigrants (Barbados, 1955), paying special attention to their conflicted representations of black masculinity. The course concludes with a final unit, “Beyond the Word of Man?,” where we return to Scott’s Conscripts of Modernity, reading the remainder of it alongside Wilson Harris’s The Palace of the Peacock (Guyana, 1960) and essays by the Jamaican philosopher Sylvia Wynter, in order to consider the question of what comes after modernism/modernity/coloniality.

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ENGL 881 Topics in American Literature I: "The Story Is the Thing": American Women Writing the Short Story

Instructor: Yaël Schlick

Description:When asked whether she embellished and reshaped her life into stories, sometimes to the point of not being sure what really happened, Lucia Berlin responded that this didn’t matter:  “The story is the thing.”

Our course will examine the form of the short story and its utility in conveying the life experiences and insights of American women writers.  We will read their works in light of historical events and feminism’s evolution in the United States, explore how their writings address gender and depict domestic lives and familial relations, and consider their respective use of the short story’s hallmark brevity and concision in rendering the experiences of everyday life.  (Consider Lydia Davis’s story, “Example of the Continuing Past Tense in a Hotel Room”, as an example of such brevity.  Its single sentence reads:  “Your housekeeper has been Shelly.”) 

Authors studied include Zora Neale Hurston, Dorothy Parker, Elizabeth Bishop, Flannery O’Connor, Grace Paley, Lucia Berlin, Lydia Davis, and Jhumpa Lahiri.

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ENGL 832 Early Modern Literature and Culture II: Shakespeare and Early Modern Textual Culture

Instructor: Marta Straznicky

Description: This course approaches Shakespeare’s plays and poems as texts circulating in the overlapping realms of oral, manuscript, and print publication. We will investigate the mechanisms and agencies through which Shakespeare’s works were constituted as text, how they were transformed across the realms of manuscript production, vocal recitation, print publication, and, frequently, back into manuscript or theatrical re-presentation. The course will focus on five works of Shakespeare that have a particularly interesting or complicated textual history: Venus and Adonis, Henry V, Hamlet, King Lear, and Pericles. Topics include the uses of manuscript in the theatre (actors’ parts, rehearsal scripts, promptbooks, companies’ literary archives); the printing and publishing trades (licensing and censorship, copyright, manufacture of books, social coding of formats, patronage, bookselling); and early modern reading practices (‘analogical’ reading, commonplacing, annotation, oral reading, coteries, and patterns of book ownership). You will work closely with facsimiles and become familiar with some major research resources in early modern studies (the print Short-Title Catalogue, the Stationers’ Register, the database Early English Books Online, the Database of Early English Playbooks, and the English Short-Title Catalogue).

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ENGL 842 Topics in Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Literature II: Literature in the Age of Sensibility and the Sublime

Instructor: Christopher Fanning

Description: The great neoclassical satirists Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift died in 1744 and 1745, respectively.  The passing of these writers, who had defined the forms and standards of literary expression for decades, marked a watershed in English poetry: “For who durst now to poetry pretend?” asked one anonymous writer in 1744.  This course will examine the attempts of later eighteenth-century authors to fill this perceived void on their own terms.  Rather than continue to emulate the traditional ideals of Augustan Rome, authors of the 1740s and subsequent decades sought to cultivate native British traditions, to define themselves against Pope in particular, and to define an aesthetic in tune with human emotion and the natural world, redefining and revaluing concepts of fancy and imagination, reorganizing the canon of English authors, elevating genres such as the lyric (the ode) and the novel.

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