Department of English


English Language and Literature

site header


English Graduate Courses 


2021-2022 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.

-top of page-


ENGL 824 Topics in Medieval Literature: Popular Literature and Performance in the Middle Ages

Instructor: Ruth Wehlau

Description: This course will investigate the popular literature of England as it was manifested in romance, lyric, drama, and ballad from the 14th through the 16th centuries. During the course, we will examine texts dealing with popular chivalric heroes such as Gawain, and outlaw heroes such as Robin Hood. Discussions will include the role of orality and performance in popular culture of the period, and of carnivalesque inversions of authority as found in popular festivals. As one goal of the course involves the role of oral performance in popular culture, students will be expected to prepare (but not memorize) a text (or part of a text) for performance.

-top of page-


ENGL 832 Topics in Early Modern Literature and Culture: Thomas Middleton(1580-1627) and the Profession of Dramatist

Instructor: Marta Straznicky

Description: A study of Thomas Middleton’s career as a professional playwright in early modern London, including his commercial stage drama, civic pageants, and entertainments. Unlike Shakespeare, Middleton was an inveterate collaborator and did not work regularly for one acting company for any length of time. He sold plays to at least seven different boy and adult companies, including the King’s Men, and he wrote on commission for the City of London and the court. His writing career spanned oral culture, the manuscript economy, and the book trade, making him an ideal figure for exploring the intersection of early modern theatrical and textual cultures. Some familiarity with the commercial theatre in early modern London will be assumed, but the course is designed as an introduction to Middleton for those who may not have had an opportunity to delve into the work of one of the period’s most prolific and talented playwrights. Of Middleton’s plays, we will read Michaelmas Term, The Revenger’s Tragedy, The Roaring Girl, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside, Women beware Women, The Changeling, and A Game at Chess; we will also read selections from his street theatre and court entertainments.

-top of page-


ENGL 843 Topics in Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Literature: The New Information Age

Instructor: Leslie Ritchie

Description: Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary (1755) defines intelligence as the “commerce of information; notice; mutual communication” and the “account of things distant or secret.” This course will query Johnson’s equation of information and intelligence by taking a good look at eighteenth-century Britain’s cultural explosion of newspapers, magazines, periodical essays, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and prints. It will consider public experimentation; theatrical, musical, and book reviewing; the growth of the museum; the influence of circulating libraries; and other modes of producing and disseminating information in the period. Readings will include selections from the Spectator, the Idler, the Gentleman’s Magazine, the Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure, the annals of the Royal Society, and papers plucked from other assorted corners of the virtual coffeehouse.

-top of page-


ENGL 861 Topics in Modernism: Modernist Ecopoetics (Remote Delivery)

Instructor: Gabrielle McIntire

Description: In our present age of climate change, ecological crisis, worsening air, water, and land pollution, and the global catastrophe of Covid-19, literature has an increasingly urgent role to play. We are grappling more than ever with how we write about and represent—through fiction, poetry, film and television screenplays, online and print media, letters, diaries, blogs—the stories of our permeable relation with a beautiful and sustaining natural world that is seriously under threat. Centered on British and American writers working from roughly 1880-1945, this course will seek to foster better understanding and insight about the ways in which modernist literatures imagined and portrayed the effects of the post-industrial world on both macro and micro ecosystems. Our attention will fall on a range of text by writers such as Virginia Woolf, W.B. Yeats, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, Joseph Conrad, Matthew Arnold, and Rainer Maria Rilke as we engage with how they render landscapes, waterscapes, cityscapes, and both human and non-human animals.

Engaged participation and attendance; presentation; short written posts to OnQ; final essay.

-top of page-


ENGL 872 Topics in Canadian Literature: Recent Trends in Asian Canadian Literature

Instructor: Petra Fachinger

Description: Over the last decade a considerable body of innovative Asian Canadian works of literature has emerged, many of whose authors have either been nominated for or have won the most coveted literary awards. The seminar, which will include a selective number of writers born in the 1970s or later, intends to acknowledge the historical, cultural, social, and institutional specificities that affect the literary production of distinct Asian diasporas in this country. The seminar will focus on novels, creative nonfiction, and poetry dealing with mental illness, solidarity and kinship with Indigenous Peoples, alternative realities, and LGBTQ+ identities – issues that often intersect and have recently come to the fore in Asian Canadian writing. Our discussion will be informed by various theoretical approaches including critical race, queer, transgender, and Asian Canadian feminist theories.

-top of page-


ENGL 884 Topics in American Literature: Reading Saidiya Hartman (Remote Delivery)

Instructor: Kristin Moriah

Description: In this course, we will read the work of Black cultural theorist Saidiya Hartman including Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments (Norton 2019); Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2007); and Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-making in Nineteenth-Century America (Oxford University Press 1997). This course is offered at a moment in which the impact of Hartman’s work looms large. In a recent New Yorker magazine profile, writer Alexis Okeowo explains that Saidiya “occupies a singular position in contemporary culture: she is an academic, influenced by Michel Foucault, who has both received a MacArthur “genius” grant and appeared in a Jay-Z video.” Despite her celebrity status, Hartman’s scholarly work has shaped several fields including but not limited to Black feminist studies, African American Studies, Black Studies, Archival Studies and Performance Studies. By engaging with her writing and tracing its influence, students will be exposed to the key concepts and methodologies that energize contemporary Black Studies. Course requirements will include a class presentation and a final project developed in consultation with the instructor.

-top of page-


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.

-top of page-




ENGL 813 Queer Theory

Instructor: Angela Facundo

Description: This course begins with a review of queer theory’s foundations, leading to its divergence into what scholars in the field call the “antisocial” and “reparative” positions. Avenues of inquiry include psychoanalysis, discourse analysis, camp, affect theory, and visual culture. We will use this foundation to explore the latest developments in the paranoid-reparative split unfolding today.

-top of page-


ENGL 817 Topics in Literary Study: Publishing Practicum

Instructor: Margaret Pappano

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.

-top of page-


ENGL 818 Topics in Literary Study: Pulp!

Instructor: Glenn Willmott

Description: This course descends into the lurid world of pulp fiction in the early twentieth century, torches in hand, to explore the emergence of sensational genres such as crime, horror, science fiction, and fantasy adventure, in literature and comics. We will study them, curse them, and revel in them as outlandish experiments with normative ways of thinking about self and society, rivalling those of the high-culture avant-garde. We’ll consult mad scientists, muscled barbarians, woman robots, tentacled monsters, femme fatales, and many more denizens of this barely restrained, modern imagination. Evaluation is likely to be based on weekly short analyses (25%), one or two seminar presentations (25%), and a final research paper or (e.g. if you want to write your own pulp) creative research project (50%).

-top of page-


ENGL 831 Early Modern Literature and Culture: 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.

-top of page-


ENGL 859 Topics in Victorian Literature: Slumming in Victorian Literature

Instructor: Brooke Cameron

Description: This course will look at Victorians’ relationship to urban poverty and class difference through a representative sampling of texts. The nineteenth century in England marked a time of tremendous industrial innovation and economic growth, as well as increasing class polarization and wealth inequality. Cities became the repositories for many of the country’s mobile population of workers and the unemployed or destitute. We will look at how novels and prose writings of the period reflect Victorians’ uncomfortable relationship with the urban slum as a site of both economic suffering and class difference, more broadly. We will look at how the ghetto, its people and poverty, was a source of titillation (a kind of poverty tourism) as well as revulsion (Gothic and horror narratives) and, even, sympathy (social reform fiction). While many of these narratives may differ in tone and purpose, they all share in common a fascination with the city’s poor people and spaces as necessary sites of class difference or economic “Otherness”. Primary readings include works by, but not limited to, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, James Greenwood, Oscar Wilde, Charlotte Mew, Margaret Harkness, Arthur Morrison, George Gissing, and A.C. Doyle.

-top of page-


ENGL 865 Bodies in Motion: Refugees in Modern Times

Instructor: Asha Varadharajan

Description:  In the wake of the Holocaust, Hannah Arendt argued that the scale and depth of displacement she witnessed demanded a new guarantee for human dignity. Arendt's writings indicate that displacement is not unprecedented, but that its scale and brutality continue to escalate. Both ecologically and politically motivated forced migration and involuntary displacement are the highest on record in our historical moment; thus, it is imperative to revisit the "refugee crisis" with a new set of questions and a different form of hope. Our keywords will be: biopolitics, risk, rights, humanitarian intervention, "economies of abandonment," "hostipitality," trauma and affect, mobilities, detention, deportation, and deterritorialization. In each case, we will ask how and why the figure (in both senses of the word) of the refugee recalibrates and reinvents these keywords. The required readings will be drawn from visual culture, political philosophy, socio-cultural anthropology, UN policy documents, investigative journalism, new media, documentary, poetry, and fiction. Our aim is to comprehend the singularity and historicity of the refugee condition. The assignments for this course will be expressed in a public voice designed to appeal and provoke widely while informed by scholarly and analytical rigour. Posters, audio/video, spoken word, song (lyric and music), art and photography, investigative reporting, poetry, fiction, and performance are all welcome but must be discussed with the instructor in advance. Attendance is mandatory unless prevented by a genuine emergency. Be prepared for focus, depth, and intensity! Participation will account for 40% of the final grade (online and in-person activities will be curated), and 3 short writing assignments with creative/multi-media options will account for the remaining 60%. The latter can be organized and presented according to individual preference and in continuous consultation with the instructor.

-top of page-


ENGL 867 Topics in Contemporary Literature: Anthropocene Aesthetics

Instructor: Molly Wallace

Description: This course examines the rise of “the Anthropocene,” a critical concept used to describe the epoch wherein human beings have become the predominant geological force. We will spend the first part of the course on the ways the term has appeared in literary and cultural criticism, pointing to its descriptive power as well as to its elisions and blind spots. We will then turn to the Anthropocene’s impact on literary and artistic production. Texts may include: Timothy Clark’s Ecocriticism on the Edge; Kathryn Yusoff’s A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None; Elizabeth Povinelli’s Geontologies; Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow; Ruth Ozeki’s Tale for the Time Being (among others). Requirements include: regular participation, short response papers, seminar presentation, and final paper.

-top of page-


ENGL 882 Topics in American Literature: American Poetry at Midcentury--Elizabeth Bishop and Her Circle

Instructor: Yaël Schlick

Description: What issues were American poets contending with at midcentury? How were they responding to modernism and to modernity? And what range of stylistic and aesthetic approaches were prevalent at this time and why? Did formalism still have a hold? Was the burgeoning interest in confessional poetry influencing the writing of poetry? How did the growth of creative writing programs in the US influence poets and the way they conceived of their craft? This course will explore American poetry at midcentury, taking Elizabeth Bishop's work as its anchor. Through her writing, we'll explore the 1950s, 60s, and 70s; examine issues of gender and race; attend to the importance of place, nature, and the thematics of travel; utilize archival materials from Bishop's archives at Vassar College and read her correspondence to better understand her life and her process; and also study the work of other poets in her circle--Robert Lowell, May Swenson, James Merrill, and John Ashbery. No prior knowledge of Bishop's work or expertise in reading poetry is required, as these are part of the course's aims.

-top of page-




ENGL 844 Topics in Restoration and Eigtheenth-Century Literature: Works of Laurence Sterne

Instructor: Chris Fanning

Description: This course will engage with all of Sterne’s works: Tristram Shandy, A Sentimental Journey, The Sermons and minor writings. Among issues to be considered are: Sterne as precursor to the postmodern, as radical or conservative satirist, sentimentalist, Anglican minister, literary celebrity, etc. Approaches from all angles are welcome: theoretical, rhetorical, historical, political, obstetrical, etc. (most of ’em ending, as these do, in ical).

-top of page-


ENGL 874 Topics in Canadian Literature: Road Narrative and Nationhood

Instructor: Heather Macfarlane

Description: This course will explore the well-established tradition of the literary road trip in Canada, and will examine road narratives produced from the 1960s onward in order to demonstrate their nation-building significance. Geography describes the land, and history peoples it, just as memories connect one to place. This is why road trips are such a feature of Anglo-Settler, Québécois, Indigenous and Diaspora writing in Canada, allowing the travelers to claim, at least symbolically, the terrain they have traversed. It is the intersection of history and geography that makes a journey so significant, nourishing a sense of place or revealing the lack of it. Examining the road trips undertaken therefore tells us much about the specific interests of the four broadly defined groups at the centre of this study. Their desire, and in some cases, necessity to travel, the traveling companions they choose, and the histories they create on the land they are covering are indicative of their particular sense of place and nationhood within the country. In order to demonstrate this phenomenon, the course will examine fiction and critical works by a variety of Anglo-Settler, Québécois, Indigenous and Diaspora writers, including Jeannette Armstrong, Tomson Highway, Dany Laferrière, Thomas King, Robert Kroetsch, Lee Maracle, Michael Ondaatje, Jacques Poulin and Aritha van Herk. We will also consider the road movie and the traveling soundtrack.

-top of page-