Fall 2019

ENGL 5005: M.A. Seminar
Prof. Julie Murray

What does it mean, these days, to study “English”? What are the stakes involved in teaching it? And what, in fact, are we to study and teach, exactly? How—in practical terms—might graduate students most effectively navigate their own research and teaching at a time when disciplinary boundaries seem more porous than ever, and when the assumptions about what constitutes sound scholarship or even effective pedagogy are by no means self-evident or mutually agreed upon by members of the profession? This course provides MA students with a primer on the tumultuous history of English Studies and a roadmap to the current state of the discipline in several key areas: disciplinary boundaries and interdisciplinarity; methodological debates; and pedagogy. In addition to considering theoretical questions raised by these issues, the course will assist students with a range of practical concerns including: developing graduate research strategies, learning bibliographic tools (print and electronic), grading essays, leading seminars, crafting grant proposals, and understanding employment and academic opportunities available to graduates, both inside and outside the profession.

ENGL 5303F/ENGL 4301A: Studies in Renaissance Literature (cross-listed with HUMS 4902)
Prof. Emma Peacocke

Topic: History on Stage

When they saw a white flag flying over the Globe Theatre, London playgoers knew that it was advertising a comedy. A black flag meant tragedy, and a red flag meant a history play. Queen Elizabeth herself was keenly aware of the power of the history play. Rebelling against the Queen in 1600-1601, the Earl of Essex commissioned repeat performances of Shakespeare’s Richard II. “I am Richard II, know ye not that?” the Queen demanded of her archivist, William Lambarde. Whoever controlled the history play also commanded the national stage.

Elizabethan and Jacobean audiences must have had a clear idea of just what sort of play the red flag signified – but editors and critics from the 16th century onward have been less certain. This course will explore what defines a history play, and how different authors across the decades wrote and re-wrote England’s history in light of the changing politics of their own day. At times, we will use a film studies approach, which examines how popular forms (such as film, television, or the Renaissance stage) can turn history into an ideological vehicle to teach a particular version of the national story.

Your voice and your ideas are central in Engl 4301/5303. As well as the 20-minute In-class Presentation on a Primary Text, you can take the opportunity to share your insights during structured discussion activities, debates, and questions during each class. I also warmly welcome discussion during my office hours.

ENGL 5402F/ENGL 4976A: Studies in Eighteenth-Century Literature
Prof. Pat Whiting 

For English readers during the first three-quarters of the eighteenth-century, the United States of America was no such thing, but one of several exotic colonies of a burgeoning British Empire.  For the last quarter, it was an upstart, independent country.  The British public, most of whom never left England, learned about America through books and periodicals, many of which were written by people who likewise never crossed the Atlantic.  Nevertheless, the range and diversity of texts that dealt with the American colonies is surprisingly wide.  Some, such as Defoe’s Colonel Jack and Equiano’s Interesting Narrative, advocate for political action in England. The Female American, Edward Kimber’s Life and Adventures of Mr. Anderson, and Charlotte Lennox’s Euphemia consider relations between the English and Native Americans.  Susanna Rowson’s Charlotte Temple and Samuel Jackson Pratt’s Emma Corbett transplant the English novel of sensibility onto American soil, and, in the Revolutionary Decade, Robert Bage and George Walker use America in their respective satirical novels to heap scorn on their respective political enemies in England.

This course will focus on British literature that is set in both England and America and will consider historical matters of slavery, indigenous peoples, emigration, piracy, shipwrecks, kidnapping, indentured servitude, and revolution.  We will examine the ways in which writers portray a realistic, if often politically biased, America, as well as purely instrumental representations that had little to do with America and everything to do with contemporary England.  Insofar as the eighteenth-century novel formed a crucial aspect of the project to establish the hegemony of the emergent middling classes, we will consider how transatlantic fictions worked to promote this aim through condemnation of a decadent aristocracy and the triumph of virtuous upward mobility.  We will also examine specific ways that these texts conformed to readers’ demands that their reading matter not only interest and entertain them but also instruct them in improving ways.

Required texts: (this list is subject to change depending on the availability of texts and editions)

Bage, Robert. Hermsprong (Broadview)
Defoe, Daniel. Colonel Jack (Broadview)
Equiano, Olaudah.  The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (Broadview)
Kimber, Edward. The History of the Life and Adventures of Mr. Anderson (Broadview)
Lennox, Charlotte. Euphemia (Broadview)
Pratt, Samuel Jackson. Emma Corbett (Broadview)
Rowson, Susanna. Charlotte Temple (Oxford)
Walker, George.  The Vagabond (Broadview)
Winkfield, Unca Eliza. The Female American (Broadview)

These texts will be available at Octopus Books, 116 Third Avenue. The Broadview editions will be shrink-wrapped in sets of four and offered at a discounted price.

ENGL 5402G/ENGL 4115B: Studies in Eighteenth-Century Literature
Prof. Hugh Reid

Topic: The Nature and Uses of 18th century Book Subscription Lists

This course aims to provide students with the context and nature of subscription lists and give students the opportunity for original research in this field.  Initially students will be given a theoretical background to subscription lists and lessons on how the 18th century book trade worked:  how was paper made, how was type set, how were books printed and bound, what was the role of bookseller, of publishing congers, etc.  The hope is that they will then have an understanding of the trade sufficient to deal with book subscriptions.  Then each shall pick a subscription list to work on.  This kind of work could not have been done at Carleton in the past because the library’s holdings in antiquarian books was inadequate.  Now, however, we can access almost all the books published in the 18th century by subscription (some 3,000).  Students may choose any list.  For example, if they are interested in female poets they might chose Mary Leapor whose work was published posthumously by subscription.   In the seminar, they will report on what they have learned and what has evaded them.  As each student reports we will discuss how each may progress.  There are so many things which we can learn from subscription lists and very little has been done in this field in the past.  Some of the topics which may be examined might include the number of female subscribers, the number of people from the mercantile class, the number of members of the aristocracy, or from academia, or the clergy, or other sub groups. How did this subscription list fit into the publishing industry in the eighteenth century?

ENGL 5611F: Studies in Contemporary Literature II
Prof. Percy Walton 

Topic:  A Game of Thrones

This course will focus on G.R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire along with the HBO series, Game of Thrones.  Placing the series in conversation with the books raises many questions, such as: who is the author? whose ending will prevail? and, whose version will be remembered? (among others). Tracing questions like these, classes will examine the books and the series, emphasizing their interconnectedness as well as their differences.

ENGL 5900F/ ENGL 4609A: Drama: Global Contexts
Prof. Brenda Vellino

Topic: Conflict, Crisis, Bordercrossings on the Contemporary Stage

In this course, we will consider how contemporary theatre stages border crossing encounters between diverse characters, historical and contemporary contexts, cultures, and audiences. We will explore interconnections between localities, communities, nations, hemispheres, and continents from the perspective of multiple forms of transnational bordercrossing. These will include those catalyzed by migration and diaspora, by intersectional issues such as human rights and environmental justice, by inhabitation of multiple subject locations and affiliations, by the multi-site production history of many of our focus plays, and by the politics of postcolonial, decolonial and multi-directional memory. Organized into three thematic clusters—ecojustice,conflict transformation, and migrant theatre—this course seeks to engage theatrical responses to historical and contemporary moments of crisis and transition across multiple global contexts. The course is informed by comparative,postcolonial,decolonial,diaspora, gender, environmental humanities, and human rights humanities theories and methodologies. We will engage playwrights from Irish,South African, Indigenous, U.S.,African-American,Asian,Jewish,Lebanese,and Canadian contexts. Along withplay textreadings, we will read at least one supporting theoretical, critical, or performance focused essay to contextualize the discussion. This course also encourages experiential learning through attending and reviewing at least one theatre performance.

Click here to view the preliminary course outline.

ENGL 6003: Theories and Foundations in the Production of Literature
Prof. Travis DeCook

This course is a survey of foundational theoretical texts from the fields of book history, manuscript and print culture studies, sociology of literature, media studies, and cultural theory. The goal is to acquaint students with a variety of ways in which scholars have thought about and researched the production of literature. ‘Production’ here is conceived broadly as the cultural and material ways in which literature comes into being, is transmitted and received. The course explores such topics as the modern concept of culture; constructions of cultural value; the material form of literary texts; media transitions from manuscript to print and print to digital; and theories of authorship.

Winter 2020

ENGL 5002W: Studies in Theory I (cross-listed with CLMD 6904W)
Prof. Stuart Murray

TopicHow To Do Things With Words

Why theory? If you are not a student of theory, you’ll end up a victim of it. We all hold theories, deploy them, as ways of perceiving, knowing, understanding. Even the aversion to theory belies a deep theoretical commitment. Theory: from the Greek theoros (θεωρός), meaning “envoy, ambassador, spectator”; and this, from the stem theasthai (θεσθαι), which means “to behold, view, contemplate” (OED). Theories are, simply stated, ways of seeing and being-in-the-world. Arguably, they are most dangerous when they are implicit, ostensibly natural, quotidian, and unreconstructed—otherwise called prejudice, bias, the self-evident “truth” of feelings, broscience. When these structures are brought to light, avowed, and analyzed, we begin to see things differently.

Theory is implicated in the discursive practices of power, policing whose speech will be sanctioned and whose silenced. If we can never quite see as another sees—perceive what she perceives—we nevertheless bear witness to the other’s words, gestures, and rhetorical postures. The title of this course derives from J. L. Austin’s little book, How To Do Things With Words, which will be required reading. But we will also read critical speech act theory since Austin (Butler, Blanchot, Derrida, Foucault); we will address phenomenological texts on bodies and expressive speech (MacKinnon, Merleau-Ponty, Nietzsche, and others), which take up the question of how our speech acts performatively, how it does what it says, and implicates us—and our bodies—in the saying. Thematic content will draw on contemporary debates surrounding free speech and (digital) hate speech—including identity politics, race, gender performativity, pornography, and words that “wound”—from the culture wars and #MeToo to the alt-right and alt-truth.

Interdisciplinary in scope, course readings will include select literary texts (novels TBA), digital texts,  high and “low” culture, and much in between. Interdisciplinarity and experimentation will be encouraged: students are welcome to develop argumentative literacy in digital or more traditional literary or creative projects, including fine art, photography, theatre, poetry, etc. The strength of this course will be in the diversity of students’ interests across genres, methods, and historical foci.

ENGL 5007W: Studies in Indigenous Literatures
Prof. Brenda Vellino

Topic: (Re)Storying Resurgence in Indigenous Popular Genres

Contemporary Indigenous artists from Turtle Island (the territory also known as Canada) have increasingly taken up popular forms such as genre fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, horror), graphic novels, documentary and feature films, stop motion animation film shorts, and spoken word poetry. These popular genres forms and new media platforms claim Indigenous spaces to decolonize cultural forms, represent complex contemporary social realities, stake political claims, and assert Indigenous cultural sovereignty and resurgence.  Whenever possible, our discussion will be informed by Indigenous literary/cultural critics such as Margaret Kovach, Leanne Simpson, Grace Dillon, and Kateri Akwenzi-Damm, as well as selected settler ally critics. This course will enable us to consider the politics and ethics of cultural production and reception within the intersecting conditions of settler colonialism and place-based “sustainable self-determination” (Corntassle). Our work will be highly context specific, situated by careful attention to specific Indigenous, Inuit, and Metis cultural contexts, social realities, and priorities. Topics may include contemporary Rez life, contemporary urban realities, Indigenous cultural sovereignty, Indigenous relational ethics, Indigenous rebalancing, revitalization and resurgence movements, and the politics of embodiment and Indigenous self-representation, particularly in texts informed by questions of gender and sexuality.

Required texts:

Course Reader (CR)
Cherie Dimaline (Metis). The Marrow Thieves. Comorant, 2017.
Aaron Paquette (Cree): Lightfinder. Kegendonce, 2014.
David Alexander Robertson (Cree) and Scott B. Henderson. Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story. 2015.
Kelly LaBoucane-Benson (Métis) and Kelly Mellings. The Outside Circle. Anansi (2015).

These texts will be available Haven Books.

ENGL 5208W/ENGL 4208A:Studies in Middle English Literature
Prof. Siobhain Calkin

Topic: A Christian, A Muslim, and a Jew Walked into a Book: Imagining Religions and Their Differences in Late Medieval English Texts

Although it may seem surprising today, in the later Middle Ages writings about religion and religious difference were some of the most innovative and revolutionary literary texts produced. These texts unflinchingly examine debates about group identity, race, political corruption, gender relations and constructs, war, censorship, cross-cultural connections and conflicts, and the force of institutional structures. They can also include startling episodes of cannibalism, skin colour change, monstrous birth, and supernatural visitation. ENGL 5208 introduces students to a range of such thought-provoking texts produced in late medieval England and explores the ways in which writings about various religions and religious issues engage some of the hot-button topics of their, and our, day. Specifically, we will study the depictions of Christians, Muslims, and Jews in these texts as we seek to understand the ways in which religious identity and cross-cultural interactions were envisioned by medieval authors as they worked to imagine new social structures and new world orders while offering some thought- (and action-) provoking reflections on the status quo. We will also study the ways in which constructs of religion and race, and of masculinity and femininity, are held up for examination and used to promote social reflection and reform in these texts.

Course Objectives:

Students in this course will:

  • Read a variety of texts and genres from late medieval England (romances, dream visions, saints’ lives, (auto)biography, sermons, blood libel tales)
  • Develop an appreciation and understanding of the Middle English language as well as a facility with reading and quoting it
  • Explore some of the ways in which medieval English texts engage questions of religion, race, gender, violence, history, otherness, and community formation
  • Develop a historical and historicized understanding of the depictions of Christians, Muslims, and Jews in late medieval England and some of the ends to which these representations were put
  • Become familiar with current critical discussion about medieval western depictions of religions and their differences
  • Learn about manuscript culture and the challenges of producing modern editions of Middle English texts

Reading List:

  • Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, ed. Jill Mann. Penguin Classics. Toronto: Penguin Books, 2005. (Paperback) ISBN: 0-140-42234-X  or 9-780140-422344
  • Margery Kempe, The Book of Margery Kempe, ed. Lynn Staley. Kalamazoo: Western Michigan University—TEAMS, 1996. (Paperback) ISBN: 1-879288-72-9
  • The King of Tars, ed. John H. Chandler. Kalamazoo: Western Michigan University––TEAMS, 2015. (Paperback). ISBN 9-781580-442046
  • William Langland, Piers Plowman, ed. Elizabeth Robertson and Stephen H.A. Shepherd. Trans. E. Talbot Donaldson. Norton Critical Editions. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006. (Paperback). ISBN 978-0-393-97559-8
  • Richard Coer de Lyon, ed. Peter Larkin. Kalamazoo: Western Michigan University––TEAMS, 2015. (Paperback). ISBN 978-1-58044-201-5
  • Siege of Jerusalem, ed. Michael Livingston. Kalamazoo: Western Michigan University––TEAMS, 2004. (Paperback). ISBN 1-58044-090-8

Short excerpts from other texts will be placed on reserve at the library, including:

  • Bahā’ al-Dīn Ibn Shaddād, The Rare and Excellent History of Saladin, trans. Richards (Aldershot, 2002)
  • Meir b. Elijah of Norwich, “Put a curse on my enemy,” and trans. Susan L. Einbinder in “Meir b. Elijah of Norwich: persecution and poetry among medieval English Jews,” Journal of Medieval History 26.2 (2000): 145–62.

ENGL 5606W/ ENGL 4607A: Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature
Prof. Adam Barrows

Topic: Childhood and Time in Twentieth-Century Ghost Stories

Children and young adults have been so often situated at the core of stories of supernatural haunting and possession over the course of the twentieth-century that the child as ghost, the possessed child, and the child communing with spectral figures have become clichés of film and television horror.  A rich critical literature both within English literary studies and within child studies has explored the ways in which ghost stories about children and childhood touch upon changing social conceptions of childhood and innocence, anxieties about childhood agency and sexuality, and concerns over changing family structures.  Less well explored, however, is what the haunting/haunted child trope reveals about changing socio-cultural conceptions of time and temporality in the twentieth-century.  As inherently temporal figurations (childhood as a temporal stage of becoming or developing, the ghost as a return of the past or the repressed), the child and the ghost both reveal fault lines in modernity’s temporal integrity, touching upon anxieties over the experience and expression of time and temporality as well as concerns about historical progression and human development.  In this course, we will read a range of ghost stories featuring children by English and American authors.  Students will produce a critical annotated bibliography and a critical essay.

Texts (preliminary list, subject to change):

Henry James – The Turn of the Screw (1895)
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman – “The Wind in the Rosebush,” “The Lost Ghost” (1903)
M.R. James – “Lost Hearts” (1904)
Algernon Blackwood – “The Transfer,” “The Temptation of the Clay” (1912)
A.M. Burrage – “Playmates” (1927)
Elizabeth Bowen – “The Apple Tree” (1931)
Rosemary Timperley – “Harry” (1955)
Ray Bradbury – “The Emissary” (1955)
Stephen King – The Shining (1977)
David Mitchell – Slade House (2015)

ENGL 5610G/ENGL 4003A: Studies in Contemporary Literature II (cross-listed with WGST 4812W/WGST 5901A)
Prof. Jodie Medd

Topic: Queer Historical Fiction & Temporal Re/Imaginings

This course explores how queer literature engages with the genres of historical fiction and historiographic metafiction (*see definitions below), among other genres such as speculative fiction. We will consider how and why queer novels of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries return to, rework, (re)imagine, revise, and complicate what we know, think, and feel about the past, “history,” and temporality. We will ask how queerness intersects with key historical events and personages; historical processes of colonialism, slavery, racialization, capitalism, and the biopolitical production, categorization, and regulation of bodies; historical periodization; literary history; historiography; time; geography and place; biography and memoir; and the discursive production, regulation, and proliferation of nonnormative sexualities and genders both “then” and “now” (and yet to come…)  Theoretical frames will include issues of literary genre as well as queer theory considerations of time, history, and historiography. Ultimately, we might ask: how does contemporary queer literature interact with not only histories of gender and sexuality, but also the sexuality and gender of history, and maybe even of time itself.

*Queer literature: literature that addresses non-normative sexualities and genders, and/or critically engages with issues of gender and sexuality. In this course, we’ll focus on homoerotic desire and/or cross-gender or transgender identifications and their intersection with the racialization, nationalization, and colonization of gender and sexuality.

*Historical fiction: fiction set in the past, that often relies on established ideas about a particular moment of history and the types of human subjects in that period.

*Historiographic meta-fiction: fiction that invokes the historical past, while self-consciously raising questions about how history is written and represented (historiography), and how we “know,” access, and interpret the past.

Required Texts

Virginia Woolf, Orlando (Oxford: 9780199650736)
Jordy Rosenberg, Confessions of the Fox (Random House: 9780399592287)
Sara Collins, The Confessions of Frannie Langton (Harper Collins: 97814434561890)
Jewelle Gomez, The Gilda Stories (City Lights 9780872866744)
Sarah Waters, Tipping the Velvet (Little, Brown and Company: 9781860495243)
Jamie O’Neill, At Swim, Two Boys (Simon & Schuster: 9780743239356: subject to availability; this text may change if unavailable)
Monique Truong, The Book of Salt (Mariner: 9780618446889)

Additional theory readings will be available through ARES and/or at the reserves desk.  Select secondary print material will be on reserve to support your research but is NOT exhaustive.

Books will be available at Haven Books 43 Seneca Street (on the corner of Sunnyside) http://havenbooks.ca/ If you already have your own copy of a text, you do not need to buy another. If you are buying texts, when possible please buy the editions indicated.

ENGL 5610W: Studies in Contemporary Literature I (cross-listed with CLMD 6104)
Prof. Franny Nudelman

Topic: Cultural Politics: U.S. Documentary after 1945

In the aftermath of the Second World War, filmmakers, photographers, writers, and performers grappled with violence that was unprecedented in scale; in the decades that followed, documentarians continued to respond to the unanticipated and often incomprehensible crises of their age, and, in the process, created new forms of documentary expression. In this course, we will examine innovations in the field of documentary culture after 1945, including a commitment to activist intervention, immersive technique, and the spoken word. We will take an expansive view of the field, considering a range of documentary texts in relation to documentary practices (interviews, testimony, investigative travel) that produced them. How were the methods and aims of documentarians transformed by changing social conditions, new technologies, and alternative forms of collectivity? Throughout, we will explore the power of documentary to respond to catastrophic events and uncharted social conditions as they unfold.

ENGL 5804W/ENGL 4806B: Studies in Canadian Literature I
Prof. Sara Jamieson

Topic: The Literature of Long-Term Care: Stories and Spaces of Caregiving in Contemporary Canadian Fiction

This course examines the representation of caring for older adults in a selection of recent Canadian novels, memoirs, graphic narratives, short stories, poetry, and film, paying particular attention to their depiction of the spaces in which care is delivered. Residential care homes for elderly people have long functioned as repositories for some of our deepest fears about aging itself, both at the individual and the population level, and are pervasively associated with a narrative of loss: loss of home, of independence, of control, of dignity, of privacy, and of mobility. Canadian fictional texts both reinforce and question this narrative, turning a critical eye to the disadvantages of care-home life, yet also attempting to imagine how those disadvantages might be mitigated, and a habitable—even happy—existence sustained, not only for those who need to live in these environments, but also for those who staff and visit them. Aptly registering the complexities and contradictions of care-home life, these fictional texts invite us to confront and question our assumptions about these increasingly familiar—yet persistently feared—spaces, and to consider the contribution of literature and film to gerontological debates about where to live in later life.

Texts may include:

Joan Barfoot, Exit Lines (2012)
David Chariandy, Soucouyant (2007)
Sarah Leavitt, Tangles (2012)
Janet Hepburn, Flee, Fly, Flown (2013)
Alice Munro, “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” (2001)
Sarah Polley, dir. Away From Her (2006)
Lola Lemire Tostevin, The Other Sister (2008)
Elizabeth Hay, All Things Consoled  (2018)
Jenna Butler, Wells (2012)
Michael Ignatieff, Scar Tissue

A selection of readings drawn from such fields as history, the philosophy of care, social policy, critical gerontology, and literary and cultural studies, will provide an interdisciplinary perspective on fictional representations of care and care homes. These readings will be made available through ARES on the library website.

ENGL 5804X: Critical Perspectives on Canadian Feminism (cross-listed with CDNS 5201W)
Prof. Jennifer Henderson

This course takes a materialist historical approach to 20th century feminisms in Canada, looking at the ways current scholarship is revising views of women’s experience, organizing, and expression in the “women’s movement” of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Rejecting a progressivist view of history that would assume our own relative advancement, in this course we ask what was innovative, strategic, and complicated about the feminism in this period, which did not always go by that name. In the first weeks, we orient ourselves spatially–to ‘Canada’ as a settler-colonial and racialized national space, as well as temporally–to the latter half of the 20th century as the period of the welfare state. We then look at how feminisms in the period framed the topics of reproductive rights, work, violence against women, images of women, and colonialism. We encounter these topics through theory, historiography, documentary film, literature, and art. In the last third of the course we will visit the Canadian Women’s Movement Archives, located at the University of Ottawa, and also make use of the digital Rise Up! Feminist Archive to look at feminist ephemera–including flyers, magazines, posters, buttons—and experiment with ways of analyzing these materials, especially for what they may say about feeling feminist in these decades. We’ll be interested throughout the course in how gender is inflected by regimes of class, whiteness, heteronormativity, and state governance—including the ways these intersections were being thematized in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.

ENGL 5900W/ ENGL 4401A: Studies in Eighteenth Century Literature
Prof. Hugh Reid

Topic: Rare Books

It is a course without a prescribed reading list, without distinct seminar topics to discuss, with many problems and mysteries to solve without any guarantee that the problems and mysteries will be solved or resolved.  And it spends most of its time in a restricted, specialized world of 200-300 years ago.  The course is English 4401, where, simply put, we examine the ‘materiality’ of 18th century books, books which are in the Special Collections of the Carleton Library.  By ‘materiality’ we mean a number of things, but in its simplest of terms we mean how the actual physical book affects the way we read it.  A common modern example would be that some of the Harry Potter books have different titles and different covers in the UK than they have in their North American editions.  With the permission and the aid of Lloyd Keane, the Special Collections curator, the class meets in the 5th floor library seminar room.  Initially I give them a general overview of the 18th century book trade, how paper was made, how books were printed and bound, the role of the bookseller, etc.  Then the fun begins.  Each student picks one of the many 18th century books in the library’s collection and examines it from this angle of ‘materiality’.   The first thrill for the students is merely in the handling of these old books, some with book plates, some with old names and dates handwritten in them.  The problems and mysteries each book poses are unique, so equipped only with my introduction, students begin examining the text that he or she has chosen.  This is exhilarating at first.  There may be a frontispiece which needs deciphering and decoding, as does the title page.  They examine the font, the type and quality of the paper, and  illustrations, if any.  There are many such matters to deal with initially.  But the books don’t give up their secrets willingly or easily.  However, the students persist and while each person has a distinctive text to ponder, the class works together, as a group of scholars to solve mutual problems.

The students know that what they are doing with these texts in the Carleton library has never been done before by anyone.  This knowledge offers up a thrill.  No matter how difficult or arduously achieved, discovering something previously unknown  is unlike anything they have ever done before.  These novel discoveries, and there are many of them, are only a small part of the rewarding and satisfying nature of this course which teaches independent thinking and problem solving in a unique and inimitable manner.

ENGL 5900Z: Selected Topics in English Studies I
(cross-listed with LAWS 5903 and CLMD 6902)
Prof. Phillip Kaisary

Topic: Law, Modernity, and its Discontents

This course offers a survey of theorizations of repression and individual fulfillment under modernity. Vectors of repression to be considered may include institutions, race, gender, technology, and industrial and post-industrial capitalism. Art and aesthetics, the discipline of the body, and subcultures will be considered in response as modes of subjectivization or self-actualization. Drawing on a diverse corpus of materials, including film, literature, and critical theory (Frankfurt School), our methodological approach will be comparative, contextual, and interdisciplinary.

ENGL 6004W: Approaches to the Production of Literature
Prof. Jody Mason

Topic: Reading, Reception, Consumption: Cultural Texts and Their Users

Human activity is mediated in crucial ways by the practice of reading. A practice that has a kind of assumed importance, its meanings are often taken as self-evident and are left unexamined. Yet reading is contingent; it has a history. Its meanings have been theorized in diverse ways: for some, it is fundamental to the individual freedom of modernity; for others, it is an act of “poaching,” or of actively appropriating meaning; for others, it is a form of immaterial labour, the incorporation “into the workings of late capitalism” of the “recreational time of reading” (Shukin 23).

In this course, we will consider methodologies for studying reading and other forms of cultural consumption from the fields of book history, the sociology of culture, and cultural studies; theories of cultural consumption that range from poststructuralist to Marxist; and case studies that consider reading and cultural consumption practices from a variety of different times and places, from Ancient Rome to nineteenth-century Bengal.

Summer 2020

ENGL 5009S/ENGL 4976A: Studies in South Asian Literature
Prof. Sukeshi Kamra

Topic: The Terrain of the Present in South Asian Literature

The contemporary moment is nothing if not defined by social activism and movements. Inventing new ways of seeing, ways commensurate with the urgent issues that activism seeks to make legible, is crucial to the success of this endeavor. South Asian literature is replete with texts urging readers to own (not just recognize) issues at the doorstep–environmental degradation, water security, economic, social, and political violence, gender violence, the megacity, and more. While immersed in the local, these texts do not forget the global. Indeed, you might say they invent ways for articulating the view that the local and global intersect in complex ways, circulating and creating the conditions for a seemingly inexhaustible set of economies–cultural, social, economic, and political. This course will explore contemporary works of different genres–the novel, short story, graphic narrative, and essay–whose ambition it is to suggest ways in which literature focused on India and Pakistan rises to the challenge of engaging the knotty present.

ENGL 5900S/ENGL 4115A: Selected Topic in English Studies I
Prof. Sarah Brouillette

Topic: The Future of Literary Culture

The purpose of this seminar is to study literary forms, sites, and practices that emerge in conditions where support for cultivation of the traditional literary sphere is waning. Indebted, prolonged austerity governments are busy managing the fallout from decades of economic decline and are disinclined to back the social programs they once did, including higher education and library and other arts and culture funding. For readers, contemporary conditions include rising tuition, stagnant wages, fear of joblessness, underemployment, and insecure work, and a reordering of leisure time and mental energy that shapes how people are inclined to spend shrinking entertainment budgets. The golden age of retail literary fiction – and the traditional English department – may thus be behind us. With the rise of digital platforms, we’ve seen falling book prices and diminishing possibilities for making one’s living by writing. Yet, though making it as a professional writer is becoming more difficult, the ease of digital self-publishing has led to a rapid increase in sheer numbers of published, if seldom read, fiction. With new social conditions come new forms of literary expression and experience. What are these forms? What will they be? In the spirit of the inquiry, there will be no extended research essay for this course.

ENGL 5900X/ENGL 4115B: Selected Topic in English Studies I
Prof. Pat Whiting

Topic: Culture and the Text: Strangers in a Strange Land

The ambiguities of the figure of the insider-outsider have been extensively considered in terms of social science researchers. This course considers the insider-outsider in terms of the authors and narrators of literary texts. Drawing on texts written by authors with first-hand experience of dramatic historical developments of the 20th century, we will formulate and address questions of history, narrative, and authority. All of the texts involve the occupation of one country by another, sometimes in specifically imperial settings, others in time of war. All were written by observers and employ narrative perspectives belonging to outsiders in the occupied country but who also consider themselves to be insiders by virtue of their presence and their sympathies. How reliable are these seemingly ambivalent creatures in terms of the historical claims their works advance? Rather than consider the texts from a post-colonial point of view, we will consider them in terms of the relationship between narrative and history and in terms of the effectiveness and reliability of the literary imagination in conveying social and political thought.

In the absence of seminar and background presentations, all students are expected to conduct research into the historical contexts of the texts. This research may simply involve reading Wikipedia entries on the history of the Belgian Congo, Czechoslovakia, Burma, and Viet Nam, but students should be familiar with the condition of the countries during the time periods covered in the texts, for example, Czechoslovakia in 1938 and Viet Nam in the years just prior to the Viet Nam War.