Course descriptions are tentative and may be subject to revision; syllabi will be posted later in the year. If you have questions about a particular course, please contact the course instructor or the Graduate Supervisor.
ENGL 5002F Studies in Theory
Critical Digital Humanities
This is an introduction to the Critical Digital Humanities (DH), entailing critical study of mainstream DH and of digital culture more broadly. Our topics will be:
- study of the social inequities, environmental degradation, and labour in the production of digital products
- study of digital surveillance, data mining, and the marketization of user/consumer information
- study of social media as either displacing or advancing political aims
- the pros and cons of theories that read the digital as key to a “social factory” in which we now all reside and work for free all the time; they argue it is longer possible to separate non-work activities – was it ever? – from the ultimate production of value for capital; most of us aren’t paid to use Twitter, for example, but our tweets provide the content the company needs for brand equity and to sell ad space, and the more generalized social media use becomes the more we buy smartphones, computers and all the related stuff made in factories in resolutely physical conditions miles from any fantastical immateriality
- the turn toward DH in English literary studies, including how DH enthusiasts have constructed the traditions they disavow, and how academic DH may be complicit in making contemporary capitalism’s priorities and values into a new common sense (“real-world knowledge,” “workplace skills, “job training,” nerd-tech knowhow, et cetera).
Readings will include work by Jason Read, Jodi Dean, Nick Dyer-Witheford, Maurizio Lazzarato, and Tiziana Terranova.
ENGL 5002G Studies in Theory (click here for syllabus)
Michel Foucault, Undisciplined
“There are times in life when the question of knowing if one can think differently than one thinks, and perceive differently than one sees, is absolutely necessary if one is to go on looking and reflecting at all.”
— Michel Foucault
This seminar hopes to offer an undisciplinary overview of the intellectual trajectories of Michel Foucault’s thought. We will study representative texts—published theory, interviews, lectures—from the various (and contested) periods of Foucault’s career: structuralism/poststructuralism, discourse, power, sex, biopolitics, subjectivity, the care of the self, and ethical life.
The final weeks of the seminar will be structured around graduate student interests. Students will either focus on one (or more) of Foucault’s interlocutors or will propose a Foucauldian analysis germane to his or her particular field of research. This will allow us to see some of the ways that Foucault’s work has been taken up by scholars and how it remains relevant for disciplinary and interdisciplinary scholarship today. In these weeks, students will suggest supplemental course texts, which can be architectural, evental, filmic, literary, theoretical, visual, etc.
Graduate students outside the Department of English Language and Literature are welcome. We are seeking a variety of perspectives: Anthropology, Communication, Cultural Studies, Film, Gender Studies, Health, Human Rights, Law, Philosophy, Politics, Race, Sociology, etc. Please contact the instructor in advance; this will assist in the selection of primary course readings.
ENGL 5004F Studies in Transnational Literatures (click here for syllabus)
Diaspora is an ancient term that has gained new currency in our contemporary moment. Why has diaspora become ubiquitous across the disciplines, emerging as a central category of analysis for scholars in both the humanities and the social sciences? How does diaspora theory intersect with the study of transnationalism, globalization, and postcolonialism? What is the relationship between classic diasporas such as the Jewish and Armenian diasporas and other traumatic histories of dislocation that are increasingly being interpreted through the lens of diaspora theory? What do we stand to gain from the broader application of the diaspora concept? What risks does the proliferation of the term entail?
This course traces the emergence of diaspora theory from the early 1990s through to the present. Beginning with seminal articulations by James Clifford, Paul Gilroy and others, the course then surveys a series of new directions in diaspora thought. Taking Jewish and Black historical experiences as our starting points, we will consider a variety of approaches (postcolonial diasporas, comparative diasporas, queer diasporas) as well as modalities (time and memory, space and place, indigeneity and diaspora). Drawn from a range of disciplines, our readings will illustrate how and why diaspora has become a significant focus within area studies, postcolonial studies, cultural studies and ethnic studies. Alongside the theoretical readings, we will also consider memoirs, poetry, film, and visual art that perform their own theoretical work. Examining tensions between positivistic and cultural approaches as well as between high theory and creative genres, our particular focus will be on the expressive forms and aesthetic modes that have been inspired by the lived experience of diaspora.
In the course’s final weeks, students will have the opportunity to explore the implications of diaspora theory for the particular genres, media, and ethnic histories that drive their own research interests.
ENGL 5005F M.A. Seminar
Professing “English”: Disciplinary Debates, Practices, Horizons
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. Required Text: David H. Richter’s Falling Into Theory: Conflicting Views on Reading Literature, 2nd Edition.
ENGL 5303F Studies in Early Modern Literature (click here for syllabus)
Tudor Queens: Sex, Power, and Writing in the Lives of Katherine Parr, Elizabeth I, and Mary Queen of Scots
Renaissance queens have long fascinated the reading public and professional historians, but their political agency and literary writings have only recently become the objects of serious scholarly inquiry. In this seminar, students will develop an in-depth understanding of three Renaissance queens who made the most of their unusual social status and made lasting contributions to English literary and political culture. This course will involve a rich array of primary texts: modern critical editions of the queens’ writing; Renaissance manuscripts (on-line); sixteenth-century printed texts (on-line); portraits and tapestries (on-line); and contemporary film and TV programs. We will also consider a significant body of recent secondary scholarship.
In the first week, we will examine the political landscape of sixteenth-century England and the various ways in which the concept of the “queen” was understood in political, humanist, and theological texts. We will then embark on a detailed study of the works of three queens. Katherine Parr (1512-1548) was the final wife of Henry VIII. Although she is often depicted in scholarship and in popular culture as the woman who nursed Henry in his old age, she was actually a literary powerhouse and one of the most influential religious activists of the 1540s. We will examine her three published literary texts, her narrow escape from religious persecution, her major patronage projects, and her scandalous marriage to Thomas Seymour after Henry’s death.
Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) was Parr’s beloved step-daughter and is one of the most famous British monarchs. As a queen regnant, Elizabeth obviously wielded extraordinary agency and yet her status as an unmarried woman was an on-going concern throughout her reign. Through an examination of her public speeches, private letters, portraits, poems and prayers we will consider how she brilliantly managed her public image and how she contributed to important political, literary, and religious developments. The representation of Elizabeth in recent movies (1998, 2007) will also be addressed.
Mary Stuart (1542-1587) acceded to the Scottish throne when she was only six days old and lived a life plagued with political assassinations, political rebellion, and political intrigue. During her sixteen years of house arrest in England, Mary used poems and tapestries to attempt to negotiate with her cousin, Elizabeth I; we will consider Mary’s failed political strategizing and its afterlife in film.
This course will draw on the excellent electronic resources available at Carleton for the study of Renaissance culture. Students will be allowed to propose digital projects as a complement to their research papers and seminars if they so desire.
Requirements: 3 short oral seminar presentations (20 minutes each) 20% each = 60% / 1 research paper (and/digital projects) (17 pages) = 40%
Required Texts, Movies, and TV:
Katherine Parr: Complete Works and Correspondence, ed. Janel Mueller. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011.
Elizabeth I: Collected Works, eds. Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
Reading Monarch’s Writing: the Poetry of Henry VIII, Mary Stuart, Elizabeth I, and James VI/I, ed. Peter C. Herman. Tempe, Ariz.:Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2002.
Selections from The Tudors (Showtime, 2007-2010)
Elizabeth (directed by Shekhar Kapur, 1998).
Elizabeth: The Golden Years (directed by Shekhar Kapur, 2011).
English 5402F Studies in Eighteenth-Century Literature (click here for syllabus)
“Being Human” in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture
Does literature “make us human”? Since the eighteenth century, such a sentiment has grounded justifications of literature’s exceptional status, and its distinction from other kinds of writing. In this course we will explore how eighteenth century readers and writers understood their relationship to books and to reading, and how the act of reading a book made readers feel something, or made them “feel human.” We will also consider how eighteenth century writers explored the question of the “human” or “humanity” precisely by paying close attention to the non-human: to animals and inanimate objects. From gothic fiction, to the harrowing spectacle of London after the Great Plague of 1665, to “it-narratives” in which bank notes figure as central characters in a society transformed by commercial modernity, to horses that speak, to dogs that narrate their heroic adventures, to “monsters” that learn to read, we will examine the fluid boundaries between literary animals, literary humans, and eighteenth-century readers. We will also consider the cultures of feeling and affect, sentiment and sympathy, by and through which they are formed and unformed.
Required Texts (tentative and subject to change): Aphra Behn, Oroonoko; Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels; Daniel Defoe, Journal of the Plague Year; Francis Coventry, The History of Pompey the Little; Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto; Henry Mackenzie, The Man of Feeling; Thomas Bridges, The Adventures of a Banknote; Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano; Anon., The Woman of Colour; Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.
ENGL5804F Studies in Canadian Literature
Making Settler Colonial Modernity
In this course we will read 19th-century prose that participates in the process of constituting the spaces, subjectivities, social and economic logics, and strategies of governance associated with ideas of modernity in the settler-colonial context. Our focus is on Canada but a Canada conceived as a trans-Atlantic and continental space of discourse within which ideas of liberal progress, civility, proper gender and sexuality, and religious and racial difference circulate. Our settler literary texts include the genres of captivity narrative, gothic narrative, and sensation fiction. We will also read Indigenous life-writing and short fiction. Our last few weeks will introduce contemporary experimental writing and filmmaking reflecting on the inheritances of the 19th century in the present. Literary texts will be supplemented each week by theory readings, including work by Wolfe, Veracini, Smith, Laurence, Rifkin, Morgenstern, Coleman, Henderson, Benjamin, Goeman, Emberley, Povinelli, and Simpson.
A central concern of the course will be to make connections between two levels of analysis: biopolitics and geopolitics, or subjectivities and sexualities, on the one hand, and questions of territorial and political sovereignty, on the other. We will be guided by recent postcolonial and Indigenous studies scholarship emphasizing the way that colonial reshapings of Indigenous family and governance were crucial means of building ‘modern’ Canada. The course is structured around the idea that settler colonialism in Canada is a particular version of liberal thought and practice. Hence, we’ll be thinking about the relations between 19th century liberal ideas and the settler project. We’ll try to be attentive to questions of genre, thinking wherever possible about relationships between aesthetic or formal conventions, ideology, and affect. We’ll try to be self-reflexive about what it means to continue reading the literature of settlement in the context of a commitment to decolonization. What approaches does this require of us? Particular readings will get us thinking about the politics of epistemology or what has been called ‘cognitive imperialism,’ as well as the role of artistic production in Indigenous resurgence.
LITERARY TEXTS (Please note that this list is not final): John Galt, Bogle Corbet (1831); Anna Jameson, Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada (1838) [excerpts]; Maria Monk, The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk (1836); Theresa Gowanlock & Theresa Delaney, Two Months in the Camp of Big Bear (1885); Isabella Valancy Crawford, Winona (1873); Pauline Johnson, selected stories; Tompson Highway, Kiss of the Fur Queen (1998); Gail Scott, The Obituary (2010); Rachel Zolf, Janey’s Arcadia (2014); Leanne Simpson, Islands of Decolonial Love (2013).
ENGL 5900F Selected Topic in English Studies (click here for syllabus)
The History of Reading: An Introduction
Reading is an activity that is both absolutely ordinary and charged with meaning; it is also very difficult to study. In her 2004 assessment of the emergent history of reading, Leah Price notes that there is no agreement about what the history of reading is; it has been understood to “encompass enterprises as various as the social history of education, the quantitative study of the distribution of printed matter, and the reception of texts or diffusion of ideas” (304).
In this course, we will consider both case study and theory as a means of understanding the basic contours of the history of reading as a field. We will examine reading practices in various historical periods and using various media, in diverse physical locations, and as it practised by a wide range of historical actors. As students of literature, we want to know what the study of reading can tell us about our discipline; what we find out may challenge many of our most dearly held assumptions. But this is also a field that engages historians and sociologists; what do their insights have to tell us about the study of literature, and what do ours have to tell them about the history of reading?
Course readings will include selections by Mikhail Bakhtin, Guglielmo Cavallo and Roger Chartier, Robert Darnton, Anthony Grafton, Heather Jackson, Elizabeth McHenry, William St. Clair, and Janice Radway.
ENGL 6000T Doctoral Seminar
The Production of Literature
This year-long course studies 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 is also centrally concerned with how the category of the ‘literary’ gets constructed and the kinds of social, political, and cultural work literature is called upon to perform. It provides students with an overview of some of the most influential scholarship in book history, cultural theory, sociology of literature, and media studies. It explores such topics as media transitions from manuscript to print and print to digital; theories of authorship; the politics of canon formation; the philosophical foundations of copyright; the impact of digital media on culture and reading; and the cultural implications of contemporary reading formations such as mass reading events, book clubs, and literary-oriented social media.
ENGL 6002T Proseminar
Research, Pedagogy, Profession
The general goal of this year-long course for second-year PhD candidates is to hone the pragmatic skills and knowledge necessary for succeeding as a teacher and researcher at the doctoral level. In the Fall Term, while students are preparing for their comprehensive exams, the seminar schedule will be divided into four broad areas of concern: applying for scholarly grants and fellowships, doctoral and post-doctoral; comprehensive examination study strategies; the development of advanced bibliographical techniques, including an examination of the functionality of bibliographic software; philosophies of education, teaching dossiers, and the practical challenges relating to university teaching in lecture and seminar environments. In the Winter Term, while students are working on their doctoral research project, the course will focus on the scholarly practices integral to writing a doctoral research project and a dissertation; this will include discussions of how to write an article geared for publication in a scholarly journal, how to write a conference paper, and how to submit and present papers to these scholarly venues. As we explore these and other practical matters related to conducting and disseminating research, the Winter Term will operate as a fortnightly workshop for the doctoral research project, providing a space where students will share and provide feedback on each other’s work-in-progress. Throughout both terms, under the broad category of professional matters, an examination of the history of the university English department will be a springboard to an investigation of current issues and trends within academia. Required Texts: Donald E. Hall’s The Academic Self and The Academic Community, Wendy Laura Belcher’s Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks. Meets fortnightly.
CROSS-LISTED COURSES (FALL)
(Limited Seats Available)
ENGL 5900R Selected Topic
Women Travel Writers
Travel narratives are tales of escape and discovery: of other lands and peoples and of one’s self. They are romantic dreams and criticisms of society. They are tales of travel as exploration, resettlement or the creation of new lives and societies in new locales. Travel writing across the genres has not been given the critical consideration it deserves. Always autobiographical, it is also fragmentary, caught in a moment of time in a specific geography which is carefully named, described and perhaps owned in a kind of naïve literary colonialism or disowned in satirical or ironic rejections of the world order of the day. Texts by women writers are particularly striking as the authors have been victims, prisoners of a present tainted by past biases or the heroines of their own story which is not only a literary, social and political treatise but a personal life journey.
By the end of the term, students should be able to demonstrate their ability to think critically about the roles of women travelers across time and space; compare and contrast representations of self and other in different cultures and genres, reflect critically on the literary analysis of the texts, including the role of the narrator; apply theoretical analysis, including feminist perspectives, to the relationships between individual and social constructs, gender and identity, space and place, writer and reader; analyze the relationship between myth and reality, past and present, intended meaning and interpretation.
ENGL 5900S Selected Topic
Critical Readings of the Gendered Body
The body, the theoretical gap of knowledge, has become a central part of thinking theory and practice in many disciplines, including women’s studies, the social sciences and the arts. Hence, this course is constructed around the premise that criminology and law have probed, marked, measured, explained and treated the deviant body. This has taken many shapes and forms throughout history. Moreover, the concern for the “deviant” body rests on the assumption of the “normal” body and has impact on the social construction of the body, more generally. In order to understand the processes involved in constructing deviant gendered bodies in social sciences,we will examine the construction and representation of femininity and masculinity, in theory and in practice. We will examine the body as territory and as a site of control and as a site of resistance, simultaneously. In order to understand the processes involved in constructing gendered deviant bodies in social sciences, one part of the course (4 weeks) will be focusing on creative writing workshops with a novelist to decipher how the body is infused with meanings. Lectures, discussions of case studies, guest lectures and oral presentations by students at a conference will constitute the major components of this course.
ENGL 5900X Issues in History and Culture (click here for syllabus)
This course takes a deliberately broad view of issues of historical representation as they arise in a variety of historically-minded genres, including history “proper,” biography, historical novel, and history painting. Students are encouraged to extend this range still further in their term papers. The focus of our common readings is on narrativity and historical distance as exemplified in the historical thought of the second half of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th. Our starting point will be the idea that history is essentially a mediatory art and therefore that a central issue for historical representation (whatever the genres or media) is the problem of what we call “historical distance.” Drawing on a variety of theoretical discussions as well as primary readings in history, biography, fiction, and art theory we will explore the idea of “distance” as a tool for analyzing structures of historical representation in a number of different kinds of narrative–including historiographical, philosophical, fictional, and visual.
ENGL 5002W Studies in Theory
This course invites a conversation between queer theory—including foundational texts and recent debates—and queer fiction, to consider how these two genres inform, influence, illuminate, and complicate one another. Queer theory has been largely generated by literary critics and philosophers who have drawn influential critical insights from their reading of modernist literature and history. Certainly, modernist and contemporary fiction that focuses on queer sexuality and gender actively theorizes issues that have preoccupied queer theory, including identity, queer affect, normativity, temporality, history, epistemology, power relations, and sociality. Rather than “applying” theory to literature, this course aims to chart the symbiotic interactions across queer critical and literary practices, between queer reading and queer writing.
Theory practitioners may include Michel Foucault, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Judith Butler, Cathy Cohen, Lisa Duggan, Jasbir Puar, Susan Stryker, Beatriz Preciado, David Eng, Leo Bersani, Lee Edelman, J. Jack Halberstam, José Esteban Muñoz, and Heather Love (among others).
Key concepts may include (some, if not all) of the following: the discursive constitution of sexuality and gender; performativity; the “epistemology of the closet;” identification, disidentification and anti-identitarianism; queer politics; heteronormativity; homonormativity and homonationalism; queer gender and transgender; queer diaspora and queer of colour critique; the “anti-social turn” in queer theory; futurity; queer temporality; representing queer history; queer affect (particularly feeling bad and feeling backward)….
Literary writers may include Oscar Wilde, Alan Hollinghurst, Monique Truong, Virginia Woolf, Alison Bechdel, and (if we can fit them in) Ivan Coyote & Rae Spoon.
The list of theorists, topics, and literary authors is tentative and will be refined and limited as the course details are finalized.
ENGL 5207W Studies in Anglo-Saxon Literature (click here for syllabus)
Introduction to Old English
The horn of the Exeter Book riddle describes his harsh sound by boasting that his tongue is hard: Heard is min tunge. He also claims that the ladies can’t keep their hands off him, and this isn’t even one of the “dirty” riddles of the collection. Why were Anglo-Saxon monks so interested in the artifacts of secular life, like a horn used for drinking or riding into battle? And if it was monks doing all of the writing, where do we hear the voices of Anglo-Saxon women, fair-haired and ladylike or not? These are some of the questions we’ll encounter as you learn to read Old English, a language 1000 years old. Yet 76% of the most common Old English words are still in use today, and 83% of the most common words in use today are from Old English, which means that this tongue isn’t so hard after all.
Students in this course will learn how to read Old English, which was spoken and written in Anglo-Saxon England during the so-called dark ages. After 1000 years of linguistic change, this may feel like a foreign language course, but we will actually be reading the earliest form of English. Medieval studies is an inherently interdisciplinary enterprise, so throughout the course, students will also be introduced to topics such as the making of manuscripts and Anglo-Saxon art and archaeology.
Course objectives: reading knowledge of Old English; introduction to the extant Old English corpus; mastery of fundamental Old English grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation; understanding of the cultural and historical contexts of Anglo-Saxon literature; introduction to Anglo-Saxon material culture, including archaeology and manuscripts.
Required texts: J. R. Clark Hall, A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, 4th ed. (MART 1984); Richard Marsden, The Cambridge Old English Reader (CUP 2004); Murray McGillivray, A Gentle Introduction to Old English (Broadview 2011); Students will also be required to read, photocopy, and/or print websites and handouts available online or in hard copy.
ENGL 5208W Studies in Middlle English Literature (click here for syllabus)
“For ther is so grete diversite”: Translation and Multilingualism in Late Medieval England
Translation and multilingualism loom large in contemporary discussions of global literatures and of transnationalism. These issues, however, also lie at the very heart of medieval English literature, much to the surprise of some more familiar with nineteenth-century assertions of a homogeneous and unilingual “English,” or “Anglo-Saxon,” identity. What language do I use at what point in my text? Do I use a different language to speak to women or to men? How does translating a text change it, and in what ways? How might I change this text to reflect the perspectives of my culture? These are all questions that confronted writers working in the trilingual world of late medieval England, and this course offers students the opportunity to consider how various writers navigated these linguistic choices and their fierce, sometimes life-threatening, repercussions. The course will explore the deployment of multiple languages within texts and within manuscripts as well as the ways in which texts migrate from one language to another through translation and re-translation. It will also consider the ways in which authors make use of different languages to advance distinctive authorial visions, and to retell the same narrative in intriguing and potentially inflammatory ways.
The course will begin by considering some of the theoretical pronouncements on multilingualism and translation by modern and medieval writers such as Spivak, Venuti, Augustine, and Dante. It will then proceed to consider each week a set of late medieval texts that navigate multilingualism in interesting ways. We will consider macaronic poems (lyric poems written in multiple languages) and the ways these poems use different languages simultaneously to exclude or include certain audiences. We will also study longer texts such as Chrétien de Troyes’ Perceval and the forms this French Arthurian narrative takes in later Welsh and Middle English manuscript versions We will look at romance tales of English knightly endeavor (e.g. King Horn and Beves of Hamtoun) produced in Britain, and consider whether the French and English versions of these texts advance different visions of conquest, heroism, and resistance in the context of England’s own conquest and colonization by French invaders in the eleventh century. We will examine the use of Latin and English in selected manuscripts and texts of the more renowned, canonical writers of late medieval England such as Geoffrey Chaucer, William Langland, and John Gower. We will also look at the ways in which women writers negotiate the multilingual world they inhabited and the ways in which they engage the pervasive Latinity associated with masculine clerical culture during the Middle Ages (e.g. Marie de France, Margery Kempe). Finally, we will consider the vehement, and deadly, debates about translating the Bible in fourteenth-century England as well as various translators’ defenses of that and other projects (e.g. the writers of the Wycliffite Bible, John of Trevisa). In all cases, we will strive to answer the question: What are the distinctive registers and resonances of different languages, and how do different medieval writers deploy them and to what effect, then and now?
N.B. All texts not in English will be read in a modern English translation, a decision which will, of course, also be a subject of reflection and discussion.
5606W Studies in Twentieth-Century Literature (click here for syllabus)
Staging Transnational Encounters in Contemporary Theatre
“There are, after all, people all over the globe living, crossing, resisting, defining, and defending linguistic, cultural, racial, gender, psycho- geographical, cartographic, political and other borders.” Guillermo Verdecchia, Fronteras Americanas preface.
In this course, we will consider how contemporary theatre stages transnational encounters between and among diverse characters, historical and contemporary contexts, and audiences. We will explore interconnections between localities, communities, nations, hemispheres, and continents from the perspective of multiple forms of transnational bordercrossing, including those catalyzed by migration and diaspora experience and history (geography), by transnational intersectional issues such as human rights and environmental justice (ethical citizenship), by inhabitation of multiple identity affiliations (complex subjectivity), by the multi-site production history of many of our focus plays (transnational audiences), and by the politics of postcolonial, decolonial and posttraumatic memory (“multi-directional memory”). Organized into two thematic clusters around environmental justice and redress and conflict transformation theatre, this course seeks to engage theatrical responses to historical and contemporary moments of crisis and transition from multiple global contexts. The course is informed by comparative, postcolonial, diaspora, gender, environmental humanities, and human rights humanities interdisciplines, theories, and methodologies. It engages playwrights from Irish, Afro-Caribbean, South African, Chilean, Indigenous, U.S., Indian, Jewish, Lebanese, and Canadian perspectives. For those interested in Canadian literature, please note that six of the eleven plays with transnational themes, characters, and contexts are Canadian. Along with reading one play a week, we will read at least one supporting theoretical, critical, or performance based essay to contextualize the plays under discussion.
Preliminary Reading List
Environmental and Climate Justice Theatre:
Marie Clements. Burning Vision. (Metis Canadian playwright explores the transnational links between the A-bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Dene uranium miners in Port Radium, NWT.)
Shonni Enelow. Carla and Lewis. In Research Theatre, Climate Change, and the Ecocide Project (2014). (A play that explores intersections between a New York City curator and Bangladeshi climate refugees). On reserve in library for photocopying.
Rahul Varma. Bhopal. (2005): Indo-Canadian playwright explores the world’s biggest industrial disaster in Bhopal, India.
Redress, Conflict Transformation and Post-memory Theatre:
Ariel Dorfman. Death and the Maiden. (1992). (Chilean-American playwright explores tensions in post-dictatorship Chile).
Yael Farber. Molara (2009)(Jewish South African playwright offers a contemporary version of Sophocles’’ Oresteia to dramatize post-TRC tensions in South Africa).
Seamus Heaney. The Burial at Thebes (2004). (Irish poet and playwright offers a contemporary version of Antigone as a post-9/11 response.)
Arthur Milner. Facts. (2010). (Jewish Canadian playwright offers a murder mystery involving an Israeli and Palestinian, set in the West Bank).
Wadji Mouawad. Scorched. (2011). (Lebanese-Canadian playwright explores one family struggling to come to terms with the historical trauma of the Lebanese civil wars.)
M. Nourbese Philips. Zong! (2008) (Caribbean-Canadian poet’s post-slavery long poem written for choral performance.)
Colleen Wagner. The Monument. (1996) (A Canadian play offers a gendered perspective on (im)possible coexistence after genocide, ambiguously set in post-Genocide Bosnia or Rwanda)
Darrah Teitel. Corpus. (2013) – in Canadian Theatre Review special issue on Jewish Performance, available on-line through the Carl library). (Jewish Canadian playwright offers an exploration of a North American third generation Holocaust scholar who interviews German survivors on-line and strikes up a chat room friendship with the grandson of a Nazi perpetrator with surprising results.)
ENGL 5609W Studies in American Literature (click here for syllabus)
U.S. Culture in the Age of Experiment, 1945-1979
This course explores the role of experimentation in the culture and politics of the United States during the Cold War. During this period, writers, painters, filmmakers, and musicians cultivated an aesthetic of spontaneity, intensity, and interiority identified first with the “beats” and later the “counterculture.” We will study innovations in the culture of the period–including abstract expressionism, beat poetry, new journalism, and direct cinema–and consider them in relation to institutional experiments in warfare, social policy, and new media. Scholars argue that the advent of atomic weapons produced a generation of conformists, while live television created a generation of radicals: we will consider and test such assertions in relation to the work of intellectuals, activists, artists, and politicians–among them, Jackson Pollock, Susan Sontag, Norman Mailer, Martin Luther King, Thomas Pynchon, Allen Ginsburg, Charles Mingus, Joan Didion, and Abbie Hoffman.
ENGL 5900W Selected Topic in English Studies
Victorian Procrastination and the New Culture of Self-Help
Victorian novelists wrote exceptionally long novels. Procrastination does not at first glance seem to be a problem for these novelists. Looked at more closely, however, long novels (and other Victorian cultural works) are the perfect testing ground for a study of procrastination. This course will explore the aesthetic, psychological, and political factors that have a bearing on the period’s comprehension of both procrastination, in particular, and “unfinishedness,” in general. The course will accordingly investigate both the idea of procrastination and the new Victorian culture of self-help in works by John Ruskin, Charles Dickens, Karl Marx, Samuel Smiles, George Eliot, George Gissing, and others; in addition, we will consider unfinishedness in visual culture, interpersonal relationships, and the built environment.This course may be the only course students take in their university careers in which experience with procrastination will be an asset.