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 Early Modern Literature I (cross-listed with HUMS 4902)
A study of early modern authors, texts, and problems. Topics may vary from year to year.
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
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 5002W: Studies in Theory I (cross-listed with CLMD 6904)
Prof. Stuart Murray
Topic: How 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 (θεᾶσθαι), 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.
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.
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
- 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
Prof. Jodie Medd
Topic: Queer (Meta) Fiction and Historical (Re)Imaginings
This course focuses on how queer literature* engages with the genres of historical fiction** and historiographic metafiction*** (see definitions below). 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. Points of focus will include intersections between queerness and key historical events, recognized historical figures, historical periodization, literary history, historiography, biography, memoir, and the discursive production, suppression, and proliferation of nonnormative sexualities and genders both “then” and “now.” We’ll consider how contemporary queer literature interacts with not only histories of gender and sexuality, but also the sexuality and gender of history.
*Queer literature: literature that addresses non-normative sexualities and genders. In this course, we’ll focus on homoerotic desire and cross-gender or transgender identifications.
**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.
Authors and texts might include some (probably not all) of the following:
Virginia Woolf, Orlando
Sarah Waters, Tipping the Velvet
Jamie O’Neill, At Swim, Two Boys
Alan Hollinghurst, The Stranger’s Child
Jordy Rosenberg, Confessions of the Fox
Monique Truong, The Book of Salt
Ann-Marie Macdonald, Fall on Your Knees
Jackie Kay, Trumpet
Alison Bechdel, Fun Home
Secondary material might include readings on genre (historical fiction and historiographic metafiction), and theoretical debates about queerness, history, and time.
ENGL 5610W/ CLMD 6104: Studies in Contemporary Literature I
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 5900W/ ENGL 4401A: Selected Topics in English Studies I
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.