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Summer 2019

EN 6311 3.0: Allegories of the Pastoral: Idyllic Futures


K. Valihora
Office: 215 Stong
Phone: (416) 736-2100 ext. 66397

Course Description

Reading across history, and across genres, theories, and disciplines, this course tracks the dream of a golden age as at once a place and a time. Our project is to link classical myth and thought with contemporary film and psychoanalytic theory. We will first situate some instances of dreamers in a dream — Truman Burbank in The Truman Show, and Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, as well as Jane Austen’s Emma — by looking backward, tracing the idea of an idyll — enduring peace, abundance, simplicity, harmony, friendship, and youth — to its beginnings, in Homer’s Iliad and Hesiod’s 8th century BCE recounting of the beginning of time. At the center of this tradition we find the Cyclops, the solitary one-eyed man, who features in works by Homer, Theocritus, Virgil, and Marvell. This marooned figure, at once bleak and comic, suggests an archetype of the dreamer in a dream, a precursor then to Emma as well as Holly Golightly. In the latter half of the term we situate the idyll for the future: reading our dreams through the structures of corporate and commodity capitalism and their illiberal effects. Pierre Bourdieu, for example, tells us all dreams are gold for a reason: they emerge from — and construct — a haze of corrosive class relations. The function of that enduring fantasy, the imagined community, in the creation and maintenance of liberal democracy becomes a key question, as we continue to dream of an art, a value, and a justice that is beyond price and beyond measure.

  1. 1. Golden Ages (weeks 1–2)
    Hesiod, The Golden Age
    Genesis, The Garden of Eden
    Peter Weir, The Truman Show (1998)
  2. Cyclops/Pastoral/Subject (weeks 3-8)
    Homer, The Odyssey (Cyclops episode)
    Homer, The Iliad (Homeric similes)
    Theocritus, Idylls (any translation/penguin)
    Virgil, Eclogues (any translation/penguin)
    Andrew Marvell, The Mower Poems (1681)
    Jane Austen, Emma (1816)
    Blake Edwards, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1963)
    Sigmund Freud, “Remembering, Repeating, and Working Through.”
  3. Subject/Community/History (weeks 9-12)
    Frank Capra, It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
    Freud, Civilization and its Discontents (1930)
    George Orwell, Coming up for Air (1939)
    George Orwell, 1984 (1948)

This class stresses interaction and engagement. Each student will give one presentation, bringing interpretive criticism and theory into the seminar discussion. Students are encouraged to bring their own interests to the course, in selecting texts for presentations and/or final papers. In addition to the presentations there will be one term paper of approx. 4000 words (12-15 pages).
Grade Breakdown

Presentation: no more than about 20 minutes; 20%
Written version submitted one week after the oral presentation for formal comments and grade, 15%
Term paper: 50%
Participation: 15%

EN 6230 3.0: Early Modern History Plays


Igor Djordjevic
Office: York Hall C216 M/R 3:00–4:30 and by appointment
Phone: (416) 736-2100 ext. 88161
Course Moodle: (use Passport York password)
(This course will be offered at Glendon Campus)

Course Description

This course focuses on perhaps the most popular dramatic genre of the English Renaissance: the history play. Beginning with one of the first historical plays from the repertory of the Queen’s Men, through the golden age of the genre in the repertories of the professional playing companies, we will explore two topical clusters of (non-Shakespearean) plays treating the reigns of King John and Henry VIII, to reveal the importance and meaning of “history” as well as its (ab)uses in early modern England’s cultural memory. We will also explore the intertextual dialogue between authors and professional companies inside the topical clusters, and examine their participation in the Renaissance political discourse of nationhood and “commonwealth,” as well as their place in the formation of cultural memory. Taking early modern poetics, rhetorical theory, and the Renaissance theatre’s material practices as points of departure, we will pay attention to the various playwrights as readers and interpreters of historical source-narratives, but will also study the plays in the contexts of modern and postmodern critical theories and performance.

Assignments and Marking Scheme

1: 20–25 minute seminar presentation 30%
1: 15–20 pp. research paper 60%
Participation 10%

Required Reading
See sequence of readings below. NB: not all the texts are available in modern printed editions; original unedited texts are available on the course moodle in PDF files obtained from EEBO.

Recommended Reading

  • Bentley, Gerald Eades. The Profession of Dramatist in Shakespeare’s Time, 1590-1642. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971.
  • Cox, John D. and David Scott Kastan, eds. A New History of Early English Drama. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.
  • Djordjevic, Igor. Holinshed’s Nation: Ideals, Memory, and Practical Policy in the Chronicles. Farnham: Ashgate, 2010.
  • ---. King John (Mis)Remembered: the Dunmow Chronicle, the Lord Admiral’s Men, and the Formation of Cultural Memory. Farnham: Ashgate, 2015.
  • Dutton, Richard. Licensing, Censorship and Authorship in Early Modern England. New York: Palgrave, 2000.
  • ---., ed. The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theatre. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
  • Gurr, Andrew. The Shakespeare Company, 1594-1642. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
  • ---. Shakespeare’s Opposites: The Admiral’s Company 1594-1625. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
  • Helgerson, Richard. Forms of Nationhood: the Elizabethan Writing of England. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.
  • Hirschfeld, Heather Anne. Joint Enterprises: Collaborative Drama and the Institutionalization of the English Renaissance Theater. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2004.
  • Kewes, Paulina, Ian Archer and Felicity Heal, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Holinshed’s Chronicles. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.
  • Knutson, Roslyn. Playing Companies and Commerce in Shakespeare’s Time. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
  • Lucas, Scott. A Mirror for Magistrates and the Politics of the English Reformation. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2009.
  • McDiarmid, John F., ed. The Monarchical Republic of Early Modern England: Essays in Response to Patrick Collinson. Farnham: Ashgate, 2007.
  • McMillin, Scott and Sally-Beth MacLean. The Queen’s Men and Their Plays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • Ostovich, Helen, Holger Schott Syme and Andrew Griffin, eds. Locating the Queen’s Men, 1583-1603: Material Practices and Conditions of Playing. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2009.
  • Patterson, Annabel. Reading Holinshed’s Chronicles. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.

NB: The complete set of Early Modern Chronicles in English (including Hall, Grafton, Holinshed, Monstrelet, Froissart and others) is available and recommended for your use at Frost Library (Rare Book Room).

Seminar Presentation
The seminar is an oral presentation to be delivered in front of the whole class during twenty-five minutes of the assigned class meeting. The presentation topic is left to you, but it should be related to the play scheduled for the day or to one or more of the “companion” works suggested on the list below. Sign-up for the presentation dates is on a first-come-first-served basis, and may be done by email or in person in class. You are obliged to inform me of your topic or area of focus in advance of the presentation. The seminar presentation may consider critical or performative approaches to the texts, or their sources, or even other history plays/works and authors that may provide contexts for the study of the histories. Thus, for example, you may consider giving talks on Shakespeare’s King John play as they may relate to the Queen’s Men’s Troublesome Reign of King John, or on a chronicler’s treatment of the events, or you may engage with the critics who have written on your topic. Whatever your focus, your aim ought to be to deliver an original and cogent argument. Most important, of course, is that your presentation be able to launch some of the main points of the class discussion of the work. NB: whereas Shakespeare’s plays may be more familiar to you, this course expects you to be able to perform scholarly work on early modern drama free of bardolatry, especially when handling topics or story-lines he may have revisited in his plays. Treat Shakespeare and his plays as unprivileged and equal participants in a broader cultural dialogue on any topic.

Office Hours, Contact, and E-mail
I am available every week in office hours and am happy to meet with you to address any concerns you may have at any time. Keep in mind that the last office hour before an assignment is due tends to be rather crowded, so try to see me ahead of time, or schedule an appointment. I encourage you to contact me by email if you have any questions or concerns, but if you require a long answer/explanation, please come and see me in person. If you have an emergency, you will reach me with greatest expediency by telephoning my office during the day, or sending an email. Finally, remember that emails sent to me over the weekend may not be answered until Monday, and that an email sent in the evening—no matter how urgent—may not be read until the following morning.

Course Website and Course Web-content
All assignments, announcements, and supplementary materials relevant to the course are posted on the course website, so visit it often. The login information is the same as for Passport York. Moodle automatically sends out email notifications whenever I post something, so please make sure that moodle has your preferred email address.

NB: you will be able to access the video-links (if any) on the course website ONLY from a York University computer. If you wish to view the videos on your off-campus computer, log in at the York University Library website (see link on course website), and search for “Theatre in video” in the e-resources; the link will lead you to the web database that contains the videos in question, so search for them by title on the Theatre in Video website.

Important information for students regarding the Ethics Review process, Access/Disability, Academic Honesty/Integrity, Student Conduct, and Religious Observance Days is available on the CCAS webpage (see Reports, Initiatives, Documents):

Sequence of Readings

April 29: Introduction to course
May 2: George Peele: The Troublesome Raigne of King John
May 6: George Peele: The Troublesome Raigne of King John
May 9: Anthony Munday: The Fall of Robert Earl of Huntington
May 13: Anthony Munday: The Death of Robert Earl of Huntington
May 16: Robert Davenport: King John and Matilda
May 20: Victoria Day
May 23: Anonymous: The Life and Death of Thomas Lord Cromwell
May 26: Anonymous: The Life and Death of Thomas Lord Cromwell
May 30: Samuel Rowley: When You See Me You Know Me
June 3: Samuel Rowley: When You See Me You Know Me
June 6: Anthony Munday, Henry Chettle, Thomas Heywood, Thomas Dekker, and William Shakespeare: Sir Thomas More
June 10: Anthony Munday, Henry Chettle, Thomas Heywood, Thomas Dekker, and William Shakespeare: Sir Thomas More
June 13: Essay Due

List of Sources or Related "Companion" Pieces
(can be the focus of a seminar presentation

The King John Cluster:

  • Raphael Holinshed et al: Reigns of Richard I and John (Chronicles)
  • John Stow: Reigns of Richard I and John (Chronicles/Annales)
  • Michael Drayton: Matilda (1594) (poem)
  • Michael Drayton: Englands Heroicall Epistles (John and Matilda) (verse epistles)
  • Shakespeare: King John (play)
  • Anonymous: Look About You (play)
  • The Mirror for Magistrates (Richard Coeur de Lion, King John) (verse)

The Henry VIII Cluster:

  • Raphael Holinshed et al.: Reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI (Chronicles)
  • Edward Hall: Reign of Henry VIII (The Union of Two Noble and Illustre Famelies of Lancastre and York)
  • Mirror for Magistrates (The Battle of Brampton or Flodden Field; Cardinal Wolsey) (verse)
  • Michael Drayton: The Legend of Great Cromwell (or, The Historie of the Life and Death of the Lord Cromwell) (1609) (poem)
  • Shakespeare: Henry VIII (All Is True) (play)

EN 6620 3.0: American Hard-Boiled


Art Redding
Office: 342 Stong
Phone: (416) 736-2100 ext. 30442 (for now)

Course Description

American Hard-Boiled
Evolving from dime novels, pulp and paperback fiction, literary naturalism and modernism, traditional detective stories, and gothic writing, a distinctively “American,” modern, urban, and masculine style of “hard-boiled” and (later) “noir” writing and film developed during the jazz age, matured during the Depression, and thrived in the early years of the Cold War. If, as James Ellroy has remarked, “the subgenre officially died in 1960” it has proved remarkably resilient in its afterlife, subject to periodic revivals, revisionary critiques, and parodies, ranging from The Sopranos to Sin City. Taking an expansive understanding of the term, this course reconsiders the complex traditions of hard-boiled and noir literatures, casting a critical eye on its depictions of urban life and representations of gender, crime, labor, and race, its various functions as social critique and stricture, and investigating as well considerations of style, problems of genre and popular culture, and the economics of the film and publishing industries.

Each student will be expected to give a seminar presentations (20%); participate actively in class discussion (5%); submit three short reading responses (totaling 15%); and submit a final critical essay of 12-15 pages, suitable for publication in an academic journal (60%).

Required Texts:

  • Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises (1926).
  • Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest (1929).
  • William Faulkner, Sanctuary (1931).
  • James M. Cain, The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934).
  • Dorothy B. Hughes, In a Lonely Place (1947).
  • Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye (1953).
  • Jim Thompson, The Killer Inside Me (1952).
  • Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955)
  • Charles Willeford, Pick-Up (1955). Please note that this will not be available through the York bookstore. I will try to make copies available, but students are requested (if at all possible) to purchase an edition (via Amazon or elsewhere online) in advance.
  • Chester Himes, The Real Cool Killers (1959).
  • Joan Didion, Play it as it Lays (1970).

There will also be a course reader (available online) of supplementary critical texts.


  • Out of the Past (1947), dir. Jacques Tourneur.
  • In a Lonely Place (1950), dir. Nicholas Ray.
  • The Naked Kiss (1964), dir. Samuel Fuller.

Fall 2019

EN 6000 0.0: Literary Research Methods


Lisa Sloniowski
Phone: ext. 20072

Course Description

(This seminar is a required 0 credit pass/fail course offered in the Fall term, for all entering M.A. candidates and those Ph.D. candidates who have not successfully completed such a graduate course or who have not had equivalent experience. The seminar will take place over 6 weeks in the Fall term in 3 hour sessions.)

Methodological questions animate 21st century humanities research and literary studies are no exception. For example, fierce contemporary debates challenge the propulsive force of the digital or computational turn in humanistic research, while others struggle to rethink what constitutes the archival and what is socially and politically at stake in archives. The question of how we study literature is intimately entwined with questions of why, where, when, or who.

The Literary Research Methods seminar is designed to introduce new MA and PhD students to some of the conceptual and/or methodological frameworks which characterize literary scholarship while we simultaneously make inquiries of the physical sites, technological platforms, and skills needed to do work in this discipline. Students will be introduced to specialized research and writing resources needed to perform both comprehensive and focused literature reviews at the graduate level, as well as to the skills needed to both use and critically interrogate those resources. We will learn to approach research projects with an attention to key methodological questions such as: how does the knowledge organization of a field shape or contribute to our understanding of it?

The seminar will also take up the question of digital humanities from a critical perspective and examine this method in the context of the bibliographic work in literary studies more generally. We will also situate literary research methods broadly in relation to the methods of other disciplines as we explore how and where humanities research differs from, and converges with, the questions of social sciences, fine arts, and sciences.

Guest lectures and workshops will be provided by faculty members in the GPE, as well as archivists and librarians. The seminar is led by Lisa Sloniowski, who is a humanities librarian in York University Libraries, a PhD candidate in Social and Political Thought, and an associate faculty member of the Graduate Program in English.

As this seminar is a pass/fail zero credit requirement, required reading will be no more than two essays per week. Students will engage in collaborative hands-on research workshops in the library, in the archives, and with bibliographic databases.

There will likely be one minor assignment due in October and one major assignment due in January 2020. Both will ideally be complementary with the student’s other academic projects.

The (draft) schedule is as follows:

September 25 Finding the How in Whoville: Literary Research Methods
October 2 Paradise is a Kind of a Library: Literature Reviews, Libraries, and Knowledge Organization in Literary Studies
October 9 Literary Editing and Writing and Citing Tools
October 16 Fall Reading Week
October 23 Febrile Seizures: Archives vs “The Archive”
October 30 Digital Humanities Methods and the Question of “Data”
November 6 Oppressive Algorithms, the Politics of Mass Digitization and You

All classes will be held on Wednesdays, 2.30 to 5.30 pm, room TBA.

Attendance at all sessions is mandatory.

No textbooks are required.

For further information, contact Lisa Sloniowski: or ext. 20072

EN 6158 3.0: Studies in World Literature: Detective Fiction


Marie-Christine Leps
Office: 332 Calumet College
Phone: ext. 22145

Course Description

(in process)
This course focuses on World Detective Fiction as its point of departure (Auerbach’s Ansatzpunkt) for globalized reading (Cooppan). Considering the genre as world literature re-writes the usual narrative of its emergence and development. Edgar Allan Poe’s famous Dupin stories, written in nineteenth-century US, will be studied not only in conjunction with Émile Gaboriau’s Lecoq stories, but also with eighteenth-century Chinese narratives recounting the celebrated cases of seventh-century magistrate, Judge Dee (Dee Goong An), as well as tales from One Thousand and One Nights. The English Holmes and Watson team will be read transnationally, through various Indian, Chinese, and Tibetan versions. Considering recent adaptations in novels (by Lyndsay Faye and Laurie R. King) and television series (Sherlock and Elementary) will allow us to see how this model has circulated and been adapted in different national, political, and cultural contexts, and to what ends. In other words, the detective novel will not be studied as a thing in itself, but as an epistemological mode and a changing practice contributing to various cultures.

To historicize crime narratives, and discern the political and economic dimensions of their emergence and popularity, we will examine the correlations between crime facts and fictions, as reported in the world press. We will also compare the narrative “Science of Deduction and Analysis” to an emerging criminology (with Cesare Lombroso and Gabriel Tarde), to see how they variously produced different truths about criminals. Our discursive investigations of the Ripper murders will include police and coroner’s reports, post-mortem reports, parliamentary debates, and inquest testimony.

Our investigations of the pressures of genre will extend to the “golden age” fiction of the sole investigator of multiple suspects (Miss Marple in novel and film, along with her nineteenth-century U.S. predecessor, Amelia Butterworth), and the Detection Club’s Fair Play Rules.

Throughout our investigations, gender, race, sexuality, and class will be foregrounded, as well as the interrelations among detective fiction, nationalism, and imperialism.

Working list of novels and stories

  • Cheng, Xiaoquing. “The Ghost in the Villa” (1947), in Timothy Wong, trans. Stories for Saturday: Twentieth-Century Chinese Popular Fiction. U Hawaii P, 2003. [made available in class]
  • Christie, Agatha. A Murder is Announced (1950). William Morrow Paperbacks, 2011; film version with Geraldine McEwan, 2005.
  • Dee Goong An. Trans. Robert Van Gulik, 1949. Dover, 1976
  • Doherty, Robert. Elementary, Series 1, episode 1 “pilot.”
  • Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan. A Study in Scarlet (1887) [any unabridged edition, also available at:]
  • … “The Man with the Twisted Lip,” in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1891) [any unabridged edition, also available at:]
  • … “The Speckled Band”
  • Faye, Lyndsay. Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson. Simon & Shuster, 2009.
  • Gaboriau, Émile. The Lerouge Case (1865).
  • Green, Anna Katherine. That Affair Next Door. (1897)
  • King, Laurie R. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, Or On the Segregation of the Queen. St Martin’s Press, 1994.
  • Moffat, Steven. “A Study in Pink” (2010), Sherlock, Series 1 Episode 1.
  • Norbu, Jamyang. The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes: The Adventures of the Great Detective in India and Tibet. (1999). Bloomsbury, 2003. [Any edition; on reserve in Scott]
  • Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1841); “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” (1842-1843); “The Purloined Letter” (1844) [any unabridged edition; also available at:]
  • Satyajit, Ray. “Feluda in London” (1989), in The Complete Adventures of Feluda Vol.2. Penguin Books India, 2015 [made available in class]
  • Sun Liaohong, “The Sunglasses Society” (1924), in Timothy Wong, trans. Stories for Saturday: Twentieth-Century Chinese Popular Fiction. U Hawaii P, 2003. [made available in class]
  • “The Three Apples” in One Thousand and One Nights.

Criminological Texts

World Press Reports on Ripper Murders


  • Essays by D. Damrosch, M. B. Harris-Peyton, E. Mandel, V. Shklovsky, W. Yan, and others will be made available.


Short responses and expositions in class 30%
Fifteen-minute class presentation 10%; essay version: 15%
Final research paper 40%

EN 6450 3.0: 19th Century British Fiction: Historical Novels, Novel Histories*


Dr. Tina Y. Choi
Office: 346 Stong College
Phone: ext. 22149
Tuesdays 11:30am–2:30pm

Course Description

While Edward Gibbon, author of History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1782), asserted that the historian’s foremost goal was “accuracy,” late Romantic and Victorian works reveal a more experimental attitude towards the writing of history. In this course, we will explore the use of the past as a field for speculation, nostalgic representation, historiographical reflection, narrative and temporal experiment, and counterfactual discourse, at a time when traditional historical narratives (political, military, and individual) were growing in popularity, and new genres (speciological and geological) were emerging. More generally, we consider the role of history in a range of works and contexts from the 1810s to the 1870s. Why were recreations of the past, in the form of historical fictions, monumental surveys, and immersive displays, so popular during this period? How might we interpret historically based literary works with relation to a contemporaneous enthusiasm for re-enactments, the installation of life-size dinosaur models in urban parks, or living displays of Indian workers performing traditional forms of manual labour?

Our readings will include selected major works by Scott, Dickens, Eliot, and others, as well as an array of recent critical and theoretical material. While our primary focus will be on the historical novel, we will also examine the period’s historical and historicizing impulse as expressed in its many popular histories, exhibitions and museums, and geological and archaeological writings.


One oral seminar presentation (approximately 20-25 minutes) 25%
Final essay (approximately 4500 words) 55%
Active, informed participation 10%
One short bibliographic essay (approximately 1200-1500 words) on an assigned text 10%

Readings (tentative)

  • Scott, Waverley
  • Hogg, Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner
  • Lyell, Principles of Geology (selections)
  • Carlyle, The French Revolution (selections)
  • Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
  • Eliot, Middlemarch
  • Birdwood, The Arts of India (selections)

+ a selection of critical and historical works by Ian Duncan, Catherine Gallagher, Saloni Mathur, Ralph O’Connor, Katie Trumpener, Hayden White, and others

EN 6549 3.0: Modernism, Interdisciplinarity, and the Arts*


Elicia Clements
Office: 204 Vanier College
Phone: ext. 77021

Course Description

Given the significance of interdisciplinary work in the current academic climate, we will probe the artistic crossings of the modernist period by drawing upon theories that examine the history and nature of interdisciplinarity and upon methodologies that cross visual and aural borders themselves, such as semiotics, narrative theory, sound studies, and performance theory. By examining twentieth century artistic border crossings in conjunction with theoretical methods and models that address both how to do interdisciplinary work and also enact it (often at the same time), we can better understand not only why there is a current impulse to traverse the boundaries of disciplines, but also how to undertake such work as a critical practice.

EN 6552 3.0: The Advent of Modernism: Time for Modernism


Prof. Lesley Higgins
Office: 301D Stong College

(formal title: The Advent of Modernism: Time for Modernism)

Course Description

How ironic: not long after international railroad companies “standardized” time across England (1847) and North America (1883) to improve efficiency and profits, and European and American politicians decided that all time should be measure in relation to a fixed “prime meridian” in Greenwich, England (1884), disparate scientists, philosophers, and writers set about demonstrating how time is unstable, relative—and susceptible to new modes of representation. While Albert Einstein, Max Plank, Henri Bergson, and Alfred North Whitehead were challenging the physics and metaphysics of temporality, Joseph Conrad, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce, among other avant-garde writers, were experimenting with narrative time in its many manifestations: challenging the realist mode’s causal-chronological linearity; rethinking the possibilities of the reading experience within a “significant form”; reimagining the boundaries of temporality through myth and intertextuality; and rewriting the possibilities of consciousness across time and history.

To consider how the temporal has been theorized in relation to literary texts and subjectivity, our discussions will range from David Hume to Henri Bergson, from Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of the chronotope to Joycean “epiphanies” and Woolf’s “moments of being.”

Students will give one substantial 15-minute presentation, worth 20%. Two short (600-word) response papers will be worth 10% each. A final research paper (12 to 15 pages; 4000 words max.) will be worth 50% of the final grade. Informed class participation will be worth 10%.

Reading List

  • Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent (Penguin);
  • James Joyce, Ulysses (Penguin);
  • Gertrude Stein, selections from Selected Writings of Gertrude Stein, ed. F. W. Dupee (Vintage);
  • Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (Oxford World’s Classics) and To the Lighthouse (Oxford World’s Classics).

PDFs of selected readings by Filippo Marinetti, André Breton, and Wyndham Lewis will be distributed by the instructor.

Seminar Schedule

  • Week 1
    Introduction: theoretical and critical framework
  • Week 2
    Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent
    Impressionist prose and “time shifting”
  • Week 3
    Conrad, The Secret Agent
  • Week 4
    Short fiction: Woolf and Stein
    Consciousness and temporality; writing and reading in the “continuous present”
  • Week 5
    Futurists, Vorticists, and Surrealists: manifestos and selected texts by Filippo Marinetti and André Breton; selections from Wyndham Lewis’s Time and Western Man
  • Week 6
    James Joyce, Ulysses
  • Week 7
    James Joyce, Ulysses
  • Week 8
    James Joyce, Ulysses
  • Week 9
    Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
  • Week 10
    Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse
  • Week 11
    Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
  • Week 12
    Stein, Four Saints in Three Acts and “Composition as Explanation”

EN 6578 3.0: Women Writing South Asia: Gender, Nation and the World


Arun Mukherjee
Office: 354 Stong College
Phone: ext. 33420

Course Description

This course will introduce students to women’s writing from South Asia during the last two centuries. South Asian women’s writings have been triply marginalized: they are absent from the literature curriculum both in South Asia and the West and they have also been ignored by the Western feminists whose “recoveries” were often limited to white western writers, i.e., Sandra Gilbert’s and Susan Gubar’s The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women.

Reading a variety of women’s texts from India, Pakistan, Bangla Desh and Sri Lanka, we will focus on how South Asian women have engaged with the dominant discourses of South Asian societies: whether indigenous, colonial, postcolonial, or neo-colonial. I intend to introduce the students to (a) ideologies embedded and/or contested in these texts; (b) the narrative and discursive strategies employed in them; and (c) the role these voices have played in shaping the course of history. The course will examine these texts in order to gain an understanding of women’s lives in South Asia and the forces that shape them.>

EN 6997 3.0: Issues in Contemporary Theory: McLuhan and the Crises of the Global Village/Theatre: Readings in Texts that Absorb the New Media*


B.W. Powe
Office: 352 Stong College
Phone: ext. 33775

Course Description

The media seer, Marshall McLuhan, had a powerful, lasting influence on many writers, artists, and thinkers. It is no exaggeration to say that he is to date Canada’s most significant and prophetic theorist. His radical interdisciplinary and trans-historical approach to the study of new electric media fields led to controversy and essential insights. His impact on writers—and their impact on him—is pivotal to understanding his embrace of and unease with our wired environment. This course begins with a weighty summary text that organizes and presents many of McLuhan’s most profound insights, through his methodology of aphorism, figure/ground, tetrads, and probes. We will explore from the beginning of our class how McLuhan revised his vision of the global village percept in favour of the global theatre recognition. Then we will explore works that both manifest and represent the vision of radical rewiring, the reinventions of consciousness and sensibility, indeed of the world, that have emerged through media, digital communications’ technologies. These articulations may be either

Utopian or Dystopian, or both. They may extend McLuhan’s perceptions directly, or indirectly. This course will trace and explore the McLuhan lineage and its original adaptations and metamorphoses, from articulations of paranoia and ecstasy, to intimations of A.I. and new kind of mysticism. It is a course that sets out to discover how McLuhan’s searing insights that we are being altered and transfigured by media extensions have found literary and artistic expression. This course will also explore how widely differing approaches (or sensitivities) to this global transformation have and can spark crises of form and content.

Readings List
(This is the order in which these works will be engaged and read.)

  1. Marshall McLuhan, The Book of Probes
  2. William Gibson, Neuromancer
  3. Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
  4. Kathy Acker, Empire of the Senseless
  5. Jean Baudrillard, Simulations (excerpts) and Paroxysms (excerpts) to be paired with William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch
  6. Don DeLillo, Mao II
  7. Anne Carson, Float
  8. Jeanette Winterson, The Powerbook

Winter 2019

EN 6150 3.0: Satire: Twisting World Literature


Julia Creet
Office: 334 Stong College
Phone: ext. 30439

Course Description

Melding repellent physicality with political commentary, “the grotesque” is a particular genre of satire that invokes rich histories and contemporary dangers. Beginning with some of the rudest satires in history from the Romans and the Persians, this course traverses time and country, text, images and film to explore our abject responses to monstrous combinations of political horror and laughter.


2 short response papers (approx. 750 words) each worth 20%
Leading Seminar discussion (based on one response paper) 20%
1 final essay (approx. 4000 words) 40%

Syllabus (subject to change)

Gregory Harphan, On the Grotesque (1982)
Northrup Frye “The Nature of Satire” (1949)

Juvenal The Sixteen Satires and Lucian (Rome 100s)

Obeyd Zakani (Persia, 1370s)
Iranian Studies Series, Irreverent Persia: Invective, Satirical and Burlesque Poetry from the Origins to the Timurid Period (10th to 15th Century) (2015)

Carnivalesque and Minnepean
François Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel (France 1490s)
M.M. Bahktin, Rabelais and His World (Russia, 1965)

Gorgio Spiller “The United Sexes of Gorgio Spillers” (Italy 1980s)
Scott Blanchard—Scholars Bedlam: Minnepean Satire in the Renaissance (Selections)

Politically Modern
Jonathan Swift, “A Modest Proposal” (Ireland 1729)
Nikoli Gogol The Nose (Russia 1835)
Istvan Orkney One Minute Stories (Hungary 1977)
John Clarke The Modern Satiric Grotesque and Its Traditions (Selections) (U.S.,1991)

Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber (UK 1976)
Monique Wittig, Paris La Politique (France 1986)
Mary Russo, The Female Grotesque (selections) (UK, 2001)

Kathy Acker, Blood and Guts in Highschool (US 1994)
Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror (France 1984)

William Burroughs, Naked Lunch (U.S. 1959)
David Cronenberg, Naked Lunch (Canada 1991)
Charlie Hebdo (France, 2015)

Leonard Cassuto, The Inhuman Race: The Racial Grotesque in American Lit and Culture (1997)
African/Indian or Asian Satire TBA

A New Golden Age of the Grotesque
The Victim Fashion Show (Canada 1980)
Trump (International 2015-17)

EN 6157 3.0 Comparative and World Literature*+


Marie-Christine Leps
Office: 332 Calumet College
Phone: ext. 22145

Course Description

This seminar introduces students to the conditions of emergence and development of the discipline of Comparative Literature from its beginnings in nineteenth-century Europe to its most recent global iteration of World Literature. Students will experience how expanded understandings of cultural translation and textuality have radically altered and expanded the Eurocentric character of the discipline.
Questions for investigation include (with the emphasis changing from year to year): What are the politics (the stakes, the ethics, the costs) of practicing Comparative Literature? How do those compare with the practice of World Literature? How do they relate to colonial, post-colonial, diasporic, cultural, and translation studies? How are Comparative Literature and World Literature practiced in different locations? What role has the globalization of capital played in the formation of the discipline? How are theoretical and methodological decisions and approaches such as World Literature redefining the discipline?

Texts will include theoretical and methodological essays by Theodor Adorno, Emily Apter, Erich Auerbach, Pascale Casanova, Wai Chee Dimock, David Damrosch, Charles Mill Gayley, Debjani Ganguly, Édouard Glissant, J.W. von Goethe, Johann Gottfried Herder, Kobayashi Hideo, Djelal Kadir, Adam Kirsch, Franco Moretti, Bruce Robbins, Edward Said, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Germaine de Staël, Lawrence Venuti, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, René Wellek, and others.


Two short response papers (250 words, 5% each) (10%)
Class presentation (15 minutes, 10%); essay based on the presentation (20%) (2300 words/7 pages) (30%)
Final research paper (3500 words) (45%)
Final paper Capstone Diploma Research Paper presentation (5%)
Class participation (10%)

This seminar course is required for both the Humanities Graduate Diploma in Comparative Literature and the English Graduate Diploma in World Literature. The seminar introduces students to the history of both fields, and the theories and methodologies that have forged them. Students who are not enrolled in either diploma are of course welcome.

EN 6220 3.0: Shakespeare’s Political Theory*


Elizabeth Pentland
Office: 208D Stong College
Phone: ext. 33705

Course Description

Many of Shakespeare’s best-known plays, from early tragedies like Richard 3 and mid-career histories like Henry 4 part 1, to later Roman plays like Antony & Cleopatra or Coriolanus, interrogate the relationship between theatre and politics, exploring, for example, the performative nature of kingship or the illusions that sustain political authority. This course explores Shakespeare’s engagement with the political issues and theories of his time by grounding our reading of his plays in the major theoretical works of the period, allowing us to better understand his representations of sovereignty, tyranny, and servitude; absolutism and republicanism; colonialism and conquest. Tracts like Machiavelli’s Prince, which enjoyed a certain notoriety in Shakespeare’s time, can usefully inform our reading of plays like Richard 3 and Hamlet, while works by Thomas More, Michel de Montaigne, and Bartolomé de Las Casas can all be paired in productive ways with a play like The Tempest to explore utopianism, skepticism, and the early modern debates about human rights. Early modern resistance theory, articulated in radical works by Etienne de La Boétie and the pseudonymous “Brutus,” author of the Vindiciae, Contra Tyrannos, can also shed light on plays like Richard 2, Julius Caesar, and King Lear. The course typically sets eight or nine works by Shakespeare in dialogue with a selection of political writings from the classical era and the Renaissance.


Seminar presentation 15 minutes (20%)
Response papers 3 x 300 words (15%)
Paper Abstract 300 words (due: March 5) (5%)
Research Paper 4,000 words (due: April 2) (45%)
Participation ongoing (15%)

EN 6714 3.0: Considering Black Canada


Leslie Sanders
Office: 225 Vanier College
Phone: ext. 66604
Wednesdays 4:00–7:00pm

Course Description

In Odysseys Home, George Elliott Clarke proffers a massive bibliography of black Canadian writing extending back to the eighteenth century, a testament to the long tenure of people of African descent in Canada, and a complex expressive tradition. Critical readings and theorizing of black Canadian writers regularly frame them as 'postcolonial' or 'Caribbean,' more recently as 'diasporic,' yet each frame has limitations, excluding some writers, neglecting national location, or segregating the writers within 'the' national imaginary.

This course focuses on contemporary writing in English, primarily on work that interrogates Canada as location, space and context for blackness. We will be concerned with a variety of literary conversations, both within and across a variety of boundaries and borders.


seminar presentations (20%)
brief response papers (20%)
one major paper, 3000 words/15 pages (40%)
informed participation (20%)

Sample Texts

  • Dionne Brand, Thirsty;
  • David Chariandy, Brother;
  • Wayde Compton, Performance Bond Austin Clarke, short stories;
  • George Elliott Clarke, Execution Poem;
  • Esi Edugyan, The Second Life of Samuel Tyne;
  • Sylvia D.Hamilton, And I Alone Escaped to Tell You;
  • M. NorbeSe Philip, Zong;
  • Mairuth Sarsfield, No Crystal Stair;
  • Lorena Gayle, Angelique;
  • Djanet Sears, Harlem Duet.

Articles will be available on Moodle

EN 6801 3.0: Studies in Canadian Literature: Critical Theory: The Politics of Space


Rob Zacharias
Office: 338 Stong College
Phone: ext. 30870

Course Description

In 1967, as Canada was proudly celebrating its centennial, Michel Foucault was in Paris predicting that if history had been the “great obsession of the nineteenth century,” the “present epoch will perhaps be above all the epoch of space.” Today, Foucault’s essay is widely acknowledged as anticipating the larger spatial turn, which has worked to denaturalize the complex social and cultural processes at play in the production of space itself—production exemplified in the centennial nation-building celebrations that helped to cement the establishment of Canadian literary as a field of study.

This course has two overlapping aims. First, we will explore the spatiality of Canadian literary criticism in English, seeking to historicize the recent proliferation of self-consciously spatial critical frames in the transnational turn—including diaspora and hemispheric studies—as part of the longer “topocentric” history of Canadian criticism as it has developed since the 19th century. Second, we will examine the critical field’s long “spatial history” through the theoretical lens of the spatial turn, considering key essays and debates in the Canadian critical tradition alongside foundational works in the study of space, including works by Foucault, Soja, Appadurai, and others. Works of short fiction and poetry will ground and test our discussions.

Directed Reading

(ONLY available for students registered in the Graduate Program in English)

Students have the option of taking a Directed Reading course with a faculty member provided something like it is not available in the current curriculum and provided it does not overlap significantly with a course taken previously.  Students are normally allowed one reading course during their entire graduate tenure at York.

*   Cross-listed course.  Courses that are cross-listed will reserve a certain number of seats for students in each of the cross-listed disciplines.
** Taught at the Glendon Campus
This is the core course for the Diploma in World Literature