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Fall 2018

EN 6157 3.0: Comparative and World Literature


Marie-Christine Leps
Office: 332 Calumet
Phone: (416) 736-2100 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);
  • Class presentation (15 minutes, 10%); essay based on the presentation (20%) (2300 words/7 pages);
  • Final research paper (45%) (3500 words);
  • 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 6548 3.0: Theorizing Sonic Communities


Marcus Boon
Office: 347D Stong
Phone: (416) 736-2100 ext. 40675
Fall 2018, Mondays, 11:30am Room TBA

Course Description

In this course, we will examine contemporary sound cultures, and the ways in which they embody specific kinds of politics and aesthetics. We will do so by thinking about key texts in the field of sound studies along with relevant literary texts, recordings and films, and the way in which various kinds of collectivity emerge from an engagement with sound. Beyond this, we will explore vibration as a medium that encompasses sound, light, tactility and more, and the possibilities of a new field that we might cal "vibration studies". Topics to be addressed include: the Black radical tradition as a sonic praxis; music, sound and vibration and their relation to ontology; decolonial and queer approaches to sound studies; subculture, mass culture and counterculture in the digital era; soundscapes, ecopoetics and geographies of sound; sensing, the body and practices of sonic healing and repair

Readings may include selections from:

– Jacques Attali, Noise.
– Jayna Brown, "Buzz and Rumble: Global Pop Music and Utopian Impulse."
– Ashon Crawley, Blackpentecostal Breath.
– Drew Daniel, "All Sound is Queer."
– Nina Sun Eidsheim, Sensing Sound: Singing and Listening as Vibrational Practice.
– Malik Gaines, Black Performance on the Outskirts of the Left.
– Jack Halberstam, In a Queer Time and Place.
– Julian Henriques, Sonic Bodies.
– Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Mysticism of Sound and Music.
– Clarice Lispector, Agua Viva.
– Fred Moten, Black and Blur.
– Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music.
– Eleni Stecopoulos, Visceral Poetics.
– Michael Taussig, Shamanism, Colonialism and the Wild Man.
– Michelle Tea, Valencia.
– Nadya Tolokonnikova and Slavoj Zizek, Comradely Greetings: The Prison Letters of Nadya and Slavoj.
– Amos Tutuola, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.


  • 1 x 1000 word response paper (20%);
  • 3000 word term paper (50%);
  • 20 minute class presentation on course materials (20%);
  • participation (10%).

EN 6597 3.0: Simulating Translation


Arun Mukherjee
Office: 354 Stong
Phone: (416) 736-2100 ext. 33420
While Postcolonial literary texts have been studied from various perspectives—aesthetic, psychological, political—one area that remains underrepresented is their transmutation of Queen’s English into a language that is cross fertilized by the mother tongue of the writer. Indeed, as works like David Crystal’s English as a Global Language (2012) and World Englishes by Jennifer Jenkins (2009) have documented, the spread of English across the globe has also resulted in the inflecting of English with the “home” language of the place.

A large number of contemporary English writers, particularly those deemed “postcolonial,” and/or “diasporic,” grew up either with a mother tongue other than English or in an environment of fluid bilinguality, at times multilinguality. Their texts are not only liberally sprinkled with English vocabulary, but their grammar also reflects the playful sliding/gliding from one language to the other. While these experimentations have not found favour with many unilingual reviewers and critics, they also have passionate defenders.

One effect of the pervasive use of the “other” language in an English text is the transporting of the reader to an Igbo, or German, or Spanish, or, Hindi, or Malayalam language environment. It is a clever sleight of hand that produces an illusory effect of translation, in all the meanings of that word. In this course, we will study works of fiction, accompanied by the theoretical debates generated by their linguistic experiments, that utilize bilinguality in order to explore its function, both aesthetically and in terms of cultural politics.

Course Requirements are as follows:

  • one 20 minute seminar presentation, (20%);
  • presentation write up, (15%);
  • a 4000 word essay, (45%);
  • an 800 to 1000 word response to a ‘bilingual’ text that is not on the reading list; (10%);
  • 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.

Required Readings
Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun, Edwidge Denticat, The Farming of Bones, Anita Desai, Baumgartner’s Bombay, Juno Diaz, This is How You Lose her; Ramabai Espinet, The Swinging Bridge; Amitav Ghosh, Sea of Poppies, Basil Johnston, Indian School Days; Tomson Highway, The Rez Sisters.

EN 6610 3.0: Writing as Resistance/Writing as Resistant


Andy Weaver
Office: 333 Stong
Phone: (416) 736-2100 ext. 30864
Fall 2018, Thursdays, 11:30am Room TBA

Course Description

Probably the most interesting, controversial, and theoretically-astute English-language literary movement of the latter half of the Twentieth century, Language poetry (sometimes referred to as L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E writing) takes a relatively simple yet profoundly elusive premise as its fundamental starting point: for humans, language does not describe the world; instead, it constitutes it. Such a stance requires a radical approach to linguistic communication, and Language poets consistently offer radical investigations into, as well as radical praxis of, language use. The result is a group of literary texts that profoundly unsettles and reimagines what language is and, more importantly, how language (often insidiously) informs and shapes individuals and communities as well as their political worldviews.

This seminar course will focus on understanding how and why Language poetry emerged in the 1970s, and how it developed in the 1980s and 1990s. We will examine key Language works of poetry and poetics as documents that blur the boundaries between aesthetics, politics, and philosophy, and we will situate these works alongside relevant theoretical texts from linguistics, literary theory, and philosophy.

Required Course Texts
NOTE: in addition to the texts listed below, we will read a number of texts that can be downloaded or read for free from the internet. Students are expected to bring these texts to class on the appropriate day, so invest in either a good tablet or a dependable printer.

  • Silliman, Ron, ed. In the American Tree. 2nd ed. Orono: National Poetry Foundation, 2007. Print. [ISBN: 0943373514]
  • Andrews, Bruce. Designated Heartbeat. Cambridge: Salt, 2006. Print. [ISBN 9781844710683]
  • Bernstein, Charles. All the Whiskey in Heaven: Selected Poems. Cambridge: Salt, 2012. Print. [9781907773303]
  • Hejinian, Lyn. My Life and My Life in the Nineties. Middletown: Wesleyan, 2013. Print. [ISBN 9780819573513]

The final grade for the course will be based on the following items, weighted as indicated:

One essay of 3500-4000 words (distinct from the class presentation)


One 20-minute class presentation


Informed class participation


Essay: The essay must be 3500-4000 words in length (not including Works Cited), and it must follow the guidelines listed below. The essay is due on December __, 2018, but there is a soft/hard deadline policy (see “Late Penalty” below for more details).

Students must develop their own essay topics, as the instructor will not pass out a list of suggested topics. Students should discuss their topic idea with the instructor as early as reasonably possible, in order to ensure that the topic is appropriate. The essay must be distinct from the class presentation, but it is possible to include the text(s) you present on in your essay.

Guidelines for the essay

  • All essays must be submitted via e-mail (see “Essay Submission” below).
  • All essays must follow current MLA standards for formatting and citation. Students should consider purchasing a personal copy of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (8th ed); copies are also available at Scott Library.
  • Grammar, organization of ideas, and spelling count! Students are expected to be able to write grammatically correct sentences and to use paragraphing to organize their thoughts. Major grammatical, spelling, or organizational errors will result in lower grades, up to and including failure of the assignment.

Grading, Assignment Submission, Lateness Penalties, and Missed Tests
Grading: The regulations of the Faculty of Graduate Studies designate that course work be graded as follows:

  • A+ Exceptional. Excellence in writing, research, and reading combined with originality. Publishable.
  • A Excellent. Work that shows a superior command of the subject, clearly written, competently researched.
  • A- High. Work that shows a superior command of the material but with flaws in research and/or presentation.
  • B+ Highly satisfactory. Work that shows a sound command of research, writing, and reading skills but that may be flawed in some visible and correctable way.
  • B Satisfactory. Work that meets minimum expectations of a graduate student in research, writing, and reading skills.
  • C Conditional. Unsatisfactory work; flawed in methodology or critical assumptions; incoherently organized, poorly written, or superficially researched.
  • F Failure.

Essay Submission: Submit the essay electronically as a .doc attachment by 11:59 pm on the due date. The office staff in Stong 215 or Stong 208 cannot accept, date stamp, handle, or return essays or other assignments. Essays must not be faxed to either the Graduate or Undergraduate English Department fax numbers. To avoid problems due to emails that might go missing, students must CC themselves on the essay–assignment email; that way, if the original email goes missing, the student can forward the CCed email (which should include the date and time of the original email) to the instructor. The instructor will reply to every essay–submission email within 24hrs; do not assume your essay has been received until you have received e–mail confirmation. If, after 24hrs, you have not received an e–mail from the instructor confirming receipt of the essay, forward the CCed email to the instructor. In the subject line of your email, please put “(Your full name)’s 6600 essay.”

How to submit your assignment:

  • In the subject line of the email, put your full name, followed by the course number and assignment (i.e., John Smith, EN 6610 Essay).
  • Send only one attached file; do not break up your assignment into two or more files (your Works Cited, for example, must be in the same file as your assignment).
  • Make sure that you CC yourself on the email; that way if there is an e-mail mishap and I don’t receive your email, you can forward me your CCed email, which will show the time and date of the original submission.
  • Remember to attach your assignment as a Word document (a .doc or .docx file).
  • I will respond to every essay submission email within 24 hours, thus ensuring you that I have received your email and that I can open your assignment attachment; if you do not receive a response from me within 24hrs of sending your email, then forward me your CCed email, which should have a time and date stamp in the body of the email.

Late Policy: Essays received by the due date (the “soft” deadline of December __, 2018) will receive the instructor’s fullest comments and notes. Essays received later than the soft deadline but before the “hard” deadline of December __, 2018, will receive only the briefest of written comments from the instructor; also, the instructor will not discuss specifics of the essay in person, in office hours, or over e-mail. In other words, if you want the instructor's comments and corrections on your essay, pass in your essay by the due date; if you pass in your essay within ten days of the due date, you will not lose marks, but your essay will receive only the most basic comments or corrections. Essays will not be accepted after the hard deadline of December __, 2018; instead, a grade of 0% will be assigned automatically. Exceptions to the late policy for valid reasons such as illness, compassionate grounds, etc., may be entertained by the Course Instructor, but students must provide supporting documentation (e.g., a doctor’s letter).

Extensions: The deadline for the essay has been set as reasonably late as possible and the late policy allows for a grace period of ten days. This means that extensions will not be granted, with the possible exception for extraordinary circumstances (e.g. serious illness, compassionate grounds, etc.). Please do not ask for extensions because you are busy; every student in the course is busy, and so it would be unfair for me to grant an extension for such a reason. Due to the nature of the course, extensions for presentations cannot be granted under any circumstance (see “Missed Presentations”).

Presentation requirements: We will treat the seminar presentations in the course as though they were conference papers. That means that each presentation must be preceded by a 300-500 word presentation proposal, in which the presenter outlines the issues that she will argue in her presentation as well as briefly summarize the critical apparatus she will use in her presentation (what critics and/or critical stance will the presentation use and why). This proposal must be handed out as a hard copy to everyone in the course two weeks before the presentation; the instructor will provide written comments on the proposal to the student the following week. Students will not be graded on the proposal.

As for the presentation itself, the presenter should read a focused, argumentative, well-researched paper on a specific aspect of the poetry and/or poetics of the poet assigned for that week. Do not provide an overview of the readings; instead, focus on a specific aspect of the week’s readings and offer an in-depth analysis and argument about that aspect. You may focus your argument around any aspect of the week’s readings that you find interesting, so long as it focuses on arguing a point about one or more of the techniques, ideas, strengths, and/or shortcomings, etc., you find in the readings. You are not required to use the secondary materials for the week in your presentation, though you certainly may do so; you are required to research and include relevant critical and/or theoretical readings in your presentation.

Like at most conferences, the presentation must be twenty minutes long, which means that you should read a roughly ten-page paper (double spaced). Also like at most conferences, the audience will be very annoyed if the presentation is noticeably longer (or shorter) than twenty minutes, so do practice reading through your paper beforehand and take note of how long it takes to read your paper. Presentations more than a minute or two longer or shorter than twenty minutes will be docked marks.

Students must also bring a second, identical copy of their presentation paper, which they will give to the instructor, to class on the day of the presentation. The instructor will grade the presentation within a reasonable time period. For students presenting earlier in the course, this may mean waiting two or three weeks, while the instructor establishes a reasonable base line for the presentations. Note that the hard copy of the presentation is only to help the instructor remember the finer points of your argument; grades will not be lost for poor formatting, spelling, etc. However, while the paper is not being graded as a formal essay, you should write your presentation so that listeners can identify basic citations for all quotations and borrowed material.

The presenter is also expected to lead the class in discussion after the presentations; this means that presenters should prepare several focused questions to pose to the class after their presentation. These questions may be related to the ideas and issues dealt with in the presentation, or they may be about different matters in the poet’s work. The presenter should also have a list of more general discussion points, designed to prompt class discussion, that the presenter can use should discussion start to flag. How the presenter handles class discussion after the presentation will also be evaluated as part of the overall presentation grade.

Missed Presentations: Due to the structure of the course, only students with a valid reason (significant health problems, personal emergency, etc.) that can be reasonably documented will be allowed to reschedule a missed presentation. Students who miss a presentation without such a valid reason will be given an automatic grade of F for the presentation.

Additional Information
Withdrawal from Graduate Courses: November 11th is the last day to drop a Fall Term course (please talk to Kathy in the GPE office to ensure you drop courses correctly); after this date students wishing to drop a Winter Term course must complete a course transaction form and submit it to their Graduate Program for approval.

Participation Grade: According to York University policy, students cannot be required to attend class. However, they are responsible for all course content and requirements that they miss during absence(s). Participation grades are perfectly legal, and instructors are not obliged to provide “catch-up” materials/assignments/deferments, etc., unless the student has made arrangements in advance of the absence, or if the student provides credible (and legible) documented medical evidence of illness.

Students should also realize that attendance includes completing the preparatory work required to participate in each class. In other words, all readings must be completed before the relevant class, and attention should be focused on all class discussions. The student’s participation grade will be determined according to how s/he performs in all of these aspects (so this mark is not simply a register of how many questions you answer or ask in class).

Students must take an active role in their education in this course; this means that they should contribute towards a positive academic atmosphere that is attentive to everybody’s learning needs and that they should treat each other with respect and courtesy. A classroom should be a place to learn and to debate, which means listening is as important as speaking. Furthermore, throughout this course we may be dealing with topics on which students may hold deep personal beliefs or opinions; all students must treat fellow students and their opinions with respect. This does not mean we must all agree (in fact, lively discussion and debate are greatly encouraged); it simply means that students should show respect and tact to each other when these differences of opinion arise. Students should maintain an open mind towards both their own views as well as the views of others in the classroom. At no point will sexist, racist, or homophobic language or ideas be tolerated. Please act appropriately.

Weekly questions/comments requirement: As part of the participation grade, students must bring to class each week two written critical questions and/or comments on that week’s assigned readings. Every student will read out and then hand in to the instructor her questions/comments each week, and working through these questions will help form the basis of our weekly group discussions.

Email policy: Students should expect a reply within 72 hrs to an e-mail sent to the instructor during the week; responses will occasionally arrive much quicker than that, but at no time should you expect a response to take less 72 hrs. The instructor may not check email on weekends; this means that a response to an email sent on a Thursday afternoon or Friday should not be expected until the following Monday.

Students should also be aware that email correspondence in this course should not take the place of meeting with the instructor during office hours; students who have questions about readings, in-class discussion, or other non-urgent matters should discuss these matters with the instructor during office hours or, if the questions are easily answered, directly after class. Emails to the instructor should be in regards to matters that cannot wait until office hours, to notify the instructor about taking the essay extension, or to inform the instructor of illness or other happenings that will keep a student out of class.

Students with special needs: Students with special needs should familiarize themselves with York University’s Policy on Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities.

Important Course Information for Students
Students must familiarize themselves with the current “Graduate Programme in English Programme Handbook,” particularly the sections “Academic Dishonesty” and “Graduate English Courses.” If you do not have a copy of the current “Graduate Programme in English Programme Handbook," copies are available in the Graduate English Office.

Class Schedule


Primary texts

  • Gertrude Stein, from Stanzas in Meditation: 1, 2, 5, 13, 14, 15, 83 [These can be found at by searching for “Gertrude Stein” and clicking on the “Poems, Articles, & More” tab]
  • John Ashbery, excerpts from The Tennis Court Oath [pdf from Andy]
  • Larry Eigner, Flat and Round [can be found at]

Secondary texts

  • Charles Bernstein, “Stein Professing/Professing Stein” [pdf]
  • Charles Bernstein, “The Expanded Field of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E” [pdf]
  • Steve McCaffery, “Writing as General Economy” [pdf]

Primary texts
In the American Tree:

  • Grenier, “a long walk,” “snow/blue/eyes,” “Warm,” “Crossing Ontario”
  • Watten, “Position” “Complete Thought”
  • Hejinian, “from Writing is an Aid to Memory,” “The Green,” “The erosion of rocks blooms. The world,” and “The tidal throughway from a distance”
  • Perelman, “An Autobiography,” “My One Voice,” “Oceanography”
  • Melnick, “from Pcoet,” “from Men in Aida: Book One”
  • Palmer, “Echo”

Secondary texts

  • Ron Silliman, “Introduction: Language, Realism, Poetry” [In The American Tree]
  • Edward Sapir, “The Status of Linguistics as a Science” [pdf]
  • Julian Obenauer, “The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis” [pdf]
  • NOTE: sign up for the course presentations will happen during this class.

Primary texts
In the American Tree:

  • Robinson, “On the Corner,” “Verdigris,” “Trial de Novo”
  • Silliman, “from Tjanting”
  • Armantrout, “Tone” “Single Most”
  • Harryman, “Property”
  • Benson, “Narcissus” “Blue Book 42”
  • Davidson, “Summer Letters” “The Article on Geneva” “Scales”
  • Mandel, “Realism”
  • Rodefer, “Pretext”

Secondary texts

  • Jean-François Lyotard, from The Inhuman: “Representation, Presentation, Unpresentable” and “After the Sublime, the State of Aesthetics” [pdf]
  • Jean-François Lyotard, “The General Line” [pdf]

Primary texts
In the American Tree:

  • Coolidge, “from The Maintains,” “from Polaroid”
  • Bernstein, “Part Quake” “The Klupzy Girl”
  • Weiner, “from Clairvoyant Journal”
  • Andrews, “Letters” “from Confidence Trick”
  • Ward, “Pronouncing”
  • Susan Howe, “from Pythagorean Silence”
  • Gottleib, “from Ninety-Six Tears”

Secondary texts

  • Jean-Luc Nancy, from On the Commerce of Thinking, pp16-30 [pdf]
  • Jean-Luc Nancy, “Eulogy for the Mêlée” [pdf]
  • Jean-Luc Nancy, “The Surprise of the Event” [pdf]

Presenters: ____________________ and _____________________

Primary texts
In the American Tree:

  • Darragh, “Raymond Chandler’s Sentences”
  • Beckett, “The Picture Window”
  • Fanny Howe, “Alsace-Lorraine”
  • Mayer, “from Studying Hunger
  • Sherry, “from In Case” “She’ll Be Comin’ Round”
  • Di Palma, “Geo,” “from Planh” “January Zero”
  • Greenwald, “from Word of Mouth”

Secondary texts

  • from L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Supplement Number One: Bruce Andrews, “Text and Context” and Charles Bernstein, “Stray Straws and Straw Men” [pdf]
  • Charles Bernstein, Writing and Method” [p555 in In the American Tree]
  • Lyn Hejinian, “Variations: A Return to Words” [p483 in In the American Tree]

Presenters: ____________________ and _____________________

Primary texts

Secondary texts

  • Ron Silliman, “The New Sentence” [pdf]
  • Ron Silliman, “Of Theory, To Practice” [pdf]
  • Ron Silliman, “Disappearance of the Word, Appearance of the World” [pdf]

Presenters: ____________________ and _____________________

Primary texts

  • Lyn Hejinian, “My Life in the Nineties” from My Life and My Life in the Nineties

Secondary texts

  • Lyn Hejinian, “The Rejection of Closure” [pdf]
  • Lyn Hejinian, “The Person and Description” [pdf]
  • Lyn Hejinian, “Comments for Manuel Brito” [pdf]

Presenters: ____________________ and _____________________

Primary texts

  • Bruce Andrews, from Designated Heartbeat: "I Knew the Signs by Their Tents,” “’Facts are Stupid things,’” “Somehow that’s just the Way it is…,” “Count,” “Spinto,” “Black,” “Please Please Did,” “M o b,” “Valentines,” “Reverb Sallies”

Secondary texts

  • Bruce Andrews, “Total Equals What: Poetics & Praxis” [pdf]
  • Bruce Andrews, “Poetry as Explanation, Poetry as Praxis” [pdf]

Note: November __ is the last day to drop a Fall 2018 course without receiving a grade; see

Presenters: ____________________ and _____________________

Primary texts

  • Charles Bernstein, from All the Whiskey in Heaven: “Dodgem,” “As If the Trees by Their Very Roots Had Hold of Us,” Palukaville,” “Ambient Detonation,” “Islets/Irritations,” “The Years as Swatches,” “Dysraphism,” “Autonomy is Jeopardy,” “The Kiwi Bird in the Kiwi Tree,” “Whose Language,” “Of Time and the Line,” “The Lives of the Toll Takers,” and “A Defense of Poetry”

Secondary texts

  • Charles Bernstein, “Comedy and the Poetics of Political Form” [pdf]
  • Charles Bernstein, “The Second War and Postmodern Memory” [pdf]
  • Charles Bernstein, “The State of the Art” [pdf]

Presenters: ____________________ and _____________________

Primary texts

  • Hannah Weiner, Little Books/Indians [at]

Secondary texts

  • Hannah Weiner, “Mostly About the Sentence” [pdf]
  • Hannah Weiner, “If Workshop” [pdf]
  • Hannah Weiner, “Letter to Charles Bernstein” [pdf]
  • Hannah Weiner and Charles Bernstein,” “Interview for LINEbreak” [pdf]

Presenters: ____________________ and _____________________

Primary texts

  • Susan Howe, “Frolic Architecture” [pdf]
  • Susan Howe, “Ruckenfigur” [pdf]

Secondary texts

  • Susan Howe, “There Are Not Leaves Enough to Crown to Cover to Crown to Cover” [pdf]
  • Susan Howe, “The Disappearance Approach” online at
  • Susan Howe, “Personal Narrative” [pdf]

EN 6980 3.0: Law, Literature, and Visual Culture


Vermonja Alston
Office: 349A Stong
Phone: (416) 736-2100 ext. 33848
Office Hours: Mondays 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm, Tuesdays 10 am to 11 am, and videoconferencing by appointment
Fall 2018 Tuesdays 11:30am–2:20pm Room TBA

Course Description

The 2018 iteration of this case studies approach to Law, Literature, and Visual Culture will take up international and transnational political crime fiction from serie and film noir as they engage with memory of, and amnesia regarding, histories of enslavement, colonialism, genocide, terrorism, crimes against humanity, and human rights violations. We will study crime fiction, serie noir, and film noir that have stretched the boundaries of both the American hard boil detective novel and the English mystery novel to engage the political and historical on an international scale. Many of these contemporary works refer directly to their literary forebears; others allude to those influences in more oblique intertextual nods. Consequently, we will think through the advantages and limitations of the popular genre as form. Additionally, we will question the gendered nature of the form.


  • One seminar presentation on an assigned reading or visual material with written memorandum of the presentation (25%);
  • One written research proposal and presentation of same (25%);
  • Final research essay (40%);
  • Informed Participation (10%).

Required Readings and Visual Arts
may include the following (subject to change depending on availability)

Abani, Chris. The Secret History of Las Vegas. New York: Penguin Books, 2014.
Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem, and Anna Waterhouse. Mycroft Holmes. London: Titan Books, 2015.
Barnaby, Jeff. Dir. Rhymes for Young Ghouls. 2013.
Camilleri, Andrea. The Potter’s Field. New York: Penguin Books, 2011.
Daeninckx, Didier. Murder in Memoriam. Brooklyn, NY: Melville International Crime, 1991.
Everett, Percival. The Water Cure. St. Paul, MN: Graywolf Press, 2007.
Lewis, Sarah, Guest Editor. “Vision & Justice.” Aperture 223 (2016).
Lovelace, Earl, and Robert Antoni, eds. Trinidad Noir: The Classics. Brooklyn, NY: Akashic Books, 2017.
Mukoma wa Ngugi. Nairobi Heat. Brooklyn, NY: Melville International Crime, 2011.
Obejas, Achy. Havana Noir. Brooklyn, NY: Akashic Books, 2007.
Padura Fuentes, Leonardo. Adiós Hemingway. New York: Canongate, 2005.
Rothberg, Michael. Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2009.
Turow, Scott. Testimony. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2017.
Vázquez Montalbán, Manuel. The Buenos Aires Quintet. Brooklyn, NY: Melville International Crime, 2003.

EN 6990 3.0: Suffrage and Sexuality on the Stage


Kym Bird
Office: 226 Vanier
Phone: (416) 736-2100 ext. 77085

Course Description

This course reads the texts and contexts of turn-of-the-twentieth-century women playwrights as they intersect with politics, suffrage, sexuality and the cultural legacies of colonialism and imperialism on stages in Canada, Britain, and the United States. It examines how the issues and activities associated with the theatre both challenged the normal expectations of female behaviour while reinforcing conventional attitudes to social class, gender, race, and empire. This iteration of the course examines suffrage and sexuality in the particular context of public sphere theory. It explores how the explosion of women’s theatre helped engender women’s access to the public sphere and how this access changed the theatre, women, and their roles in the social world.


Winter 2019

EN 5050 0.0: Bibliography and Scholarly Skills


Lesley Higgins
Office: 301D Stong
Phone: (416) 736-2100 ext. 22344

Course Description

The Bibliography and Scholarly Skills seminar is required of

  1. all entering M.A. candidates; and
  2. those new Ph.D. candidates who have not successfully completed such a graduate course or who have not had equivalent academic experience.

The course, which is graded pass/fail and is not for credit, will consist of eighteen hours of bibliographical instruction—a combination of lectures, discussion, and practical skills sessions. In addition to preparing for class, students will complete one major assignment (due in January 2018). The latter will complement the student’s literary and research interests.

The course, which is graded pass/fail and is not for credit, will consist of eighteen hours of bibliographical instruction—a combination of lectures, discussion, and practical skills sessions. In addition to preparing for class, students will complete one major assignment (due in March 2019). The latter will complement students’ literary and research interests.

Six three–hour sessions will be held in the fall term. Attendance is mandatory at all sessions. The schedule is as follows:

January 9 History of the book
January 16 History of the book (continued)
January 23 Book production, textual transmission, and their implications for readers
January 30 Editorial theories and practices
February 6 Documentary editing and editorial problems
February 13 Research skills and scholarly methods

All classes will be held on Wednesdays, 12:30 to 3:20 pm, Stong 118.

No textbooks are required. The instructor will provide numerous handouts, and students will be asked to download a Checklist of Checklists, to be used in the final class and for their final assignments. If you don’t already own the 8th ed. MLA style guide, purchase a copy.

For further information, contact Dr. Lesley Higgins <>.

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 cultures, genres, theories, and disciplines, this course tracks the dream of a golden age, which is at once a place and a time. Our project is to link classical poetry and contemporary psychoanalysis. 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 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. 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. 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)

Requirements: This class stresses interaction and engagement. Each student will give one presentation per term, 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 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 6425 3.0: Readings in Victorian Literature: Decadence


Lesley Higgins
Office: 301D Stong
Phone: (416) 736-2100 ext. 22344

Course Description

What makes a poem, a novel, or a play “decadent”? How was it that, in the later nineteenth century, “decadence” was both a compliment and a condemnation, a badge of honour and a bane? How could the same word imply both delight and dissolution? This course considers how decadence was variously defined and practiced—in creative and critical texts, in life—from the 1860s to the early 1900s in late Victorian Anglo-Irish literature.

Topics to be considered include: the reception, in England, of “dangerous” works by French authors such as Théophile Gautier and Charles Baudelaire; British critics’ feverish condemnation of “the fleshly school” of poets and painters; Walter Pater and the theorization of decadence; Wilde’s textual and personal performances of decadence; the work of Max Nordau and others to equate decadence with “degeneration.” In addition to studying works of poetry, prose fiction, drama, and non-fiction, we will be considering the proliferation of decadent culture across the arts: in painting, graphic art, interior design, and clothing. Parodies of decadence that very quickly emerged—in poetry, prose, drama, and cartoons—will also be studied.

The questions that will frame our work include: what are the requirements and expectations of art in Decadent practice and theory? How is Decadence to be understood in relation to Aestheticism and, later in the 19th century, Symbolism? How does Decadence craft a new model of the subject? How does gender become newly configured in Decadence, if at all? What are the possibilities for spirituality opened by Decadent culture? What questions posed by Decadent art and thought continue to trouble us today? Has the meaning of decadence evolved or devolved?

Reading List
Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du mal [Flowers of Evil] (Oxford World’s Classics); W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, Patience (Internet); Walter Pater, selections from The Renaissance (Oxford World Classics), and other essays (PDFs supplied by the instructor); Elaine Showalter, ed., Daughters of Decadence; Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest (Oxford); ); The Broadview Anthology of Victorian Poetry and Poetics, ed. Thomas Collins and Vivienne Rundle (Broadview). We will also be working with The Yellow Book, the major journal of decadence in the 1890s (

Students will give:

  • one substantial 15-minute presentation (20%);
  • two short (600-word) response papers (10% each);
  • a final research paper (15 pages; 4000 words max.) (50%);
  • informed class participation (10%).


Week 1 Introduction
Week 2 French and therefore “dangerous”: Charles Baudelaire, selections from Flowers of Evil (in translation), and Théophile Gautier, preface to Mademoiselle du Maupin
Week 3 Manifestos
Walter Pater, “Conclusion” to The Renaissance
Oscar Wilde, “The Critic as Artist”
Arthur Symons, Introduction to The Symbolist Movement in Literature (PDF)
Week 4 The “fleshly school” of poets (including Tennyson and Dante Gabriel Rossetti), painters (Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones), and their arch critic, Thomas Maitland [pseud. for Robert Buchanan], “The Fleshly School of Poetry”
Week 5 Walter Pater, “Poems by William Morris,” other selections from The Renaissance (Preface, “Leonardo da Vinci”), a chapter from Gaston de Latour (PDF), and short fiction “Denys l’Auxerrois” and “Apollo in Picardy” (PDFs)
Week 6 Selected poems by A. C. Swinburne, Ernest Dowson, Michael Field, Arthur Symons, Oscar Wilde
Week 7 Gender and Sexualities 1
Selections from Daughters of Decadence
The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1885
Week 8 Gender and Sexualities 2
Selections from Daughters of Decadence
Oscar Wilde, Salomé (PDF) and Aubrey Beardsley’s illustrations for Salomé
Week 9 Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Week 10 Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest
Week 11 Disseminating Decadence
The Yellow Book (online), The Century Guild Hobby Horse
Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley
Week 12 Satirizing decadence
Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience (PDF)
Selected cartoons from Punch; Lionel Johnson, “A Decadent’s Lyric”; Max Beerbohm, selected sketches

EN 6542 3.0: Staging South African Drama


Marcia Blumberg
Office: 344 Stong College
Phone: (416) 736-2100 ext. 33847

Course Description

This course addresses new directions in the politics of Post-Apartheid South Africa (after 1994) and its relation to theatre and performance. It situates theatre texts historically, aesthetically, theoretically, and politically, analyzes them as vehicles for social and political intervention, and explores representations of race, class, gender, identity issues, and networks of power in the plays. It examines a diverse range of theatrical performance including naturalistic plays, multi-media performances including puppets, syncretic modes of performance involving cultural fusion, educational and activist initiatives, and solo shows.

In tracing the new political directions that the country is traversing as represented in theatrical work, the model of protest theatre has yielded to more complex social analyses and more varied theatrical forms. Particular social problems that were elided in the theatrical confrontations with apartheid, now garner attention and have inspired very powerful theatrical productions. Playwrights and theatre practitioners are liberated to explore a range of what would previously have been unspeakable issues and to become active agents to provoke and facilitate change. The course explores how South African theatre is accomplishing very important political work by challenging a conspiracy of silence and exposing a culture of violence and trauma. Since the creation of a new democracy in 1994 much theatre at first focused on reconciliation but now the problematic developments in South Africa in its transitional state raise important issues about the status of theatre and performance as transformative genres. Theatre has a vital role to play; in South Africa it has an ethical responsibility to examine a fraught world involving complex scenarios at a volatile political time.


  • Seminar Presentation (15 minutes) (10%);
  • Written version of seminar presentation within 2 weeks (10%) (1250 words);
  • Best 3 response papers from a minimum of 6 plays, no more than three pages each (30%) (3x750 words);
  • A final essay-about 10 pages (40%) (2500 words);
  • Informed and regular participation (10%).

Reading List
Plays and other recommended texts as reference material will be put on reserve for this course.


  • Baxter Theatre Centre (producer), collaborative production, The Fall. (2017)
  • Coppen, Neil. Abnormal Loads. (2011)
  • Davids, Nadia. at her feet. (2006)
  • Farber, Yael. Woman in Waiting (1999)
  • ---. Mies Julie: Restitution of Land and Soil (2012)
  • Fleischman, Mark, Jennie Reznek, and Faniswa Yisa (Magnet Theatre) Every Year, Every Day, I am Walking. (2006)
  • Foot, Lara. Tshepang. (2005)
  • ---. Solomon and Marion. (2013)
  • Fugard, Athol. The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek. (2015)
  • Higginson, Craig. Dream of the Dog. (2010)
  • Kentridge, William and Handspring Puppet Company. Woyzeck on the Highveld. (2002, 2008)
  • Spagnoletti, Nicholas. London Road. (2006)
  • Uys, Pieter Dirk. Auditioning Angels. (2003) (.pdf)
  • Van Graan, Mike. Green Man Flashing (2004)
  • ---. Another One’s Bread (2017)

I have access to a substantial collection of DVDs and videos from South Africa - whether interviews, excerpts of plays or full-length productions. I will include selections from these whenever possible.

Historical and Cultural Texts on reserve:

  • Deegan, Heather. Politics South Africa. (Pearson Publishing). 2011
  • Shepherd, Nick & Steven Robins. New South African Keywords. Ohio: Jicana Press, 2008.

Each week we will study one or two short plays as well as a reading which I will list or supply.

EN 6564 3.0: Redressing the Canon: Shakespeare & Contemporary Drama


Elizabeth Pentland
Office: 208D Stong
Phone: (416) 736-2100 ext. 77463

Course Description

In this seminar we will explore the complexities of Shakespearean adaptation by setting three of his best known plays—Hamlet, Othello, and The Tempest—in dialogue with contemporary stage adaptations that engage the originals from a variety of critical perspectives. Special attention will be paid to the cultural politics of producing Shakespeare in the twentieth and twenty–first centuries with respect to questions of race, class, gender and sexuality, colonialism, and language. As part of our work for this course, we will also consider some well-known international film adaptations from Grigori Kozintsev’s Hamlet (1965) to Vishal Bharadwaj’s Omkara (2006). How are Shakespeare’s plays or even what some critics have called “the Shakespeare effect” problematic for contemporary playwrights and film makers, and to what extent has “Shakespeare,” in the age of globalization, provided a common language or meeting ground for larger cultural or political conversations?


  • one seminar presentation (25%);
  • one film review (10%);
  • one 4000-word essay (50%);
  • class participation (15%).

Tentative Reading List
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Othello, The Tempest

Tom Stoppard, Dogg’s Hamlet / Cahoot’s Macbeth
Heiner Müller, Hamletmachine
Charlotte Jones, Humble Boy

Paula Vogel, Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief
Djanet Sears, Harlem Duet
Toni Morrison, Desdemona

Aimé Césaire, A Tempest
Philip Osment, This Island’s Mine
Dev Virahsawmy, Toufann

Selected critical works

EN 6750 3.0: The Canadian Short Story


Lily Cho
Office: 353 Stong
Phone: (416) 736-2100 ext. 22144

Course Description

Responding to the debates on the definition of a short story, both A.L. Kennedy and Edna O’Brien have suggested that the short story is like a bullet. Kennedy argues that a short story is “small in the way that a bullet is small.” This course will take up the provocation from Kennedy and O’Brien in order to respond a series of questions. If the short story is like a bullet, what is the gun? Who is holding the gun? What constitutes the trigger? Are bullets ever benign or do they always hold within them the promise of violence? What is the target? In considering these questions, this seminar is premised on a wager: as a bullet, the short story problematizes the relationship between literature and the nation. In taking up this wager, we will theorize short story form and engage with the ways Canadian short stories illuminate the dis-ease of national culture.

EN 6616 3.0: Black Song: Introduction to African American Poetry


Leslie Sanders
Office: 225 Vanier
Phone: (416) 736-2100 ext. 66604
Winter 2019, Wednesdays, 4:00pm Room TBA

Course Description

The current popularity of African American fiction notwithstanding, from its earliest publication, it is African American poetry that has most deeply engaged questions of identity, language, representation, struggle and revolutionary change. For example, it was the poetry of the Harlem Renaissance that most profoundly marked African American’s engagement with American modernism, and the poetry of the Black Arts Movement of the Sixties that had the most transformative impact on how African Americans have come to articulate their experience. In profound conversation with various contemporaneous poetic forms, African American poets primarily sought ways of representing African American voice, both verbal and musical. This course will focus on the work of Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Amiri Baraka, Kevin Young and Natasha Trethewey, and include representative work by poets ranging from Phillis Wheatley in the 18th century to Robert Hayden, Gill Scott Heron, Audrey Lorde, and Yusef Komunyakaa, Students will be expected to read widely and listen to a range of African American music, principally spirituals and gospel, certain periods of jazz and blues, and R&B.


  • one 20-minute oral seminar presentation (followed by written version, maximum 8 pages), (20%);
  • one final essay, 20 pages maximum, (50%);
  • informed participation (mandatory) in seminar discussion (10%), including brief presentations or articles or poems (20%).

Required Texts
There is single no satisfactory anthology of African American Poetry in print. There are, however, many used copies of the following texts available. I suggest ordering them used through Amazon.
I will order at the bookstore:

  • The Black Poets, ed. Dudley Randall. Bantam 0553275631
  • Kevin Young, Brown Knopf (hopefully in paperback by next spring)
  • Nikki Wallschlaeger, Crawlspace Bloof Books 0996586857
  • Cornelius Eady, Brutal Imagination GP Putnam 0399147209

The others you should acquire from other sources.

  • The Complete Poems of Langston Hughes. Vintage, 1995. ISBN 0679764089
  • Gwendolyn Brooks, Blacks. Third World Press, 1987 ISBN: 0883781050
  • Transbluesency: The Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka/Leroi Jones (1961-1995) Marsilio Publishers, 1995 ISBN 1568860145

We will also be using several databases: African American Poetry, Twentieth Century African American Poetry, Black Women Writers, Black Thought and Culture. 20th Century African American Poetry does contain all of Hughes, and some of the other poetry. You may, however, find books easier to use, especially in class. Other readings on Moodle.

EN 6997 3.0: Studies in Contemporary Theory: Practice/Praxis


Marcus Boon
Office: 347D Stong
Phone: (416) 736-2100 ext. 40675
Winter 2019, Mondays, 11:30am Room: TBA

Course Description

In the early twenty–first century, no single word crops up in so many contexts—from art to science to theory to politics to everyday life – as “practice.” A central term in the social sciences, “practice” is often taken for granted and only occasionally explicitly theorized. In this class, we will read a series of classical and contemporary accounts of practice/praxis, from Aristotle, through Kant and Marx, to Certeau, Stengers and Sloterdijk. We will explore issues of scholarship and study as praxis through Fred Moten and Stefano Harney's recent book The Undercommons, the dilemmas of indigeneity as practice through Yanomami activist Davi Kopenawa's remarkable autobiography, The Falling Sky, and Maggie Nelson's autotheoretical meditation, The Argonauts. We will explore the tensions between individualized "practice" and collective "praxis" that shape contemporary political debates. We will consider aesthetic and religious framings of practice: particularly insofar as they expose us to "nothing", "the nonhuman", and the dynamics of breakage and repair. Finally, we will ask what it means to think about literature as a practice.

Readings may include selections from:

– Kathy Acker, Pussy: King of the Pirates.
– Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics.
– Marcus Boon and Gabriel Levine, eds., Practice.
– Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life.
– Marisol de la Cadena, Earth Beings: Ecologies of Practice Across Andean Worlds.
– Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, The Undercommons.
– Saidiya Hartman, Scenes of Subjection.
– Davi Kopenawa, The Falling Sky.
– Herman Melville, "Bartleby, the Scrivener."
– Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts.
– Mohsin Hamid, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia.
– Paul B. Preciado, Testo Junkie.
– Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, "Pedagogy: Buddhism"
– Peter Sloterdijk, You Must Change Your Life.
– Isabelle Stengers, “Introductory Notes on an Ecology of Practices.”
– Chogyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism.


1000 word response paper


3000 word term paper


20 minute class presentation on course materials, with a 500 word reflection on the presentation to be handed in the week after





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.  Please access the required course registration paperwork.

*   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