Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG140Y1Y L0101

ENG140Y1Y    L0101    LEC F2-4;   TUT F12  or F1
(Please note: on ROSI, students must sign up for a tutorial on Fridays at 12 or 1 PM )
Literature for Our Time
Instructor: Prof. Denise Cruz

Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, Room 712

Brief Description of Course:
Just walk the streets of Toronto, and it is clear that we live, study, and work in a global city. It is easy to forget that the place we encounter every day is the result of centuries of transnational and global history. With our location in Toronto—and its connections to this history—as our inspiration, this course explores how authors have used literature to respond to, imagine, and make sense of a global and transnational world. As we read a novels, poetry, and drama, we’ll travel to and from a wide variety of places. Some will be close to home and set during our time, like a university classroom, a suburban home in Scarborough, Pearson International during the middle of the week, or the shores of Lake Ontario. Others will be far away: an English country house, a nightclub in the Dominican Republic, a small college town somewhere in the United States, the bustling streets of Calcutta. We’ll see the past and future, from our province when aboriginal peoples and colonials in the nineteenth century, to a haunted house in Ohio during the 1870s, to a post-apocalyptic Baltimore sometime in twenty-first century. We’ll think about events on small and large scales: a global health care crisis; migrating to new places; a mother struggling with dementia; slavery and colonialism; environmental disasters and food shortages; and the relationship between science and art. We’ll meet time travelers and ghosts, college first-years and mathematicians, opera singers and poets, struggling parents and searching teenagers. How does literature examine a transnational and global past, present, and future? What is literature’s unique place in this world? What does literature teach us about our connections to the past, and how we might connect with each other in the present?

Required Reading: Allen Ginsberg, “Supermarket in California” (1955); Don DeLillo, White Noise (1985); Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987); Tom Stoppard, Arcadia (1993); Tony Kushner, Angels in America (1993); Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies (1999), Karen Solie, Modern and Normal (2005); Junot Diaz, A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007); David Chariandy, Soucouyant (2008); Keith Barker, Chris Hanratty, Shira Leuchter and Jordi Mand, The Speedy (2014); Sachiko Murakami, Get Me Out of Here (2015); and Chang-Rae Lee, On Such a Full Sea (2013).

First Three Authors/Texts: Allen Ginsberg, “Supermarket in California” (1955)/Don DeLillo, White Noise (1985); Tom Stoppard, Arcadia; Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987).

Method of Evaluation: In-class writing (5%); three 1000-1200 word essays (45%); tutorial work (15%); three-hour exam (35%).

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