Department of English

University of Toronto

5000 Series Course Descriptions

ENG5020HF
#BlackLivesMatter: Contemporary Black Canadian Literature
K. Vernon
   

Course Description: 
In this course we focus on contemporary black Canadian literature in order to illuminate the current context of black life and political  struggle in Canada. We will read a selection of generically-diverse work by contemporary black Canadian writers, including short stories, poetry, drama, fantasy, historical fiction, and cultural criticism that brings forward a range of histories and contexts that are all too often left out of media representations of black Canadian life. Writing by contemporary authors reveals how histories of slavery, dispossession, erasure and rebellion continue to be alive and part of the present, structuring our social relations still. This work opens up a broad field of inquiry. We will turn our attention to such questions as: how are writers reimagining the place of blackness within and without Canada? How are black writers transforming the meanings of blackness by reframing dominant imaginings of black history, intellectual life and sexuality? What role does art play in black political movements? What political alliances can we form with Indigenous nations in the collective struggle to decolonize? Finally, and most importantly, how do contemporary black Canadian writers imagine worlds that broaden the horizon of black freedom?

Course Reading List:
Primary Texts (subject to change):
Robyn Maynard, Policing Black Lives (2018) Lorena Gale, Angelique (1998) Cheryl Foggo, Pourin’ Down Rain (30th Anniversary edition 2020) Dionne Brand, Land to Light On (1997) David Chariandy, Brother (2017) Wayde Compton, The Outer Harbour (2015) Suzette Mayr, Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall (2017)
Critical Material (subject to change):
Frontiers: Selected Essays and Writings on Racism and Culture 1984-1992. NourbeSe Philip (1992)
A Map to the Door of No Return. Dionne Brand (2001) Black Like Who? Rinaldo Walcott (1997) Odysseys Home: Mapping African-Canadian Literature. George Elliott Clarke (2002)
Black Geographies and the Politics of Place. Katherine McKittrick (Editor), Clyde Woods (2007) After Canaan: Essays on Race, Writing and Region. Wayde Compton (2010)

Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:

  1. Talking Circle Participation (10%) Class discussions in small groups will allow students to work through some of the challenging issues raised by the literature. Grade on this assignment is by self-assessment, done in the 12th week of class. See below for more information about the talking circles.
  2. Where Are You? Land Acknowledgement Assignment (15%) (With thanks to Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm for this assignment idea) In this assignment you will research the history of Indigenous presence in a location of your choice on Turtle Island. You will use your research to write your own land acknowledgements. (3-4 pages). Alternatively, you might choose a visual or oral form for your land acknowledgement. See, for instance, Noor Khan's East: A Relationship .
  3. In-Class Writing (10%) 10 in-class writing exercises (1% ea.) submitted on Quercus. Prompts will be given in class. Writing is one paragraph or so. These exercises will function as check-ins to see how you are doing with the material and to see if the class is working.
  4. Discomfort Journal (30%) Six journal entries (5%) each (3pp or so ea., 18 pp altogether) on an textual or social issue that is causing you intellectual, spiritual, cultural, political, or other kinds of discomfort. The purpose of these journals isn't necessarily to resolve any discomfort, but to put language to it and thus, to have a chance to reflect and learn from it. Rolling deadline: you can submit the journal once you have six strong entries.
  5. Talking Circle Workshop of Final Projects (week 12) (5% Pass/Fail)
  6. Final Project (30%) Substantial, conference-length (15pp) research paper.

Term: F-TERM (September 2020 to December 2020)
Date/Time: 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm, Fridays
Location: ONLINE DELIVERY
(SYNCHRONOUS), via teleconferencing.  Link to be sent to students directly by the instructor.

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ENG5021HS
Black Forms: Critical Race Theory and Diasporic Literature
A. Thomas

Course Description:
What can critical race theory tell us about literary form? How might practices of formal analysis contribute to an understanding of the study of difference? This course proposes an exploration of the relation between literary form and critical race theory. Using critical comparative approaches from a range of humanistic and theoretical fields, we will pay particular attention to experimentation and genre and consider, on the one hand, global discourses of race (particularly Blackness), and, on the other, 20th- and 21st-century Black and diasporic literature and theory whose experiments with form trouble, challenge, or construct notions of identity, group, relation, and race.

Course Reading List:
Readings may include: Charles Chesnutt, Conjure Stories; Jean Toomer, Cane; Claude McKay, Home to Harlem; Audre Lorde, Zami; Dionne Brand, Map to the Door of No Return; Zadie Smith, NW; Fred Moten, In the Break; Saidiya Hartman, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments; Achille Mbembe, Critique of Black Reason; Sylvia Wynter and Katherine McKittrick, On Being Human As Praxis; Colson Whitehead, Zone One; Toni Morrison, Paradise; Tiffany King, Black Shoals; Christina Sharpe, In The Wake; Denise Ferreira da Silva, Toward A Global Idea of Race.

Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
Participation: 20%; Abstract: 15%; Conference paper: 50%; Expansion Proposal: 15%.

Term: S-TERM (January 2021 to April 2021)
Time/Date: 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, Tuesdays
Location: ONLINE DELIVERY
(SYNCHRONOUS), via teleconferencing.  Link to be sent to students directly by the instructor. 

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ENG5056HS
Studies in the 21st-Century Novel: Zadie Smith and David Mitchell
T. Dancer

Course Description:
This course examines the state of the 21st-century novel through a comparison of the writing of Zadie Smith and David Mitchell. Both of these writers began publishing on or about the turn of the century and their works offer, on the surface, deeply contrasting views of the aesthetic capacities of the novel. Reading them together allows us to access larger questions about narrative form, the status of realism, and the sociocultural role of art and fiction. Methodologically, the course brings together two approaches not usually found in the study of contemporary fiction: first, the close, longitudinal study of an author’s work and second, a literary history of the 21st century through two writers whose careers are perfectly coincident with it.

Course Reading List:
Zadie Smith: White Teeth (2000), On Beauty (2005), NW (2012), Swing Time (2016), The Fraud (2019); David Mitchell: Ghostwritten (1999), Cloud Atlas (2004), Black Swan Green (2006), The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (2010), The Bone Clocks (2015), I Have the Room Above Her (2020); Secondary may include: Holmes, Martin, Levine, Schoene, Walkowitz, Shaviro, Singh, Marshall, McGurl, Huehls, Hayot, Barnard, Boxall, Bronstein, Wood, Barthes, James (David).

Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements
Oral participation in class discussion 20%; discussion leading 20%; informal writing assignments 30%; formal writing assignment 30%

Term: S-TERM (January 2021 to April 2021)
Time/Date: 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm, Thursdays
Location: ONLINE DELIVERY (SYNCHRONOUS),
via teleconferencing.  Link to be sent to students directly by the instructor. 

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ENG5281HF
Whitman and Nationalism 1855-1891/2
N. Dolan

Course Description:
As most scholars have noted, and as any new reader soon sees, Whitman’s poetry and prose is everywhere exuberantly nationalistic. And yet at the same time, readers and scholars also agree that Whitman’s writing is everywhere deeply marked by his experiences of perceived social exclusion as a homosexual, as a brother to the mentally ill, and as a member of the working class. His writing is thus sensitive and resistant to the pervasive tendency of human collectivities to organize themselves according to binary oppositions of “in-group” versus “out-group.” How then, it is fair to ask, was it possible for Whitman at once to draw upon the always-incipiently-binary rhetoric of nationalism and to undermine structural social exclusion? Our course will explore this central tension as expressed in Whitman’s poetry and prose across the full arc of his career, from 1855-1891/2. This exploration will include delving into both the theory and history of nationalism, especially the various currents of nationalistic discourse prominent in American public life in the 19th century. We will also be interested in comparative perspectives generated by consulting examples of “national” poetry from other countries. 

Course Reading List:
Each week we will pair a chronologically ordered selection of Whitman's major poetry—principally from the six editions and the 1891/2 "deathbed" reprint of Leaves of Grass—with a significant contemporaneous prose statement by Whitman about American nationhood, roughly as follows:

  1. from Leaves of Grass 1855 & Preface
  2. from Leaves of Grass 1856 & Letter to Emerson
  3. from Leaves of Grass 1860 -- "Chants Democratic" cluster in relation to "Children of Adam" and "Calamus" clusters
  4. Drum-Taps and Sequel (1865-6), & Whitman’s Civil War diaries, later published more fully in Memoranda During the War, and Specimen Days and Collect
  5. from Leaves of Grass (1867) & "Democracy" -- later published as the first part of Democratic Vistas
  6. from Leaves of Grass (1871); "A Passage to India" and Democratic Vistas
  7. from Leaves of Grass (1881) & from Collect and Notes Left Over
  8. from Leaves of Grass (1891/2) & from "A Backward Glance o'er Travell'd Roads" and "Good-Bye My Fancy" Students will also be asked to present from a list of works of theory and criticism.

Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements: 
20-25 pp. term paper (70%); One 15-20 minute course presentation on a work of theory or criticism or on a broader historical-contextual topic selected by the student from a list provided by instructor (15%); Class Participation (15%) 

Academic Rationale:
This course examines the work of Walt Whitman across a number of in-group/out-group oppositions, with particular focus on the author’s relationship to American public life during a period of national crisis.

Term: F-TERM (September 2020 to December 2020)
Time/Date: 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Tuesdays
Location:
 ONLINE DELIVERY (SYNCHRONOUS), via teleconferencing.  Link to be sent to students directly by the instructor.

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ENG5464HF
Archipelagic American Studies
M. Gniadek

Course Description:
This course will introduce students to the emerging field of “Archipelagic American Studies,” a field whose arrival was recently signaled by the publication of an edited collection by that name (Duke UP, 2017). Evolving out of transnational and global approaches to American literary studies, particularly oceanic and island studies, Archipelagic American Studies seeks to de-continentalize studies of the literature and culture of the United States by attending to the interconnectedness of the “insular” and to water/land relationships. It offers opportunities to focus on different configurations of spaces and texts, putting regions like the Caribbean and the Pacific in conversation with the U.S. in novel ways. In this course we will read a range of primary texts along with criticism that feeds into or demonstrates an archipelagic approach. Our primary texts will be mostly drawn from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, providing students with exposure to canonical and less canonical literature of the period, but the methodology we discuss will have clear implications for the study of other periods. More generally, we will consider the possibilities that this iteration of transnational American studies offers for thinking about geography, topography, imperialism, and global networks. We will also consider the potential limitations or blind spots of this approach.
 
Course Reading List: 
Primary texts considered may include works by William Bartram, Leonora Sansay, Emily Dickinson, Pauline Hopkins, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Harriet Prescott Spofford, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Constance Fenimore Woolson.
Critical readings will include essays and portions of recent monographs that engage the oceanic and archipelagic, including:
Archipelagic American Studies, Brian Russell Roberts and Michelle Ann Stephens, eds. (2017)
Monique Allewaert, Ariel’s Ecology (2013)
Elizabeth DeLoughrey, “Introduction: Of Oceans and Islands,” New Literatures Review (2011) (and/or other essays)
Michelle Currie Navakas, Liquid Landscapes: Geography and Settlement at the Edge of Early America (2018)
The May 2010 PMLA Theories and Methodologies forum on “Oceanic Studies”
Michelle Burnham, Transoceanic America: Risk, Writing, and Revolution in the Global Pacific (2019) 
 
Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
Short writing assignments – 20%
In-class presentation/starting class discussion – 10%
Annotated bibliography – 15%
Final essay – 40%
Participation – 15%

Term: F-TERM (September 2020 to December 2020)
Time/Date: 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Thursdays
Location:
ONLINE DELIVERY (SYNCHRONOUS) (CHANGE), via teleconferencing.  Link to be sent to students directly by the instructor.

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ENG5718HS
The Books of Coach House Press
N. Mount

Course Description:
Established in 1965, Coach House Press is the oldest small press in English Canada. It was the first English-language independent press to receive support from the Canada Council, in 1966. Two years later, Coach House became the in-house printer for Rochdale College, an experiment in higher education unlike anything Toronto had seen before. From the start, Coach House was a community as much as it was a printer or a publisher. Most attention to CHP has accordingly been on its activities as a printer and its involvement in foundational Toronto arts scenes: the books themselves often take a back seat to other stories. This seminar proposes to study a dozen Coach House books, from its first decade to the present, including fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Most are, by most definitions, experimental; some were popular; a couple were both. Besides acquainting us with some significant Canadian writers, the seminar will explore the press’s contribution to experimental, small-press writing in Canada. I have weighted the list towards recent years because I’d like to shift the story of Coach House away from its storied early years under founder Stan Bevington towards its reincarnation under Editorial Director Alana Wilcox, who will visit the class.

Course Reading List:
George Bowering, Baseball (1967),bpNichol, The Martyrology Books I & II (1972), Daniel Jones, The Brave Never Write Poetry (1985), Daphne Marlatt, Ana Historic (1988) (now from Anansi),Dionne Brand, No Language is Neutral (1990), Christian Bok, Eunoia (2001), Alana Wilcox, ed., The State of the Arts: Living with Culture in Toronto (2006), Tamara Faith Berger, Maidenhead (2012), André Alexis, Pastoral (2014), Damian Rogers, Dear Leader (2015), Naben Ruthnum, Curry: Eating, Reading, and Race (2017)

Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
Course marks will be determined by seminar participation (20%), including short written weekly responses (20%), and a 5,000-word research paper (60%).

Term: S-TERM (January 2021 to April 2021)
Time/Date: 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, Tuesdays
Location: ONLINE DELIVERY
(SYNCHRONOUS), via teleconferencing.  Link to be sent to students directly by the instructor.

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ENG5732HS
Visual Sovereignty and the Politics of Reconciliation: Inuit Oral, Visual, and Collaborative Narratives
S. Kamboureli

Course Description:
Employing (mostly) Inuit films (featured and documentary) and narratives (oral and written) as exemplars of Indigenous decolonizing methods and practices, this course will take a critical look at what has been dubbed the “age of apology” and “reconciliation” since the beginning of the new millennium. Reconciliation may be generally understood as a process that restores damaged relations but it has emerged as a discursive, ambiguous, and highly contested concept and practice. While Phil Fontaine, former Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said that reconciliation “signifies a new dawn in the relationship between [Indigenous peoples] and the rest of Canada,” many Indigenous activists, intellectuals, and artists view it as a top-down gesture, one that implies closure and conciliation, that is, as yet another instance of colonial subjection that diverts attention from land rights and aims to produce cooperative Indigenous subjects. This course will apply pressure on reconciliation as a contested discourse but also examine it as a site where Indigenous-settler relations are being re-imagined. With particular emphasis on visual sovereignty, land, and Indigenous-settler collaboration, we will address reconciliation as a discourse and practice where Indigenous epistemologies clash with, debunk, but also re-cast and re-deploy, Western modernity and aesthetic forms.

Course Reading List:
Film & Video: Isuma Productions:  The Journals of Knud Rasmussen and A Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk (featured films, to be viewed outside of regular class hours). One short documentary: Tasha Hubbard, Buffalo Calling. Kent Monkman: “Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience” (art catalogue statement/narrative) and three very short videos: Miss Chief’s Praying Hands, Another Feather in Her Bonnet, and Casualties of Modernity. Texts: Tanya Tagaq, Split Tooth; Mini Aodla Freeman, Life Among the Qallunaat; “The Money Stories” (short Inuit oral narratives), in Art and Cold Cash by Ruby Arngna'naaq, Jack Butler, Sheila Butler, Patrick Mahon, and William Noah.  Saqiyuq: Stories from the Lives of Three Inuit Women (selections), ed. Nancy Wachowich, in collaboration with Apphia Agalakti Awa, Rhoa Kaukjak Katsak, and Sandra Pikujak Katsak. Leanne Simpson, Lands of Decolonial Love. The Land We Are: Artists and  writers, Unsettle the Politics of Reconciliation (selections), ed.Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill and Sophie McCall. And a selection of critical articles and chapters by Glen Coulthard, Audra Simpson, Andrea Smith, Lee Maracle, Daniel Heath Justice, Deanna Reder, Keavy Martin, Michelle Raheja, and Peter Kulchyski.

Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
Attendance and participation: 20%; seminar report: 20%; weekly short responses: 20%;research paper: 40%.

Term: S-TERM (January 2021 to April 2021)
Time/Date: 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, Wednesdays
Location: ONLINE DELIVERY (SYNCHRONOUS),
via teleconferencing.  Link to be sent to students directly by the instructor. 

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JLE5220H(Cancelled)
Tricksters and Confidence men
N. ten Kortenaar

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