Department of English

University of Toronto

6000 Series Course Descriptions

ENG6011HS
Love and Desire in a Time of Crisis
D. Seitler

Course Description:
The place of queer and feminist theory in the critical humanities, where they each index the ethical urgency born of historically shifting structural inequalities, has always been an aesthetico-political one. Each, that is, has been concerned with key questions and debates over the relation between art and life, cultural forms and the organization of the social world. Following Neel Ahuja's proposal that U.S. queer theory, emerging, as it did, within an epidemic, has "always been a theory of extinctions" and Audre Lorde's understanding of late-capitalist culture as "a system that robs our work of its erotic value, its erotic power and life appeal and fulfillment," this course seeks to explore the role-at times disciplinary at others disobedient-that love and sex and desire plays in politics and fiction in moments of crisis. Focusing on American and Canadian fiction and poetry from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries, alongside contemporary queer and feminist theory, we will explore the ethical potential and the political pitfalls of deployments of sex, love, and desire in literature and culture. How, we will ask, can these practices, feelings, and psychic experiences be posited as an ethical horizon amidst the devastations, discriminations, and other slow violences of the contemporary world?

Course Reading List:
TBA

Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
Midterm 25% Final Paper 40% Presentation 15% Participation 20%  

Term: S-TERM (January 2021 to April 2021)
Date/Time: 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm, Tuesdays
Location: DUAL DELIVERY (SYNCHRONOUS)
, JHB 616 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)

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ENG6038HF
Authors and Their Institutions
H. Murray

Course Description:
This course focusses on the way that authors (even the most iconoclastic) and their works (even the most personal) are formed through institutions of authorship within which they are placed. We will examine a variety of authorial groups and institutions, from coterie circles of the Renaissance, to literary societies of the nineteenth century, to on-line writing communities of today. The course will pay especial attention to circles and associations of women and other cultural or “racialized” groups; to the impact of new information technologies; and to the history and practices of academic authorship. We will consider how common concepts of authorship, originality, intellectual property, and the author-reader-relationship are challenged when these contexts are considered. Sample cases will be drawn from a variety of time periods and national/minor literatures, and from situations where the limits of authorship (and the concepts of artistic originality and authenticity) are tested: literary collaborations, collectivities, forging, ghosting, hacking, impersonation, and automatic writing.

Course Reading List:
Readings will include essays by historians and critics such as Roland Barthes, Pierre Bourdieu, Roger Chartier, Robert Darnton, Carole Gerson, Michael Geist, Lisa Gitelman, Michael Denning, Michel Foucault, Bruno LaTour, Janice Radway, Michael Rose, Martha Woodmansee.

Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
Format: discussion with seminar presentations.
Assignments:
20% class participation and a work-in-progress presentation
30% for two seminar presentations [may need to be adjusted depending on class size], one of which will result in a short submitted paper
50% final research paper [including proposal stage]

Term: F-TERM (September 2020-December 2020)
Time/Date: 9:00 am to 11:00 am, Thursdays
Location: ONLINE DELIVERY
(SYNCHRONOUS), via teleconferencing.  Link to be sent to students directly by the instructor.

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ENG6054HF
Construals of the Self: Autobiography in Africa and the Diaspora
U. Esonwanne

Course Description:
“I and We/Either I am nobody or/I am a nation”: Walcott’ lines provide a synopsis of choices writers confront in the Diaspora; so, for writers in Africa, does the Basuto apothegm, ‘Mothoke motho ka batho ba bang’ (“a person is a person only through others”). Concerned with self– making, autobiography is the genre in which writers address this choice. Through autobiography, they attempt to construe a self—to analyze its structure, interpret its meaning, and translate it to the world. Yet autobiography seems ill-suited for construing a communal or national self because, generically, its purpose is to produce narratives of singular and exemplary lives. How do writers resolve this discordance? Does autobiography construct the self or recuperate it? What categories of selfhood have African/diasporic autobiography construed, and to what ends? Such are the questions this course will explore.

Course Reading List:
(Depending on availability, about nine of the following)
Atkinson, Ricky, Life Crimes and Hard Times, Baldwin, James, Giovanni's Room, Beck, Robert, Pimp, Coetzee, J.M. Boyhood: Scenes from a Provincial Life (1997), Douglass, Frederick, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave (1999), Equiano, Olaudah, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano (1789), Fuller, Alexandra, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight (2001), Gibson, Althea, I Always Wanted to Be Somebody (1958), Hurston, Zora Neale, Dust Tracks on a Road ([1984), Jacobs, Harriet A. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself (2000), Soyinka, Wole, Aké (1981), Woodfox, Albert. Solitary, X, Malcolm. The Autobiography of Malcolm X as Told to Alex Haley (1992)

Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
Seminar (30%); Mini–conference (20%); Research Essay (50%). 

Term: F-TERM (September 2020 to December 2020)
Time/Date: 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, Thursdays
Location: ONLINE DELIVERY (SYNCHRONOUS), 
CHANGE

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ENG6064HS
The Theory of the Novel
C. Schmitt

Course Description:
When, in 1914-15, Georg Lukács chose the title The Theory of the Novel for his influential work on the modern literary genre par excellence, he named a field of endeavour that has preoccupied literary theorists and critics from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present. Borrowing his title, this course sets out to engage with landmark contributions to the theory of the novel over the last century. In addition to Lukács’s Hegelian (and, later, Marxist) answers to the question of why novels exist and how they function, we will canvass Russian Formalist, structuralist, post-structuralist, psychoanalytic, and narratological approaches. We’ll also make certain to have two literary texts in common to enable deeply informed in-class discussion and analysis—one novel and one short story. (Is this last, the short story, cheating? Among the issues we’ll address is the extent to which the theory of the novel applies to all prose fiction.)

Course Reading List:
Novel theory by Viktor Shklovsky, Georg Lukács, Mikhail Bakhtin, Gérard Genette, Dorrit Cohn, Roland Barthes, Fredric Jameson, Barbara Johnson, Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, Nancy Armstrong, and others. In addition, one short story (possibly Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Purloined Letter” or D.H. Lawrence’s “The Odour of Chrysanthemums”) and one novel (most likely Olive Schreiner’s The Story of an African Farm).

Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
Informed participation (10%), two short interpretations (10% each x 2 = 20%), two short précis (10% each x 2 = 20%), take-home final exam (50%)

Term: S-TERM (January 2021 to April 2021)
Time/Date: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, Tuesdays
Location: ONLINE DELIVERY
(SYNCHRONOUS), via teleconferencing.  Link to be sent to students directly by the instructor. 

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ENG6171HS
Writing a Journal Article
T. Keymer

Note: This course is restricted to English PhD and PhDU students.

Course Description:
Writing publishable work: without doubt the single most important ability for success in the academy but rarely explicitly taught in graduate school. This course teaches it. Students will choose the best paper (or the paper they judge to have the most potential) from their first-term coursework. Via workshopping and in response to feedback from their peers and the instructor, they will take that paper through a series of expansions and revisions to produce, by term's end, a polished article ready for submission to a scholarly journal of the student's choice. Along the way students will locate fitting venues for their work; identify and emulate successful aspects of recently published articles they consider the best in their field; evaluate academic writing for its style as well as its argument (recognizing that, in the humanities at least, the two are inseparable); and develop habits that enable them regularly to write and revise. Above all, they will come to think of themselves as writers: people for whom writing is not a sporadic activity driven by deadlines but a quotidian part of who they are and what they do.

Course Reading List:
Our main guide throughout the term will be Eric Hayot's Elements of Academic Style, which we'll read cover to cover. We'll also scrutinize examples of powerful academic writing (including those "recently published articles they consider the best in their field" referred to above). And of course students will read and reread their own and each other's writing, the real centrepiece of the course.

Course Methods of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
A series of assignments including participation (10%), a writing accountability log (10%), a journals research assignment (20%), written comments on classmates' drafts (10%), and a final, polished article including abstract (50%).

Term: S-TERM (January 2021 to April 2021)
Date/Time: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, Wednesdays
Location: ONLINE DELIVERY
(SYNCHRONOUS), via teleconferencing.  Link to be sent to students directly by the instructor.

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ENG6182HF
Eating Well
S. Salih

Course Description:
In 2019, a report by Oxford University Researchers found that adopting a plant-based diet was the single most significant intervention consumers could make in the face of climate disaster. Others counter that ‘eating meat is one of the things that makes us human.’ Derrida says the moral question isn’t whether one eats or doesn’t eat this or that. Is it possible to eat well in the Anthropocene, an era in which ‘what it means to be human’ is invoked with increasing frequency? Are there ethical omnivores? What do these questions have to do with students of English Literature? During this course, we will study a range of thinkers who have engaged with the issue of eating, eating well, eating others, and (sometimes) ‘what it means to be human.’

In How to Live Together, Roland Barthes is concerned with the philosopher’s food; Friedrich Nietzsche and Jacques Derrida also reflect on this issue. Feminist theorists such as Carol Adams and Susan Fraiman regard not eating other species as an essential to feminist care ethics, while three fictions by J.M. Coetzee represent the problem of eating well, particularly during times of political crisis. Peter Singer and Michael Pollan offer contrasting views of the ethics of eating well and eating others. We won’t resolve these questions but we may at least, as Nietzsche says, gain some insight into ‘a question on which the “salvation of humanity” depends . . . the question of nutrition’ (Ecce Homo, ‘Why I am so clever’).

Course Reading List:
Carol Adams, The Sexual Politics of Meat, Roland Barthes: Mythologies (extracts), How to Live Together, The Empire of Signs (extracts), Walter Benjamin, ‘Food,’ J.M. Coetzee: Foe (optional), Disgrace, Life & Times of Michael K, The Lives of Animals, Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe, Jacques Derrida, ‘Eating Well’ (Points. Interviews 1974-1994), The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow), Josephine Donovan, Carol Adams (eds.), The Feminist Care Tradition in Animal Ethics, Susan Fraiman, ‘Pussy Panic vs. Liking Animals: Tracking Gender in Animal Studies’ Critical Inquiry (2012), Donna Haraway, When Species Meet, Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals, We Are the Weather, Peter Singer: Animal Liberation, The Life You Can Save, The Animal Studies Collective, Killing Animals (texts subject to change

Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
Participation, including one response to week’s readings: 10+10%
Abstract (500 words): 10%
Abstract workshop: 5%
Essay (4000 words): 40%
Conference presentation: 25%

Term: F-TERM (September 2020 to December 2020)
Time/Date: 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm, Mondays
Location: ONLINE DELIVERY
(SYNCHRONOUS), via teleconferencing.  Link to be sent to students directly by the instructor. 

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ENG6362HS
History and Structure of the English Language, Post 1500
C. Percy

Course Description:
This course surveys the linguistic and cultural history of the English language from the late fifteenth century until the present day. It reviews representative developments in vocabulary, spelling, grammar, pronunciation, and the codification of English in dictionaries and grammars. Themes for seminar discussion and research papers may include such topics as the processes and implications of language change; standardization and prescriptivism; the functions of English, French, and Latin in and beyond Britain; language contact, pidgins and creoles; colonization, empire, and global Englishes; the literary use of English (standard and non-standard varieties) by native and non-native speakers; the linguistic effects of printing, news media, the internet, and technology generally.

Research deploying large digital corpora is changing the stories and histories of English, and the course will allow students to experiment with social and cultural microhistories of words and linguistic forms with the aid of available corpora and of digital searching methods. It will engage with theories of language evolution, variation, and change. Students will be encouraged to consider how to bridge historical linguistics and literature and how to bring knowledge of the English language into their literary studies.

There is no prerequisite required for this course. 

Course Reading List:
Primary Texts: Literary and non-literary texts (TBA) will illustrate lectures and seminars.
Secondary Texts: For a basic outline, we'll read excerpts from such textbooks as David Crystal, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, 3rd ed. (Cambridge UP, 2019) and Joan C. Beal, English in Modern Times (2004; e-dition Routledge, 2014). For discussion, we'll engage with a gathering of shorter readings, most of them available through the University of Toronto Library online.

Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
This is an introductory course. The course requirements are: Short reports (best 3 of 6: 30%), a proposal with bibliography (10%), a presentation introducing your research paper (15%), a final research paper (35%), and participation (10%). Participation will include discussion and written feedback in class, and exercises and tasks online.

Term: S-TERM (January 2021 to April 2021)
Date/Time: 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm, Thursdays
Location: DUAL DELIVERY
(SYNCHRONOUS), JHB 616 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)

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ENG6498HS
Dystopian Fiction and Unsettled Space
S. Radovic

Course Description:
This course explores the topographies of contemporary dystopian fiction. Along with the subgenres such as the post-apocalyptic and “the new weird,” dystopian fiction offers alternative narratives of the existing social order, imagines the consequences of environmental degradation, revises the norms of individual and communal identity, and re-situates the categories of race and gender. Despite its profound investment in re-conceptualisations of time and history, dystopian fiction offers critically engaging and deliberately distorted visions of social space and narrative setting. In this course, our primary concern will be with spatial imagination in the context of this genre. Challenging readers’ expectations about the meaning of private property, domestic comfort, and grounded identity, the novels we are reading will propose a radically unsettled vision of present and future worlds.
 
Course Reading List:
Fiction: Octavia Butler Parable of the Talents; Jeff VanderMeer Veniss Underground; China Miéville Perdido Street Station; Margaret Atwood The Handmade’s Tale; J.G. Ballard The Drought; Kazuo Ishiguro Never Let Me Go; Ursula K. Le Guin The Dispossessed. Theoretical readings: Fredric Jameson Archeologies of the Future, Darko Suvin Metamorphoses of Science Fiction, Jean Baudrillard Simulacra and Simulation, Paul Virilio The Original Accident, Donna Haraway “A Cyborg Manifesto”; Michel Foucault “Of Other Spaces”; Gil Doron “Heterotopia and the ‘dead zone’”; Sigmund Freud “The Uncanny”; Mike Davis Ecology of Fear

Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
Participation (15%), Class facilitation (15%), Essay prospectus (20%), Final Essay (50%). 

Term: S-TERM (January 2021 to April 2021)
Date/Time: 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, Wednesdays
Location: DUAL DELIVERY
(SYNCHRONOUS), JHB 616 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street) 

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ENG6521HS (COURSE ADDED JULY 29)
Literature and Medicine: Corpus, Theory, Praxis
A. Charise

Course Description:  
This seminar is a critical introduction to the interdisciplinary field of literature and medicine: its key texts, current theoretical frameworks, and contemporary scenes of practice. We will consider the basics of illness narratives (including thematics like pain, ethics, and the medical encounter), alongside distinctive formal conventions and genres (like memoir, clinical writing, lyric, speculative fiction). We will also consider the implications of the past two decades' enthusiastic uptake of literary concepts by the health professions- "narrative" and "close reading" especially-for the purposes of enhancing clinical competencies like compassion, empathy, and the "humanizing" of medicine. How might we, as scholars of literary studies, better theorize the emergence of literary sensibilities in the twenty-first century clinic? Why would the deployment of literary concepts, tools, and methods constitute such a fraught moment in the historical debate regarding the value of the humanities? This seminar's deliberate interweaving of literary writings with theoretical texts is intended to complement our ongoing consideration of praxis as it regards literature and medicine. To this end, students will also be provided the opportunity to develop transferable skills in "narrative medicine," a workshop-based, practical methodology that expands the purview-or pushes the limits-of contemporary literary studies.

Course Reading List:
Our readings will consist of a provocative range of theoretical and literary texts mostly drawn from 20th- and
21st- century sources, including: Charon et al, The Principles and Practice of Narrative Medicine; Jurecic, Illness as Narrative: Composition, Literacy, Culture; Puig de la Bellacasa, Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More than Human Worlds; McEwan, Saturday; Baruch, Fourteen Stories: Doctors, Patients, and Other Strangers; Lee, On Such A Full Sea; Rankine "The Health of Us," Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric (selections). Other essays and shorter writings may include: Arthur Frank, Arthur Kleinman, Susan Sontag, Charon, Johanna Hedva (Sick Woman Theory), Lisa Boivin, Brenda Isabel Wastasecoot, Dodie Bellamy (When the Sick Rule the World), and selections from relevant publications including The Intima and Ars Medica. Students will be urged to make use of course materials to advance their own writing and research projects.

Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
Short essay/position paper (methodological/theoretical) (20%), participation (10%), in-class seminar presentation (20%), final project (50%). 

Term: S-TERM (January 2021 to April 2021)
Date/Time: 9:00 am to 11:00 am, Mondays
Location: ONLINE DELIVERY
(SYNCHRONOUS) 

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ENG6533HS
The Art of Mourning
M. Ruti

Course Description:
Situating itself at the intersection of the personal and the political, the affective and the ethical, this seminar considers the role of mourning in the life of both the individual and the collective. After considering some foundational psychoanalytic texts on mourning by Freud, Winnicott, Klein, and Kristeva, the seminar fans out to a more general analysis of mourning in relation to subjective experience, character formation, creative process, ethical conduct, and political potential. Moving between the autotheoretical texts of Barthes, Derrida, Nelson, Rankine, and Wunker, and the more diagnostic texts of Cheng, Butler, Brown, Santner, and McAfee, the seminar grapples with the implications of mourning as a theoretical, existential, and social experience. At its core is the question of whether morning is truly capable of the kind of ethical and political work that most of the theorists on our reading list ask of it. Might it just as easily lead to a depoliticizing turning-away from the world as the mourner attempts to gather up the pieces of a broken life? In other words, does mourning open to something new, such as creative potential, ethical capacity, or political passion? Or does it paralyze the subject to the point of disengagement?

Course Reading List:
Freud, "Mourning and Melancholia" Freud, "Repeating, Remembering, and Working Through" Freud, "Inhibitions, Symptoms, Anxiety," Barthes, Mourning Diary Butler, Precarious Life Cheng, The Melancholy of Race Derrida, The Work of Mourning Klein, "Mourning and Its Relation to Manic-Depressive States" Kristeva, Black Sun McAfee, Fear of Breakdown Rankin, Citizen Santner, Stranded Objects, Winnicott, Fear of Breakdown Wunker, Notes from a Feminist Killjoy

Course Methods of Evaluation and Course Requirements:
20-page final paper 40% Paper proposal 20% Seminar participation 20%

Term: S-TERM (January 2021 to April 2021)
Date/Time: NEW TIME 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm, Wednesdays
Location: DUAL DELIVERY (SYNCHRONOUS) Room JHB 616 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)
 

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