Department of English

University of Toronto

4000-Level Courses

4000-Level Graduate Courses - 2013-2014

Emotions, Affect Theory, and the Novel
A. Jaffe

Course Description

The 19th-century novel is the source of much modern thinking and theorizing about feeling and the emotions, including variations on familiar and crucial concepts such as repression, sentimentality, shame, and familial love. We will consider the novelistic construction of feeling in theory and in fiction as we read a selection of novels from Austen to Wilde alongside theoretical texts from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first.

Course Requirements
Readings will include, tentatively, Austen, Mansfield Park; Brontë, Jane Eyre and/or Villette; Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop; Hardy, Tess of the D'Urbervilles; Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Secondary texts, also tentative, will include selections from Darwin, Freud, Hochschild, Ngai, Ahmed, Julie Ellison, Ruth Leys and others.

20% presentation; 20% participation; 60% paper.

Monday / 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm (2 hours)
Room JHB617, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George

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Christianity in Victorian Literature
M. Knight

Course Description
Although it is widely acknowledged that Christianity played a major role in the Victorian period, it can be more difficult for literary critics to think insightfully about the grammar of faith. Difficulties can include a lack of familiarity with the basic contours of the Christian faith, confusion regarding the extent and meaning of the period's theological differences, and the broader absence of an interdisciplinary vocabulary appropriate to talking about religion and literature. More specifically, the subject of Christianity in Victorian Literature raises a host of challenging questions. Was Christianity opposed to the imagination or a basis for literary creativity? Could religious doctrines be translated into literary forms without a loss of theological content? How were religious concerns caught up with other debates such as those regarding nationality and gender? Was literary criticism of the established church a sign of godlessness or an attempt to reform Christianity from within? And to what extent was Matthew Arnold right in thinking that religion and culture shared a common aim? These questions and others will be addressed in a course that examines the interaction between Christianity and literature in the Victorian period.

Course Requirements
While the course will draw broadly on a range of nineteenth-century writing (including theology) and contemporary criticism and theory, the main focus of our discussions will be the work of six literary figures from the period. These might include Charles Dickens, Christina Rossetti, George MacDonald, George Eliot, Matthew Arnold, and Alice Meynell.

Seminar Presentation and Related Short Paper (30%), Informed Participation (20%), Final Research Paper (50%).

Thursday / 12:00 noon - 2:00 pm (2 hours)
Room JHB616, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George

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The Victorian Novel in Transition
C. Schmitt

Course Description

Spanning half a century, from the 1850s to just after 1900, this course canvasses a range of novels representative of the period by Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, George Gissing, Thomas Hardy, Olive Schreiner, Sarah Grand, and Samuel Butler. The nature of the novel was in transition over the course of these decades, moving from Dickens's affirmation of family to Butler's bitter unmasking of its oppressions and injustices, from Gaskell's hopeful condition-of-England narratives to Hardy's bleak tales of human entrapment, from George Eliot's realism to Schreiner's and Grand's experimental New Woman novels. We will attend closely to these changes, calculating the degree to which they reflect, refract, or drive related transformations in print culture, science, gender relations, sexuality, and urbanization (the list might go on and, in the course itself, will). Each novel is to be paired with readings in Victorian social and political history as well as recent literary criticism to enable a rich understanding of the nineteenth-century context for and the twenty-first-century consensus (or not) about the novel in question.

Course Requirements
Provisionally: Charles Dickens, Great Expectations; Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South; George Eliot, Middlemarch; Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure; Olive Schreiner, The Story of an African Farm; Sarah Grand, The Heavenly Twins; Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh; criticism by Catherine Gallagher, Sharon Marcus, Elaine Freedgood, William Cohen, Aaron Matz, Leah Price, and others.

Informed participation (10%), presentation (10%), short close reading (15%), final paper proposal (15%), seminar paper (50%).

Monday / 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm (2 hours)
Room JHB616, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George

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Print and Politics in English Canada: 1837 to 1937
H. Murray

ENG4987HS   ADDED DEC 6, 2013


Course Description
What versions of "the sublime" and "the visionary" are possible in an age of radical skepticism? Have poststructuralism and postmodernism given new life to these poetic modes, or have the latter survived by reacting against those discourses? Is the discourse of the sublime irreducibly gendered? This course will begin by considering some central philosophical and theoretical texts on the sublime, and then will give careful attention to several contemporary poets whose work partakes of the visionary and sublime "traditions" in American and English poetry.

Such “partaking” is often highly complex, ambivalent, skeptical, and critical. But even as determinedly demystifying a critic of the sublime as Thomas Weiskel, who insisted  in 1976 that “we have long since been too ironic for the capacious gestures” of this “moribund aesthetic,” still wondered “what in the Romantic ideology has residual power, what we still share.”  We will investigate, then, how contemporary poets both acknowledge and question that “residual power.” Philosophical and theoretical texts on the sublime will include works by Longinus, Burke, Kant, Weiskel, Lyotard, Nancy, and others; poetic texts are listed below.


As this course was added to the Winter 2014 schedule at a very late date, local booksellers could not promise to stock the texts by the beginning of the term. However, inexpensive new and used copies of the primary texts are readily available through online booksellers, in both paperback and hardcover formats. Please email Professor Woodland at if you have any questions or require advice.
The course reader will be available at Alicos Copy (see below) on January 6, 2013. Students should read the selections from Longinus, Burke, Kant, and Schiller prior to the first class.

A. Primary Texts
A. R. Ammons, The Selected Poems (1986/87 Expanded Edition, Norton), Garbage (Norton); Don McKay, Strike/Slip, Paradoxides (both M &S); John Kinsella, Shades of the Sublime and Beautiful (Picador); Charles Wright, Chickamauga (FSG); Jorie Graham, The Dream of the Unified Field, Swarm (both Ecco); Ann Carson, Decreation (Vintage);  Elizabeth Alexander, American Sublime (Graywolf)
B. Secondary Texts
A xeroxed Reading Package of philosophical and theoretical works on the sublime will be available at Alicos Copy, 203A College St.


1) Presentation: Each student will make a class presentation of approximately 20 minutes. This presentation should be written with a pedagogical context in mind, and should be strongly oriented toward provoking discussion upon completion. Students will be required to post an outline of the presentation on the course’s Blackboard page no later than 9 pm on the eve of the presentation, along with a list of key issues/questions for class discussion. Weight: 15% of final grade
2) Short essay: an essay of about 2500 words, developed out of the class presentation and the ensuing discussion, and due one week after the presentation. Weight: 20% of final grade
3) Term paper: a research paper of about 6500 words. This is may be based on the presentation/short essay, but must deal with a significantly larger number of primary and secondary sources. Weight: 45% of final grade
4) Class participation: 20% of final grade

Wednesday / 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm (2 hours)
Room JHB616, Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George

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