Department of English

University of Toronto

1000-Level Course Descriptions

Old English I
D. Townsend

An introduction for reading knowledge to the oldest literary form of English, with discussion of readings drawn from the surviving prose and verse literature.

Course Requirements
Lecture, language drill, and discussion.

Bruce Mitchell & Fred C. Robinson, A Guide to Old English, 7th ed (Blackwell, 2007)

Previous acquaintance with Latin, German, or other highly inflected language is useful but not essential. 

Term: F-Term (September - December 2014)
Date/Time: Thursday, 10:00am - 1:00pm, 3 hours
Location: Room LI 310 (CMS, Lillian Massey Building, 125 Queen's Park)

Top of Page
Return to 2014-2015 Graduate Course Timetable.

Old English II
R. Liuzza

This course is devoted to a reading of Beowulf, within the context of the English heroic age. The heroic concepts and values which inform the poem will be analyzed primarily through the poet's linguistic choices and rhetorical strategies: the poetic compounds he coins or appropriates, his appositions, variations, and digressions. Language will be used as a tool to explore cultural questions such as the manipulation of kindred and ethnic affinities and the constructions of legitimate and illegitimate violence. In addition, we will be concerned with questions of dating, of meter, of the authority of the manuscript, of the poem in its manuscript context, and, finally, of the evidence of archaeology.

Course Requirements:
Class time will be spent in lecture, discussion, and in translation of the poem. Each student will be expected to lead at least one seminar (with a 1-2 page critique handed in on the day of the seminar).

Required Text:
R. D. Fulk et al., eds., Klaeber's Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsburg, 4th ed. (Toronto: U of Toronto Press, 2008).

Recommended Secondary Reading:
Robert Bjork and John Niles, eds., A Beowulf Handbook (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997); Andy Orchard, A Critical Companion to Beowulf (Cambridge: Brewer 2003).

class work 20%; seminar 10%; translation test 30%; essay 40%.

NB:  ENG1001F or its equivalent is a prerequisite for this course.

Term: S-Term (January - April 2015)
Date/Time: Thursday, 9:00am - 11:00am, 2 hours
Location:  LI 301 (CMS, Lillian Massey Building, 125 Queen's Park)
Top of Page
Return to 2014-2015 Graduate Course Timetable.

Women in Medieval Literature: Image and Author
S. C. Akbari

Women writers during the Middle Ages faced the challenge of inscribing themselves within a literary tradition which idealized and thus objectified women. Several medieval women writers confronted this tradition very self-consciously, articulating explicitly how they were authorized to write: whether as women, or simply as human beings. The course will begin by examining the image of woman as depicted by medieval authors such as Chaucer and Gower. We will examine how their depiction of women derives and departs from the European tradition so important to these writers as they endeavoured to elevate Middle English into a sophisticated literary medium. We will then turn to women writers of the early fifteenth century, seeing how they respond to and creatively rework those traditional conventions.

Course Requirements
Method of evaluation:

Seminar participation 20%; short presentations 20%; abstract (500 words) 10%; research paper 50%.

Term: S-Term (January - April 2015)
Date/Time: Thursday, 3:00pm - 6:00pm, 3 hours
Location: Room LI 310 (CMS, Lillian Massey Building, 125 Queen's Park)

Top of Page
Return to 2014-2015 Graduate Course Timetable.

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
K. Gaston

This course examines several aspects of Chaucerian poetics (rhetoric, genre, allusion, irony, etc.), and appraises several different critical approaches to Chaucer’s works (historicism, formalism, intertextuality, gender studies, textual criticism, etc.) We read The Canterbury Tales in their entirety, examining some of the interpretive issues with which recent Chaucer criticism has been most concerned. A focal point for our readings and discussion will be the recent turn in Chaucer criticism to questions about religious, theological, and devotional discourses operating in Chaucer’s poetry; such a focus on the poetics of the sacred and profane will allow students to delve more deeply into the literary, historical, and ethical questions raised by Chaucer’s art. 

Course Requirements

Reading List:
The Canterbury Tales, ed. Jill Mann
The Decameron, trans. G. H. McWilliam

Method of Evaluation:
Assignments will include two close reading exercises (15%), one oral presentation that includes leading part of the day’s discussion (25%), a final paper proposal (5%) and a final paper of 15-20 pages (40%). Overall participation in discussion counts for 15% of the course grade.

Term: F-Term (September - December 2014)
Date/Time: Thursday, 1:00pm - 3:00pm, 2 hours
Location: Room JHB718 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)

Top of Page
Return to 2014-2015 Graduate Course Timetable.

Medieval Drama: The Biblical Cycles and Fragments
M. Sergi

For two centuries before the rise of print culture and commercial theatres, community-based civic drama was arguably the literary medium that reached the broadest demographic of people in Britain. These biblical plays, usually organized into multi-play cycles, incorporated texts that were complex and highly literate—though their performances required no verbal literacy to appreciate, nor any cultural literacy beyond common familiarity with Bible stories.

We will read through the bulk of the extant English cycles excluding Towneley: our class reading will generally be restricted to primary sources, with student presentations each week that focus on the most recent critical work in the field. On the way, we’ll make frequent visits to REED (Records of Early English Drama) and we will sharpen, where necessary, our skills at reading Middle English in various dialects.

Course Requirements
Reading List:

The full York Cycle; the full Chester Cycle; the full EETS Non-Cycle Plays. Excerpts from the N-Town Plays, the Towneley Plays, and Welsh and Cornish cognates (in translation). Over the course of the semester, each student will also be responsible for reading and reporting back on one book of medieval drama criticism; in preparation for those presentations, I may assign selected short chapters.

Method of Evaluation:
50% seminar paper (including an annotated bibliography and proposal); 20% in-class presentation; 15% informed participation and engagement; 15% Middle English reading assessment test (administered in the fourth week of class).

Term: S-Term (January - April 2015)
Date/Time: Wednesday, 9:00am - 11:00am, 2 hours
Location: Room JHB617 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)

Top of Page
Return to 2014-2015 Graduate Course Timetable

Return to Graduate Courses main page.

Site Information:

Site Tools:

Click below for directions to the University of Toronto!

University of Toronto, St. George Campus
Map of St. George Campus
Map of Mississauga Campus
Map of Scarborough Campus