Department of English

University of Toronto

Courses of Interest

Please note:  additional Courses of Interest will be posted here as they become available.

Please click on links for more information about the following Comparative Literature courses.
Gender, Agency, and Life Writing
B. Havercroft

Magic Prague – Questions of Literacy Cityscapes
V. Ambros

Autobiography, Photography, Narrativity
J. LeBlanc

Literature, Culture and Contact in Medieval Iberia
J. Ross

Freud: Case Histories
R. Comay

How Aesthetics Was Made A Science: Readings in Czech and Russian
V. Ambros

Cervantes and Renaissance Humanism
S. Rupp

A Journey from Petersburg to Los Angeles
T. Lahusen

Lacan and Psychoanalytic Thought (and Practice) – Lacan, Clinic, Late Capitalism
E. Cazdyn

Forms of Critical Writing
E. Jagoe

Diasporic Cities: Itinerant Narratives of Metropoles by Travellers and Expatriates
A. Sakaki

Please see the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies website for more information about these graduate courses: <> (Current course descriptions are TBA. Links to these will be posted as soon as they are available.)

20th Century Canadian Theatre History
N. Copeland

Performing Auto/biography
N. Copeland

Theatre and Globalization
B. Freeman

Topics in Asian Theatre and Performance

Special Topics: Digital Discourse
P. Keilty

Aims and Scope of Seminar
This course provides an introduction to the field of theoretical writing addressing the nature of digital media and the role of technology in modern and contemporary culture from a humanistic perspective. In doing so, this course will consider a range of critical pressure points that have been central to media studies, technology studies, digital humanities, art and performance, cinema studies, and archival studies. How have developments in digital culture and theory impacted the critical commonplaces of analogy, time, space, sound, motion, network, body, and narrative, to name only a few? Do digital networks, databases and data modeling, algorithmic mediation, hyperlinks, and ever-accumulating indexes alter the conditions of knowledge, artistic practice, subjectivity, and the place of ideology critique?

In dialogue with critical paradigms that have been fundamental to the discourse of critical theory, including affect, power, constructionism, archives, colonialism, nationalism, and the politics of race, gender, and sexuality, we will reflect on the parameters of a deeply significant archeological shift from the conceptual apparatus of "perspective" to the elastic platforms of "fold" that are emphasized, if not wholly embodied, by the digital condition. Such a shift turns around the paradoxical inscription of novel procedures of archivization, accumulation, divergence, and fractal simultaneity in past paradigms of projection, the baroque, dialectics, surveillance, and philosophical teleology. This course will provide students with the opportunity to scrutinize the work of a wide spectrum of thinkers central to critical theory in digital discourse, including Martin Heidegger, Walter Benjamin, Marshall McLuhan, Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Alexander Galloway, Eugene Thacker, Jacques Rancière, Don Idhe, Katherine Hayles, Lisa Nakamura, Arjun Appadurai, Alan Liu, Lev Manovich, Timothy Murray, Mark Poster, Gilles Deleuze, Mark B. N. Hansen, Lisa Gitelman, Brian Massumi, Erin Manning, and David Rodowick. We will examine how these different approaches to digital media and technology inflect what Karl Marx called the history of the sense, or the relation of political and aesthetic experience.

In order to foreground the intellectual trajectories that surround digital media, it is important to examine pre-digital media theories before moving into writing on digital new media. The syllabus thus follows the reception of media theory in North America starting with the work of University of Toronto English professor Marshall McLuhan in the 1950s and 1960s. It then moves backward in time to examine several German critics writing in the 1930s and 1940s. However, the bulk of the syllabus focuses on the work of digital theories in the late twentieth/early twenty-first centuries, which mark the dawn of networked personal computing.

Students' individual understandings and interests are at the center of my pedagogy. As such, the course will be heavily discussion-based and it will, at times, have an informal feel. The main objective of this course is to transform students from passive receivers of knowledge into active and autonomous cultural critics. In order to do so, students will develop critical-thinking skills and the ability to communicate their ideas effectively in the form of an analytic argument. The assignments will ask students to demonstrate both written and oral skills in this regard.

The course presumes no prior experience in digital discourse, only a basic familiarity with analytic writing at the graduate level. The course is open to both Master's and Doctoral students.

Students should feel free to contact the professor with any questions: Patrick Keilty

Term: F-Term (September - December 2014)
Date/Time:  Monday,  1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Location: Bissell Building, Room TBA

Please contact the Department of Italian Studies for more information on these courses (Nina Di Trapani, Departmental Assistant email:  tel: 416-926-2345)

Righteous Indignation in Italian Contemporary Literary Narrative and Film
Dr. Stefania Lucamante (The Catholic University of America)

Course Description
When the dangerous passion of anger is restrained within the bounds of reason it can lead to useful things. The upside of anger is a constructive mode that channels passions into what we call righteous indignation, a reactive emotion of anger over perceived mistreatment, insult, or malice. In this course, works by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Tiziano Scarpa, Simona Vinci, Melania Mazzucco, Paolo Sorrentino and other Italian artists will be scrutinized in their treatment of anger in social, ideological or emotional realms against the backdrop of philosophers’ work dealing specifically with the positive/negative aspects of anger, like David Hume. What I hope to show is that anger is not merely motivated by personal needs, but by these author’s involvement and response to the malfunctioning structures of society. Aesthetic works –products of dissent and protest against status quo- if not remedies to social illnesses, can at least manifest dissent to the by and large acquiescence with ethical and ideological crises.

Term: S-Term (January 5 - January 30, 2015)
Date/Time: Wednesday, Thursday & Friday, 10:00am – 12:00pm
Location: Room PR304 (E.J. Pratt Library)

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Crossings between Europe and China: Travel and Migration in Literature and Cinema.
G. Zhang

Course Description
“Crossings between Europe and China: Travel and Migration in Literature and Cinema”
Over the centuries, crossings between China and Italy have produced the most sustained and arguably the most influential strand of cultural texts on East-West borrowings. France and Britain have also contributed significantly to Western understanding and imagination of modern China. This course examines the evolution of Italian perspectives on China through significant literary and cinematic texts of Italians’ real and fantastical traveling in China, as well as Chinese immigration to Italy. French and British texts will complement this learning trajectory for purposes of comparison. The aim of the course is to analyze the contexts and ways in which specific knowledge about China was produced, interpreted, and negotiated in Italy and in Europe. Central themes of the course include the notions of the other and the self, the center and the border, boundary space, mixed identities, and intercultural communication. Comparative approaches to differing types of texts and to various cultures are highly encouraged. To this end, students will follow four thematic clusters including “Marco Polo and His Legacy in Italy,” “The Cultural Revolution in European Representations,” “China in Italian and British Cinemas,” and “Chinese Immigration to Europe.” Theories about mobility (e.g., Clifford, De Certeau, and Rosi) will accompany primary texts. All readings are in English, and all films have English subtitles. No prior knowledge of China or Italy is required to enroll in this course. 

Term: S-Term (January 5 - February 13, 2015)
Date/Time:  Tuesday, 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Location: Room CR 106 (Carr Hall)

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Two Worlds Colliding: Renaissance Culture and the New World Project 
Dr. Mary Watt (University of Florida)

NB: Reading knowledge of Italian is helpful but not required.

Course Description 
This course explores literary, cultural and artistic responses to the new world project and the age of discovery. Specifically, the course considers how European thinkers including Ludovico Ariosto, Torquato Tasso, Alonso de Ercilla, Martin Behaim, François Rabelais, Lucas Cranach and Christopher Columbus, interpreted Europe's place in this new enterprise. The course will, therefore, concern itself with questions of nationalism and colonialism. The primary aim of the course, however, will be to examine the role that the great minds of the Renaissance played in shaping old world perceptions of what Columbus called an "other world" and what Vespucci called a "new world."

Term: S-Term (January 5 - February 13, 2015)
Date/Time:  Monday & Tuesday, 10:00 am - 12noon
Location: Room TF2 (Teefy Hall)

Brecht: A Case Study in Law and Literature   
B. Meyler
(More information TBA )

Term: F-Term (September - December 2014)
Weeks of October 20 and 27, 2014 (see dates and times below) 
Location:  Room  FA3 (exceptions noted below)

Monday, Oct 20 4:10 - 6:00 | Tuesday, Oct 21 12:30 - 2:00 | Wednesday, Oct 22 10:30 - 12:00 (in FA2) | Thursday, Oct 23 08:30 - 10:20 |  Friday, Oct 24 12:30 - 2:00 | Monday, Oct 27 12:30 - 2:00 | Tuesday, Oct 28 6:10 - 7:30 | Wednesday, Oct 29 08:50 - 10:20| Thursday, Oct 30 12:30 - 2:00

Please visit the Centre for Medieval Studies website for more information on these courses  < >


Early Medieval Rhetoric and Poetics
J. Ross

Course Description
This course will trace the medieval transformation of classical ideas about persuasive language and literary aesthetics. We will focus on such topics as the role of figurative language, especially metaphor and allegory, the structural principles of literary works, and the function of literature in society. The course will consider the classical basis of medieval rhetorical thought through an analysis of select writings of the Sophists, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, Augustine and Horace. We will then turn to early medieval rhetorical and linguistic thought in the writings of such theorists as Martianus Capella, Isidore of Seville, and Donatus. We will also examine how the views of language expressed in classical and early medieval rhetorical texts shaped the later development of medieval literature.

Term: S-Term (January 5 - February 13, 2015)
Date/Time:  Tuesday, 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Location: Room L1 301 (Lillian Massey Bldg, CMS)

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Hospitality and Hostility in Old English Literature
F. Michelet

PR: ENG1001F or equivalent
This seminar will consider conceptions of hospitality and hostility in Old English literature. Hospitality has to do with the ‘problem of how to deal with strangers’ (Julian Pitt-Rivers). Arguably the bedrock of social interaction, it testifies to how a community conceives of itself. Yet in practice, hospitality is often closely related to hostility. What are the many forms that hospitality and hostility can take in the Anglo-Saxon world? How does one conceive of alterity? What is a guest (a neighbour/visitor/foreigner/exile/monster)? How does one live among strangers? What are inhospitable spaces? Why do the public and memorable character of idealized models of behaviour matter? These are some of the issues that will be examined in a selection of Old English texts, exploring how they may have contributed to the construction of individual and collective identities.

Term: F-Term (September - December 2014)
Date/Time: Friday, 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm 
Location: Room LI 301 (Lillian Massey Bldg, CMS)

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