Department of English

University of Toronto

Cross-listed Courses

Please note:  additional Cross-listed courses will be posted here as they become available.

Vulgar Tongues: Antiquarianism, Orality, and Print Culture in the Romantic Era
D. White

Course Description
Eighteenth-century antiquarians collected and catalogued everything, including speech. In the 1780s, Francis Grose published A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1785) and A Provincial Glossary, with a Collection of Local Proverbs, and Popular Superstitions (1787). By the 1820s, Grose’s works had been joined by James Henry Vaux’s Vocabulary of the Flash Language (1819) and brought up to date in a new edition by Pierce Egan, canting author of Life in London (1821). This course will explore antiquarianism in general and its interest in local languages in particular, from high life to low, urban to rural, in order to understand relations between orality and print culture. Treating the engagement with dialect and slang of a wide range of writers, from Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Clare to Byron, Hazlitt, and Hunt to Edgeworth, Burns, and Scott, we will consider how antiquarian and other, more urbane approaches to language fashioned different politics of sociability and community; contributed to the rise of tourism; produced new understandings of nationalism, provincialism, and cosmopolitanism; and brought the empire home to the metropole.

This course will follow a “case study” model. After we devote ourselves to the primary and secondary sources respecting the subject here described, in the final month of the term each student will be free to pursue a topically and/or theoretically related case of his or her own, either from among the materials already considered or from a different period or field. Each student will then present a report to the class, which will lead to a substantial work of scholarship, grounded in the bibliography, history, and theory of orality in its relation to print culture, to be submitted at the end of the course as a term paper.

Term: S-Term (January - April 2015)
Date/Time: Tuesday, 1:00pm - 4:00pm, 3 hours
Location: Colin Friesen Room, Massey College

Giorgio Agamben: Exception and Potentiality
V. Li

Course Description
The writings of the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben have, in recent years, been widely cited and discussed by literary, social and political theorists. At once erudite and provocative, Agamben’s work calls for a profound reassessment of such fundamental concepts as the human, language, sovereignty, and the politics of life and death. Critical of those forms of decision and definition that lead to lethal states of exception as exemplified in the figure of the homo sacer (the person who can be killed without legal consequences) and the concentration camp, Agamben is alert to the task of keeping open what he calls “potentiality,” the state of non-actualization that is also the modality of the not-yet that holds out the possibility of creativity and hope. This course will examine Agamben’s influential work (The Coming Community, Homo Sacer. State of Exception, The Open among others) in relation to examples drawn from literature (Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener,” Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians and Disgrace) and our contemporary world (the “war on terror” and the pervasiveness of biopolitics in all facets of life).

Seminar participation and weekly responses: 20% Seminar presentation and write-up: 30% . Final essay: 50%

Term: F-Term (September - December 2014)
Date/Time: Wednesday, 1:00pm - 3:00pm, 2 hours
Location: Isabel Bader Theatre, 3rd floor, Linda Hutcheon Seminar Room (BT319)

Revenge, Resistance, Race and Law
M. Nyquist

Said: Beginning with Beginnings
U. Esonwanne 

Course Description
Much as his work is widely read in the Humanities and he is celebrated as a public intellectual in the academy and out, Edward W. Said’s Beginnings: Intention and Method is rarely given critical attention. Unfortunately, this oversight also applies to comparative literature, the discipline to which he contributed his most seminal works. “Said: Beginning with Beginnings“ is an attempt to redress this oversight by undertaking a rigorous study of the itinerary of the concept in four texts that represent the arc of his progress in and out of the academy: Beginnings; The World, the Text, and the Critic; Out of Place; and On Late Style.

With the publication of Beginnings: Intention and Method (1975), Edward W. Said consolidated his reputation as the foremost secular comparatist of the twentieth century. The path to secular comparatism runs through his opposition of “beginning,” which he aligns with history, to “origin,” which he aligns with the “divine.” Today, secular cultural analysis is dominant. However, one could argue that because we give little attention to Beginnings, we have lost sight of the role that his exploration of foundational concepts (for example, filiation/affiliation, authority, and worldliness) in that work play in his elaboration of secular criticism. Relying on close reading, this course traces the itinerary of “beginning” in his comparative analysis of culture and identity in four key works: Beginnings (1975); The World, the Text, and the Critic (1983); Out of Place: a Memoir (1999); and On Late Style: Music and Literature Against the Grain (2006).

Participation: 10%, Seminar Presentation: 20%; Short Essay: 20%; Research Essay: 50%

Term: S-Term (September - December 2014)
Date/Time: Tuesday, 3:00pm - 5:00pm, 2 hours
Location: Isabel Bader Theatre, 3rd floor, Linda Hutcheon Seminar Room (BT319)

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.)

Traditions of Performance Theory
J. Astington

Grad Seminar and Topics
A. Ackerman

 Return to 2014-2015 Graduate Course Timetable.

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