Department of English

University of Toronto

6000 Series 2011-2012


Course Description:

This course will draw on work at the borders of literature, philosophy and politics to explore the concepts of security and protection from a range of rhetorical and theoretical angles. We will consider the language of emergency in revolutionary era texts and the idea of crisis in pro- and anti-slavery writings; we will look at Lincoln's appeal to exceptional authority during the U.S. Civil War and at the rhetoric of protection in recent United Nations policy statements on humanitarian intervention. Finally, we will consider the implications of the 9/11 attacks for the discourse of emergency and protection. We will read recent work in critical human rights theory and will perhaps foster dialogue with the University's new centre for the study of Global Security by providing a literary and rhetorical perspective on questions of global defense policy and international crisis management. Theoretical work will include essays by Agamben, Derrida, Brown, Redfield and Hamacher. Literary examples will be chosen primarily -- though not exclusively -- from the American eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and will include works by Melville, Hawthorne, Douglass, Whitman and Bierce.

Reading List:

The Responsibility to Protect (UN Policy Report) Melville, Benito Cereno Hawthorne, "My Kinsman, Major Molineux" Douglass, "The Heroic Slave" Whitman, Selected Civil War Poems Davis, "Life in the Iron Mills" Bierce, Soldiers and Civilians Agamben, States of Exception Hamacher, "The Right to Have Rights" Derrida, Rogues Redfield, Acts of Terror Brown, Walled States

Course Requirements:
Weekly responses and end of term essay.

Date & Time: Wednesday* 6 – 9 pm (*NOTE:  DAY CHANGED)
Room: JHB 617, Jackman Humanities Building


Course Description:

This course borrows its name from Hannah Arendt's The Human Condition (1958). In this text, Arendt explores the nexus of social action, politics, ethics, self-making, agency, responsibility, respect, and forgiveness. These are also the main themes of this advanced theory seminar, along with an examination of mass culture, revolt, creativity, aesthetics, and religion. The thinkers considered - Arendt, Adorno, Derrida, and Kristeva - offer us a slice of the four major theoretical approaches of the twentieth century: phenomenology, the Frankfurt School, deconstruction, and psychoanalysis. Students entering this seminar should be prepared to engage with some of the most opaque and challenging texts of the last century. A tolerance for pedagogy of non-mastery is essential. Texts studied include Arendt's The Human Condition and The Life of the Mind, Adorno's Minima Moralia and Aesthetic Theory, Derrida's The Politics of Friendship and The Gift of Death, and Kristeva's Intimate Revolt and Hatred and Forgiveness.

Reading List:

Arendt: The Human Condition, Arendt: The Life of the Mind: Adorno, Minima Moralia, Adorno: Aesthetic Theory, Derrida: The Politics of Friendship, Derrida: The Gift of Death, Kristeva: Intimate Revolt, Kristeva: Hatred and Forgiveness.

Date & Time: Thursday 1 – 3 pm
Room: JHB 718, Jackman Humanities Building

The imperiousness and inescapability of recent and current world conflicts have led to a new lament for the inadequacies of the novel and the novelist. The world that is “too much with us,” “the human stories contained within historical events, “ can best “be assimilated and comprehended” now in long-form reporting (Geoff Dyer). The “human heart of the matter” (George Packer) requires a different expression from that achieved through the processes of novel-writing. This proposed course, along with attempting to forge a workable vocabulary for the distinctive aspects of long-form reporting, will consider whether essential elements of the novel, such as privacy and mystery, are re-positioned in works of reportage, perhaps located in the presence of the writer/witness. Also of great interest are the variations in this presence, from personal effacement to antic participation, the latter one of the legacies of the New Journalism. Where possible, too, drawing on material from the VII Photo Agency and The New York Times “Lens Blog,” we will look at similar issues of observation and creativity in contemporary photography.

Primary readings will include: Daniel Defoe, A Journal of the Plague Year; George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia; Michael Herr, Dispatches; Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem; Dexter Filkins, The Forever War; Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower.

The course will be conducted as a seminar. Students will be responsible for at least one strictly oral presentation that will be re-worked and submitted within 2 weeks (together 20%). Regular participation (20% of the grade) is expected. A final research paper (25 pages and 60%) will be due at the final class of the term.

Date & Time: Monday 1 – 4 pm
Room: JHB 718, Jackman Humanities Building


Course Description:

In a world of increasing globalization, there has been a radical pluralizing of culture and cultures and with it a heightened experience of difference and diversity. This has led to the call, for example, for a new conception of “interculturation” (Steven Connor), by means of which the nature of the value transactions between different cultures can be ascertained. This course will be predominantly theoretical in focus and will concentrate on the question of intercultural value through a close engagement with theories of otherness, cultural identity and exchange. The critical redefinition of value in the intercultural context may pose important questions and have implications for a number of related fields. Thus the course will address, and seek to extend beyond, certain issues and problems shared by diverse approaches like postcolonialism, multiculturalism, globalization and translation studies. The ways in which the question of the intercultural has been posed (inter-, multi-, cross-, trans-cultural, etc.) and how its ethical dimensions have been envisioned will themselves constitute a main focus of methodological and historical consideration. Particular attention will also be paid to selected moments in the history of the emergence of an intercultural discourse that attempts to transcend pragmatic translatability. The course will take an interdisciplinary approach and will be organized around mainly theoretical and critical texts (see below for a list of authors to be included). Issues to be discussed may include: modes and paradoxes of cultural encounter and exchange; the relationship of universalist to particularist ways of modelling the value transactions between cultures; cultural difference and “true Exoticism”; the politics of translation in relation to autonomy and appropriation; the struggle for recognition; cultural in-betweenness and hybrid authenticity; conceptual and cultural relativism; “poetics of relation” as a transformative mode of history.

Readings and Course Requirements:

Seminar participation; seminar presentations; research paper.
A reader will be provided, which will include theoretical and critical texts and selections by writers such as Rey Chow, James Clifford, Steven Connor, Donald Davidson, Jacques Derrida, Alexander García Düttmann, Édouard Glissant, Wolfgang Iser, Satya P. Mohanty, Timothy Reiss, and Victor Segalen. There will also be workshops in which students present and theorize literary works and texts of their own choice.

Date & Time: Monday 11 am – 1 pm
Room: JHB 718, Jackman Humanities Building


Course Description:

A survey of diasporic Englishes, with strong emphasis on lexicon, morphology, syntactical structure, and pronunciation in their distinctness from ‘standard English’. Attention will be given to the historical and cultural circumstances that have informed these transformations. While we will survey specific developments (such as, for instance, Englishes in Scotland, Canada, the Caribbean, India, and on the internet), these varieties will illustrate more general developments and dynamics of language variation in the diaspora. General topics may include concepts and terms for describing language; language contact and language change; pidgins and Creoles; the use of English as a primary language, and official second language, and an international language; globalization; language planning; issues pertaining to the codification and teaching of ‘non-standard’ Englishes; the dynamics of the Creole continuum and of language-mixing in literary and non-literary texts. 

Course Requirements: 

This is an introductory course. Informal lectures will be complemented by brief reports on (30%) and intelligent discussion of (10%) the week’s sociolinguistic topics. A proposal and classified/annotated bibliography (10%) and class taught (20%) on the subject of your final research paper (30%), written on a topic of relevance to your own research interests.

Primary Texts: Literary and non-literary texts (TBA) will illustrate lectures and seminars.

Secondary Texts: A course reader will supplement a general textbook such as Tom McArthur, The Oxford Guide to World English (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2002).

Date & Time: Wednesday 1 – 3 pm
Room: JHB 616, Jackman Humanities Building


Course Description:

In this course, we will examine the relationship between environmental criticism and postcolonial discourse with respect to their shared concern with specific location in the global context. Many postcolonial authors and critics explore the aesthetics of geopolitical scale (small/large, marginal/central, local/global, particular/universal) by using topography, vegetation, and landscape as conceptual categories and literary metaphors. Through select readings ranging from environmental and postcolonial to postmodern theories of space, we will address the role of concrete and symbolic locations in these critical discourses and their attempt to offer alternative readings of the global world. Topics include: transoceanic imagery and the poetics of water; voyage and “errantry”; island topography and insular poetics; nature metaphors in theory (the mangrove, the rhizome); roots and routes.

Texts: Poetics of Relation (Glissant), In Praise of Creoleness (Chamoiseau, Bernabé, Confiant), A Small Place (Kincaid), The Enigma of Arrival (V.S. Naipaul), “Of Other Spaces” (Michel Foucault), The Repeating Island (Benitez Rojo), Selections from Caribbean Literature and the Environment (eds. DeLoughrey, Gosson an Handley), Selections from Postcolonial Ecocriticism (Tiffin and Huggan), Selections from The Future of Environmental Criticism (Buell) and Ecocriticism (Garrard), Omeros (Walcott), Selections from A Thousand Plateaus (Deleuze and Guattari), Our Sea of Islands (Epeli Hau’ofa), The Womb of Space: The Cross-Cultural Imagination (Wilson Harris), Routes (James Clifford), The Black Atlantic (Paul Gilroy).

Components: Seminar discussions, reading responses, oral presentations, written assignment (final essay).

Date: Monday - 2 – 4 pm* (NOTE: TIME CHANGED) 
Room: JHB 617, Jackman Humanities Building

ENG 6529H (NOTE: COURSE ADDED 20/10/2011) 

Course description:

During this course, we are likely to address versions of the following questions:
• What would be the effects within cultural studies, critical theory, and literary studies of theorizing the nonhuman animal as a subject category that is not separate from other subject categories?
• And what might be the consequences of reading ‘species’ as equivalent or similar to groupings/identifications such as race, class, gender, sexuality?
• Is the preoccupation with the mobile species boundary human/animal, principally a Euro- Western one?
• What are the ethico-discursive consequences of drawing parallels between the subjection of nonhuman animals and that of particular groups of human animals? E.g. should we talk of ‘animal slavery’ and/or ‘animal genocide’?
• How is it possible to name, represent, or even to think, ‘the animal’?
• Can the animal die, or does the animal merely perish, as Heidegger argues? What might be the ethico-discursive consequences of answering yes or no to this question?

Structure and content of course:

We will be reading philosophical, theoretical and literary texts, as well as discussing one autobiography and one film. The texts on this course are not uniquely or even primarily literary, and they vary widely in levels of ‘difficulty.’ While we will be analyzing representations of ‘the animal’ and ‘the human’ in fictional texts (Disgrace, Life of Pi, Not Wanted on the Voyage) it will be important for us to place these fictional constructions of dogs, cats (large and small), and other animals in the context of recent philosophical debates concerning e.g. animal rights, the meat industry, consumption, science, language, time, death, killing, biology, gender, race, anthropocentrism.

Texts to be studied (subject to change):

Peter Singer, Animal Liberation; Cass Sunstein, Martha Nussbaum, Animal Rights; J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace; J.M. Coetzee, The Lives of Animals; Cary Wolfe, Zoontologies; Timothy Findley, Not Wanted on the Voyage; Giorgio Agamben, The Open Timothy Treadwell, Among Grizzlies Yann Martel, Life of Pi.


1. One in-class review 10%
2. Conference presentation and abstract 20 + 5%
3. Final research paper 50%
4. Participation 15%

Date & Time: Tuesday, Noon – 2 pm
Room:  JHB 718, Jackman Humanities Building


O.W. Holmes: “The life of the law has not been logic but experience.”
O.Wilde: “Experience is the name we give to our past mistakes.”

Each week we will read several articles, along with several short stories and novels during the term. We will begin with a consideration of some of the questions and criticisms that scholars have recently raised as they have sought to justify or reorient the field. We will then look at some of the specific problems connecting law and literature at various points since the Renaissance. After a more intensive look at current theoretical debates, we will take up various problems at the intersection of law and literature: legal fictions, forms of legal writing and explanation, and the regulation of literature through copyright law. Next we will focus on two legal problems that have also occupied literary thinkers: the problem of criminal responsibility and literature’s ability to document human thought and motives, and the question of privacy in criminal law, tort law, and fiction. We will end by considering possible future directions for law and literature. The course requirements will include a final paper and two or three response papers for presentation in class.

Each unit includes some required readings and a number of suggested sources for students who are interested in doing further research in a particular area.

Some of the questions we will discuss include:

How does literature use or respond to legal structures, themes, and analytical techniques, and vice versa?
How does literature portray legal institutions and processes?
What can literature bring to the performance of legal tasks, including legal narrative?
To what extent can literary critical accounts of narrative structure and coherence explain the role of narrative in law, and where do these accounts fall short?
What is achieved and what is missed by positing literature as law’s “other” (e.g., as the imaginative and ethical alternative to legal rules and constraints)?


Two or three one- to two-page comment papers on assigned readings (to be used in class discussions of those readings) (cumulatively 20%); class participation (measured by regular attendance and contribution to class discussion) (20%); and a term paper of about 15 pages, on a topic to be approved in advance (60%).

Date & Time: Monday 4:10  – 6 pm
Room:  Room FA2 - Solarium* (84 Queen's Park) (Note: *ROOM CHANGE)


“To represent someone or even something has now become an endeavor as complex and as problematic as an asymptote, with consequences for certainty and decidability as fraught with difficulties as can be imagined.” --Edward Said

We often study or examine literary works for their formal and generic properties or for their treatment of broadly humanistic themes. But, as the critic Edward Said has pointed out, our familiarity with such formal or thematic approaches may blind us to the social and political impulses that run through literature. Said claims that the “the organized study of literature… is premised on the constitutively primary act of literary (that is, artistic) representation, which in turn absorbs and incorporates other realms, other representations, secondary to it.”

In such influential books as Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism, Said has argued against a purely literary approach and promoted a worldly criticism that sees literary works as politically or ideologically charged representations of complex, historically situated events and experiences. Representations, in this view, are political acts because they presuppose distance and difference, distinctions made possible by and making possible unequal relations of power. In this course, we will examine the troubling politics of representation, focussing critical attention first on Western representations of non-Western others. We will analyze, in the light of Said’s critique, such modern literary classics as E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India and Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim, and more recent texts such as J. M. Coetzee’s Foe and Jane Campion’s screenplay, The Piano. We will also discuss how Western representations are questioned in works such as Malek Alloula’s The Colonial Harem, Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea and David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly. The identity of the other as well as the identity of the representer, it will be argued, are equally fissured and complicated and nowhere more so than in the recent history of the migrant experience. The presence of immigrant communities in Western metropolitan centres has resulted in new questions about cultural representation, questions about such politically charged issues as cultural appropriation and cultural authenticity, identity and hybridity, tradition and modernity. These questions will be examined in our discussion of the texts by Naipaul and Salih. The sexual politics of representation in all these texts will also need to be addressed.

Grades will be based on a seminar presentation (oral and written), a term paper (20-25 pages), and participation.


Edward Said, Orientalism; Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim; E. M. Forster, A Passage to India; Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea; V. S. Naipaul, The Mimic Men; Tayeb Salih, Season of Migration to the North; Malek Alloula, The Colonial Harem; David Henry Hwang, M. Butterfly; J.M. Coetzee’s Foe; Jane Campion, The Piano. (The book version of the screenplay is out of print, but the screenplay is available at: ).

All the above texts are available from the Bob Miller Bookroom, 180 Bloor West (basement level); phone 416-922-3557 (please note this change).  A course reader (of theoretical and critical articles) is available from Print City, 180 Bloor West (416-920-3040).

Date & Time: Tuesday, 3 – 5 pm
Room: JHB 617, Jackman Humanities Building

ENG6813HF* (*note number correction)

Course description:

In this course we will examine the various ways in which the body is constructed, circulated, and read as text in cinema, where the superficial bears the burden of signification. More specifically, we will consider the role of the body in a variety of cinematic genres, including action cinema, pornography, horror, and melodrama, in order to explore a wide array of inscriptive practices that serve to map the body as a whole or privilege certain constituent parts, as well as the hermeneutical acts such practices encourage. While we will focus largely on a set of filmic texts and film-related scholarship, we will also be reading material from other disciplines (including philosophy, psychology, and literary studies) on a wide array of topics, from the histrionics of hysteria to the spectacle of race, from the kinetics of dance to the paroxysms of pain. As a result, we will gain insight into not only the relationship between corporeality and cinema, but also, more generally, the ways that concepts such as surface and depth, materiality and meaning, appearance and essence are defined both against and through each other within visual culture at large.


In addition to attending weekly screenings, students will read work by the following authors, among others: Bela Balázs, Roland Barthes, Homi Bhabha, Elizabeth Bronfen, Giuliana Bruno, Judith Butler, Barbara Creed, Mary Ann Doane, Lucy Fischer, Michel Foucault, Sander Gilman, Susan Jeffords, Siegfried Kracauer, Laura Marks, Steve Neale, Kevin Robins, Fatimah Tobing Rony, Steven Shaviro, Vivian Sobchack, Susan Stewart, Yvonne Tasker, Linda Williams, and Monique Wittig.

Grading components:

Class participation (10%); in-class presentation (10%); three short writing assignments (30%); final paper and presentation (50%)

Date & Time: Tuesday and Thursday, 10 am – 12 pm
Room: IN 223, Innis College

ENG 6860HF

To find the author in his text, and intention in traces of authorial process, challenges reader-centered literary theory and criticism. This course is an introduction to the multi-disciplinary knowledge about authoring that has grown in the past quarter century. The testimony of writers, cognitive psychology, corpus and cognitive linguistics, neurobiology, reading and writing research, and text analysis have uncovered much about mental language production. Schemas and models, working memory, chunking and constructions, the inner voice and monitor, embodiment, vocabulary richness, deep encoding, and eye movement and fixation are powerful concepts for authoring theory and philological study. They show that authors are not dead in their works but leave behind signs of neuro-cognitive processing and, in holograph drafts, evidence of intention. Mental illness and dementia are as common among writers as in the general population, and we can now identify some effects of brain damage in texts. The different strategies of healthy authors are partly recoverable: some trust their natural unconscious flow, some draw on mental models elaborated over time and stored in long-term memory, and some think on paper and use the prosthetic devices of language technology to edit both flow and model. 

Course Requirements: 

Seminar/discussion. 20-page research paper (40%), class report (20 minutes; 20%), close reading of one short text (20%), and class participation (20%).

James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts (1971), selections from Sylvia Plath's poetry, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (1984; and Fisher Library holograph drafts), and Iris Murdoch's Jackson's Dilemma (1995).

Sample book-length introductions to the subject are Writing and Cognition: Research and Applications (ed. Mark Torrance and others, 2007), and The Neurocognition of Language (ed. Colin Brown and Hagoort, 1999). Journal articles from the past two-three years focus on ideas in contention.

Monday 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Room: JHB 614, Jackman Humanities Building

ENG6954HF STUDIES IN BIBLIOGRAPHY (Each year a new course will be offered under the heading Studies in Bibliography)

In this course there will be thousands of texts at your fingertips, but you won’t have to buy any of them, or even necessarily read them. What you will do is learn how to find them and how to conduct research into them. If this sounds daunting, it isn’t. These days we face an overwhelming range of sources and resources. Finding what is useful can be a matter of trial and error. This course will make your research easier and more accurate. It will offer a combination of theoretical and practical study into essential techniques and methods in on-line literary research and web-based projects.
We shall begin with research techniques into literary texts, how to locate materials on-line, how much can be done on-line, and what to do when you reach the end of the digital line. We’ll study archives including the Cambridge Darwin digital project and the Edinburgh Walter Scott digital archive. We’ll look at digital literature collections such as Chadwyck-Healey’s nineteenth century novels, the Brown University Women Writers Project, and Project Gutenberg. We’ll look at the impact of global operators such as Google Books and their effect on reading and publishing. We’ll visit archives, libraries, publishers and bookstores. We’ll investigate digital readers, smart phones, and hand-held devices. We’ll examine:
You’ll work on research questions and problems relevant to your interests in work you are currently involved with or plan to explore later in your career. The course will be seminar-based and held in an electronic classroom. In addition to an in-class seminar presentation (40% of final grade), which may be web-based, you will produce a detailed assignment which may be presented either as a written paper or in digital or other media format (60% of final grade).

Assigned reading will be taken from on-line journals and book history websites, with additional readings from the following list.
Bolter, Jay David. Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print. 2nd ed., 2001.
Epstein, Jason. Book Business: Publishing Past Present and Future, 2002.
Finkelstein, David and Alistair McCleery, eds. The Book History Reader, 2002.
Greco, Albert N. The Book Publishing Industry, 2nd ed., 2005.
Hayles, N. Katherine . Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary, 2008.
-----. My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts, 2005.
-----. Nanoculture: Implications of the New Technoscience (ed.), 2004.
Hayles, N. Katherine Adelaide Morris, and Thomas Swiss eds. New Media Poetics: Contexts, Technotexts, and Theories, eds., 2006.
McGann, Jerome. The Scholar's Art. Literature and Scholarship in a Managed World, 2006.
-----. Radiant Textuality: Literature after the World Wide Web, 2001.
O’Donnell, James J. Avatars of the Word, 1997.

G. Fenwick  – Monday 9:00 – 11:00 am
Room: Pratt Library – Rooms 306 & 302

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