Department of English

University of Toronto


Literature, Law and Liberal Culture in the United States 1776-1865
N. Dolan

Course Description
Culture orients the human self by imposing charged symbolic boundaries on time and space, on moral behavior, and on social affection or solidarity. In modern liberal-democratic society the authority to establish such boundaries is (at least partially) transferred from religious tradition and the ancestral to the secular and publicly negotiated instrumentality of the law(s). Between the American Revolution (1776-84) and the Civil War (1860-65) an extraordinary set of laws, legal opinions, public addresses, and quasi-legal public documents -- the Declaration of Independence; The Constitution; The Federalist; The Bill of Rights; the opinions of the Marshall and Taney Supreme Courts, including the Dred Scott decision; Webster's "Reply to Hayne"; the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address - played a decisive role in defining the boundaries of a new kind of liberal-democratic culture in the United States, spatially embodied in new, rapidly expanding, and violently contested national territory. In this course we will attend both to the cultural-symbolic dimension of these foundational legal-political documents, and then to a selection of major works of antebellum American imaginative literature to assess how these literary texts engage, enact, question, or attempt to revise or re-imagine the new boundaries thus established. The goal will be to try to understand how imaginative literature interacted with law in the space of civil society during this era to symbolically shape and reshape a liberal culture.

Course Requirements
Students will be required to write one term paper (70%), to make one class presentation (15%) of a relevant work of theory or history from a provided list of secondary works, and to participate constructively in class discussions (15%).

Wednesday 3 – 6 pm 
Jackman Humanities Building, Room 617
Return to 2012-2013 Graduate Course Timetable.

Magical Realism(s): Postcolonialism and Postmodernism
A. Quayson

This course will focus on a series of questions to do with how to read works of magical realism in a comparative framework. The course will explore definitions of postcolonialism and postmodernism and the ways in which they are mutually illuminated through the genre of Magical realism.

Questions to be raised will include: what are the relationships between fantasy, storytelling, literature and epistemology? How do different cultures attempt to express these relationships? How does magical realism relate to gothic, science fiction and ther cognate genres? How does magical realism help us to resituate theories of mimesis? What is magical realism and how does it help us re-think notions of the epic, narrative, history, and the relation of all these to a global transnational imaginary? In what ways does bringing Postcolonialism and Postmodernism together enable us to arrive at definitions adequate to the complexities of contemporary literary aesthetics?

The course will be divided into two mutually defining aspects, namely: I) general theoretical explorations in definitions of magical realism, postcolonialism and postmodernism and two II) an exploration of various magical realist texts. The primary objective will be to get students to read magical realism critically and dialogically as well as across several paradigms of interpretation drawn from both Western and non-Western theoretical discourses. As such, a lot of emphasis will be put on detailed engagement with the texts to be studied and students will be encouraged to try and follow their own critical/theoretical intuitions as much as possible as a pre-requisite for dealing with the various intersections to be raised in the class more generally.

Course Requirements

Class Presentation of Responses to Texts: 15%. Class Presentation of Research on Particular Theoretical Issues 15%. Annotated Bibliography (40 items): 20%; Final Paper (5,000 words): 50%.

Thursday 3 – 6 pm 
Jackman Humanities Building, Room 718
Return to 2012-2013 Graduate Course Timetable.

American Modernity
D. Seitler

What is the modern? Is it the new? The avant-garde? A break with the past? According to Max Weber's and Michel Foucault's accounts, modernity is the rise of various strategies for "rationalizing" or "disciplining" human life. For Jürgen Habermas, it is a project whose emphasis on reason needs to be thought apart from the effects of capitalist rationalization. Either way, modernity is posited as at once a historical period, a set of aesthetic practices and institutional forms, and a political and philosophical problem. This course will take up these understandings by studying late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century American literature in which questions of modernity and modernization appear as central concerns. Along with the literary texts, we will read a wide range of secondary materials that will help us to consider the inter-penetrating forces of change and upheaval that can be said to characterize both the idea and the experience of the modern as modern-forces of industry, technology, science, war, massification, rationalization, and so forth. The culture of performance, modes of consumption, the problems and the politics of aesthetics, the rise of the cinema and hand-held photography, technologies of personhood, the discourse of disease and contagion, the department store, the city street, and the modern woman will all be considered.

Possible authors may include Henry James, Edith Wharton, Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser, Gertrude Stein, Eugene O'Neill, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and William Faulkner; Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Jürgen Habermas, Bruno Latour, Gayatri Spivak, Dilip Gaonkar, Fredric Jameson, and others.

Seminar presentation (15%), abstract (15%), participation (20%), final research paper (50%).

Tuesday 11 – 1 pm
Jackman Humanities Building, Room 718
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Modernist Creation
L. Switzky

The years 1880 to 1930 saw a major shift in the role and functions of the artist. Even as Romantic theories of inspiration persisted in accounts of artistic creation that promoted the surrender of the conscious mind to intuition or supernatural forces, other artists developed procedures to make their materials—language, paint, sound, film, the body—into more pliable tools for expression. This seminar is about a crisis in the status of artistic labour as the boundaries between apparently autonomous creation and rearrangement, appropriation, quotation and collage became blurred, and as artists began to sample the methods of industrial production. This crisis continues today, as professions that emerged during this period (e.g. film editors, theatre directors, graphic designers) are still uneasily poised between artistic and administrative labour. A crux of the seminar will be the investigation of how new art forms that were—and, in some cases, still are—jostling for recognition influenced accounts of invention and creation among the more established arts, especially literature.

Reading List
(Please note that this reading list was revised May 16, 2012.)
Individual weeks will match texts from within specific fields of artistic labour (literature, theatre, painting, film, design), though the course as a whole will work to forge comparisons between media. Texts we will consider will include: T. S. Eliot, "Tradition and the Individual Talent", "Hamlet and His Problems", "The Function of Criticism”, and selected shorter poems; poems and essays by W. B. Yeats and W. H. Auden; Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons, Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, and "Composition as Explanation"; Luigi Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author; criticism by Clement Greenberg and Michael Fried; Wilhelm Worringer, Abstraction and Empathy; Konstantin Stanislavsky, An Actor's Work (selections); Sigmund Freud, "Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming" and Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of His Childhood; Martin Heidegger, "The Origin of the Work of Art" and "The Thing"; Dziga Vertov, Man with a Movie Camera and Kino-Eye (selections); Walter Gropius, The New Architecture and the Bauhaus; Oskar Schlemmer, "Man and Art Figure"; Thomas Mann, Death in Venice and Tonio Kroger.

Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements
Evaluation: 15% participation; 20% for two very short response papers (about 300 words each); 25% for a short paper comparing accounts of creation in two different arts; 40% for a final paper

Thursday 1 – 3 pm 
Jackman Humanities Building, Room 617
Return to 2012-2013 Graduate Course Timetable.

The City as Archive: Social Memory, Missing Histories, Writing
K. Vernon

What kind of social memory do Canadian cities produce? This interdisciplinary course explores the relationship between urban space, collective memory, and writing, with a particular focus on memories of raced, gendered and sexual histories in the postindustrial Canadian city. We begin with an investigation of how cities remember, and how the phenomenon of collective memory gets produced. From there we move on to an exploration of the impact of modernist urban “renewal” and postmodernist urban gentrification projects on Canadian cities. We consider the erasures of particular raced, classed and gendered presences and their histories from Canadian city-spaces, from the repression of Indigenous geography to the deracination of inner-city black neighbourhoods, to the peripheralization of working class communities and marginalization of women in the sex trade. We consider the effects of these erasures on social memory, and explore the archival work that contemporary Canadian writers perform in recovering the city’s lost memories.

Allen, Lillian. "Rub a dub style inna Regent Park"; Revolutionary Tea Party; Audiocassette. Toronto: Verse to Vinyl, 1986; Boyd, George, Consecrated Ground. Winnipeg: Blizzard, 1999; Cooper, Afua. "Remembering Africville." Unpublished paper, 2007; Compton, Wayde, Performance Bond. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp, 2004; deVries, Maggie. Missing Sarah: A Vancouver Woman Remembers Her Vanished Sister. Toronto: Penguin, 2003; Maracle, Lee. “Goodbye Snauq.” Our Stories: Aboriginal Voices on Canada’s Past, ed. Tantoo Cardinal, et. al. Toronto: Doubleday, 2004; Murakami, Sachiko. The Invisibility Exhibit. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2008; Scofield, Gregory. Singing Home the Bones. Vancouver: Raincoast Books, 2005; Stone, Anne and Amber Dean, eds. Special Issue of West Coast Line 53: Representations of Murdered and Missing Women. Burnaby: West Coast Review Publishing Society, 2007; Vidaver, Aaron, ed. Special Issue of West Coast Line 41: Woodsquat. Burnaby: West Coast Review Publishing Society, 2004. Select readings from: Bowen, Anna. Urban Spaces of Racialization: White Ethnicity and Gentrification in Toronto. Toronto: U of T Press, 2007; Crinson, Mark. Urban Memory: History and Amnesia in the Modern City. New York: Routledge, 2005; Halbwachs, Maurice. The Collective Memory, trans. Francis J. Ditter Jr., and Vida Yazdi Ditter. New York: Harper and Row, 1980; Huyssen, Andreas. Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2003; Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Random House, 1993; Lay, David. Gentrification in Canadian Inner Cities: Patterns, Analysis, Impact, and Policy. Vancouver: UBC Department of Geography, 1985; Nora, Pierre. Les Lieux de mémoire. Paris: Gallimard, 1984; Rose, Albert. Regent Park: A Study in Slum Clearance. Toronto: U of T Press, 1958; Rossi, Aldo. Architecture. Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press, 1991; Smith, Neil, and Peter Williams, eds. Gentrification of the City. Boston: Allen & Urwin, 1984; Wilcox, Alana and Jason McBride, eds. uTOpia: Towards a New Toronto. Toronto: Coach House Books, 2005.

Course Requirements:
Class Presentation 10%, Second Class Presentation 25%, First Paper 25%, Term Research Paper 30%, Participation 10%.

Thursday 11 – 1 pm
Jackman Humanities Building, Room 718
Return to 2012-2013 Graduate Course Timetable.

Alice Munro and the Possibilities of the Short Story
M. Levene

When asked about the recurrence of adultery and “sex without guilt” in her stories, Munro—without a trace of disingenuousness—explained that she found these subjects “interesting.” This seminar will explore her work because it is “interesting” in the deep manner in which Shakespeare and Joyce are interesting. An implication of this word is that our discussions will have no set ideological or methodological prism. They will centre on close readings of entire volumes (supplemented by other stories from the body of her work) with a view to the possibilities she creates in the short story form, among them the layering of stories within stories, transformed “epiphanies,” narrative pauses, and ontological parentheses. Where possible, the seminar will focus as well on ties between Munro’s fiction and stories by Chekhov, Joyce, Trevor, O’Connor, Gallant, Carver, Davis.

Primary Reading: Lives of Girls and Women, The Moons of Jupiter, The Progress of Love, Open Secrets, The Love of a Good Woman, Too Much Happiness. The Bob Miller Bookroom has the material for the course.

Students will be responsible for at least one presentation that will be re-worked and submitted (together 20%). Regular participation is expected (20% of the grade). A final research paper (25 pages and 60%) is due about two weeks before the end of term. All papers are to be submitted by hand, not as e-mail attachments.

Wednesday 6 – 9 pm 
Jackman Humanities Building, Room 718
Return to 2012-2013 Graduate Course Timetable.

The Poetics of Haunting in Canadian Fiction
M. Goldman

For many years, Canada was renowned for its supposed lack of ghosts. In 1833, Catherine Parr Traill proclaimed: “As to ghosts or spirits they appear totally banished from Canada. This is too matter-of-fact country for such supernaturals to visit.” Over a hundred years later, Canadian poet and critic Early Birney echoed her sentiments stating that “it’s only by our lack of ghosts we’re haunted.” These assertions, however, need to be revisited because contemporary Canadian literature is obsessed with ghosts and haunting. A host of writers, including Margaret Atwood, Anne Marie MacDonald, Jane Urquhart, Timothy Findley, Michael Ondaatje, Daphne Marlatt, Kerri Sakamoto, Joy Kowgawa, Eden Robinson, and Dionne Brand have taken pains to map the intricacies of haunting. This course will focus on the spectral effects in contemporary Canadian fiction. Questions to be considered include: how does living with ghosts entails a politics of memory, of inheritance, and of mourning that continues to shape Canadian literature? As well, if ghosts signal the return of a secret, something repressed, then what types of secrets (ranging from familial to national) are encrypted in the texts under consideration? What is the impact of haunting on textual production; for instance, to what extent is abjection (understood textually as an impulse toward decomposition, disintegration and the breaking-up of language) the structuring principle of haunting? To address these questions, the course will draw on psychoanalytic, feminist, post-colonial, and post-structuralist theory.

Course Requirements
Seminar. Each student is responsible for at least one seminar report based on the reading for the week (frequency dependent on class size), a weekly response paper (2 pages), and one long research paper (20 pages). Regular participation is expected.
Works by S. Watson, G. Anderson-Dargaatz, J. Steffler, Urquhart, M. Atwood, D. Brand, T. King, among others.
Some background in Canadian literature.

Wednesday 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 
Jackman Humanities Building, Room 617
Return to 2012-2013 Graduate Course Timetable.

Canadian Literature at the Border
R. McGill

While border studies is still an emergent field, Canadian writers have long recognized the importance of their nation's boundary with the United States, not only in terms of security and trade but with regard to identity and culture. Focusing on fiction, poetry, and drama from the past forty years, we will read literature that construes the border as a line to be defended but also to be crossed, a site for encounters with uncanny otherness, a locus of transgression or contamination, and a place where identity breaks down or is reconfirmed. We will investigate how literature imbricates the border with such issues as queer and aboriginal politics, war, and neo-imperialism. At the same time, we will engage with recent scholarship to examine how postcolonialism, ecocriticism, and hemispheric studies complicate approaches to the border. We will also revisit influential essays by writers such as Dennis Lee and Marshall McLuhan to consider how a consciousness about the border has informed Canadian literary nationalism.

Margaret Atwood, Surfacing; Wayde Compton, 49th Parallel Psalm; Thomas King, Truth and Bright Water; Kelly Rebar, Bordertown Café; Richard Rohmer, Ultimatum; Susan Swan, The Biggest Modern Woman of the World; Guy Vanderhaeghe, The Englishman's Boy. Critical texts by Gloria Anzaldúa, George Grant, Linda Hutcheon, Dennis Lee, Marshall McLuhan, Mary Louise Pratt et al.
Conference-style abstract and paper presentation (25%); in-class text review (15%); final essay (45%); class participation (15%).

Wednesday 1 – 3 pm
Jackman Humanities Building, Room 718
Return to 2012-2013 Graduate Course Timetable.

Actuality, Documentary, Reality
A. Maurice

Course Description
This course will examine various presentations of the real in film and television. From the earliest motion pictures to documentaries and current “reality-based” media, the urge to represent the real has driven the development of new genres and sparked a century of debates. In this course, we will interrogate the terms “actuality,” “documentary,” and “reality” in order to think about the shifting definitions of and demands the real in film and other visual media. We will also ask why there is an often-strained relationship between the aesthetic of realism and the representation of the “real world.” In looking at various representations of ‘reality,” we will explore the relationship between form and content, both in the works themselves and in critical debates about realism, representation, aesthetics, ethics, technology, and politics. What counts as “real”? How does the re-enactment function within discourses of documentary realism? How do new technologies affect the demand for — and even the definition of — reality on screen? We will look at early, classic and contemporary examples of documentary and other reality-based forms; we will also look at documentary works that “mimic” fiction and at fictional works that “mimic” documentary in order to think about the potentially uncanny effect produced by these texts. In addition to watching films, we will also read essays in film studies, literary criticism, and critical theory.

Films may include: Early Lumière and Edison shorts; Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929); Salesman (Albert and David Maysles, 1968); Elephant (Gus Van Sant, 2003); The Class (Entre les murs, Laurent Cantet, 2008), Waltz With Bashir (Ari Folman, 2008); Standard Operating Procedure (Errol Morris, 2008); Harlan County, USA (Barbara Kopple, 1976); COAL (Spike, 2011);The Arbor (Clio Barnard, 2010)

Authors may include: Andre Bazin, Phil Rosen, Kristen Whissel, Vivian Sobchack, Siegrfried Kracauer, John Grierson, Walter Benjamin, and others

LECTURE: Friday 12 – 3 pm, Innis College Room 313
SCREENING: Monday 6 – 8 pm, TBA

Return to 2012-2013 Graduate Course Timetable.

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