Department of English

University of Toronto


The Giants of Contemporary Theory: Reading the Later Works
M. Ruti

This advanced theory seminar examines selected later works of some of the most influential contemporary theorists: Lacan, Foucault, Derrida, Kristeva, Irigaray, Agamben, Negri, Badiou, Zizek, and Butler. Topics of special interest include politics and resistance; the birth of democracy and biopolitics; the rethinking of religion in social theory; trauma and memory; interpersonal and collective ethics; and the intersections of aesthetics, theory, and politics. A tolerance for a pedagogy of non-mastery is expected of students enrolled in this course.

Lacan, The Other Side of Psychoanalysis; Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics; Derrida, Specters of Marx; Kristeva, This Incredible Need to Believe; Irigaray, Sharing the World; Agamben, The Kingdom and the Glory; Negri, Art and Multitude; Badiou and Zizek, Philosophy in the Present; and Butler (et al.), The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere.

This course will be conducted as a seminar. Paper proposal (15%), seminar discussion (25%); final 20-25 page paper (60%).

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

The Poetics of Resistance
C. Campbell

This course investigates the idea and significance of resistance by attending to the relationship between cultural production and power in the twentieth century. Following Dionne Brand in her recent book Inventory, we will take stock of the limits and possibilities of multiple strategies/forms of resistance to oppression in poetry, fiction, music, film, visual art, theory and performance. We will read primarily in black diaspora traditions, paying close attention to interrelated political movements such as Anti-Colonialism, Black Nationalism/Black Arts, Feminism and Marxism. Why have certain modes of resistance become privileged sites of academic inquiry? How must we re-imagine the project of resistance in this contradictory, neo-colonial, neo-liberal moment? What are new possible vocabularies, sonic landscapes, visions of resistance?

Dionne Brand, Inventory; Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence; Aime Cesaire, Discourse on Colonialism; Aime Cesaire, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land; Paul Gilroy, There Ain't No Black In the Union Jack: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation; CLR James, The Black Jacobins; Frederic Jameson, The Political Unconscious; Robin Kelley, Freeedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination; Fred Moten, In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition; Peter Stallybrass & Allon White, The Politics and Poetics of Transgression.

Participation (20%); Presentation (30%); Research Paper (50%).

Wednesday 11 – 1 pm
Jackman Humanities Building, Room 616
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The Fate of Culture in the Age of Globalization
V. Li

What happens to national or local cultures, to particular ways of life in an age of globalization? Euphoric versions of globalization appear to promise either cultural hybridization or an unproblematic world of multicultural possibilities, while critical versions gloomily predict the triumph of a capitalist “McWorld” in which cultural differences are reduced to homogeneity and we are all subjected to neo-liberal governmentality.

Both versions may, however, have underestimated the complex set of relations between global forces and local ways of life because they see globalization as unfolding smoothly in a linear, teleological fashion. But any discussion of cultural globalization must take into account specific sites (the national, the local, everyday space) in which cultural products are produced, received, and consumed. And if the global is linked inextricably to the local, the latter may be equally influenced, inflected, and shaped by a consciousness of the former. We are thus faced with a complex dialectic in which the two are both opposed and related to one another--a dialectic we must patiently examine without letting go of either pole. In pursuing such a dialectical enquiry, we must also attend to asymmetries of power and the uneven relationships that result from such asymmetries.

Alternatively, however, we can dismiss both the global and the local/national as contemporary imaginaries, at once imprecise and illusory, that address our need for allegories of the present, for totalizing explanatory concepts.

We will begin by reading a number of theoretical overviews of globalization before examining how contemporary writers (and a film-maker) have responded to questions raised by our sense that there is something going on in the world that we have inadequately, perhaps, named “globalization.”

Dionne Brand, Land to Light On. Michelle Cliff, No Telephone to Heaven. Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis. Pico Iyer, The Global Soul. Hari Kunzru, Transmission. John Tomlinson, Globalization and Culture. Jia Zhang-Ke, The World (feature film). There will also be a course reader with articles by Appadurai, Derrida, Dirlik, Featherstone, Gikandi, Hardt and Negri, Jameson, Krishnamurthy, Li, Nancy, Robertson, Shohat and Stam, and Szeman.

Evaluation: The course will be run as a seminar. Evaluation will be based on participation and seminar presentation/paper (worth 40%) and a term paper (worth 60%).

Tuesday 1 – 3 pm
Jackman Humanities Building, Room 617

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Comedies of Capitalism
A. Ackerman

In his 1966 study Modern Tragedy, Raymond Williams defined classical Liberalism as an irremediably tragic political outlook. In the self-interested individualism of Ibsen’s protagonists and the ideology of the free market more broadly, he found guilt, debt, alienation, and the loss of the communitarian ethos of classical tragedy: “Liberalism, in its heroic phase, begins to pass into its twentieth-century breakdown: the self-enclosed, guilty and isolated world; the time of man his own victim.” This seminar aims to reconsider the “genre” of economic and philosophical Liberalism—to chart an alternative genealogy of theatrical modernity, in which individual economic enfranchisement and its representation in drama and performance might be imagined as comic and liberating.

Course Requirements:


Primary Texts:
Warner Brothers’ cartoons; Plautus, Pot of Gold, Pseudolus; Sondheim, Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; Shakespeare, Comedy of Errors, Merchant of Venice; Jonson, Volpone; Gay, The Beggar’s Opera; Twain, Huckleberry Finn; Chaplin, Modern Times; Sturges, The Lady Eve; Marx Brothers, Duck Soup; Kaufman, Stage Door; Berlin, Fields & Fields, Annie Get Your Gun; Sit-coms.

Secondary Texts: Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments; Henri Bergson, Laughter; Erich Segal, The Death of Comedy; Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism; Kenneth Burke, Attitudes Toward History; Michael North, Machine-Age Comedy; Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” Freud, Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious; Gilbert Seldes, The 7 Lively Arts, Theodor Adorno, The Culture Industry; Stanley Cavell, Pursuits of Happiness; Joseph Shumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism And Democracy; Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom; Philip Fisher, Still the New World; James Livingston, Pragmatism, Feminism, and Democracy; Margaret Atwood’s Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth; Marc Shell, Money, Language, and Thought.


Seminar discussion: Informed participation (20%).
One-page responses on Blackboard (20%).
Presentations (20%).
Research Essay (40%).

Monday 4 – 6 pm
Jackman Humanities Building Room 718
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History and Structure of the English Language, post-1500
C. Percy

No prerequisite is required for this course, which surveys the linguistic and cultural history of the English language from the late fifteenth century until the present day. In lectures and brief reports, we will identify representative developments in vocabulary, spelling, grammar, pronunciation, and the codification of English in dictionaries and grammars. Themes for research papers and seminar discussion can include the processes and implications of the standardization and codification of English; the functions of English, French, and Latin in and beyond Britain; pidgins and creoles; language and imperialism; the literary use of English (standard and non-standard varieties) by native and non-native speakers; the linguistic effects of printing, news media, the internet, and technology generally.

Course assignments
• (40%) Best 4 of 7 reports (due two days before class at 4 pm)
• (5%) On-line open-book Blackboard quiz (due a few weeks after term finishes)
• 10%, A proposal and bibliography (‘classified’ by subtopic but not ‘annotated’ – see some of the final projects)
• 15%, second half of term) A 20 minute presentation and 10 minute discussion in class
• (25%) The final article, composed as if for web presentation, worth 25% of your final mark
• Class participation grade (5%)

Monday 11 – 1 pm 
Jackman Humanities Building, Room 616
Return to 2012-2013 Graduate Course Timetable.

Inventing Homes and Spaces in Diasporic South Asian Writing
C. Kanaganayakam

Salman Rushdie’s notion of “imaginary homelands” marked a significant phase in South Asian writing as the first generation of diasporic writers, prompted by memory and nostalgia, reconstructed “home” from the perspective of the “native-alien.” Since then diasporic writing has flourished in the diaspora, with many writers negotiating the idea of home in complex and multiple ways. Writers from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have advanced very different stances, largely because of shifting political contexts. Over the years authorial perspective has become much more ambivalent, revealing the fluidity of both home and diasporic space. The objective of the course is to examine the diverse perspectives of each generation of writers and demonstrate that any attempt to advance a poetics of diasporic South Asian writing must take into account the multiple intersections that shape the vision of each generation of writers.

Salman Rushdie – Shame, Moshin Hamid – The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Kiran Desai – The Inheritance of Loss, Randy Boyagoda – The Beggar’s Feast, Michael Ondaatje – Anil’s Ghost, Amitav Ghosh – The Hungry Tide

Assignments and Evaluation
Seminar Presentation and Paper: 35%
One seminar presentation to be given in class (20%) and paper to be submitted within two weeks (15%). Length approximately 25 minutes. Length of written paper: approximately 2000 words. Book Review: 15% One book review to be given in class. Select a day that does not coincide with your seminar. The book review is intended to introduce important secondary material. Presentation not to exceed 10 minutes (750 words). Research Paper: 40% One major research paper that could be the basis for a publishable paper. Length approximately 4000 words. Participation: 10%

Wednesday 9 – 11 am
Trinity College, Larkin Building, Room 213
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Literature and the Resistance to Being
N. Morgenstern

Referring to the June 2006 suicides of three detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Rear Admiral Harry Harris, Camp Commander, insisted: “They have no regard for life, either ours or their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.” This admittedly hyperbolic example condenses a series of questions and enigmas that we will try to come to terms with in this course. Drawing on literary texts from nineteenth and twenty -century America and a range of supplementary philosophical readings, we will examine representations of the renunciation of—or the resistance to—being and of the responses such resistance generates. Is relationship always struggling with a resistance to being? Does a lack of regard for life always have to be experienced as violence by those who are forced to witness it? If the Declaration of Independence asserts certain “inalienable rights . . . among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” is there also a right to death (a human right to resist being)? Or is “life” a sacred value that must be protected at all costs? How might one articulate questions of sovereign power and the particular history of the death penalty in relationship to individual rights? These are ethical and political questions of wide import, but they are also questions about language and communication that demand a specifically literary intervention.

Readings may include: Brown, Edgar Huntly; Hawthorne, “Roger Malvin’s Burial”; Melville, “Bartleby, The Scrivener”; Poe, “Imp of the Perverse”, “The Raven”; Thoreau, “A Plea for Captain John Brown”; Chopin, The Awakening; Cather, The Professor's House; Hemingway, “The Killers”; Munro, “Deep-Holes,” “My Mother's Dream,” “Post and Beam”; Gillespie, Dir. Lars and the Real Girl; Morrison, Beloved; Ozick, The Shawl.

Course Reader (may include works by Derrida, Laplanche, Freud, Agamben, Winnicott, Foucault, Edelman and others).

Course Requirements
Components: participation, seminar presentation, final seminar paper.

Tuesday 11 – 1 pm
Jackman Humanities Building, Room 617
Return to 2012-2013 Graduate Course Timetable.

Law and Literature
S. Stern

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.”

Course Description
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:

Evaluation: 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 4:00 – 6:00 pm
Room FA2, Law School
Return to 2012-2013 Graduate Course Timetable.

Race and Gender in Indigenous Law and Literature
C. Suzack

In "Native Transmotion," Gerald Vizenor asserts the constitutive effects of colonial discourse to institute a series of agential practices that "overburden native memories, associations, and communities" at the same time as they signify the "assurance of a native historical presence." For Vizenor, the texts of state dominance represented by federal statutes, judicial decisions, and executive orders disclose the strategies of incorporation through which native subjects are transformed from objects of colonial dominance into subjects of constitutional democracy. Yet, these documents also illustrate, as Vizenor avows, a native "storied presence" that connects "an actual presence in the memories of others" to the "tragic wisdom of native survivance." This course will tease out the connections between a native historical presence represented in the documents of colonial management and a contemporary indigenous perspective represented in the fiction of aboriginal/indigenous literatures. It will explore the emerging relationship between law and literature as a converging discourse that involves the creation of credible subjects, historical narratives, and political identities. It will examine the way legal themes are represented in literature, and explore how strategies of literary interpretation can be applied to legal texts. Issues of indigenous race and gender construction will be foregrounded, and texts will include case law, political and legal theory, and novels that have law and its consequences as central themes.

Michel Foucault, Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Vintage, (1977) 1995. ---. "Governmentality." The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality. Ed. Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon, and Peter Miller. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1991. 87-104. N. Bruce Duthu, American Indians and the Law. Penguin, 2008. ---. "Incorporative Discourse in Federal Indian Law: Negotiating Tribal Sovereignty Through the Lens of Native American Literature." 13 Harvard Human Rights Journal (2000): 141-189. Gerald Vizenor, Fugitive Poses: Native American Indian Scenes of Absence and Presence. Lincoln and London: U of Nebraska P, 1998. Michael Freeman and Andrew Lewis, Law and Literature: Current Legal Issues, Vol. 2. Oxford UP, 1999. David Scott, "Colonial Governmentality," Social Text 43 (Autumn 1995): 191-220. Eva Marie Garroutte, "The Racial Formation of American Indians: Negotiating Legitimate Identities within Tribal and Federal Law." American Indian Quarterly 25.2 (Spring 2001): 224-39. Pierre Bourdieu, "The Force of Law: Toward a Sociology of the Juridical Field." Trans. Richard Terdiman. Hastings Law Journal 38 (July 1987): 814-53. Walter Benjamin, "Critique of Violence." Trans. Edmund Jephcott. Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings. Ed. and Intro. Peter Demetz. New York: Schocken Books, 1978. 277-300. Robert Cover, "Violence and the Word." Yale Law Journal 95 (1985-86): 1601-29. Jacques Derrida, "Before the Law." Acts of Literature. Ed. Derek Attridge. New York and London: Routledge, 1992. 181-220. D'Arcy McNickle, The Surrounded. U of New Mexico P, (1936) 1978. Leslie Marmon Silko, Almanac of the Dead. Penguin, 1992. Beatrice Culleton Mosionier, In Search of April Raintree: Critical Edition, Portage and Main, (1983) 1999. Simon Ortiz, From Sand Creek. New York: Thunder's Mouth, 1981. Sherman Alexie, Indian Killer. Warner, 1998. James Welch, Fools Crow. Penguin, 1987.

Participation (Class Discussion + Weekly Reading Responses) 20% Seminar Presentation (with accompanying essay) 30% Research Proposal w/ Bibliography 5% Research Essay 45%

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

ENG6825HF Fair Use, Fair Dealing and Critical Reading Across Media
N. Sammond
CANCELLED for Fall 2012

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