Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG353Y1Y L0101

ENG353Y1Y   L0101   MWF1
Course Title: Canadian Fiction
Instructor: A. Muredda

Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, Room TBA

Brief Description of Course: In Survival, her thematic guide to Canadian literature up to the book’s publication in 1972, Margaret Atwood famously characterized Canadian writing as an anxious collection of stories about victimhood that culminate in “warped family relations, blighted harvests and mad children.” This course introduces students to a considerably more diverse range of English- Canadian fiction from the 1920s to the present than that description would suggest, exploring Atwood’s bleak canon while taking in challenges to its orthodoxy. Our fall reading will familiarize us with a number of major developments in Canadian fiction up to the 1970s, including romance, regionalism, realism, modernism, and postmodernism. In the second term, we will consider how contemporary authors’ engagement with questions of class, race, sexual diversity, colonialism, and transnationalism forces a reconsideration of what it means to write and to read Canadian fiction. In addition to thinking through some of the formal dimensions of our course readings — which span novels, short stories, and one graphic novel— we will assess what is ostensibly Canadian about Canadian fiction, and whether such distinctions are tenable in our current moment.

Required Reading:
Lucy Maud Montgomery, Emily of New Moon (1923)
Sinclair Ross, As for Me and My House (1941)
Sheila Watson, The Double Hook (1959)
Leonard Cohen, Beautiful Losers (1966)
Alice Munro, Lives of Girls and Women (1971)
Timothy Findley, The Wars (1977)

Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient (1992)
Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace (1996)
Nalo Hopkinson, Brown Girl in the Ring (1998)
Eden Robinson, Monkey Beach (2000)
Dionne Brand, What We All Long For (2005)
Jeff Lemire, Essex County (2011)

We will also be reading a selection of short stories by Mavis Gallant, Thomas King, Rohinton Mistry, Madeleine Thien, David Bezmozgis, and Lisa Moore.

First Three Authors/Texts: Montgomery, Ross, Watson.

Method of Evaluation: First term essay, 1500-2000 words (20%); second term essay, 2500-3000 words (30%); blackboard discussion posts (15%); in-class participation (10%); exam (25%).

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