Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG414H1F L0101

ENG414H1F    L0101    W1-3
Advanced Studies Group 1: Literary Citizenship
Professor Robert McGill

Office Location: Jackman Humanities Building, Room 716
Email: robert.mcgill@utoronto.ca

Brief Description of Course: Literary citizenship involves participation in building and sustaining cultural communities through things from podcasts and micro-presses to reading series and book clubs. Examining Toronto-based activities, some with a local focus and others with a national or transnational emphasis, we’ll investigate how and why they developed, whom they serve, and what functions they perform.
We’ll consider the economics and demographics of contemporary publishing, the effects of new media on book culture, the use of literature in fostering literacy and social justice, and the relationship between literary citizenship and the state. We’ll also practise literary citizenship ourselves through blog posts and book reviews,while students will conduct independent research into literary-citizenship initiatives. The course will cultivate expertise regarding a wide range of possibilities for literary citizenship while attending to broader issues such as the valuing of literature, labour, and community in the twenty-first century.


Required Reading: (subject to change) Lori A. May, The Write Crowd; André Alexis, Fifteen Dogs; Gail Pool, Jan Zwicky, Michael Lista, J. Edward Chamberlin, Peter Kageyama, Melody Warnick, Helen Cahill, Glenn Greenwald, Adam Gopnik, Roy MacSkimming, Erin Wunker, Lucas Crawford, and others; materials from the websites of PEN Canada, The Love Lettering Project, Story Planet, Coach House Books, and Canadian Women in the Literary Arts (CWILA).

First Three Authors/Texts:  Cathy Day, “Cathy Day’s Principles of Literary Citizenship”; Lori A. May, The Write Crowd; Becky Tuch, “More Work, No Pay: Why I Detest ‘Literary Citizenship.’”

Method of Instruction: Seminar.

Method of Evaluation: Class participation (10%), blog post and responses (10%), book review (20%), report proposal and outline (10%), report (40%), report presentation (5%).

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