Department of English

University of Toronto

ENG482H1F L0101

ENG482H1F L0101 MW 10-1
Myth and and Archetype in Canadian Literature
R. Brown
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Office Location:
Jackman Humanities Building, Room 630

Brief Description of Course: The turn to myth (Indigenous, classical, and other) and archetype in later twentieth-century English-Canadian literature. We will focus on four novels—Sheila Watson’s The Double Hook, Robert Kroetsch’s The Words of My Roaring (which we will read in conjunction with The Epic of Gilgamesh), Robertson Davies’ Fifth Business, and Margaret Atwood’s The Robber Bride—and will also look at some poems and prose selections. We will read these texts intensively, as well as seeing them as documents in Canadian literary history, especially in the context of the roles of Watson, Marshall McLuhan, Northrop Frye, Jay Macpherson, James Reaney, Kroetsch, Davies, Atwood, and Thomas King. What were the differences between the Modernist use of myths (as seen in Yeats and Joyce) and Canadian postmodernist responses to myth (exemplified by Kroetsch and Atwood)? Why did Canadian writers turn toward myth and archetypes when they did? How was University of Toronto a nexus for this development? What were the competing concepts of myth for Canadian writers (particularly as seen in the ideas of McLuhan and Frye) and how did that affect Canadian poetry, drama, and fiction?

Required Reading: Watson, The Double Hook; Kroetsch, The Words of My Roaring, Anon., The Epic of Gilgamesh (N.K. Sandars, trans.; Penguin); Davies, Fifth Business; Atwood, The Robber Bride.

Additional poems and short prose selections.One additional text for the final essay.(Texts will be available at the Bob Miller Book Room.)

Web Site Address: This course will use Canvas (not Blackboard). For access to the website, send an email to

First Three Authors/Texts: Harry Robinson, “Coyote Challenges God” and “Indian Doctor”,  Thomas King, “The One about Coyote Going West”, Sheila Watson, The Double Hook.

Method of Instruction: Lecture / discussion.

Method of Evaluation: Engaged participation (10%); in-class writing (10%); a short essay (35%); thesis statement and final essay (45%). (Students will choose a text not read for the course for their final essay.)

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