2024 - 25 Proposed Graduate Seminars

  • ENG 801.3 | Introduction to Textual Scholarship | TBD

An introduction to textual authority, including the study of bibliographic description, editorial technique, textual transmission, database searches, and the history of modes of publication.

  • ENG 819.3 | Digital Methods and Medieval Texts | Instructor: Peter Robinson

In the last decades, the development of digital tools has begun to transform how we access texts, how we think about them, and what we do with them. This course will review these digital tools and how they have changed our approach to texts. The course will focus on two areas: on the making of digital editions and on medieval texts (particularly Chaucer and Dante). In the last few years, advances in hand-written text recognition tools and in the application of Artificial Intelligence methods, such as ChatGPT, are opening new perspectives. We are entering a period where the mass of digital texts of historic source materials (including manuscripts) may increase dramatically, and where new tools to address these texts are emerging. The course will include hands-on use of digital tools and the opportunity to develop a mini project using digital tools and texts, which can be submitted as the course long paper.

  • ENG 803.3 | English Literature and the Culture of Curiosity 1580-1700 | Instructor: Brent Nelson

Notions of curiosity were complicated and often conflicted in the age of scientific and geographical discovery. In this course, we will track changing notions of and attitudes toward curiosity and its various points of application. To do so, we will examine representations of curiosity through its many senses and significations in early modern literature relating to aesthetics, religion, rhetoric, voyages of discovery, and collections of rarities and curiosities (precursors of modern museums). Our literary interests will be grounded in readings of historical works reflecting these diverse interests, chiefly travel narratives, satire, drama, scientific, and devotional writing. These readings will include such literary texts as Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Richard Bröme’s The Antipodes, Sir Thomas Browne’s Hyrdriotaphia [Urne Buriall], as well as lesser known texts by Elizabeth I, Mary Astell, Margaret Cavendish, Sir Walter Ralegh, Robert Boyle, and others.

  • ENG 843.3 | Lewd Books: Reading Pornography, Eroticism, and Obscenity, 1660–1760 | Instructor: Allison Muri

What distinguishes pornography from eroticism from obscenity? What is their relationship to “literature”? We start with 1668, when Samuel Pepys found in a bookshop a “French book … called “L’escholle des filles” … when I come to look in it, it is the most bawdy, lewd book that ever I saw, rather worse than “Putana errante,” so that I was ashamed of reading in it.” We will examine the role of pornography in Rochester’s satires, circulated in manuscript in the 1670s and so scandalous that they were not published under his name after his death in 1680. One of the eighteenth century’s most prolific writers, Eliza Haywood rose to fame with the publication of the three-volume fiction Love in Excess (1719–20) and raises questions concerning distinctions between light porn for the ladies, and important works of literature. Earlier seen as merely an ephemeral bodice-ripper, the book now takes its place in the history of the novel. As Pat Rogers comments, “The vein of romance she developed is clearly not one of realism, as that term came to be understood, but it does permit more open and psychologically believable treatment of human urges—sex, in particular—than had been usual in what came before” (The Oxford History of the Novel in English, ed. Thomas Keymer). We will examine the prosecution of the shady bookseller Edmund Curll by Attorney General Sir Philip Yorke, for having published two lewd texts: Venus in the Cloister (1724) and A Treatise of the Use of Flogging in Venereal Affairs (1718). In addition, John Cleland’s Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1749) will no doubt inspire debate about representations of sexual deviance, consequence, and redemption. Readings will be augmented by prints and paintings of the period.

  • ENG 843.3 | Canadian Speculative Fiction and the Historical Imagination | Instructor: Wendy Roy

This course will address how Canadian speculative fiction, especially dystopian and apocalyptic fiction, engages with the history of Canada and the larger world. Building on ideas articulated in 1988 by Canadian literary critic Linda Hutcheon about how historiographic metafiction emphasizes the fragmented, biased, and constructed nature of historical narratives, Herb Wyile argued in 2002 that historical fiction in Canada is always speculative. This course will turn this correlation around, considering instead how speculative fiction is in some ways always historical. We will examine how works such as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Wade Compton’s The Outer Harbour, Cherie Dimaline’s The Marrow Thieves, Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, Lawrence Hill’s The Illegal, and Thomas King’s The Back of the Turtle explore events, developments, literatures, and policies in the past that could be recreated in or help to shape an apocalyptic or dystopian future. Some of these novels address how patriarchal and colonialist policies and institutions might be revised and reinstituted to oppress women, Indigenous peoples, and people of colour; how environmental policies of the past might create a dystopian future; and even how texts from the past such as the Bible and Shakespeare’s plays might shape future cultural and social reconstruction after an apocalyptic event. We will place this discussion of Canadian fiction within the larger context of theories about speculative writing by critics such as Darko Suvin, Susan Watkins, Raffaella Baccolini, and Tom Moylan that argue that such fiction always in some ways is grounded in and comments on the present and past.

  • ENG 803.3 | Land Relations and Privatization in Indigenous Literatures |Instructor: Jenna Hunnef

In this seminar, students will read and consider Indigenous peoples’ literary and creative responses to settler-colonial policies designed to erode Indigenous land bases and, by extension, compromise the integrity of kinship ties and the autonomy of Indigenous nations. Taking three different land-based policies as our focus—allotment, road allowances, and the California mission system—we will assess the influence that these policies have had on Indigenous communities throughout Turtle Island while prioritizing the literary perspectives of those who were (and are) directly affected by them and witnessing the ways Indigenous peoples sustain themselves and their communities despite the devastation wrought by these policies. Drawing our readings from a selection of short stories, novels, and life writing from the last 125 years, we will examine literary representations of these historical policies, their immediate consequences in the past, lingering effects on the present, and future-oriented alternatives. Primary readings may include works by John M. Oskison, Alexander Posey, Mourning Dove, Louise Erdrich, Maria Campbell, Craig Womack, Deborah Miranda, and Cherie Dimaline.

  • ENG 811.3 | Movement, Migration, Creolization | Instructor: Jay Rajiva
What does it mean to move and migrate between spaces as a Caribbean subject? How do ideas of crossing borders emerge, and how we can interrogate these ways of knowing and being in the world? Throughout the semester, we will keep this tension in mind as we read a selection of literature from Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, and other areas of the Caribbean, situating theories of diaspora alongside the hybridity (or creolization) of lived experience. In imagining all movement as wounded and traumatic, do we close ourselves off from different ways of understanding change in the world? Conversely, if we imagine that same movement to be utopian, are we overlooking the ways in which mobility privileges certain subjects and contributes to material and discursive inequalities? In this course, we will circle these questions, with a view toward unearthing and tracking productive complexity in our ongoing attempts to do justice to the depth and range of Caribbean literature. Studied authors will include Edwidge Danticat, Edouard Glissant, and Marlon James.