About 400-level Seminars

400-level classes are seminars, with lower enrolment (limited to fifteen students) and more intensive, student-led discussion and self-directed research than is typical of 300-level classes. While they are required for students in the Honours program, they are open to senior English majors and are a wonderful experience for capable students who would enjoy a deeper dive into a focused topic. 

6 credit units of 300-level English and a major average of at least 70% is normally required for permission to register. If you are interested in 400-level classes, please contact the Undergraduate Chair, Prof. Ella Ophir: e.ophir@usask.ca  

400-Level Classes

Please see our 2022-23 English Course Handbook for a list of all our undergraduate classes.

402.3 (01) TOPICS IN ANGLO-SAXON AND MEDIEVAL LITERATURE: THE PROVERB IN MEDIEVAL ENGLISH AND RELATED LITERATURES 

T1 T 1:30 (Richard Harris) – Category 1

Among the phraseological building blocks of oral narrative, proverbs are usually perceived as originating from the folk. They are useful also in the rhetoric of the learned, however, and their occurrences in the written texts of medieval Germanic literature attest to a sophistication and occasionally ironic significance not generally associated with the assumed spontaneity of orature. This course will survey the historical and cultural backgrounds of wisdom literature at the same time as it allows students to consider the literary uses of paroemial material in such works as Beowulf, five Old Icelandic sagas (Vǫlsunga saga, Njáls saga, Grettis saga, Hrafnkels saga and Hœnsa-Þóris saga) and the Middle High German Nibelungenlied. It is to be expected that such a closely defined micro-structural approach to the texts will enrich our appreciation of the composition of this literature as well as providing a better understanding of that body of oral tradition from which it has grown.

ENG 404.3 (01) TOPICS IN 16TH CENTURY LITERATURE IN ENGLISH : LOVE, MARRIAGE, AND DESIRE 

T1 R 1:30 (Joanne Rochester) – Category 2

Love, marriage, and romance are major themes of the literary output of 16th century England. In poetry, prose and drama, lyrics celebrate a lover’s beauty, sonnet sequences are written to woo, celebrate or flatter, comedies and tragedies turn on the struggles of love, and love lies, at least ostensibly, at the heart of romance epics such as Sidney’s Arcadia and Spenser’s The Faerie Queene.

     But the period also used the language of love, courtship and desire for many other ends -- to gain political power, facilitate religious expression, comment allegorically on politics, and achieve social ambitions. Early Modern families of all ranks saw marriage and courtship as strategies for gain and social advancement. The language of desire was also used to smooth political negotiations and relations between lords and servants, the monarch and courtiers, and even parents and children. These varied uses drive the development of poetry and the lyric – so a love poem is most frequently not about love. 

     Treatments of love on the stage vary widely; romantic love and marriage is the central concern of Shakespeare’s romantic comedies, but satiric writers like Middleton, Jonson and Marston present erotic desire as a comically debased, an inherently ridiculous force which no wise man trusts; marriage and cuckoldry go hand in hand. Tragedies often turn on failed love, betrayal, or erotic obsession (incest, same-sex desire) and often end in domestic violence. “Patient Grissel” tales of abused wives or deceived husbands form a particular sub-genre of domestic tragedy, while the idealized world of romances feature impossible tales of separated lovers reunited by the whims of the gods or fate.  The literature of the period rings every change possible on the topic: realist, cynical, idealized, allegorical and transformative, debased, erotic and pornographic.

     This broad topic is chosen to enable us to read a spectrum of texts, ranging through prose pamphlets and broadsides, diaries and personal histories, poetry, including selections of sonnet sequences (Shakespeare, Sidney) and poetry and prose epics (the Arcadia and Spenser’s The Faerie Queene), plays (tragedies, tragicomedies, comedies and romances) to occasional works such as wedding masques, coronation pageants, and tilts. We are centered in the period 1520-1603, but will dip into the early 17th century if we can, to include particularly interesting plays.

ENG 414.3 (61) TOPICS IN 19TH CENTURY BRITISH LITERATURE: DISABILITY AND VICTORIAN FICTION

T1 F 1:30 (Kylee-Ann Hingston) – Category 3

Throughout the nineteenth century, the concept of the human body—where it begins and ends, how it connects to one’s identity or soul, what it represents socially and culturally—was continually being negotiated in response to rapid changes in industry, technology, and medicine, in social and economic class structures, and in religious doctrine and practice. As a result, “disability is everywhere in Victorian literature and culture,” Martha Stoddard Holmes notes. In this course, we will examine the way those negotiations appear in Victorian short fiction, paying particular attention to disability’s place in narrative form and genres to uncover the ways certain bodies, minds, and behaviours were invested with meaning. To help ground our analysis in the methodologies of narrative theory and literary disability studies, we will also do selected readings from those fields alongside Victorian stories and novellas.

ENG 446.3 (02) TOPICS IN GENRES AND CONTEXTS OF MODERN LITERATURE: “THE SHOCK OF THE NEW” AT A HUNDRED YEARS OLD

T2 T 1:30 (Ella Ophir) – Category 4

With their strange forms and other offenses against propriety, the works that came to be called “modernist” were absorbing and responding to the rapid changes of the first decades of the twentieth century—the steady reshaping of everything from everyday life to global relations and warfare to fundamental conceptions of time, space, and (though rather more slowly) race, gender, and sexuality. From our vantage point a century on we will examine a selection of the era’s experimental literary works and inquire into the aesthetics of rupture, dislocation, and shock. How familiar is modernist defamiliarization, how new is modernism now? (How new, we might ask, was it ever?) What modernist legacies have been absorbed into the cultural mainstream, and what might remain to be activated? What might those who called themselves modern a hundred years ago have to offer a world in which the pace of change, and the powers of destruction, have accelerated beyond their imaginings? We will begin with a tale of a literal explosion, Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent; other writers may include Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes, Hope Mirrlees, T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Sophie Treadwell, William Faulkner, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston.

ENG 484.3 (62) TOPICS IN LITERATURE BY WOMEN: FORMS OF HUNGER: THE LITERARY AFTERLIVES OF SIMONE WEIL

T2 R 1:30 (Cynthia Wallace) – Category 4

This course examines the French philosopher-mystic Simone Weil's provocative influence in twentieth- and twenty-first-century women's writing in English. Beginning with a study of Weil's key texts and key concepts, including her Leftist politics, her attention-oriented ethics, her anti-colonialism, and her religious turn, the course then turns to women writers who have been influenced by—and who have grappled with—Weil's legacy. These may include Adrienne Rich, Mary Gordon, Anne Carson, Audre Lorde, M. NourbeSe Philip, Stephanie Strickland, Lorri Nielsen Glenn, and Maggie Helwig. We will wonder together about the compulsive impulse to write and rewrite Weil's life as a site of generative tension about feminism and embodiment, religion and ethics, and anti-imperialism in contemporary women's writing.

ENG 496.3 (02) CAREER INTERNSHIP

T2 M 2:30 (TBA) – Non-category

“So, what are you going to do with that English degree?” If you’ve found yourself at a loss for an answer to this question, this course may be for you. Internship students earn three credit units while gaining valuable experience in areas such as research, communications, grant-writing, editing, teaching writing, and promoting literacy. Internships are available with a range of organisations in Saskatoon and the University. Past placements have included Sage Hill Writing Experience, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, PAVED Arts, Student Learning Services, the University Library, Arts & Science and University communications offices, the Saskatchewan Literacy Network, Frontier College, Saskatoon Correctional Centre, Sherbrooke Community Centre, the Department of English, and the MFA in Writing program.

    The time commitment is comparable to that expected in other 400-level courses: interns provide approximately 70 hours to the organization they are placed with, and meet as a class every second week throughout the term. Coursework includes reflective and analytical assignments and one substantial term paper. Interested students should contact Professor James-Cavan (kathleen.james-cavan@usask.ca) and Professor Ophir (e.ophir@usask.ca). 

ENG 497.0 (01) HONOURS COLLOQUIUM

T1/T2 (Ella Ophir) – Non-category

The Department of English Honours Colloquium is a required (and really great) part of the Honours program. Graduating Honours and Double Honours students prepare short scholarly papers for conference-style presentation at the Colloquium, a day-long event held in the first week of February. Presentations are normally adapted from graded (or about to be graded) essays written for 300- or 400-level courses, after consultation with the course professor or the Undergraduate Chair. Three development sessions, starting in Term 1, will provide information on the form and function of the colloquium, establish working groups, guide the process of adaptation, and review best practices for presentations as well as professional conference etiquette. Note that while this course is required for Honours and Double Honours students, it has no credit unit value. Students will receive informal feedback, but there will be no formal evaluation. Students entering the final year of the Honours program should contact the Undergraduate Chair to confirm enrolment in ENG 497: Professor Ophir at e.ophir@usask.ca