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Graduate courses

Course timetable

2020-2021 courses

3 credit hours

Professor Lucas Crawford

Queer theorists are often referred to in English classes; after all, what English student hasn't heard a quick summary of panopticism, homosociality, or performativity? What English student hasn’t heard the names Foucault, Sedgwick, and Butler? Yet, it is rare that students have the chance to actually study these authors directly and in a sustained way. This course aims to build on students' experiences with literary theory by diving deeply into the work of three key figures (those named above) and into key "offshoots" of queer theory (such as queer of colour theory, transgender theory, crip theory, and theories of queer space).

While we will trace out the influence of Sedgwick, Butler, and Foucault on these other fields, we will also ask about the slanted process of canon formation. Why and how were some voices in queer theory heard more often than others? Are there ways in which these apparent "offshoot" subfields were present in queer theory from its (ambiguous, complex) beginnings? How, we will ask, can today's readers of queer theory attend to the field's dual commitments to politics and to bodies? Does queer theory still do what it used to do? What is "queer" about it, anyhow? What kind of theory do we need now? These will be some of our questions.

This course is for all graduate students who are interested in discussing how our bodies, pleasures, desires, and cultures work – regardless of one’s experience with theory or with queer life. We will disrupt the common perceptions that theory is needlessly complex, or “too hard,” or somehow not material. We will direct our attention to the impact of queer theory on our times, on our thinking, and on our own critical and creative writing practices.

Tentative Reading List

Weeks 1-3: Foucault

  • The History of Sexuality. All of Volume One (The Will to Knowledge) and other excerpts.
  • Discipline and Punish: the Birth of the Prison.
  • Madness and Civilization: a History of Insanity in the Age of Reason.

Weeks 4-6: Sedgwick

  • Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire.
  • Epistemology of the Closet.
  • Tendencies

Weeks 7-9: Butler

  • Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity.
  • Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex.”

Week 10: Queer of Colour Theory I

  • Articles and chapters by Jose Esteban Munoz, E. Patrick Johnson, Qwo-Li Driskill

Week 11: Queer of Colour Theory II

  • Articles and chapters by Sara Ahmed, Jasbir Puar, Kara Keeling

Week 12: Transgender Theory

  • Articles and chapters by Susan Stryker, Sandy Stone, Paul B. Preciado, Jack Halberstam

Week 13: Queer Crip Theory

  • Articles and chapters by Robert McRuer, Ann Cvetkovich, Eli Clare, Jason Whitesel

Week 14: Queer Rural Theory

  • Articles and chapters by Scott Herring, Karen Tongsen, Colin Johnson, Mary L. Gray

[Compulsory Pass/Fail course for all new graduate students]

6 credit hours

Professor Stephen Schryer

An introduction to graduate study at UNB.  The first term will consist of seminars on post-secondary teaching, research sources on campus (including those of the library, Internet, and the campus network), workshops on writing SSHRC applications, and strategies of dissertation research and publication (academic and creative).  The second term will consist of supervised research leading to a thesis proposal.  This course is taken in addition to the required 15 ch for MA students and 15 ch for PhD students.


3 credit hours

Various professors

Under exceptional circumstances, a student may be granted permission to take a directed reading course.  The student must prepare a proposal for a directed reading course, in consultation with the proposed instructor, and submit it for approval to the Graduate Committee at least one month prior to the term in which the course is to be taken. The Committee may decline to approve proposals or ask for revisions.  Such course proposals must follow these guidelines:

The student must find a faculty member willing to supervise the directed reading course. Faculty members will take on the directed reading course as an overload teaching assignment.

The proposal should provide the reading list and an outline of assignments, with the relative grade weighting for each. The student will write at least two substantial papers or one paper and a final examination.

The reading course must be sufficiently substantial to warrant a 3-ch weighting and be entirely different from the thesis or dissertation.

Only one student will be allowed to take the same reading course at a time.

Only one course of those required for the degree can be a directed reading course.

Such a course will consist of at least six meetings and twelve contact hours with the course supervisor.

If the directed reading course is interdisciplinary in nature, the supervisor will be a member of the GAU in English.

While students who have been accepted to the MA programme are encouraged to enquire with the Director of Graduate Studies about the possibility of undertaking a directed reading course, directed reading courses will not normally be approved for students who have not yet undertaken their first term of study.


3 credit hours

Various professors

Studio courses are for the purpose of pursuing a well-defined writing project that lies beyond the writing undertaken in the creative writing workshops. The student must prepare a proposal for a studio course, in consultation with the proposed instructor, and submit it for approval to the Graduate Committee at least one month prior to the term in which the course is to be taken. The Committee may decline to approve proposals or ask for revisions. Such course proposals must follow these guidelines:

The student must find a faculty member or instructor willing to supervise the writing project. Faculty members will take on the studio course as an overload teaching assignment.

The proposal should provide the reading list and an outline of assignments, with the relative grade weighting for each assignment. The student will write one major project, in addition to other relevant smaller assignments to be determined by the student and supervisor.

The course must be sufficiently substantial to warrant a 3-ch weighting and be entirely different from the creative writing thesis.

Only one or two students will be allowed to take the same studio course at a time.

Only one course of those required for the degree can be a studio course.

Regular meetings must be arranged. The course should include at least eight contact hours with the course supervisor.

A supervisor may be selected from the literary community outside the department as long as she or he is approved by the English Department. Possible supervisors include the department’s Honorary Research Associates and Professors Emeriti.

While students who have been accepted to the MA programme are encouraged to enquire with the Director of Creative Writing about the possibility of undertaking a studio course, studio courses will not normally be approved for students who have not yet undertaken their first term of study.


3 credit hours

Professor Triny Finlay

This graduate seminar is a workshop designed to develop and improve skills with the elements of poetry, such as metaphor, imagery, rhythm, line break, syntax, the registers of diction, and sound pattern. The course will explore poetic form, ranging from free verse and narrative to structured verse such as the sonnet and glosa. Attention will also be given to professional concerns, including the development of a distinctive voice and style, publication in journals, and the preparation of book manuscripts. Students in the course will workshop their poetry throughout the term; prepare an in-class presentation on an assigned poet; keep a reading journal for assigned secondary readings; and put together a final portfolio of the term’s work for evaluation.

Primary course texts:

  • Belcourt, Billy-Ray. This Wound Is A World. Frontenac House, 2017
  • Brand, Dionne. Ossuaries. McClelland & Stewart, 2010
  • Pico, Tommy. Junk. Tin House, 2018
  • Vermette, Katherena. North End Love Songs. Muses’ Company, 2012
  • Wang, Phoebe. Admission Requirements. McClelland & Stewart, 2017

3 credit hours

Professor Triny Finlay

This course is restricted to students in the PhD programme in English (Creative Writing) who have already taken English 6123 at the MA level. A workshop designed to develop and improve skills with the elements of poetry, such as metaphor, rhythm, line break, syntax, registers of diction, and sound pattern. The course will explore poetic forms, ranging from free verse to structured forms, such as the sonnet, sestina and glosa.

Attention will also be given to professional concerns, including publication in journals and the preparation of book manuscripts. Prerequisite English 6123.


3 credit hours

Professor Mark Jarman

A course designed to develop skills in short fiction, with room for students interested in writing novellas or novels. Taught in a workshop format, with close attention to line-by-line editing and revision and some preparation for publication in markets such as literary quarterlies, higher circulation magazines, small presses and larger publishing houses.

Text: A subscription to The Fiddlehead (student rate)


3 credit hours

Professor Mark Jarman

This course is restricted to students in the PhD programme in English (Creative Writing) who have already taken English 6143 at the MA level. A course designed to develop skills in short fiction, with room for students interested in writing novellas or novels. Taught in a workshop format, with close attention to line-by-line editing and revision and some preparation for publication in markets such as literary quarterlies, higher circulation magazines, small presses and larger publishing houses. Prerequisite English 6143.


3 credit hours

Professor Len Falkenstein

Taught in a workshop format, this course will develop students’ skills in writing for the stage. Beginning with exercises in the scripting of dramatic action, monologues, and simple scenes, students will by the end of the class write a one act or full length play suitable for submission to an established theatre company or production at one of Canada’s many theatre festivals. Students will also learn about the market for plays in Canada and the various routes that new scripts may take towards production by either mainstream or alternative theatre companies.


3 credit hours

Professor Len Falkenstein

This course is restricted to students in the PhD program in English (Creative Writing) who have already taken ENGL 6163 at the MA level. Taught in a workshop format, this course will develop students’ skills in writing for the stage. Beginning with exercises in the scripting of dramatic action, monologues, and simple scenes, students will by the end of the class write a one act or full length play suitable for submission to an established theatre company or production at one of Canada’s many theatre festivals. Students will also learn about the market for plays in Canada and the various routes that new scripts may take towards production by either mainstream or alternative theatre companies. Prerequisite English 6163.


3 credit hours

Professor Randall Martin

This seminar will investigate imaginative and theatrical anticipations and analogies of evolutionary ideas in Shakespeare, broadly defined in terms of pre-Cartesian, Darwinian, and posthumanist epistemologies. These relationships include:

1) Pre-scientific ideas of natural selection and genetic mutation embedded in empirical practices of artificial selection, such as the hybridization of animals and plants (e.g. Henry IV Part Two), and imaginatively conceptualized by narratives of metamorphosis and transmutation found in classical writers such as Ovid and Lucretius (e.g. Venus and Adonis, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest).  

2) Shakespeare’s engagements with classical and early modern discussions of animal and human affinities in writers such as Michel de Montaigne’s “Apology for Raymond Sebond” which preceded the Enlightenment separation of human and animal nature (e.g. King Lear), and which look forward to evolution’s levelling of species divisions, and today’s re-assertion of shared human and animal capacities for intelligence and sentience (e.g. Hamlet, Cymbeline)

3) Cultural constructions of human exceptionalism and species separation that humans have used to assert their dominion over non-human animals, as well as parodic inversions of such constructions (e.g. The Two Gentlemen of Verona)   

Shakespeare Plays and Poems 

Two Gentlemen of Verona, Venus and Adonis, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It , Henry IV Part Two, Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, Timon of Athens, Antony and Cleopatra, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, The Tempest.   

Primary and secondary non-Shakespearian texts

Bruce Boehrer, Shakespeare among the Animals: Nature and Society in the Drama of Early Modern England (2002)

-- Animal Characters: Non-Human Beings in Early Modern Literature (Philadelphia, 2010)

At the Borders of the Human: Beasts, Bodies, and Natural Philosophy in the Early Modern Period, ed. Erica Fudge, Ruth Gilbert, and Susan Wiseman (2002)

Clark, Timothy, The Cambridge Introduction to Literature and the Environment (2011)

Cohen, Adam Max Cohen, Shakespeare and Technology: Dramatizing Early Modern Technological Revolutions (2006)

Darwin, Darwin, On the Origin of Species (1859)

-- The Variation of Plants and Animals Under Domestication (1868)

-- The Descent of Man (1871)

-- The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872)

-- Darwin, Norton Critical Editions, 3rd edn (2000).

Derrida, Jacques, The Animal Therefore I am (2008)

Fudge, Erica, Brutal Reasoning: Animals, Rationality, and Humanity in Early Modern England (2006)

Haraway, Donna, When Species Meet (2008)

-- The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness (2003)

Höfele, Andreas, Stage, Stake, and Scaffold: Humans & Animals in Shakespeare’s Theatre (2011)

The Indistinct Human in Renaissance Literature, ed. J. Feerick and V. Nardizzi (2012)

The Institute for Critical Animal Studies www.criticalanimalstudies.org/

Maisano, Scott, “Rise of the Poet of the Apes,” Shakespeare Studies 41 (2013), 64–76

Mentz, Steve, At the Bottom of Shakespeare’s Ocean (2009)

de Montaigne, Michel, Essays (1580, 1604, selections, including “The Apology for Raymond Seybond”)

Ovid, Metamorphosis (selections)

Posthumanist Shakespeares, ed. Stefan Herbrechter and Ivan Callus (2012)

Ryder, Richard D., Animal Revolution: Changing Attitudes Towards Speciesism (2000)

Sapp, Jan, Evolution by Association: A History of Symbiosis (1994)

Shannon, Laurie, The Accommodated Animal: Cosmopolity in Shakespearean Locales (2013)

Sheen, Erica, ‘“Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, and thou no breath at all?’, Shakespeare’s Animations,” Renaissance Beasts: Of Animals, Humans, and Other Wonderful Creatures, ed. Erica Fudge (2004)

Simon, Paul, Animal Rights and the Politics of Literary Representation (2002)

Soper, Kate, What is Nature?: Culture, Politics, and the Non-Human (1995)

Stott, Rebecca, Darwin’s Ghosts: In Search of the First Evolutionists (2012)

Thomas, Keith, Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes in England 1500-1800 (1984)


3 credit hours

Professor Elizabeth Effinger

“And was Jerusalem builded here / Among these dark Satanic Mills?” — so asks William Blake (1757-1827), a radical Romantic poet-engraver, painter, and printmaker about his beloved and beguiled England. In this course, we will examine some of Blake’s best known illuminated poems spanning his entire career. This course invites us to think of Blake’s interdisciplinary work — both in its content and forms — as queer mixtures, or “chemical weddings” (to borrow a phrase from Iron Maiden’s frontman and fellow Blakean, Bruce Dickinson). Blake’s mixed-media work uniquely combines both image and text, and rages against tyrannical apparatuses and static notions of form, genre, identity, gender, sexuality, history, and power-knowledge.

In addition to close readings and grappling with Blake’s visionary mythology, we will deploy theoretical approaches (including feminist, psychoanalyst, queer, and deconstructive theories) all while keeping in mind Blake’s participation in major and minor histories. Against the caricature of Blake as an ahistorical madman-artist outside of his own time, we will track how Blake’s visual and textual work confronts gender and sexuality, politics, religion, historiography and emergent discourses of knowledge in England during the Romantic era. Students will also encounter Blake’s unique process of composition and relief etching or “illuminated printing,” and try their own hand at making copper engravings and printmaking. Hands-on training will be provided and time divided between the classroom and the UNB Art Centre studio. Get ready to roll up your sleeves!

Primary Readings 

(all primary readings are contained in The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake, ed. David Erdman, an anthology that will be required reading. ~$25 on Amazon)

  • The Book of Thel (1789)
  • Songs of Innocence and of Experience (SI, 1789; SIE, 1794)
  • Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790)
  • Visions of the Daughters of Albion (1793)
  • America a Prophecy (1793)
  • Europe: a Prophecy (1794)
  • The [First] Book of Urizen (1794)
  • Milton (c.1804-18)
  • Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion (c.1820)
  • a sample of Blake’s watercolour drawings (cf. designs for Milton’s Comus, Edward Young’s Night Thoughts)
  • commercial engravings (cf. Philosophical Transactions, Rees’ Cyclopedia, Erasmus Darwin’s The Botanic Garden, John Gabriel Stedman’s Narrative, of a Five Years’ Expedition, Against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam, and Mary Wollstonecraft’s Original Stories from Real Life)

Secondary Readings (selections from the following)

  • Michael Phillips, William Blake: The Creation of the Songs, from Manuscript to Illuminated Printing (2000)
  • Diane Piccitto, Blake’s Drama (2014)
  • Sarah Haggarty, Blake’s Gifts: Poetry and the Politics of Exchange (2014) 
  • Saree Makdisi, Reading William Blake (2015), William Blake and the Impossible History of the 1790s (2003)
  • Roger Whitson and Jason Whittaker, William Blake and the Digital Humanities (2013)
  • Queer Blake, ed. Helen Bruder and Tristanne Connolly (2010)
  • Richard Sha, Perverse Romanticism: Aesthetics and Sexuality in Britain, 1750-1832 (2009)
  • Blake, Modernity and Popular Culture, ed. Steve Clark and Jason Whittaker (2007)
  • Helen Bruder, Women Reading William Blake (2007)
  • Matthew Green, Visionary Materialism in the Early Works of William Blake (2005)
  • Julia Wright, Blake, Nationalism, and the Politics of Alienation (2004)
  • Tristanne Connolly, William Blake and the Body (2002)
  • Unnam’d Forms, ed. Hilton Nelson and Thomas Vogler (1986)

3 credit hours

Professor Jennifer Andrews

As a white, straight Canadian Literature scholar who has built her career on the foundations of a field that has recently experienced what Tuscarora writer Alicia Elliott has described as a “dumpster fire” (Refuse 27), an explosive set of debates around racism, sexism, class and regional privilege, this course aims to unpack some of key issues that have shaped CanLit’s past, led to its rightly divisive present, and to think about what its future may look like.  As Elliott explains, “A nation’s literature is to both define and uphold the nation.  But what is that nation’s foundational beliefs about itself are, well, lies?” (97).  Elliott’s call to writers, critics, and scholars to acknowledge and explore the ways in which “systemic discrimination” fueled by “national myths of politeness, acceptance, and multiculturalism” have been used to create and reinforce narratives about CanLit provides a basis in this course for probing what CanLit means as “an industry, a cultural field and an academic discipline” (17). 

To do so, this course will explore who and what has shaped the canon of Canadian literature at a post-secondary level, both at home and abroad (as represented in anthologies, through publishing projects like the New Canadian Library imprint, and though the multinational mergers of publishing houses) as well as the energy that has been devoted by publishers and academics to specific genres, authors, and texts—to the exclusion of others.  As part of this process, we will consider how the creation and existence of prestigious literary prizes along with the CBC’s Canada Reads contribute to the canonization of a particular version of Canada as a nation.  We will also look specifically at some central motifs of Canadian literature and Canadian nationalism that continue to circulate to the benefit of the Canadian publishing industry, such as the fetishization of folk culture that is intimately tied to Atlantic Canada, and the desire to relegate Indigenous and Black authors to the telling of stories about “oppression and marginalization” (18). And we will consider how tactics of inclusion have become strategies to ensure exclusion in the case of a variety of authors who are perceived of as ‘Other.’  Part of our work will be to scrutinize our own subject positions in relation to the field of CanLit and to think through how we can actively contribute to rethinking its future without merely replicating its past.

To focus our inquiry, the course will begin with an examination of the creation of CanLit as a discipline through the Massey Commission (1951) and the construction of various kinds of infrastructure in subsequent decades to ensure that a specific version of Canadian literature was produced, published, and taught. We will then turn to moments that either codified or try to challenge the emerging field of CanLit ranging from the 1978 Calgary Conference on the Canadian Novel and the 1994 Writing Thru Race Conference to arguments around appropriation of voice (such as the 2017 “Appropriation Prize” controversy) and the UBCAccountable letter. As part of the course, we must consider the impact of Idle No More, Black Lives Matter, and #MeToo as expressions of the need for radical change, beyond what may be perceived of as institutionally acceptable, most explicitly manifested in recent efforts to decolonize or indigenize the university.  We will examine a wide variety of texts, including fiction, poetry, government documents (like the Massey Report), blog posts, academic essays, newspaper and journal articles, and literary theory.  Our primary texts may include: 

  • Marion Engel.  Bear. McClelland and Stewart, 1976.
  • Margaret Laurence. The Stone Angel.  McClelland and Stewart, 1964.
  • Marie Campbell. Halfbreed  Goodreads, 1973.
  • Basil Johnston.  Indian School Days.  U of Oklahoma P, 1989.
  • Austin Clarke.  The Polished Hoe.  Thomas Allen, 2002.
  • Lisa Moore.  February.  Grove Press, 2010.
  • M. Nourbese Philip.  Zong!  Wesleyan & Mercury P, 2008.
  • Dionne Brand. A Map to the Door of No Return.  2001. 
  • Gwen Benaway.  Holy Wild.  Book*hug, 2018. 
  • Suzette Mayr.  Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crowley Hall.  Coach House, 2017.
  • Sarah Henstra. The Red Word. ECW, 2018.
  • Roy Miki. Surrender. Mercury, 2001.
  • Nalo Hopkinson. Brown Girl in the Ring. Warner, 1998.
  • Cheri Dimaline. The Marrow-Thieves. Cormorant, 2017.
  • Joshua Whitehead. Johnny Appleseed. Arsenal Pulp P, 2018.

3 credit hours

Professor Stephen Schryer

A striking feature of the United States is the weakness of its welfare state. One reason for this weakness is many Americans’ persistent belief that most welfare recipients fall into the category of the “undeserving poor”: lower-class citizens who, for an assortment of cultural and psychological reasons, are responsible for their own poverty. In this course, we will explore a broad range of literary, social scientific, and journalistic texts that address the causes and effects of poverty and that grapple with the problem of representing it. Our readings will focus on historical moments when poverty became a central topic of public debate and government policy: the Progressive Era, the Great Depression, the Great Society, and Clinton-era Welfare Reform. In each case, apart from discussing thematic connections between literature and welfare policy, we will focus on the changing literary aesthetics of poverty: from the documentary naturalism of the 1930s to the process aesthetics of the 1960s and beyond. Throughout the course, we will ask questions such as the following:  How did American writers contribute to or question conventional depictions of the poor as grotesque or abject and therefore undeserving of welfare? How did writers respond to the post-1970s emergence of workfare and prisonfare as key strategies for disciplining the poor? Were literary representations of poverty (especially ethnic and racial poverty) central to the development of literary modernism and postmodernism? How did poverty writers mediate between their impoverished subject matter and (mostly) middle class audience? How did this mediation shape their aesthetics?

Primary Texts:

  • Stephen Crane – Maggie, a Girl of the Streets
  • Jacob Riis – How the Other Half Lives
  • Gertrude Stein – Three Lives
  • Tillie Olson – Yonnondio: From the Thirties
  • James Agee and Walker Evans – Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
  • Ann Petry – The Street
  • Gwendolyn Brooks – In the Mecca
  • Chester Himes – Blind Man with a Pistol
  • Oscar Zeta Acosta – The Revolt of the Cockroach People
  • Sapphire – Push
  • Dorothy Allison – Bastard Out of Carolina
  • Jesmyn Ward – Salvage the Bones

Secondary Texts:

  • Robert Park and Ernest Burgess – “The City”
  • Michael Harrington – The Other America
  • Oscar Lewis – La Vida: A Puerto Rican Family in the Culture of Poverty
  • Hannah Arendt – On Revolution
  • Daniel P. Moynihan – “The Negro Family”
  • William Julius Wilson – The Truly Disadvantaged
  • Loïc Wacquant – Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity
  • Gavin Jones – American Hungers: The Problem of Poverty in U.S. Literature, 1840-1945
  • Thomas Heise – Urban Underworlds: A Geography of Twentieth-Century American Literature and Culture
  • Alice O’Connor – Poverty Knowledge: Social Science, Social Policy, and the Poor in Twentieth-Century U.S. History
  • Susan Edmunds – Grotesque Relations: Modernist Domestic Fiction and the U.S. Welfare State
  • Carlo Rotella – October Cities: The Redevelopment of Urban Literature 

Compulsory Pass/Fail course open only to students in the 12-month course-based academic MA

6 credit hours

Various professors

The course requirements are a conference paper and an article.  These two pieces of work will be based on one essay undertaken during the previous 10 months of course work.  The article should be 20-25 pages in length and should be striving to meet the standard of a scholarly article that could be published in a refereed journal.  It does not have to be submitted for publication.  The conference paper, based on the article, should be a good example of this oral form.  The paper does not have to be delivered at a conference, although students will have the opportunity to present their conference papers at an optional departmental symposium to be organized for late summer each year.

 


Compulsory Pass/Fail course for all second-year PhD students

3 credit hours

Various professors

All PhD students are normally required, as part of their course programme, to complete a teaching apprenticeship under the supervision and mentorship of a full-time faculty member. During the second year of the PhD, the apprentice is assigned to a section of ENGL 1000, a full-year, 6-ch undergraduate course taught by the faculty mentor in the fall term, during which the student will attend all classes and meet regularly with the mentor. In the meetings, the student will receive training and guidance on: course planning and curriculum design; preparing and delivering classes on literature and writing skills; preparing and grading essays, tests, and examinations; course administration; and the preparation of a professional teaching dossier (including a general philosophy of teaching). In the winter term the student will be employed to teach the second half of the ENGL 1000 section, including responsibility for grading. The faculty mentor will observe winter-term classes periodically in order to offer feedback, and will be available throughout the term for advice. Course credit is awarded upon successful completion of the specific course requirements as determined by the supervisor in conjunction with the student at the beginning of the fall term. Prerequisite: must have completed first year of PhD programme in English.


2021-2022 courses

[Compulsory Pass/Fail course for all new graduate students]

6 credit hours

Professor Edie Snook

An introduction to graduate study at UNB. The first term will consist of seminars on post-secondary teaching, research sources on campus (including those of the library, Internet, and the campus network), workshops on writing SSHRC applications, and strategies of dissertation research and publication (academic and creative). The second term will consist of supervised research leading to a thesis proposal. This course is taken in addition to the required 15 ch for MA students and 15 ch for PhD students.


3 credit hours

Various professors

Under exceptional circumstances, a student may be granted permission to take a directed reading course. The student must prepare a proposal for a directed reading course, in consultation with the proposed instructor, and submit it for approval to the Graduate Committee at least one month prior to the term in which the course is to be taken. The Committee may decline to approve proposals or ask for revisions. Such course proposals must follow these guidelines:

The student must find a faculty member willing to supervise the directed reading course. Faculty members will take on the directed reading course as an overload teaching assignment.

The proposal should provide the reading list and an outline of assignments, with the relative grade weighting for each. The student will write at least two substantial papers or one paper and a final examination.

The reading course must be sufficiently substantial to warrant a 3-ch weighting and be entirely different from the thesis or dissertation.

Only one student will be allowed to take the same reading course at a time.

Only one course of those required for the degree can be a directed reading course.

Such a course will consist of at least six meetings and twelve contact hours with the course supervisor.

If the directed reading course is interdisciplinary in nature, the supervisor will be a member of the GAU in English.

While students who have been accepted to the MA programme are encouraged to enquire with the Director of Graduate Studies about the possibility of undertaking a directed reading course, directed reading courses will not normally be approved for students who have not yet undertaken their first term of study.


3 credit hours

Various professors

Studio courses are for the purpose of pursuing a well-defined writing project that lies beyond the writing undertaken in the creative writing workshops. The student must prepare a proposal for a studio course, in consultation with the proposed instructor, and submit it for approval to the Graduate Committee at least one month prior to the term in which the course is to be taken. The Committee may decline to approve proposals or ask for revisions. Such course proposals must follow these guidelines:

The student must find a faculty member or instructor willing to supervise the writing project. Faculty members will take on the studio course as an overload teaching assignment.

The proposal should provide the reading list and an outline of assignments, with the relative grade weighting for each assignment. The student will write one major project, in addition to other relevant smaller assignments to be determined by the student and supervisor.

The course must be sufficiently substantial to warrant a 3-ch weighting and be entirely different from the creative writing thesis.

Only one or two students will be allowed to take the same studio course at a time.

Only one course of those required for the degree can be a studio course.

Regular meetings must be arranged. The course should include at least eight contact hours with the course supervisor.

A supervisor may be selected from the literary community outside the department as long as she or he is approved by the English Department. Possible supervisors include the department’s Honorary Research Associates and Professors Emeriti.

While students who have been accepted to the MA programme are encouraged to enquire with the Director of Creative Writing about the possibility of undertaking a studio course, studio courses will not normally be approved for students who have not yet undertaken their first term of study.


3 credit hours

Professor Sue Sinclair

This course aims to support writers in their efforts to create poems that may move in any number of ways and may engage with a variety of goals or challenges.

Its premise is twofold: 1) that poets need the space to explore their poetic commitments and desires, and 2) that they are also constantly working to develop their practical skills in light of those commitments. This workshop is a place to do both these things. It allows writers to rub shoulders with other writers who may have different priorities, interests and styles. Writers have the chance to lean into complementary poetics and to experience fruitful resistances. We will read and discuss writings that raise questions about the social and artistic possibilities of poetry, and students will also edit each other’s work with an eye to helping each poem to realize its particular ambitions in its particular fashion. Attention will be paid to elements such as metaphor, rhythm, line break, syntax, the registers of diction, and sound pattern. Students will also have the chance to work on the oral presentation of poetry, as the effective reading aloud of a poem can offer insight into the poem and is also a skill poets need in order to present their work in a fruitful way to audiences.

Required texts:

Students will be asked to keep a reading journal in which they will engage in a writerly way with the work, both critical and creative, of a variety of poets. You will choose from a list developed collaboratively and tailored to your interests.


3 credit hours

Professor Sue Sinclair

This course is restricted to students in the PhD program in English (Creative Writing) who have already taken ENGL 6123 at the MA level. A workshop-based course designed to further refine skills with the elements of poetry (metaphor, rhythm, sound pattern, line breaks etc.) while reflecting on the varied aesthetic and sociopolitical roles a poet may take. The course will explore the techniques and poetics underlying forms ranging from free verse and narrative to formal and experimental poetries. Attention will also be given to professional concerns, eg. the development of one’s poetics, the question of distinctive voice and style, the performance of poetry for an audience, and the preparation of book manuscripts. Prerequisite English 6123.


3 credit hours

Professor TBD

A course designed to develop skills in short fiction, with room for students interested in writing novellas or novels. Taught in a workshop format, with close attention to line-by-line editing and revision and some preparation for publication in markets such as literary quarterlies, higher circulation magazines, small presses and larger publishing houses.


3 credit hours

Professor TBD

This course is restricted to students in the PhD programme in English (Creative Writing) who have already taken English 6143 at the MA level. A course designed to develop skills in short fiction, with room for students interested in writing novellas or novels. Taught in a workshop format, with close attention to line-by-line editing and revision and some preparation for publication in markets such as literary quarterlies, higher circulation magazines, small presses and larger publishing houses. Prerequisite English 6143.


3 credit hours

Professor Robert Gray

Web series, short films, commercials, music videos, and sketch shorts are all short fomats that have emerged as viable ways for screenwriters to break into the film industry. Short formats can be an affordable and achievable way for a filmmaker or a screenwriter to develop a calling card and to be considered for larger projects. For artists developing their craft, short formats are also less costly and more versatile forms in which to play and experiment; they provide an essential opportunity to develop a voice as a film artist. This intensive course guides writers through the basics of short format screenplay structure, character principles, writing and rewriting strategies. Students will be exposed to a wide range of short films in a variety of genres so they can explore the limits and possibilities of briefer forms of cinematic storytelling. Students do no need previous writing experience but first timers should be prepared to spend extra time developing/working on their process.

Please note: Students will be expected to read/write every day through the duration of the course to cover the necessary material. This is an intensive course and students should be prepared to commit themselves.

Required texts:

  • The Screenwriter’s Bible, 5th edition, David Trottier
  • Inside Story, Dara Marks
  • The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler

Selected Readings (d2l)

Students should read as many screenplays as possible to acclimatize themselves to the form.


3 credit hours

Professor Robert Gray

This course is restricted to students in the PhD programme in English (Creative Writing) who have already taken ENGL 6183 at the MA level. This workshop is designed to hone skills in writing for the screen (film and television) through the exploration of narrative forms and character psychology. Prerequisite English 6183.


3 credit hours

Professor Edie Snook

In the period between 1600 and 1800, the Atlantic world, bound by the eastern coasts of the Americas and the western coasts of Africa and Europe, is marked by biological exchange, settler colonialism, the slave trade, an ever-expanding trade in goods—and an intellectual and creative reimaging of human relationships in the world. This course will look at the literary exchanges produced by people contemplating their place within this Atlantic geography. It will be focused on England and the northeast Atlantic—extending only as far south as Virginia—and give particular attention to the place of Atlantic Canada and its peoples in this cultural foment. The course will include work by Europeans (largely English, but also French, recognizing their importance in this region), by men and women brought to North America as slaves, by Indigenous peoples, especially the Mi’kmaq, and by Settlers. Through examining travel and captivity narratives, life writing, recipes and advertisements, plays, fiction, poetry, and legal writing, the course will explore the nature of the literary archive of the early modern Atlantic world. It will study well-known literary texts, such as Shakespeare’s Tempest, and re-read European accounts of well-known historical figures, such as Pocahontas, while also drawing attending to lesser-known writing in English by Indigenous and formerly enslaved men and women. The course will focus on issues around recovering and reading the voices of marginalized and racialized peoples in colonized societies, and ponder the place of eastern Canada, in particular, in the early modern Atlantic world.

Primary readings

European Travel Narratives

  • [excerpt] Thomas Hariot, A Brief and True Report of the New found land of Virginia. London, 1588.
  • [excerpt] Jacques Cartier. Third Voyage. The Principall Navigations. London, 1600.
  • [excerpt] Marc Lescarbot. Nova Francia: or The Description of that part of New France which is one continent with Virginia. Trans. P.E. London, 1609.
  • [excerpt] John Smith, A Description of New England. London, 1616.
  • [excerpt] Pehr Kalm, Peter Kalm’s Travels in North America. Warrington, 1770.
  • [excerpt] “The Voyage of M. Hore and Divers Other Gentlemen to Newfoundland and Cape Breton in the Year 1536,” The Principall Navigations. London, 1600.

European

  • Ben Jonson. Masque of Blackness (1605). Spectacle of Empire. 91-102.
  • Marc Lescarbot. Le Théâtre de Neptune en la Nouvelle-France (1606). Trans. Eugene and Renate Benson. Spectacle of Empire: Marc Lescarbot's Theatre of Neptune in New France. Ed. Jerry Wasserman (Vancouver, Talon Books, 2006), 73-82.
  • William Shakespeare. The Tempest. 1610-11; 1623.
  • Aphra Behn. The Widow Ranter. 1690.

Indigenous North American

  • The Old Man Told Us: Excerpts from Mikmaw History 1500-1950. Ed. Ruth Holmes Whitehead. Halifax: Nimbus, 2015.
  • Letters by Letters by James Printer/ Wowaus Reprinted in “Indians and Images: The Massachussets Bay Colony Seal, James Printer and the Anxiety of Colonial Identity,” American Quarterly 63.1 (2011): 61-93.
  • Katherine Garrett, The Confession and Dying Warning of Katherine Garrett (1738). Transatlantic Feminisms in the Age of Revolutions. Ed. Lisa L. Moore, Joanna Brooks, and Caroline Wigginton. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. 100-102.
  • [selections] Joseph Johnson, To Do Good to My Indian Brethren: The Writings of Joseph Johnson, 1751– 1776. Ed. Laura J. Murray. Amherst: University of Massachusetts, 1998.
  • [selections] Samson Occom. The Collected Writings of Samson Occom, Mohegan. Ed. Joanna Brooks. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Peace and Friendship Treaties. 1752 and 1760. Indigenous and North Affairs Website.

Settler

  • John Gyles, Memoirs of odd adventures, strange deliverances, &c. in the captivity of John Gyles, Esq; commander of the garrison on St. George's River. 1736.
  • Mary Rowlandson. A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson. 1682.
  • Jonathon Odell, Selected poetry.
  • Adam Allan, “Grand Falls.” 1798.
  • Recipes. Selections from Early Modern Maritime Recipes.

African

  • [selections] Court documents from the trial of Marie-Joseph Angelique. 1734. Torture and the Truth website.
  • Briton Hammon, A Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings, and Surprising Deliverance of Briton Hammon, a Negro Man. 1760.
  • John Marrant. A Narrative of the Lord’s Wonderful Dealings with John Marrant, a Black (Now Going to Preach the Gospel in Nova Scotia). 1785.
  • John Marrant. A Journal of the Rev. John Marrant, from August 18th 1785 to the 16th of March 1790.
  • Boston King. “Memoirs of the Life of Boston King,” The Methodist Magazine (March 1798, April 1798, May 1798, June 1798).
  • Ads for Run-away slaves [Nova Scotia, New England, various sources]
  • Carleton Papers—Book of Negroes (1783). Library and Archives Canada Website. Phyllis Wheatley. Selected poetry.

Selected secondary readings (selections from)

  • Daniel Paul. We Were Not the Savages. 3rd ed. 2006.
  • Emma Battell Lowman and Adam Barker, Settler: Identity and Colonialism in 21st Century Canada. 2015.
  • Douglas R. Egerton, Alison Games, Jane G. Landers, Kris Lane, Donald R. Wright, eds. The Atlantic World: A History, 1400-1888. 2007.
  • Lisa Brooks. The Common Pot: The Recovery of Native Space in the Northeast. 2008.
  • Winfried Siemerling. The Black Atlantic Reconsidered: Black Canadian Writing, Cultural History and the Presence of the Past. 2015.
  • Coll-Peter Thrush. Indigenous London: Native Travellers in the Heart of Empire. 2016.

3 credit hours

Professor Jennifer Andrews

This course examines the politics of identity as depicted by a range of Native North American authors over the past six decades with an emphasis on recent texts by writers including Maria Campbell, Deborah Miranda, Peter Clair, N. Scott Momaday, Katherena Vermette, Liz Howard, and Gwen Benaway. We will read poetry, novels, short stories and graphic novels, in conjunction with secondary critical articles that address some of the central debates in the field of Indigenous Studies. Part of our task will be to consider how those designations have been produced and reinforced by writers and/or critics, and what concepts of identity, whether political, social, cultural, linguistic, or sexual, have been used to classify or define Indigenous literatures and authors. Many of the authors included on the reading list have lived both on and off the reservation/reserve and explore this hybrid perspective in their works; some have status cards while others do not. What do the texts we are reading reveal about Indigenous life and the complexities of identifying oneself and others? In addition, the course will incorporate visual media, including photographs, paintings, sculptures, and drawings, by Indigenous writers and artists and examine the ways in which the concept of genre is bring reformulated in concert with questions of Indigenous identities. Special attention will be paid to queer and two-spirited Indigenous identities, as we consider how sexuality and the erotic are explored by Indigenous writers from differing subject positions. As an integral part of the class, we will also consider how questions of identity necessarily inflect the teaching of Indigenous literatures.

The methods of evaluation for this course are designed to encourage the close reading of texts, active participation, and to provide graduate students with several opportunities to develop professional skills that are useful both within and beyond the academic world. Those enrolled will have the chance to deliver a formal conference-style paper to the class and to produce an article-length, potentially publishable essay.

Texts may include:

  • Heather Macfarlane and Armand Ruffo--Introduction to Indigenous Literary Criticism in Canada (2016);
  • N. Scott Momaday—House Made of Dawn (1968);
  • Maria Campbell—Halfbreed (1973);
  • Deborah Miranda—Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir (2014);
  • Patti Laboucane-Benson and Kelly Mellings—The Outside Circle (2015);
  • Katherena Vermette—The Break (2016);
  • Liz Howard—Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent (2016);
  • Peter Clair—Taapoategl and Pallet: A Mi’kmaq Journey (2017);
  • Gwen Benaway—Holy Wild (2018)

3 credit hours

Professor John Ball

This course examines late 20th- and 21st-Century novels by writers with South Asian roots whose homes (present or past) and narrative terrains include India, Pakistan, Canada, the USA, the UK, Trinidad, and Tanzania. These novels, many of which have won or been nominated for major prizes, engage with such issues as colonialism and postcolonialism, migration and exile, history and historiography, space and place, nation and nationalism, cosmopolitanism and globalization, race and racism, politics and violence, gender and the body, identity and community, and more. The course will also consider the ways in which the concept of “diaspora” is understood in a South Asian context and through readings from diasporic theory. In our discussions, we will consider some of the many critical, theoretical, and historical frameworks in which these works have been or could be situated, as well as attending to formal literary dimensions and performing close readings. The course is designed to appeal to the interests of both academic and creative writing students.

Proposed primary texts Texts (one or more of these may be cut or replaced):

  • History, Family, Nation
  • Anita Desai. Clear Light of Day (1980)
  • Salman Rushdie. Midnight’s Children (1981) or Shame (1983)
  • Arundhati Roy. The God of Small Things (1997)
  • India in the 21st Century
  • Amitav Ghosh. The Calcutta Chromosome (1995)
  • Kiran Desai. The Inheritance of Loss (2006)
  • Aravind Adiga. The White Tiger (2008)
  • Africa and the West Indies via Canada and the UK: The Indian Diaspora
  • M.G. Vassanji. The Book of Secrets (1994)
  • Shani Mootoo. Cereus Blooms at Night (1996)
  • V.S. Naipaul. Half a Life (2001)
  • Pakistani Diasporic Narratives of the Post-9/11 World
  • Kamila Shamsie. Burnt Shadows (2009)
  • Mohsin Hamid. The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007)
  • Assignments: Students will be responsible for one or two class presentations, a reading report, a final research paper, and regular class participation.

Required secondary readings:

  • Anderson, Benedict. Introduction. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Rev. ed. Verso, 1991. 1–7.
  • Bhabha, Homi K. “Signs Taken for Wonders: Questions of Ambivalence and Authority Under a Tree Outside Delhi, May 1817.” “Race,” Writing, and Difference, edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., U of Chicago P, 1986, pp. 163–84. [Reprinted in Bhabha, Homi K. The Location of Culture. Routledge, 1994. 102–22.]
  • Bose, Brinda. “In Desire and in Death: Eroticism as Politics in Arundhati Roy’s ‘The God of Small Things.’” ARIEL, vol. 29, no. 2, Apr. 1998, pp. 59–72.
  • Brouillette, Sarah. From “Economy and Pathology in Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger and Monica Ali’s In the Kitchen.” Literature and the Creative Economy. Stanford UP, 2014, pp. 94–110. [e-book] *Don’t read the latter part of this chapter on In the Kitchen.
  • Busse, Cassel. “Who is a Victim: Difference and Accountability in Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night.” Studies in Canadian Literature, vol. 37, no. 1, 2012, pp. 82–99.
  • Cohen, Robin. Selections from Global Diasporas: An Introduction. U of Washington P, 1997, pp. ix–xii; 21–29; 57–66. [e-book]
  • Daigle, Bethany. “It is the Grass that Suffers: Postcolonial Ecocriticism and M.G. Vassanji’s The Book of Secrets.” South Asian Review, vol. 37, no. 1, 2016, pp. 197–214.
  • Desai, Anita. “Women and Fiction in India.” Toronto South Asian Review, vol. 10, no. 2, 1992, pp. 23–29.
  • Ferguson, Jesse. “Violent Dis-Placements: Natural and Human Violence in Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss.” Journal of Commonwealth Literature, vol. 44, no. 2, Jun. 2009, pp. 35–49.
  • Ghosh, Amitav. “The Diaspora in Indian Culture.” Public Culture, vol. 2, no. 1, 1989, pp. 73–78.
  • Guttman, Anna. Introduction. The Nation of India in Contemporary Indian Literature. Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, pp. 1–13.
  • Loomba, Ania. “Feminism, Nationalism and Postcolonialism.” Colonialism/Postcolonialism. Routledge, 1998, pp. 215–31.
  • McLeod, John. “From ‘Commonwealth’ to ‘Postcolonial.’” Beginning Postcolonialism. 2nd edn. Manchester UP, 2010, pp. 7–43.
  • Naipaul, V.S. “East Indian.” 1965. The Overcrowded Barracoon. 1972. Penguin, 1976, pp. 32–41.
  • Pirbhai, Mariam. “The Multiple Voices of Indenture History: An Introduction.” Mythologies of Migration, Vocabularies of Indenture: Novels of the South Asian Diaspora in Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia-Pacific. U of Toronto P, 2009, pp. 3–13. [e-book]
  • Rushdie, Salman. “Imaginary Homelands.” Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991. Granta, 1991, pp. 9–21.
  • Singh, Harleen. “Insurgent Metaphors: Decentring 9/11 in Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Kamila Shamsie’s Burnt Shadows. ARIEL, vol. 43, no. 1, Oct. 2012, pp. 23–44.
  • ten Kortenaar, Neil. “‘Midnight’s Children’ and the Allegory of History.” ARIEL, vol. 26, no. 2, April 1995, pp. 41-62.
  • Vescovi, Alessandro. “Emplotting the Postcolonial: Epistemology and Narratology in Amitav Ghosh’s The Calcutta Chromosome.” ARIEL, vol. 48, no. 1, Jan. 2017, pp. 37–69.
  • Walther, Sundhya. “Fables of the Tiger Economy: Species and Subalternity in Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger.” Modern Fiction Studies, vol. 60, no. 3, Fall 2014, pp. 579-98.

Compulsory Pass/Fail course open only to students in the 12-month course-based academic MA

6 credit hours

Various professors

The course requirements are a conference paper and an article. These two pieces of work will be based on one essay undertaken during the previous 10 months of course work. The article should be 20-25 pages in length and should be striving to meet the standard of a scholarly article that could be published in a refereed journal. It does not have to be submitted for publication. The conference paper, based on the article, should be a good example of this oral form. The paper does not have to be delivered at a conference, although students will have the opportunity to present their conference papers at an optional departmental symposium to be organized for late summer each year.


Compulsory Pass/Fail course for all second-year PhD students

3 credit hours

Various professors

All PhD students are normally required, as part of their course programme, to complete a teaching apprenticeship under the supervision and mentorship of a full-time faculty member. During the second year of the PhD, the apprentice is assigned to a section of ENGL 1000, a full-year, 6-ch undergraduate course taught by the faculty mentor in the fall term, during which the student will attend all classes and meet regularly with the mentor. In the meetings, the student will receive training and guidance on: course planning and curriculum design; preparing and delivering classes on literature and writing skills; preparing and grading essays, tests, and examinations; course administration; and the preparation of a professional teaching dossier (including a general philosophy of teaching). In the winter term the student will be employed to teach the second half of the ENGL 1000 section, including responsibility for grading. The faculty mentor will observe winter-term classes periodically in order to offer feedback, and will be available throughout the term for advice. Course credit is awarded upon successful completion of the specific course requirements as determined by the supervisor in conjunction with the student at the beginning of the fall term. Prerequisite: must have completed first year of PhD programme in English.


3 credit hours

Professor Lucas Crawford

This course will allow students to contextualize their studies of literary modernism (and postmodernism) in other aesthetic movements of the same time and/or sensibility. Too often, even our most interdisciplinary attempts to do literary scholarship falsely isolate literary texts from their precursors and contemporaries, perhaps even overestimating the innovations of our discipline and its genres at times. As training in interdisciplinary humanities work, this course asks students to consider four other forms of modernism and their relations to literature: music, architecture, painting, and cuisine.

Course materials

Music:

  • Schoenberg, Variations for Orchestra
  • Wagner, Tristan Und Isolde
  • Mann, Doctor Faustus
  • Recordings by: Phillip Glass, Jeremy Dutcher, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Lesbians on Ecstasy, Sonic Youth, etc.

Architecture:

  • Essays and buildings by: Le Corbusier, Eileen Gray, Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Adolf Loos, Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, diller scofidio + renfro
  • Excerpts from:
    • Jameson. Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism.
    • Venturi and Scott. Learning from Las Vegas
    • Wigley. White Walls, Designer Dresses: the Fashioning of Modernist Architecture. Also: Deconstructivist Architecture.
    • Boym. Architectures of the Off-Modern.

Painting:

  • Cubism and Gertrude Stein
  • Duchamp, Man Ray, etc., and Burroughs
  • Pop/collage/cut-up, etc.
  • Ekphrastic poetry (Auden’s “Musee des Beaux Arts,” Williams’ “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus,” etc.)
  • Paintings “about” literature: Millais’ Ophelia, Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shallot, Dali’s Mad Tea Party, Bouguereau’s “Dante and Virgil,” Picasso’s “Don Quixote,” etcclass=""

Food:

  • Myhrvold. Modernist Cuisine. Essays and food by Heston Blumenthal, Wylie Dufresne, Ferran Adria, Grant Achatz. Kafka. “The Hunger Artist.”
  • Excerpts from Woolf, Stein, Toklas, Eliot, Stevens, and M.F.K. Fisher.
  • Gladwin, ed., Gastro-Modernism: Food, Literature, Culture.
  • Carruth, ed., Literature and Food Studies.
  • Keyser. Artificial Color: Modern Food and Racial Fictions. Forthcoming 2019.

Course assignments

Students will be evaluated on formal presentations, seminar discussions, and critical writing. In keeping with the theme of the course, students will also have the chance to create interdisciplinary and hybrid-genre work (eg. ekphastic poetry, lyrics, etc.).


3 credit hours

Professor Elizabeth Effinger

What does literature teach us about the art of failure? Why is failure, and all the bad feelings that go along with it, worth our attention? When we think about key occasions, even just throughout recent history, unhappiness, anger, and resentment can clearly serve as a spur to critical thought and meaningful change in the world. Undoubtedly, then, there is value in the work of negative affect. But in order for failure and negativity to be operative, they need first to be visible.

This course will give failure a space in which to breathe and be examined, a gesture that requires us to resist the compulsive turn toward positive affect and narratives of success. For as Daniel Gross and Jonathan Alexander note in their article “Frameworks for Failure,” “The cost of forgetting negative emotion, even the experience of failure, is high. Success feels good, but it does not reorient us against unjust norms. Success, as it trumps personal failure, can also numb us to failures that are structural” (290). Lingering in the muck and mess, rather than turning away, might attune us to those structural conditions of possibility in failure. Sticking around in these bad feelings might also open us up to the new. Indeed, as J. Jack Halberstam observes in their book The Queer Art of Failure, “failing, losing, forgetting, unmaking, undoing, unbecoming, not knowing may in fact offer more creative, more cooperative, more surprising ways of being in the world” (2-3). This statement will serve as an anchoring view for us throughout the term.

We’ll look at examples of failed texts throughout literature, like the half-aborted projects dreamed up by Coleridge, and consider if there are particular genres that share certain family resemblances with failure (e.g. the fragment, the thesis, the translation, the found poem). We’ll discuss how the space in which we study these texts, the university, is structured in relation to failure, and is itself, as Bill Readings would have it, “in ruins.” But we’ll also consider how narratives and institutions of failure might have the curious power to revive, revitalize, and recover both readers and worlds. How might coming to terms with massive human failure, such as anthropogenic climate change, open new futures for both humans and nonhumans alike? Or is failure our end game? And, can literature help us to ultimately “fail forward” by learning from what went wrong?

Bravely embracing the queer spirit or ethos of failure, this course asks students to step off the well-worn path and try new assignments. In addition to the essay and seminar presentation, students will write their own “Shadow CV,” noting the jobs and scholarships they’ve unsuccessfully applied for and the skills they’ve never mastered. Students will participate in a collaborative project: a curated exhibition of failure, crafted in the tradition of cabinets of curiosity (Wunderkammer) but uniquely dedicated to failure. How do we engage with the uncomfortable and uneasy history of our collections and what we deem worthy of being collected, preserved, archived? What would it mean, instead, to showcase mistakes, failures, silences, the broken, the disorderly? This assignment asks for a creative and critical response. What politics are at work in (not) acknowledging our failures?

Assignments Attendance and Participation (10%) Shadow CV and Critical Self-Reflection (10%) Essay (20%) Creative project: Cabinet of Failure (25%) Seminar Presentation (35%)

Readings may include selections from:

Critical Readings Blanchot, Writing the Disaster; The Unavowable Community Jean-Luc Nancy, The Inoperative CommunityAgamben, Homo Sacer; The Use of Bodies Daniel M. Gross and Jonathan Alexander, “Frameworks for Failure,” Pedagogy 16.2 (2016): 273-295. Devoney Looser’s “Me and My Shadow CV” The Chronicle of Higher Education. October 17, 2015; Bill Readings, The University in Ruins Jack Halberstam, The Queer Art of Failure, Doris Summer, The Work of Art in the World The Material Culture of Failure: When Things Do Wrong (Ed. Carroll et al.)

Primary readings (emphasis on poetry): William Blake, Visions of the Daughters of Albion Wordsworth, “The Thorn” Mary Shelley, The Last Man Coleridge, “Kubla Khan” and his unsuccessful Encyclopaedia Metropolitan Robert Browning, "Apparent Failure" Edith Wharton, "A Failure" Rupert Brooke, "Failure" Erica Jong, "The Poet Fears Failure" Judith Wright, "Failure of Communion" George MacDonald, "Failure" Arthur Henry Adams, "A Song of Failure" Sandra Feldman, "Duplicity's Failure" and "Fiasco, Failure" Arthur Joseph Munby, "Failure" Emmeline Stuart-Wortley, "Failures and Disappointments" Robert Lowell, "The Failure at Fredericksburg..." Julia Ward Howe, "To S.G.H. on His Failure to Receive the Grecian Mission..." Charles Bukowski, "Power Failure" and "One the Failure of a Poet" D. H. Lawrence, "A Failure" C. Day Lewis, "A Failure" Allen Ginsberg, "Ode to Failure" William Carlos Williams, "Education: A Failure" Diane Wakoski, "Failures of the World" Edward Bulwer Lytton, "Last Words of a Sensitive Second-Rate Poet" Augusta Webster, "An Inventor" W. B. Yeats, "The Two Titans" Alicia Ostriker, "The War of Men and Women" Adrienne Rich, "From a Survivor"


3 credit hours

Professor Triny Finlay

This course is designed to develop, tease out, and challenge notions of innovative poetics in English Canada. We will explore some relevant critical contexts in an attempt to address such theoretical questions as: how do we define the “innovative”? What are the ideological implications of attempting such a definition? What are the relationships among the innovative, the experimental, and the avant-garde? How have Canadian writers been influenced by specific schools, political movements, publications, presses, and writing communities, within Canada and internationally? How do questions of genre, form, and theoretical approach—as well as issues of identity politics—affect our readings of an innovative text? Is the idea of innovative poetics limited to poetry? Starting with Elizabeth Smart’s lyrical narrative By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept (1945), we will follow a chronological approach in order to consider how the idea of the innovative might have shifted over time. Students will actively participate in class discussions by preparing response papers, giving seminar presentations, and leading question periods; they will also produce a final term paper on an original topic of their choice—anything from a single-author study to a history of a particular small press or literary magazine.

Required primary texts:

  • Bachinsky, Elizabeth. I Don’t Feel So Good. (Book*hug, 2012)
  • Belcourt, Billy-Ray. This Wound Is A World. 2017. (U of Minnestoa P, 2019)
  • Bök, Christian. Eunoia. 2001. (Coach House, 2009)
  • Brand, Dionne. Inventory. (McClelland & Stewart, 2006)
  • Carson, Anne. Autobiography of Red. (1998. Vintage, 1999)
  • Kennedy, Bill, and Darren Wershler-Henry. Update. (Snare, 2010)
  • Moure, Erín. Planetary Noise. (Wesleyan UP, 2017)
  • Nichol, bp. a book of variations. 1974-1990. (Coach House, 2013)
  • Ondaatje, Michael. Coming Through Slaughter. 1976. (Vintage, 1998)
  • Philip, M. Nourbese. She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks. 1989. (Wesleyan UP, 2015)
  • Smart, Elizabeth. By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. 1945. (UK General, 1991)
  • Webb, Phyllis. The Vision Tree. 1954-1982. (Talonbooks, 1982)

Secondary readings:

  • Altieri, Charles. “Avant-Garde or Arrière-Garde in Recent American Poetry.” Poetics Today, vol. 20, no. 4, 1999, pp. 629–653.
  • bissett, bill. “Introductions” from The Last blewointment Anthology, 1963-1983, Vols. 1 & 2. Nightwood, 1979.
  • Bök, Christian. “Afterward” from Ground Works: Avant-Garde for Thee. Anansi, 2002, pp. 229-231.
  • Butling, Pauline. “(Re)Defining Radical Poetics.” Writing in Our Time: Canada’s Radical Poetries in English (1957-2003). Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2005, pp. 17-28.
  • ______. “One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Four: Poetry, Publishing, Politics, and Communities.” Writing in Our Time: Canada’s Radical Poetries in English (1957-2003). Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2005, pp. 29-48.
  • Capperdoni, Alessandra. “Why the Avant-Garde? The Function of the Letter in Canadian Avant-Garde Poetics.” Canadian Literature, nos. 210-211, 2011, pp. 97-114.
  • Carr, Emily. “The Wreading Experiment: Performative Strategies for Teaching Women’s Innovative Poetries.” Feminist Teacher, vol. 20, no. 3, 2010, pp. 183-203. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/ftr.2010.0022
  • Eichorn, Kate, and Heather Milne, eds. Prismatic Publics: Innovative Canadian Women’s Poetry and Poetics (excerpts). Coach House, 2009.
  • Kennedy, Bill. http://apostropheengine.ca (online)
  • Mayer, Bernadette. “20 Questions About Form or New Forms.” A Bernadette Mayer Reader. New Directions, 1992.
  • McCaffery, Steve. “Teachable Texts” (online).
  • Milne, Heather. “Beyond Inter/Disciplinarity: Feminist Cultural Studies and Innovative Poetics: Disciplinary Dislocations.” TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies, no. 25, pp. 182-189. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.3138/topia.25.182
  • Nicholls, Peter. “Difference Spreading: From Gertrude Stein to L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Poetry.” Contemporary Poetry Meets Modern Theory. UTP, 1991.
  • Ondaatje, Michael. “Introduction.” The Long Poem Anthology. Coach House, 1979.
  • Perloff, Marjorie. “The Return of the (Numerical) Repressed: From Free Verse to Procedural Play.” Radical Artifice: Writing Poetry in the Age of Media. U of Chicago P, 1991.
  • Poggioli, Renato. “The Concept of a Movement” and “Aesthetics and Poetics.” The Theory of the Avant-Garde. 1969. Harvard UP, 1981.
  • Quartermain, Peter. “Introduction: Reading the Difficult.” Stubborn Poetries: Poetic Facticity and the Avant-Garde. U of Alabama P, 2013.
  • Rudy, Susan. “’what can atmosphere with / vocabularies delight?’ Excessively Reading Erin Moure.” Writing in Our Time: Canada’s Radical Poetries in English (1957-2003). Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2005, pp. 205-216.
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