Reading in Tamagawa Garden

Upper-Level Courses 2018-19

For most upper-level courses, the prerequisite is six credits of second-year English, third-year standing, or by permission of the instructor.  See prerequisites for individual courses.

Fall 2018

CourseCourse DescriptionDegree RequirementProfessor
 300Backgrounds to English LiteratureLiterature and Traditions, Pre-1700Atkinson

Modern Critical Theory

Literature and CriticismThompson

Environment Literature

Literature and CultureGray

International Literature

Blended Delivery; Available Entirely Online

Literature and CultureDoughty 
Gender and SexualityLiterature and CultureStanley
Survey of Canadian LiteratureLiterature and CultureTorkko 
Topics in ShakespeareLiterature and Traditions, Pre-1700Lane
Topics in 19th-Century Literature
Literature and Traditions, 1700-1900Burgoyne 
 396Literature and FilmWord and ImageRuzesky 

Spring 2019

CourseCourse DescriptionDegree RequirementProfessor


Topics in Children’s and

Young Adult Literature

Blended Delivery; Available Entirely Online

Literature and CultureDoughty
 330Topics in Speculative NarrativeLiterature and CultureBurgoyne 
Topics in Indigenous LiteraturesLiterature and CultureThompson
 348Topics in 18th-Century LiteratureLiterature and Traditions, 1700-1900Hagan

Topics in 20th and 21st-Century Literature

Literature and TraditionsArmstrong
 394Topics in Television Narratives
Word and Image
 398Film StudiesWord and ImageWatkins
Research MethodsLiterature and Criticism


NOTE: Any course descriptions or reading lists here are tentativeCheck back for updates.

Course Descriptions: Fall 2018


Professor Anna Atkinson


Professor Dawn Thompson

A survey of literary theory including Russian Formalism, Structuralism, New Criticism, Marxism, Feminism, Post-Colonialism, Post-Structuralism, and others. Each theory may be examined for its assumptions, applications, and textual strategies. This course will introduce the tools of criticism and a wide range of critical dispositions.


Professor Nelson Gray 

Since none of us would exist without the places we inhabit, it could be argued that all theatre is environmental or place-based. Some plays, however, take pains to enact and affirm our connections to the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the way in which our social relationships interact with and impinge on our ecological ones. Chantal Bilodeau's Sila, for instance, transports us to Baffin Island in the Canadian arctic, where diverse communities discover common ground in response to global warming, while Marie Clements’ Burning Vision awakens us to the trans-national and trans-species effects of uranium mining in traditional Dene territories. 

To add to our appreciation and analysis of the wide range of place-based dramas and films in this course, we will be drawing on ideas from anthropology, eco-psychology, eco-feminism, and Indigenous studies, all of which have contributed to one of the most exciting interdisciplinary fields to arise in recent years: ecocriticism--the study of what literature can tell us about our relationship to the natural world. 


Professor Terri Doughty 

Blended Delivery; Available Entirely Online


In February 2018, the Guardian newspaper published an opinion piece by Natalie Nougayrède entitled “Europe’s future now rests on who owns the story of its past.” After many years of Western Europe seeking to avoid a repetition of the horrors of the twentieth century through greater integration, and the optimism after the fall of the Iron Curtain that led to the European Union admitting many formerly Communist states to membership, Europe now seems to be mired in a renewal of competing nationalisms and competing national histories. Memory, whether collective or personal, seems more important than ever in shaping how people understand their relations with others and their sense of their place in the world. In this course we will explore the treatment of memory in European literature of the twenty-first century in translation. Topics to address will include memory as a form of witness or testimony, amputated memories, contested memories, postmemory, and nostalgia. We will read the equivalent of five short novels (possibly a mix of novels and poems/short pieces), selected from writers such as Günther Grass (Germany), Dasa Drndic (Croatia), Māra Zālīte (Latvia), Dan Lungu (Romania), Adam Zagajewski (Poland), David Albahari (Serbian), Jonas Hassen Khemiri (Sweden), Boris Pahor (Slovenia), and Svetlana Alexievich (Belarus).Some of the authors listed are Nobel Prize winners; all are interesting. This is a great opportunity to discover a whole new literary world. 


Professor Marni Stanley

How does language—literary language specifically—shape sexuality and sexual politics? How is queerness as identity, practice, theory, and politics illuminated by literary representation?  In this course we will read a variety of essays by literary and cultural queer theorists in dialogue with a variety of literary texts. We will consider how discourses of sexuality at a given time and place shape and inform the representations of queer desire in a multitude of literary genres including poetry, personal and theoretical essays, comics, short stories, and plays.  Special attention will be paid to Intersectionality and identity. 

Readings include:

Theoretical and autobiographical essays, poems, short stories, comics, and plays. 

Course Objectives:

  • Learn how to analyze literary texts that focus on (homo)sexuality;
  • Recognize heterosexism, explain how it operates, and how 2SLGBTQ+ people have had to learn resistance and disguise in order to thrive/survive within it; 
  • Learn how 2SLGBTQ+ identities have developed in the twentieth/twenty-first centuries; 
  • Learn about the politics and social dynamics of "queer" sexualities and genders, including the meaning of gendered and sexual "subjectivities," closeting and homophobia, transphobia,  and the issues involved in naming within the Queer community itself


Professor Deborah Torkko

“We own the country we grow up in, or we are aliens and invaders.”                                                
-Michael Ondaatje, Running in the Family

What does it mean to belong? To not belong? What happens when one has a foot in each of two different worlds: in different communities, affiliations, social classes, cultures, languages, times, and landscapes?

Through our study of Canadian transcultural fiction written from the 1980s to the present, we will consider the tensions and oppositions all too often masked by the Canadian concept of a harmoniously coexistent multicultural mosaic. We will read about characters that seek to reconcile family history and cultural roots with their present day lives. We will examine narrative style and literary aesthetic for the ways in which authors imagine the dynamics of reciprocity, change, and transformation of family, culture, and identity.

Our reading list may include Michael Ondaatje, Janice Kulyk Keefer, Fred Wah, Kristjana Gunnars, Dionne Brand, Kim Thúy, Richard Wagamese.


Professor Richard Lane

Heroism, intrigue and honour: all three haunt the major characters of Shakespeare’s plays.  In Shakespeare’s time the medieval concept of honour was clashing with more modern ideas.  We will discover in this course that our modern selves begin with this clash of old and new, as people in Shakespeare’s time try to work out where they stand in terms of character and identity.  Even the very ghosts and witches who haunt Shakespeare’s tragic heroes and heroines play a part in this clash of cultures as medieval gives way to modern.  Princes, Kings and Queens need to negotiate the new world, but their behaviour is often stuck in the past.  We will join the fray and plunge into the drama of this tempestuous and exciting time.

ENGL 350: TOPICS IN 19TH-CENTURY LITERATURE: Gothic Transformation 

Professor Daniel Burgoyne

English 350: Topics in Nineteenth-Century Literature Gothic Transformation  Professor Daniel Burgoyne  By the end of the eighteenth century, Gothic fiction was an established and dominant genre, so much so that Ann Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho was con


Professor Jay Ruzesky

Films depend on stories and without great literary works, to paraphrase Steven Spielberg, there would be no great movies. But film also alters, enhances, and re-envisions what and how a text can produce meaning. In ENGL 396 Literature and Film, we look at literary adaptations and examine the ways that the written word and the world of film speak to each other. We’ll go beyond thinking about why “the book was better than the film” or visa versa, and will think about how the same story told differently can inform our ideas about the world in fresh ways. 

Course Descriptions: Spring 2019


Professor Terri Doughty

Blended Delivery; Available Entirely Online

Children’s literature is the only form of literature that is not usually created by its intended audience. Adults write, publish, and distribute books for children.  Adults also generally control children’s access to books. Scholars such as Maria Nikolajeva and Perry Nodelman argue that children’s literature is essentially aetonormative: that is, books for children locate power in adulthood, treating the adult as the norm and the child as other. However, more recently both creators of children’s books and scholars have been exploring ways of giving power and agency to the child. In this course, therefore, we’ll read a range of picturebooks, graphic narratives, and novels that address the agency of children. We will also read some secondary scholarship available via VIULearn.

Authors to be read may include the following: Neil Gaiman, Clementine Beauvais, David Almond, Anthony Browne, Kyo Maclear, Fanny Britt, Jon Scieszka, Brian Selznick, Deborah Ellis, China Miéville, and Sarah Rees Brennan.


Professor Daniel Burgoyne

“When you tell a fantasy story you…redefine the 'impossible' and you're changing the categories within the not-real.”  (China Mieville quoted in Newsinger)

China Miéville insists on the necessary dialectic between the fantastic and the realistic, between the subconscious and the conscious. This course will engage works that deliberately enact this dialectic and that resist simple genre identification. These works variously cross fantasy and science fiction, horror and the fantastic, myth and history, and so on. We will read works by Iain M. Banks, Octavia Butler, Ursula Le Guin, Neil Gaiman, Ann Leckie, and China Mieville.


Professor Dawn Thompson

This course will explore healing in and through Indigenous literatures in Canada: healing as decolonizing; healing as survivance; healing as ceremony; healing as resurgence. We will also consider healing through narrative, poetry, and drama and through reading, writing, listening, and speaking for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who engage with these texts.

ENGL 348: TOPICS IN 18TH-CENTURY LITERATURE: Adventures in the Novel

Professor Sandra Hagan

As a relatively new narrative form, the novel finds its origins in the dynamic publishing industry of the eighteenth-century.  One of the novel’s early forms is adventure fiction, responding to the reading public’s thirst for stories about travel.  In this class, we will explore the boundaries of adventure writing, considering who is authorized for adventure and how those on the margins come to challenge those boundaries.  We’ll also consider the fluid relation between fiction and non-fiction as a context for the development of the novel.Texts may include Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Equiano’s Interesting Narrative, and Burney’s Evelina.


Professor Clay Armstrong

A study of 20th- and 21st-century literature and its contexts. Topics may include narrative and nation, dystopias, transculturalism, modernism, Celtic Renaissance, human rights, cultures of resistance, and others. Focus may be on a specific author, genre, theme, or region.


Professor Lynn Wytenbroek

One of the longest running shows on television, Dr Who was launched in 1962 by the BBCas an educational show for children. When the show became unexpectedly popular with adults, and the elderly actor chosen to play the part of the Doctor too ill to continue, the writers came up with an ingenious technique for replacing the Doctor without any of that awkward, look-alike attempt. Since then, the show has been going strong (with a short hiatus) for more than 50 years. The “new series”, which started in 2005 when writer/director Russell Davies revived the show, has been a resounding success, with tickets sold out at theatres across the world for the 50th Anniversary special in 2012. This course will look primarily at the four and a half seasons of Dr Who which were powerfully written and/or directed by Davies with a story arc that covers each season and stretches over the entire Davies’ seasons as well. Thematically profound with characters who develop both within each season and throughout the inter-seasonal narrative arc, this show qualifies as literary television narrative at its best.

Each week we will watch one or two episodes of the show together, usually grouped thematically or to show a character’s development, then discuss the episode(s) from a literary standpoint considering theme, character, setting, figurative language, plot development etc. There are no written texts for this course. Assignments for this course will include essays, a journal and a final exam.


Professor Paul Watkins


Professor Anna Atkinson

Generic course descriptions for all English courses are in the VIU Program and Course Calendar.