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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Arts
November 23, 2014
Canadian Excellence


Course Offerings: 2013-14

FALL 2013

EN 600:  Research Methods, Theory, and Professionalization
Day/Time: W 5:30 - 8:20
Location: 1-101A Woods Bldg.

EN600 is a team-taught course that introduces students to bibliographic and research methods, theoretical models, and professional skills and issues related to English and Film Studies. The course is required for all MA students, and attendance is compulsory.

Note: The student's performance in the course will be graded as either "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory." Failure to complete EN600 or to obtain a grade of "satisfactory" may result in suspension from the MA Program.  A student's final grade for the course will not be assigned as "satisfactory" until a grade of "satisfactory" has been obtained in all of the sessions.

EN 604:  The Victorian Novel: 1848-1860
Dr. Lynn Shakinovsky
Day/Time: M 9:30 - 12:20
Location: 4-106 Woods Bldg.

This course investigates selected major Victorian novels of the 1850s. As one of only two countries to evade the revolutionary wave that swept Europe, and having survived the Chartist disruptions of the 1840s, the England of the 1850s appears to be characterised by placidity, calm, and widespread social consensus. However, while the novels of the period may indeed represent the multiple ways in which mid-Victorian culture successfully resists disquietude, disturbance, and change, they also draw on tension, much of it suppressed. Through close analysis of the primary texts, as well an investigation of the economic, historiographical, and historical background of the period, this course will explore topics such mid-nineteenth century ideas of nation; domesticity; sexuality; cosmopolitanism; shifting imperial relations; migration, emigration, and immigration.

EN 616:  Women and Crime in Fiction and Film
Dr. Philippa Gates    
Lecture: T 9:30 - 12:20, 4-106 Woods Bldg.
Screening: R 7:00 - 9:50, 3-103 Woods Bldg.

This course explores women's subjectivity as author and protagonist and also the representation of women's relationships to law and order as detective and criminal in detective fiction and film from the 1880s to today. This course explores what happens to a traditionally male genre-the detective story-when women occupy the key position of hero, criminal, or author. While male and female authors and detectives worked within the same conventions in the early decades of the genre, the 1940s saw a polarization of gender, genre, and nation as the predominantly male American hardboiled tradition attempted to differentiate itself as more authentic than the predominantly female British classical tradition. A similar shift occurred in films from the strong Depression-era woman detective to her demonization or omission in the decades that followed. Only in the 1980s did both fiction and film see a resurgence of the female-authored and-centered detective stories and in new directions, including "dyke noir" and the criminalist/serial killer narrative. We will explore literary as well as cinematic examples of the genre in conjunction with critical texts addressing issues of gender, nation, race, sexuality, and class and also consider how the individual texts can be regarded as a challenge to the mainstream through an emphasis on anti-heroes, gender-bending, and formal stylization. Short stories and novels may include Old Sleuth's dime novel Lady Kate (1886), Agatha Christie's classical The Body in the Library (1942), and Sara Paretsky's revolutionary Indemnity Only (1982). Films may include Daughter of Shanghai (1937) with the only cinematic female Asian detective, Phantom Lady (1944) with the rare female noir detective, and Bound (1996) with lesbian criminal-heroes.

EN 643:  Medieval Patience Literature
Dr. Robin Waugh
Day/Time: R 9:30 - 12:20
Location: 4-106 Woods Bldg.

This course records the development and history of the exciting, recently articulated genre of medieval patience literature by identifying and mapping the important shift in late antique patience literature from a focus on male and female sufferers to a focus more on female sufferers in particular. Feminist revisions of genre-theory are used to show how specific works fit into the evolution of the genre, which moves from one mainly concerned with mimicry to one mainly concerned with reduplication. We shall study representations of strangely aggressive martyrs, outrageously passive wives, profoundly moving mystics, and transvestite saints. Ideally, students will discover that medieval patience literature exhibits glimpses of women who transcend the typical patterns of reduplication, and who help to redress popular notions of the medieval age as a time when women had “no rights” and “no voices,” and were treated as mere sex objects and as the property of men. No previous knowledge of the medieval period or of medieval texts is necessary in order to take this course.

EN 692g:  Utopias of Noise
Dr. Tamas Dobozy
Day/Time: W 9:30 - 12:20
Location: BA307, Bricker Academic Bldg.

The aim of this course is to consider the intersection of utopianism and music in selected 20th century works of literary fiction in English. Primarily the course will focus on those literary works that treat what Theodore Adorno called "new music," and Ornette Coleman dubbed "free jazz" on his landmark recording. While both of these kinds of music-making emerge from different cultural and political contexts—Central Europe between the wars, and the advent of the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. during the late 1950s, respectively—both share what Jacques Attali, in his study, Noise: The Political Economy of Music, identifies as the shattering of aesthetic conventions (or their radical reconstitution) in order to "stockpile wealth no longer, to transcend it, to play for the other and by the other, to exchange the noises of bodies, to hear the noises of others in exchange for one's own, to create, in common, the code within which communication will take place" (143). Attali rightly identifies a common Marxist (or Marx-derived) utopianism underpinning both musical practices, and this course will explore this commonality while also drawing attention to the considerable differences between authors on the basis of nationality, ethnicity, gender, culture, and historical context, while considering other (particularly post-stucturalist) utopianisms opened on, or evident in, the works under study. The course will thus consider the intersection of 20th century theories of the utopian, the aesthetics of radical or avant-garde music-making, and the ways in which literary texts aspire to, counter, further extend the "noise" that aspires to be the "common [. . .] code within which communication will take place."


EN 608:  Women Writers of the 17th Century
Dr. Anne Russell
Day/Time: R 2:30 - 5:20
Location: 3-108 Woods Bldg.

The course this year focuses on the work of Aphra Behn (c1640-1689), a prolific playwright, poet, editor of poetry anthologies, and writer of prose fiction. Behn’s self-awareness about her unusual position as an unmarried woman writing for pay informs all of her work; as her preface to Sir Patient Fancy puts it, she is  “forced to write for bread and not ashamed to own it.”  Behn’s insightful comedies explore the positions of women and men in a marital economy which privileges financial bonds and family influence over emotion and desire. Her poetry ranges from political subjects to explorations of love and desire. The compelling prose fictions she wrote in the last years of her life, set primarily outside England, address early modern colonialism and slavery, as well as gendered and racial identities. We will begin the course by reading selected works by earlier women writers, including Katherine Philips, in order to understand Behn’s influences and models. We will also consider seventeenth-century cultural and aesthetic concerns, as well as our contemporary critical and theoretical perspectives.

EN 612:  First Wave Feminism and Print Culture in Britain
Dr. Maria DiCenzo
Day/Time: M 9:30 - 12:20
Location: 3-108 Woods Bldg.

The course will examine a range of writings by late Victorian and Edwardian feminists and anti-feminists, including literary genres, essays and polemical works, periodicals/little magazines and memoirs/ autobiography. The selection and approach to the readings will be informed by a range of disciplinary and critical paradigms related to the history of print media and its role in early women’s social movements. The course is organized both thematically and chronologically to trace key feminist debates and campaigns from the mid 19th C to the interwar years: the woman question, the New Woman, suffrage, sexuality, dissidents and modernists, etc. The scope and variety of women’s writing, issues of form (eg. realism), the tension between aesthetics and politics, writing as social practice, and theories of value will be considered in relation to the privileging of modernism in historical narratives of 20th-century literature and culture. The considerations underlying the course extend beyond the project of recovery and expanding the canon, to an investigation/interrogation of the social, political, and economic factors influencing what was produced, marketed, read, and ultimately legitimized/privileged through institutions of criticism. Authors from the period include Frances Power Cobbe, Mona Caird, Eliza Lynn Linton, Cicely Hamilton, Gertrude Colmore, Rebecca West, Dora Marsden.

EN 692h:  Identity Politics in Film
Dr. Jing Jing Chang
Lecture: T 9:30 - 12:20, BA305, Bricker Academic Bldg.
Screening: T 7:00 - 9:50, P3027, Peters Bldg.

This course focuses on the various impacts of the advent and developments of film as technology, art and politics in the cinematic traditions of such countries as China, Mexico, and Iran, among others. Our main goal will be to examine filmgoing as a modernizing yet colonizing social practice and films as cultural documents that mobilized imagination in the processes of nation-building. The modern technology of film brought about a new form of leisure and entertainment, and introduced people to new ways of conceiving time and space that were at once violent and disruptive. Informed by issues and problems tackled by such cultural studies and film scholars as Edward Said, Homi K. Bhabha and Ella Shohat among others, we will engage in in-depth analytic discussions of primarily non-Western national films in light of tradition and modernity, the urban and rural, women and family, body and sexuality, and colonialism and postcolonialism.

EN 692p: Green Romanticism - From Semiotics to Praxis
Dr. Markus Poetzsch
Day/Time: R 9:30 - 12:20
Location: 4-106 Woods Bldg.

This course will examine the role and place of the natural world in Romantic Literature, with “nature” defined not only by its textual but also by its referential meaning, its more-than-discursive presence in the period.  By examining lyric and loco-descriptive poetry, travelogues, guidebooks and journals by writers such as William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Coleridge, Gilpin, Radcliffe, Burns, Barbauld, Erasmus Darwin, the Shelleys, Byron, Hunt and Clare, we will consider the artistic processes that alternately attempt to make nature subservient to human ends, that give it a particular voice and agency, and, finally, that signal its unrepresentable otherness—what Timothy Morton calls its “strange strangeness”.  We will also consider the extent to which Green Romanticism informs and underpins contemporary discussions about environmental ethics, biodiversity, and human responsibility.

EN 692u:  The Canadian Elegy
Dr. Tanis MacDonald
Day/Time: W 8:30 - 11:20
Location: 1-101A Woods Bldg.

Critical work on the British elegiac tradition of a stylized poetics of loss that leads to eventual consolation and the American elegiac mode that emphasizes tacit refusal of that consolation has opened debate upon the elegy’s critical role in the politics of mourning and melancholia. The distinctive tropes and concerns of the Canadian elegy, however, have only recently been explored in Priscila Uppal’s We Are What We Mourn: The Contemporary English-Canadian Elegies (2009) and Tanis MacDonald’s The Daughter’s Way: Canadian Women’s Paternal Elegies (2012). This course will consider the paradoxes of elegiac convention and innovation emerging in Canadian poetry since the early twentieth century, with an emphasis upon the politics of elegy in feminist writing. Primary texts may include poetry by Dorothy Livesay, Dennis Lee, Fred Wah, Anne Carson, Margaret Atwood, Jay Macpherson, and Erin Mouré; we will also study theories of mourning and melancholia by Sigmund Freud, Jacques Derrida, Juliana Schiersari, and Gillian Rose.


EN 691n: Life Writing and Autobiography
Dr. Kathryn Carter
Day/Time: TR 1:00 - 3:50
Location: 1-101A Woods Bldg.

This course explores the popular genre of autobiography, offering a historical overview and an understanding of how the wide variety of forms created under the name of this genre respond to cultural contexts and to ever-evolving philosophical understandings of the "self." We will investigate whether or not "autobiography" has any real meaning as a generic term or if it is too imprecise, embracing (as it does) a form like the diary which Virginia Woolf famously described as "some deep old desk or capacious hold-all, in which one flings a mass of odds and ends without looking them through." Possible answers to this question will be formulated by considering various iterations of life writing from dubiously authentic documents of the nineteenth century such as Hannah Cullwick's diary and Mary Prince's History to contemporary graphic novel renditions of personal and family trauma like Maus by Art Spiegelman or Billy, Me, and You by Nicola Streeten. This course will also ask you to do some hands-on thinking about how best to arrange, narrate, and convey a life in writing by undertaking an editing project for a final assignment.