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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Arts
July 31, 2014
 
 
Canadian Excellence

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Course Offerings: 2014-15



FALL 2014


EN 600:  Research Methods, Theory, and Professionalization
Team-taught
Day/Time: W 7:00-9:50 pm
Location: 3-103 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 611: Caribbean Women’s Fiction
Dr. Mariam Pirbhai
Day/Time: M 8:30-11:20 am
Location: 3-103 Woods Bldg.

Caribbean Women's Fiction introduces students to the literary traditions of the Caribbean region and its diasporas. While the course emphasizes 'gendered' readings of the Caribbean, the wider aim is to provide students with a critical and regional overview of Caribbean literature, touching on its recurring tropes and preoccupations, such as the legacy of slavery and indenture; the construct of the island and the tropics in imperial and post-imperial discourse; the cultural economy of Caribbean tourism; and the concept of 'creolization' as a central aspect of Caribbean identities. We will also trace the stylistic and formal innovations often found in this body of writing, including literary activism, historiographic practice and 'ora-literary' traditions, while also engaging in a range of theoretical approaches to the literatures, including ecocriticism, queer, post-colonial/feminist and Caribbean cultural theories. Text selections will introduce students to some of the region's best known figures, such as Jean Rhys, Shani Mootoo, and Michelle Cliff, while also providing a comparative view of the region's literatures from its largest English-speaking nations (e.g., Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana), as well as English-language works by Haitian, Cuban or Puerto Rican writers.



EN 692q:  Youth, Canadian Fiction and the National Imaginary
Dr. Katherine Bell
Day/Time: M 11:30-2:20 pm
Location: 3-103 Woods Bldg.

This course offers a critical genealogy of youth; we will study how youth identity is shaped by historical context and we will explore the governing scripts for youth subjectivity in Canadian literature from the end of the 19th century to the present. We will analyze juvenile, YA and adult literature alongside a social history of Canadian youth, and we will draw on feminist, structural, and aesthetic theories of bildung to help us consider how the traits and developmental trajectories of our literary protagonists have been conceptualized in relation to the development of the nation. This relation between youth and the larger body politic is fraught with tension; we will consider the ethical stakes involved in portraying youth as the symbolic concentrate for modernity, and how both literary youth and their 'real' counterparts handle the sturm und drang of societal expectations and ideals. Considerations of race, region, class and sexuality will expand our understanding of the various roles youth have played, and continue to play, in the country's national imaginary.


EN 692r: Canadian Literary Ecologies
Dr. Jenny Kerber
Day/Time: W 11:30-2:20 pm
Location: 3-105 Woods Bldg.

This course will consider some of the ways that recent Canadian writing engages with questions of nature, moving beyond traditional themes of wilderness, the garrison, or survival to reflect more overtly “environmentalist” concerns related to phenomena such as pollution, extinction, and climate change. By reading works of fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry, and by incorporating insights from interdisciplinary work in history, geography, Indigenous studies, and environmental cultural studies, our discussions will tackle many of the following issues: the relationship between resource-based communities and larger global structures; the structural connections linking human domination and ecological degradation; the challenges of preserving, representing, and transmitting traditional ecological knowledge; the portrayal of human-animal interaction in light of habitat pressures and the erosion of the species barrier; the tension between national literatures and transnational environmental problems; and the potential benefits of bringing an environmental perspective to bear on the legacies of colonialism and neo-colonialism. We will also bring questions of language and form to our readings, considering how language becomes a field of ecological relations and the literary work constitutes an environment that responds to the physical world while also being a world unto itself. Among the writers whose works we will examine are Don McKay, Katherine Govier, Jeannette Armstrong, Marie Clements, Shani Mootoo, Adam Dickinson, and Douglas Coupland.


EN 692s: Chronotopes: Memory in Film and Fiction
Dr. Russell Kilbourn
Lecture: T 11:30-2:20 pm  /  3-105 Woods Bldg.
Screening: T 7:00-9:50 pm  /  P3027 Peters Bldg.

M.M. Bakhtin gives “the name chronotope (literally, ‘time-space’) to the intrinsic connectedness of temporal and spatial relationships that are artistically expressed in literature.”  By contrast, Anne Friedberg identifies the “‘virtual mobility’ of the film spectator who experiences… a ‘dynamization of space’ and a ‘spatialization of time’.” By comparing the representation of memory in film and novel (e.g. through such narrative devices as the flashback), this course examines the problem of identity as inextricable from questions of representation. Such (gendered) identities are produced, on the one hand, cinematically, in the modernist art film (in contrast to classical film narrative), and, on the other, literarily, in the 20th-century novel and short story. We focus on the convergence in film and literature of the subjective level – the representation of an individual’s perception of time, the structural and thematic role of desire, and a reified relation to death – with the objective level of ‘realism’, whether literary or cinematic. Through a combination of formal-stylistic analysis and close attention to intertextual and intermedial relations, we will compare a selection of films and literary works (see below) within the specific medial contexts of film and the novel in their respective capacities to capture subjective interiority reflecting upon the past and its place within it. The object is to better illuminate the elaboration through memory and history alike of modern and postmodern notions of personal and social identity within the (largely visually determined) subjective and objective spaces of late modernity. In these films time is represented spatially, as a (present-tense) spatial image, whereas in these literary works time and space alike – in the chronotope – are products of the narrative discourse, which is subject to temporal inflection. We therefore examine a key selection of novels and films in order to distinguish between the literary and cinematic media in their respective privileging and linking of narrative and visuality. The radical differences between literary and cinematic narration are as important therefore as their all-too-apparent similarities and points of contact.



WINTER 2015


EN 643: Medieval Patience Literature
Dr. Robin Waugh
Day/Time: R 11:30-2:20 pm
Location: 3-103 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 641: Voices of the Diaspora
Dr. Eleanor Ty
Day/Time: F 11:30-2:20 pm
Location: 3-103 Woods Bldg.

In the last twenty-five years, an unprecedented number of Asians have moved to United States, shifting the “white/black”racial and political configuration of the country, particularly in large cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York.  This course explores the cultural production - fiction, memoirs, film - of some of these immigrants and second-generation Asian Americans who have ties with their “imaginary homelands” in diverse countries such as China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, Korea, and India. We study the ways these writers and filmmakers represent their cultural identity, gender, sexuality, and diasporic subjectivity.  A number of authors deal with the effects of trauma, memory, and violence, while others are concerned with “claiming” America.  Issues of assimilation, hybridity, and displacement are examined in the light of recent critical theories in globalization, cultural and diaspora studies.  Novels to be studied include Ruth Ozeki’s My Year of Meats, Chang-rae Lee’s A Gesture Life, and Le Thi Diem Thuy’s The Gangster We Are All Looking For.


EN 692c: Human Rights Genres: Testimonial to Documentary
Dr. Madelaine Hron
Day/Time: M 11:30-2:20 pm
Location: 3-103 Woods Bldg.

This course examines human rights discourse in light of the genres and rhetoric associated with it. We focus on the testimonial, documentary and Bildungsroman genres, on legal, trauma-inflected and sentimental rhetorics, but also consider such forms as propaganda, sci-fi or humor. Special attention is paid to such issues as visual/literary conventions/innovations, memory, “truth”, translation, cultural representation and ethical responses to suffering. Thematically, the course explores a variety of human rights (esp. torture, genocide, refugees, children’s rights, gender rights), as well as issues such as violence, bystanderism, trauma, healing, rehabilitation and reconciliation in such texts such as Wiesel’s Night,  Partnoy’s The Little School, Hatzfeld’s Machete Season or documentaries such as Mr. Death, Half the Sky or The Art of Killing.


EN 692t: The Victorians and Race
Instructor: TBA
Day/Time: W 8:30 - 11:20 am
Location: 3-105 Woods Bldg.

The term “race” was deployed at a tremendous rate during the Victorian age. While the idea of race had certainly been a preoccupation of some eighteenth-century writers, it was in the nineteenth century that the term, with its scientific inflections, truly became “reified,” as H.L. Malchow has argued. This is certainly one of the Victorian era’s chief ironies, however, as the concept of race—while certainly employed by many—was used with remarkable inconsistency.  In this interdisciplinary course, we will study works of mid-to-late Victorian fiction along with primary documents from the era, such as ethnological and anthropological writings. In so doing, we will examine the broad social and cultural impact of scientifically-inflected racial thought.  Throughout, we will aim to contextualize and historicize the major discursive shift towards racial discourse in the latter half of the nineteenth century. For instance, we will examine the immense impact of racial ideology upon ideas of British Nationalism during this period—when previously nebulous signifiers, such as “Anglo-Saxon,” were imbued suddenly with seemingly precise, racial signification.  We will also investigate the degree to which racialist thought simultaneously influenced discourses of individual ontology since, as the century progressed, racial ideology came to inflect the representation of human consciousness.




EN 692k Digital Cinema
Dr. Sandra Annett
Lecture: W 2:30-5:20 pm / BA305 Bricker Academic Bldg.
Screening: W 7:00-9:50 pm / BA305

At the intersection of film and new media studies, digital cinema poses a unique challenge for both theoretical and practical understandings of film. If classical film theory positioned film as an indexical medium that “penetrates deeply into the web” of reality (as per Walter Benjamin) or acts as the “asymptote of reality” (as per Andre Bazin), films created since the 1980s using digital imaging, editing or distribution technologies force us to confront a different set of questions. To what degree does the seamless compositing of digital images alter our perceptions of what is “real” and what is “illusion”? Are digitally-created moving images necessarily manipulative, or can self-reflexive uses of digital technologies reveal the processes of image production itself?
    More practically, who can be considered the author or owner of an “original” film text when digital images may be easily altered by the director, distributors, and film fans themselves? What is to become of the actor’s craft in the era of computer-generated characters and motion capture? How does digital cinema redraw the boundaries between the avant-garde director and the amateur filmmaker, the art-house audience and the media activist?
    This course provides a solid basis for addressing key theoretical and practical questions raised by digital cinema. It explores major critical writings on cinema and digitality, such as the works of Gilles Deleuze and Lev Manovich, as well as film and media texts that provide a comprehensive body of work for comparison, from Tron (1982) to Chronicle (2012). Moving from the historical precursors and early examples of digital cinema to cutting-edge contemporary forms of Computer Generated Imaging and motion-capture technology, this class provides you with an advanced-level introduction to digital cinema.



SPRING 2015


EN 692b: Evangelical Fiction and American Faith
Dr. Kenneth Paradis
Day/Time: TBA
Location: TBA

Since at least the mid 19th century commentators have speculated about the relationship between America’s unusually pervasive religiosity and its self-proclaimed “democratic” lack of deference to social and cultural hierarchy.  This overlap between popular piety – usually some form of Evangelical Christianity – and popular culture has made popular fiction the site of some of America’s most intense cultural negotiations, negotiations that help us historicize the way that our presumptions about serious literature are themselves grounded in assumptions about popular fiction in an age of mass consumption, and about explicit religiosity in an ostensibly secularizing culture. We’ll begin by looking some basic statements in the genre of what might, for lack of better term, be called evangelical literary and cultural theory. We’ll then historicize these theoretical statements by looking at the development of popular fiction and popular religiosity (ie. the social gospel movement and fundamentalism) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as a precursor to our attempt to place contemporary Evangelical appropriations of pop fiction genres (ie. Christian romantic novels and “end-times” thrillers) in the context of contemporary American literature and culture.