Course Descriptions 100-Level

This page gives fuller descriptions of 100-level courses based on past syllabi. Note that the specific details of syllabi can vary from term to term, so there may be some variation in course content. See the Undergraduate Calendar for official catalogue descriptions.

Fiction (ENGL 100A): In this course students learn the fundamentals of the novel and short fiction, from its roots in other forms such as the epic to the rise of the short story cycle. The course will focus on the conventions of these two forms and the key terms coined for their analysis in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Course readings in assignments will develop your skills in argumentation, organization, and analysis. At the end of the course, students should be able accurately to use appropriate literary terminology to discuss the varieties of prose narrative covered in the course.

Poetry (ENGL 100B): An introduction to poetry through a detailed examination of a range of poetic texts.

Drama (ENGL 100C): An introduction to dramatic literature through the detailed examination of a range of dramatic texts.

Introduction to Literary Studies (ENGL 101A): We will be reading and analysing texts from Western culture, in English translation where necessary, from antiquity to the present-day. We will focus on the three major genres of imaginative literature: drama, poetry, and prose fiction, together with a brief historical overview of the period in which they were composed, and an investigation into some critical arguments about them. We will also explore some of the rudimentary elements of literary theory. 

Introduction to Rhetorical Studies (ENGL 101B): This class seeks to introduce students to the essential concepts, frameworks, and controversies in the history and theory of rhetoric by analyzing key selections from foundational texts, both ancient and contemporary. In addition to demonstrating the relevance of rhetorical theory and criticism to a variety of social, intellectual, and cultural fields (law, politics, philosophy, literature, advertising, etc.), the class also explores emerging forms of rhetorical practice made possible by new media technologies, such as propaganda, computational gaming, and information warfare. Students will leave the class with a firm grasp of basic concepts of rhetorical theory, a sense of the history of rhetoric, and deeper appreciation for rhetoric as an inventive, critical, multimodal, and multidisciplinary enterprise—what Quintilian calls an “encompassing art” (ars circumcurrens).

Also offered online.

Varieties of English (ENGL 103B): In this course we will take a descriptive approach to the study of the varieties of the English language. We will begin by treating the building blocks of language, including grammar, phonetics and morphology, as well as etymology and the historical development of English as a lingua franca. In the second half of the course we will explore more complex language theories, especially those concerning the use of language as an identity marker, the flux of meaning depending on context, and the ethics of language use in politics and the media.

Rhetoric in Popular Culture (ENGL 104): This course explores how popular culture can persuade, influence, and convince in ordinary life. Using a variety of rhetorical methods, we will analyze a range of artefacts in this class, including – but not limited to – advertising, comics, film, television, theatre, music videos, technology, video games, and blogs. The goals of this course are both theoretical and practical: we aim to first understand rhetorical methods, and then to apply those methods in order to identify and explore the various forms of popular culture that surround us. 

The Superhero (ENGL 108A): An examination of hero figures, ranging broadly from ancient characters such as Gilgamesh to the modern comic book superhero. Literary as well as nonliterary materials (e.g., film, comics, games) will be considered. The objective of this course is to track our cultural fascination with superheroes throughout the past century and place it within a broader literary context of the hero figure in general. Why are we drawn to the superhero? What cultural values are reflected through the superhero? What does the superhero say about us and our society in contrast to earlier societies? How does the superhero compare to older mythologies? Additionally, the course will seek to cultivate active reading and analytical skills alongside essay-writing ability

Global English Literatures (ENGL 108B):  English is a language not just of global business but also of world literatures. The spread of English in its many forms and dialects has had a profound influence on English literary studies, especially in the 20th and 21st centuries. But what does it mean to call “English” a “global language,” and how have writers from around the world used English to shape and articulate their own worldviews? Questions that will inform this course include the following: What role did British imperialism play in the spread of English language and literature? How do people who are not of British background use English to express their own views, experiences, and identities? How are sound and meaning connected? What role does myth play in the literary imagination?  

Digital Lives (ENGL 108D): This course examines how digital communication technologies construct and constrain the formation of online identities and social spaces. More specifically, we will explore the technical, cultural, and social forces that make digital lives both familiar and unfamiliar, traditional and subversive. In addition to studying the who, what, where, why, and how of “digital lives,” this course is focused on helping you develop your skills as an academic reader and writer in the discipline of English. This course will frame two primary analytical methods, self- presentation online and participatory culture. We will use these critical tools to look at several thematics that include Civic Life Online, Digital Media and Credibility, Gender, Race & Ethnicity, and Game Ecologies, among others.

Gender and Representation (ENGL 108E): A study of the ways gender in all its diversity is constructed and gendered experience is expressed in literature, rhetoric, and a variety of media.

The Rebel (ENGL 108F): We will be looking at various kinds of rebels and acts of rebellion by examining different works of literature in which the protagonist rebels against existing norms. The course will look at how the rebel is defined, providing insight into issues of authority, challenges to authority, social expectations regarding what constitutes appropriate behaviour, and whether or not rebellion is justified. We will also look at the role that politics, culture, nation, race, religion, and gender play in the textual construction of rebels. To this end, the course will be looking at a variety of literary and artistic genres including poetry, fiction, prose, photography, film and activism. 

Horror (ENGL 108G): A study of the contemporary horror genre in literature and film. Topics may include the history of horror, the construction of fear, and the development of horror archetypes. Authors and creators may include H.P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, George Romero, and Stephen King.

Popular Potter (ENGL 108P): This course teaches critical perspectives on the first seven Harry Potter novels by J. K. Rowling. Since the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in 1997 (or the Sorcerer's Stone in its American publication), the series has gone on to achieve global popularity, selling millions of copies and inspiring a media empire of films, amusement park attractions, videogames, and more. Given this massive influence on popular culture, it becomes important to examine Harry Potter critically, and the main objective of this course will be to discuss how the series addresses real world issues in a fantasy setting and where it fits into larger forms of cultural significance. Where does Rowling's work in terms of the traditions of fantasy, children's literature, and young adult literature? How does it address larger themes such as pedagogy, growing up, and family? Does the series engage well with contemporary issues of gender and race? Why has it been so successful in inspiring devoted creative works and fandoms? What purpose, if any, does the Harry Potter series and popular culture at large serve in how we live our lives?

Tolkien: From Book to Film (ENGL 108T): A study of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954-55), and their film adaptations by Peter Jackson (2001-03, 2012-14). The works will be explored in the context of adaptation studies, particularly the relationship of source text to adapted work, as well as transmedia studies.

Introduction to Academic Writing (ENGL 109): The course will explore a variety of issues in academic writing such as style, argument, and the presentation of information. English 109 is designed to get you comfortable writing in an academic context. You will learn about different forms of academic writing, as well as the processes that great writers engage in to create their best work. You will read texts to learn more about how they were written, and thus to improve your own writing. Because we value learning as a social activity, and thus recognize that writers and readers learn from one another, much of your work in English 109 will involve different kinds of collaboration with your peers.

Also offered online.

Communications in Mathematics & Computer Science (ENGL 119): This course aims to build students' oral and written communication skills to prepare them for academic and workplace demands. Working independently and in collaboration with others, students will analyze and produce various written and spoken forms of communication. Projects and assignments will draw on materials for Mathematics and Computer Science students. By the end of the term you should gain confidence in your ability to complete research and communication projects. You should also improve your skills in working as part of a team, communicating, practicing professional behaviour, and making oral presentations.

Prereq: English Proficiency Milestone; Honours Mathematics students only 

Written Academic English (ENGL 129R): Designed specifically for students for whom English is not the first language, this writing skills course provides instruction in grammar, sentence and paragraph structure, elements of composition, and academic essay writing, including a focus on theme, development of central ideas, exposition, and argumentation.The course also provides instruction in grammatical accuracy, written fluency, and conventional essay patterns. ENGL 129R is not open to students with native-like, near-native, or similar advanced ability.

Also offered online.

The Use of English (ENGL 140R): Many of us are under the false impression that there is a universal Standard Academic English (SAE). For the most part, English-Only policies populate the North American academy and workplace. However, English is in fact what Min-Zhan Lu calls a “living” language or a language that is constantly evolving and challenging standardized usages. Language diversity challenges linguistic imperialism or dominant language ideologies. We will study and evaluate language as it used for a variety of purposes (i.e. colloquial, political, literary, academic, and journalistic) in order to develop critical awareness as well as oral presentation, editing, and writing skills.

Shakespeare (ENGL 190): Designed for students in all faculties, the course examines some of Shakespeare's comedies, history plays, and tragedies. Its principal aim is to make us better – more careful, more perceptive, more knowledgeable – readers of Shakespeare's plays, and thereby to make us more alert and alive to the problems that the plays invite us to experience and contemplate and to the pleasures that they invite us to share. Although we cannot hope to know these plays with any finality, we can become more aware of their involvement with the issues of their time and of the challenges and opportunities they present to modern readers. Shakespeare's variety and flexibility in developing characters and dramatic structures are stressed, as are significant themes.
[Note: No previous work in Shakespeare is required.]

Also offered online.