This page lists the graduate courses being offered in the current academic year. For a list of graduate courses offered in previous years, see Past graduate courses. For a list of graduate courses offered next year, see Future graduate courses.
The systematic study of effective communication—the art of rhetoric—dates back at least to the epics of Homer and flourishes today in countless academic disciplines and fields of business. In fact, the “empire” of rhetoric is so vast and enduring that it “digests regimes, religions, and civilizations” (Roland Barthes). Nevertheless, English 700 sets out to compress two and a half millennia of rhetorical theory and criticism into a single semester. More specifically, this introductory seminar aims to provide students with the grounding in rhetorical theory necessary for advanced study in rhetoric, communication design, digital media, and literary studies. To accomplish this goal, the seminar will introduce essential concepts, frameworks, and debates in rhetorical theory by analyzing key selections from foundational texts, both ancient and contemporary. The seminar will also demonstrate the relevance of rhetorical theory and criticism to a variety of social, intellectual, and cultural fields: law, politics, science, philosophy, etc. Finally, the seminar will investigate, with the help of guest lecturers, emerging forms of rhetorical theory and practice made possible by new media technologies: digital design, information warfare, computational gaming, and others. Students will leave the seminar with a firm grasp of basic concepts, an ability to analyze rhetorical artifacts, and a deeper sense of rhetoric as an inventive, critical, multimodal, and richly interdisciplinary enterprise—what Quintilian calls an “encompassing art” (ars circumcurrens).
Jane Austen’s period saw an explosion of fiction written by women across a variety of genres, encompassing the historical novel and the philosophical tale, as well as the better known romantic, gothic, and comic forms. These works were also hugely popular with readers and critics: from the Bildungsroman of Frances Burney and the female Gothic of Ann Radcliffe to the fictional examination of sexual politics by Mary Hays and the regional tales of Maria Edgeworth, women were at the creative forefront of fiction writing. Today it can be hard to recall this context, not only due to changes in the novelistic canon which saw large swaths of women’s writing forgotten and neglected, but also because of the very power of Austen’s artistic achievement, which seems to set her above the novelists, male and female, who wrote before her. Austen seems, like Shakespeare, to be a type of natural genius, and through the various film adaptations of her novels, even our contemporary. Yet, of course, Austen was no less responsive to the literature of her age, and its problems and possibilities, than was Shakespeare himself. In this course, we will read the major works of Jane Austen with an eye to the literary background of her novels, drawing especially on women’s fiction of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as a context for understanding her artistic achievement.
In 1998, Joe Lockhard estimated that as little as 10% of nineteenth-century African American literary production had been located. In the almost twenty years following Lockhard’s claim, our understanding of nineteenth-century African American literature has shifted significantly as once forgotten texts have been identified, republished, and engaged. Whereas previously male-authored slave narratives, abolitionist writing, and late-century realist texts were presented as definitive, we now have access to a more diverse roster of authors and writings, including newspaper journalism, magazines, novels, and more. At the same time, such recoveries have not been without controversy or confusion, as is evident in the cases of Hannah Crafts and James Williams. This course looks at canonical writings as well as recuperated ones with an eye to considering how amorphous the African American canon has been, and what role print culture, availability, and political movements might have played in the recuperations which continue to reshape it.
This course will focus on the nature of things as examined in contemporary American literature, philosophy, and literary theory. We will read some of the many 20th-century American writers who have struggled to give thought, and presence, to things—as commodities, as stark necessities, as resistant otherness. We will also try to navigate the methodological gap between the philosophical criticism that claims for 20th-century poetry an ontological continuity with things, and the scholarship, mostly on the novel, informed by sociology, anthropology, and material culture studies generally. In addition, we will grapple with the recent surge of objectoriented ontology and speculative realism in American philosophy, which attempt to describe how things, in themselves, bring a world into being. Along the way, students will be invited to give thought to things in connection with modern aesthetics and philosophy; cultural, ecological, and economic history; the politics of public things and domestic things; literary form and artistic expression.
This course is dedicated to the problems of analyzing narrative. By reading a range of works on narrative theory and narrative analysis next to selected short stories, novels and films, we will seek to gain a sophisticated sense of how narrative works and how it can be effectively dissected. The literary and cinematic narratives studied cover a range from the early nineteenth to the late twentieth centuries, ensuring students learn to appreciate the historical development of kinds of narrative over time. The narrative theories covered include the classic Formalist studies of the 1920s; French structuralist narratology; and Marxist, psychoanalytic and feminist approaches to the study of narrative.
This course is designed to acquaint students with basic concepts and information about globalization and international communication. Students will have the opportunity: to explore the roots of globalization in the West and East and its rapid growth in the second half of the 20th century; read about the history and theories of global communication; assess the role that global English, technology, and the media have played in this; and consider the implications of this development with regards to consumption, culture, and professional communication in the 21st century.
Internet technologies have promoted a veritable explosion of life writing online in new media genres such as the personal homepage, blogs, and social networking platforms. As much as new media scholars interest themselves in understanding the writing genres and social selves created through these technologies, scholars in autobiography studies seek to bring their expertise to bear on theorizing these new modes of self-narration. These two fields—new media and autobiography—increasingly intersect, asking questions best answered with both an eye to the history and theory of life writing and to the practices and technologies of new media. Our theoretical readings will focus on poststructural understandings of the self, and we will examine these in light of how they have been taken up by both new media and autobiography theorists and practitioners.
Over the course of four centuries and through performances in every corner of the globe, Shakespeare’s plays have been understood in so many ways that Jorge Luis Borges famously suggested that Shakespeare was everyone and no one. He has been the poet of universal human nature, the exemplar of negative capability, the patriarchal bard, and the representative of empire and cultural hegemony. We might say, in the same vein, that he has been everywhere and nowhere. Without ever leaving his book, he has been, like As You Like It’s Jaques, a traveller. By studying significant adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, this class will consider how different ages and cultures have facilitated those travels by rewriting, reproducing, revising, repositioning, reinventing, and remaking (to use only the re- verbs from some recent titles) Shakespeare. Independent research projects will allow students to study Shakespeare’s presence in their own fields of interest.
Together we will read the major poetry of G.M. Hopkins: its hermeneutics (the meaning), prosody (the rhythm and sound patterns), and poetics (how different elements produce certain effects). Some attention will be paid to his letters and journals.
American pulp magazines were made possible by a convergence of technological advances in print and transportation, which made it possible to sell and ship magazines to mass readerships. Although they are widely collected and enjoy a huge fan following, very little scholarship exists about pulps and their readers. In this course we will work collectively toward a better understanding of pulp magazines, their authors, and their readers. We will focus on a few select titles that represent a cross-section of pulp genres. In addition to reading select pulp magazines themselves, we will study critical and theoretical readings, including theories of popular culture and readerships, theories of literary value and recovery, and recent scholarship on the pulp magazine field. As well, we will experiment with digital technologies such as Google maps and online census data to plot and analyze popular readerships, and learn more about the people who wrote for the pulps. Pulp titles to be covered may include, depending on availability, Argosy, Adventure, Love Story Magazine, Ranch Romance, Western Story, The Black Mask, Detective Story Magazine, Weird Tales.
This course looks at writing by medical personnel in war zones to examine how individuals translate such an extreme experience, often considered beyond language, into a narrative form. While much work has been done on combatant writing, this course differs in concentrating on the letters, diaries and memoirs and blogs of those whose work focuses entirely around caring for the wounded and dead. It begins with fragmented modernist representation of a nurse’s experience on the Western Front in the First World War, Mary Borden’s The Forbidden Zone, and with Vera Brittain’s less mediated wartime diary. It continues with memoirs and diaries by doctors and nurses from the Second World War, particularly Brendan Phibbs’s The Other Side of Time. It then looks at women’s memoirs and poetry of the Vietnam War, such as Lynda Van Devanter’s Home before Morning (the first account to claim non-combatant war experience as traumatic) and poetry from the collection Visions of War, Dreams of Peace. It will conclude with writings from the current war in Iraq, particularly Dave Hnida’s Paradise General and Richard Jadick’s On Call in Hell.
This course will examine the modern rhetorical antecedents of the discourses of dissent emerging from contemporary social justice movements, including those associated with racism, classism, homophobia, and nationalism in Canada and the United States. From the American Indian Movement to Idle No More, from Black Liberation to Black Lives Matter, from socialist labour to the New Left, from Stonewall to Queer Liberation, from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to Quebec’s Values Charter Legislation, from nationalist rhetorics of the Cold War to contemporary debates on immigration, this course will provide students with grounding in contemporary theories of dissenting discourse as well as with opportunities to explore the rhetorical practice of dissent within a variety of social movements.
We will study the way your mind makes and responds to the linguistic configurations called rhetorical figures. You make and respond to metaphors the way you do because your mind is tuned to analogy; you make and respond to metonymies the way you do because your mind is tuned to correlation; you make and respond to antitheses the way you do because your mind is tuned to opposition; you make and respond to ... well, you get the picture. Why? Because you're really good at recognizing, predicting, and completing patterns (in this case, the linguistic configuration known as repotia). Why? Because you're a human, with a human mind, and your mind is a style machine. You are a style machine.
This course is designed to offer graduate students an introduction to the field of environmental humanities (EH)—an interdisciplinary field of research that has emerged out of the need to more fully address the environmental challenges of the twenty-first century. Writing and research in EH has sought to better understand the concepts and narratives through which humanity has figured its relationship to the natural world, and, in turn, to reshape the orientations and self-understanding of the humanities themselves. Beginning from an interrogation of the foundational binaries between human/nature and culture/nature, the aim of EH has been to develop new concepts, models and modalities of our relationship to the environment and the natural world, with the hope of opening up ways of being, belonging and behaving that would (for instance) mitigate or undo global warming and climate change. While many might imagine that the challenges of the environment are better left to researcher in the physical sciences or to public policy decisions, the humanities have a foundational role to play in our environmental futures: the missing piece of the environmental puzzle is to be found in the narratives and theories of self and community with which the humanities have long concerned themselves.
This course will explore the environmental humanities along the specific axis of energy. As an ever-greater number of critics, artists and writers have recognized, the expanded use of energy has not only had a significant role in global warming, but has also played a crucial role in shaping the development of modernity. The energy of a given era defines the characteristics and capacities of societies in an essential way; as such, making a full and effective transition from a fossil-fuel society to one in better accord with environmental systems requires us to transform myriad aspects of social life that might seem at first to have little to do with energy, including political systems, built environments, educational practices, artistic and cultural practices, and even the basic organization and experience of daily life. Many of the values, practices, beliefs and affects fundamental to contemporary life, such as growth, property, mobility, consumption, independence, and entrepreneurship have been formed in relation to and reinforced by the capacities and abilities oil has made possible. By exploring the work of critics, poets, and novelists who have attempted to deal with the fundamental character of oil for contemporary experience, this course will consider the multiple sites at which our petromodernity is being named, confronted, and theorized.
Introducing students to key concepts of method in digital media analysis and digital design, the course primarily takes workshop format. Students examine methods and apply design strategies to the conception, design, and production of a research paper or digital project. The course engages several forms of research methods including textual analysis, ethnography, design charrette, games, and peer review. Students read texts and address objects from different disciplinary orientations such as Actor-Network Theory, experimental interface/HCI, and Internet of Things, as well as work with professional media-design tools. The goal of the course is to ground students in methodological approaches to digital media studies, critical theory, and designed objects. The course does not require any background in media theory or design. Strongly recommended for XDM students.
This course examines the intersection of radical social and political thought with violence in five novels of the 1840s and 50s. Catherine Gallagher argues that mid-Victorian industrial novels respond to contemporary controversies about “the nature and possibility of human freedom,” “the sources of social cohesion,” and “the nature of representation” itself as “facts” are transformed into “values” (The Industrial Reformation of English Fiction). In this course we will examine how acts of violence create crises in all three domains—of freedom, community and representation.
The course will begin with key texts by Carlyle, Engels, Marx, and Mill before turning to three novels—Shirley, Mary Barton, and North and South—that depict violent action by radical working-class groups: Luddites, Chartists, and trade unionists. We will then read Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights as a novel of class and social violence, and end with Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, a novel that is fundamentally concerned with the relationship between violence and social and historical transformation.
770/792: Turtle Island Diplomacy: The Rhetoric of Aboriginal, Métis, and European Negotiations in Canada’s Long Nineteenth Century (LIT/RCD/XDM) - Hulan
From the mid-18th century to the 1900s, North America was the scene of numerous wars, intrigues, migrations, and displacements. This course focuses on the rhetoric of diplomacy practiced by the era’s Aboriginal, Métis, and European emissaries as they negotiated alliances, treaties, and sovereign rights. Each group relied upon distinct traditions of diplomacy. Students will examine these traditions as well as the tactical use of messianic and apocalyptic narratives to re-start dialogue between an increasingly autocratic settler nation-state and Aboriginal and Métis peoples. They will also explore links between these earlier diplomatic negotiations and more recent events at Ipperwash and Kanehsatà:ke.
Each session of this class introduces a particular Freudian or Lacanian theory such as the uncanny, voyeurism, fetishism, the death drive, melancholia, masochism, the Imaginary, Symbolic, and the Real. Each concept is examined in the light of how it has been adapted in visual, sexuality, feminist, and literary studies. The goal is to insure sufficient familiarity with these theories so that students are at ease in deploying them richly in their own readings of literary and visual texts. Focus will be on how psychoanalysis itself is a reading practice. Readings by Freud include "Beyond the Pleasure Principle," "Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria," "The Uncanny," "Morning and Melancholia," "On Female Sexuality," and "A Child is Being Beaten." We chall also read excerpts form Jacques Lacan, Jessica Benjamin, Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, and Judith Butler.
Technical communication is treated in this course as both professional practice and as a site for scholarly investigation. Students will learn about the history and theory of technical communication across several disciplines and scholarly traditions. The activities and practices that constitute “technical communication” are theorized as rhetorical activities, and texts are analyzed using rhetorical genre theory, although we will read more broadly in the field to consider other perspectives. Students will also learn empirical approaches to the study of technical communication genres, including content analysis, interviewing subject-matter experts (SMEs), as well as ethical considerations in qualitative research design. Students in the course will be encouraged to identify their interests early on as major course projects will be tailored to their particular interests and research or professional goals.
The book is the single most important communication form used in human societies from ancient times to the present. This course will survey that history, from the invention of the codex in ancient Rome, through the invention of printing and the development of mass print culture to digital books of the 21st century, with three central questions in mind: One, what are the material and technological foundations and effects of particular forms of the book? Two, what modalities of communication does each form foster? Three, how do particular forms of the book interact with class, race, gender, and other structures of power and privilege in society?