4000-Level Course Descriptions


FALL 2017

Topics in Canadian Literature: Contemporary Fiction | ENGL-4710.3-002 | C. Rifkind | W 14:30 – 17:15

This seminar course studies recent works of English Canadian prose and graphic fiction to pay attention to issues of political, cultural, and aesthetic representation. We will focus on three prose genres that are prominent in twenty-first century Canadian storytelling: the historical novel, the coming-of-age novel, and speculative fiction. The texts are selected to represent a variety of styles and storytelling techniques, as well as a diversity of Canadian regions and experiences. Each of the works will offer unique questions to discuss, but threads that will run throughout include: gender and sexuality; race and ethnicity; Indigeneity and settler colonialism; family and kinship; displacement and diaspora, humand and non-human. Evaluation will be based on seminar participation, a 20-minute presentation, a short textual analysis, a research essay, and 4 reading reflections posted to the course discussion board before class. Students should consider reading in advance – check the UW Bookstore for the final reading list.


Critical Theory: From A to Žižek (then on to OOO!)| ENGL-4110.6-001 | P. Melville | T 13:00 – 15:45

Drawing on representative texts from a number of critical schools (including Marxism, psychoanalysis, feminism, queer theory, and object-oriented ontology), this course considers how theory has complicated and enriched our understanding of language, culture, and society. How is the process by which things like “literature” and “culture” are created, circulated, and understood caught up in questions of privilege and power? How do social differences shape one’s approaches to textual and cultural analysis, or the way we perceive, interact, and use objects in the world? With these questions in mind, students examine the changing views of the role that textuality, ideology, and even popular culture play in a culture’s understanding of itself as well as that culture’s determination of what constitutes “knowledge.”

Seventeenth-Century Literature | ENGL-4261.6-001 | B. Christopher | M 08:30 – 11:15

In a series of historically and theoretically informed seminar discussions and presentations, we will discuss representative works of early modern drama, by authors such as Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and John Webster, from the beginning of the seventeenth century to the closing of the professional theatres in 1642. Over the course of the year, we will read the works through a number of critical lenses, among them performance criticism, gender theory, historicist criticism, close reading, bibliographic criticism, and theories of adaptation.


Advanced Studies in Young People’s Texts and Cultures: Folk Narratives | ENGL-4160.3-001 | C. Tosenberger | M 14:30 – 17:15

In this course, we will study the links and disjunctions between oral storytelling and popular mass-mediated discourse: while folklore and popular culture are often traditionally posited as oppositional, we’ll be examining popular culture as interpreter, shaper, and transmitter of folk narratives.  We will begin the course with an examination of the three major forms of folk narrative (myth, legend, folktale), and an overview of popular theories of myth and folklore that have made their way into pop culture, often to the dismay of scholars.  During the semester, we will cover topics such as urban legends, horror media as miner and transmitter of folklore, monsters/monstrosity, fairy tales and fairy tale films, and audience studies/fandom.

Topics in Canadian Literature: Autobiography | ENGL-4710.3-001 | D. Wolf | F 09:30 – 12:20

In this course, we explore a number of contemporary autobiographies by Canadian writers. We will focus on a range of texts from celebrity and traumatic autobiographies to accounts of so-called everyday lives. Framing our readings in recent theoretical discussions of life writing and autobiography, we will examine the many ways in which writers represent themselves and others as they give voice to their life stories. We also will consider our own roles as ethical readers and witnesses of others’ pasts.

Topics in Indigenous Literature and Culture: Contemporary Canadian Indigenous Representations | ENGL-4717.3-001 | P. DePasquale | TH 11:30 – 14:15

This course focuses on several contemporary Canadian Indigenous literary and non-literary texts in order to understand the diverse ways that artists, activists, community members, and others imagine and represent, for example, young people, family, community, the environment, health, relations with others, and "the future" in their works. Our study of Indigenous representational practice across a range of discourses and media will call attention to issues and debates of importance in Canada today, in areas such as human rights, genocide, sovereignty, nationhood, identity, and reconciliation. We will read contemporary Indigenous representations alongside both Indigenous and Western theories of representation, using the primary sources to test, supplement, and sometimes contradict the theory. Sites of critical enquiry will include the Indigenous Perspectives gallery at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. No previous knowledge of Indigenous literatures or cultures is expected. Engl-4717 fulfills the Indigenous Course Requirement.

Topics in Postcolonial Studies: South Africa | ENGL-4730.3-001 | H. Snell | F 14:30 – 17:15

This course investigates some of the central questions in the field of postcolonial studies through an analysis of cultural and theoretical works from South Africa. These works span a wide range of forms, periods, and topics, including, for example, genre fiction, film, visual art, and texts that engage colonial, apartheid, and post-apartheid South Africa. Since this course offers an introduction to South Africa and South African literatures and cultures, students are not expected to already possess knowledge about South Africa coming into the course, though students who do are welcome. We begin with an exploration of South African history before turning to some key examples of creative works that grapple with this history. From there we work our way through the decades of anti-apartheid struggle toward an exploration of some contemporary theoretical, critical, literary, and other cultural works that engage issues, themes, and problems relevant to South Africa today. 

Gender, Sex and Culture: Queer Theory | ENGL-4901.3-001 | H. Milne | W 14:30 – 17:15

This course introduces students to some of the key -001thinkers, issues, and concepts in the field of Queer Theory. We will begin by reading Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble, Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality, and Eve Kosovsky Sedgwick’s Epistemology of the Closet, three texts that helped to lay the foundations of the field. We will then examine how queer theory has evolved over the past twenty-five years in relation to social and cultural changes that have occurred within queer culture. We will also consider how it has intersected with and informed other areas of theoretical and critical inquiry including psychoanalysis (Leo Bersani, Lee Edelmen), affect theory (Lauren Berlant, Sara Ahmed, Ann Cvetkovich), performance studies (Jose Esteban Munoz), Marxism and critical theory (Michael Warner, Lisa Duggan), and critical race studies (David Eng, Jasbir Puar). Together, we will practice using queer theory as an analytical tool for examining film, literature, television, and current events. Students at the 4000 and 7000 levels will read the same texts but 7000 level students will produce longer papers and assignments.