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Department of English

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Topics Courses Fall 2019

Instructor: Evan Gromel

Today, science and literature are often thought of as entirely separate academic realms with separate respective practices. In this introductory-level course, however, students will gain an understanding for the ties and relationships between literature and science over the course of history, beginning from the Medieval period and ending in the contemporary era. The course will ask students to consider how these relationships change over time and across cultures, and demonstrate how critical reading and literary analysis can deepen our understanding of said relationships. Being that this is an English course, the majority of the texts will be from literary writers – however, it will also include selections of what today are traditionally understood as distinctly scientific writers and texts. Among other things, students will specifically examine: scientific practice as it is represented in literature, the influence of literature on scientific writing, discovery, and observation, and the origins of the two as distinct concepts.

Instructor: Dr. Donna Coates

This course will explore contemporary novels on World War Two and the Vietnam War by Australian women writers who examine subjects such as the injustice of those incarcerated as prisoners-of-war such as the Japanese in Australia, and the effects on families of returned veterans suffering from PTSD who then themselves become victims of the inter-generational transmission of trauma.  The course will also include the study of Hannah Moscovitch’s play This is War, which recounts the events of a botched military incident in Afghanistan and the psychological toll it took on Canadian military personnel. Students will be required (if possible) to attend a production of the play, which will be performed on campus in October.  The course will emphasize fundamental skills such as how to write logically, clearly, and persuasively.

Instructor: L. Rain Prud'homme-Cranford

This course provides instruction in close and critical reading and writing through the exploration of texts that center Writers of Color in Speculative Fiction. Exploring POC (People of Color) within futurisms and alternate histories we will highlight characters, landbases, culture, languages, colonisation, histories and historic reimaginings in texts by a variety of authors. We will seek to create conversations highlighting how speculative POC epistemologies (methods and knowledges) influence how we think/imagine about literature (written, visual, oratory etc.) and how these texts both create meaning and how we make meaning from these texts (rhetorics or meaning making).

Instructor: Prof. Aritha van Herk (vanherk@ucalgary.ca)

English 335 is a course focussed on reading from a writerly perspective as an early but important step in the development of a writing practice. Many writers are nervous about being “influenced,” and so fail to understand that reading with the eye of a writer, and paying attention to form and structure, diction and language, in the work of established writers, is key to building a strong creative foundation.  This course requires creative work in response to and in concert with reading; it focuses on structural and formal elements and their specific deployment, undertaking genetic and generic explorations in how reading enables writers to engage with both process and form in their writing. This is a foundational class, but flexible in its appreciation of multiple creative approaches.

Students are expected to read a great deal and should be prepared for intensive, steady, and ongoing work. The course is conducted as a seminar, with students expected to complete assignments promptly, and to keep up with a heavy reading load. 

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Instructor: Dr. Pamela Banting

If energy is the ‘hottest’ issue of our time, then where, asks novelist Amitav Ghosh, are our petrofictions? Where are the novels, literary nonfiction, plays, and poems about energy, carbon and climate change? As it turns out, in recent years there has been an outpouring of literature, film, photography, and cultural studies work in the field of petrocultural studies.

In this course we will examine cultural-theoretical, literary, video, art, and photographic representations of energy. What is energy? How does language – is it “oil,” “tar,” or “bitumen” – affect how we view energy? How does energy affect our lives, our minds and bodies, our sense of place, and our sense of ourselves as individuals and as a society? What words, ideas and tools do we need to rapidly decolonize and decarbonize? What can literature and theory teach us about what a post-fossil fuel world could be like? Are there ideas, ideologies and stories that can help us quickly transition to healthier, more sustainable and more equitable ways of living? Students will have the opportunity to design, research and carry out their own experience-based creative and/or performative project on energy.

Instructor: Dr. Susan Bennett (sbennett@ucalgary.ca)

This course will combine classroom and community-based learning in partnership with the Calgary Public Library’s “Creative Writing Club.” The goals of “Community Engagement through Literature” are to explore practical ways that knowledge gained in the study of English might serve the community and to reflect on the relationship between literary studies and public service.

Students will meet in a formal classroom setting to examine and discuss assigned readings on service learning and community engagement. Once a week students, in teams of two, will work in a community partner setting (one of eight library branches), bringing their expertise and interest in literature to help students in grades 5-9 improve their writing skills.

Admission to the course is by application.  For a copy of the application form, please contact Karen Preddy in the Department of English office: karen.preddy@ucalgary.ca.  For all other questions, please contact the instructor.

Topics Courses Winter 2020

Slavery considered Black people things instead of people. How did enslaved authors fight against this kind of representation? How do contemporary North American authors revise these earlier ways of representing slavery? We will begin by close reading short stories about slavery and race. Then we’ll compare two famous nineteenth-century slave narratives, Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Frederick Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglassand ask how gender affects the experience of the enslaved. We’ll end by considering how Toni Morrison’s masterpiece Beloved rewrites these earlier representations, developing our own contribution to the critical conversation around Beloved.

This course will introduce students to literary studies and the methods it uses. Through close reading, critical writing and rewriting, and thoughtful discussion about specific texts, students will develop the practical skills necessary to succeed as a University English major.

This course asks us to trace connections between key issues in Canadian and U.S. Law & Policy (i.e. Truth and Reconciliation, Residential/Boarding Schools, Indian Removal, MMIW, Oil and Mineral Rights, etc.) and the literatures/textual productions produced by FNMI/Native authors. As a community, this class will explore issues, policies, histories, and laws within Indigenous literature/text on Turtle Island (North America). This course engages in dialogues addressing policy and law and its relationship to creative production highlighting Indigenous survivals, resistance, struggles, and sovereignty within popular culture (speculative fiction, comics, film, music, genre literature, and poetry) from across the U.S. and Canada.


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