Graduate Courses 2022-2023

This is a current list of Graduate courses on offer in 2022-2023. Full list to be finalized.

Fall 2022 Courses

Instructor: Anthony Camara

Description 

In the fields of critical theory and disciplinary philosophy, the past decade saw a profusion of interest in speculative modes of thought. This new turn in theory reached its crescendo with the movement known as “Speculative Realism,” which has since dissipated as a coherent school in philosophy but arguably left an indelible mark on contemporary thought that extends into the worlds of literary criticism—especially work on popular genres such as horror and science fiction—film scholarship, and video game studies.

The objective of this class is to familiarize students with these resurgent speculative philosophies and to interrogate how they inform, and are informed by, contemporary popular genre literature. While these objectives require that students engage with the key thinkers of Speculative Realism, the class will trace the speculative impulse more widely through the return to metaphysics and ontology seen in Feminist New Materialisms, and through literary fictions by authors such as Nnedi Okorafor, Peter Watts, Caitlín Kiernan, and Annalee Newitz, to name a few.

Instructor: Vivek Shraya

Description

In this course, we will examine several contemporary popular prose texts including science fiction, fantasy, YA/children's lit, graphic novel, romance and horror to inspire and inform students' own writing in this field, which will also be discussed.

We will not only analyze what is popular and the conventions of popular genre, but also what is unpopular and why.

Students will be expected to experiment with stretching notions of the popular (and the limits of particular popular genres) in their own writing to create narratives that push beyond what is expected.

Instructor: Joshua Whitehead

Description

Our class will track 2SQ (Two-Spirit, queer) Indigeneity in ways that allow us to write, think, and read against the colonial and lateral violences that displace their bodies, sexualities, histories, and identities through a variety of cultural texts that are heterogeneous and intersectional. Through such a reading we can begin the necessary work to help rightfully reconcile not only settler C/Kanadians and FNMI (First Nation, Métis, Inuit) peoples, but also do the much needed work of native-to-native reconciliation by historicizing 2SQ Indigeneity and contributing to its survivance in the now amidst waves of intergenerational trauma. 

This course will highlight important questions pertaining to Indigenous sexualities, genders, and sexes outside of, beyond, and sometimes aligned with Western conceptions of LGBTQ+ and queer studies. Students will develop a critical and decolonial understanding of queer and trans Indigeneity within its current colonized state as well as build a vocabulary of terminologies, both literary and linguistic, to use as lenses of analyses for the texts we will undertake. This class will take upon a breadth of texts that disrupt borders, time periods, and genres from a variety of peoplehoods such as: the Cree (incl. Plains and Driftpile), Cherokee, Lumbee, Osage, Inuk, Kumeyaay, Métis, Anishinaabe, and non-Indigenous

Instructor: Clara Joseph

Thematically, this course will study travelogues on the search for “India” by Portuguese explorers Vasco da Gama and Pedro Alvares Cabral, where the seminar will pursue questions such as: What was the face of this early contact? What were the dominant ideologies that shaped contact? How does the genre of the travelogue both communicate and obstruct colonial ideology? Other literary sources, such as Rohinton Mistry’s Swimming Lessons and Aravind Adiga’s White Tiger will carry related questions into the so-called post-colonial period, with an emphasis on genres of the postcolonial short story and novel and the theme of decolonization. Students will approach these as well as selected historical and political events (as published on the internet) through a theoretical framework derived by closely reading scholarly articles (listed below) on key postcolonial concepts.

Winter 2023 Courses

Instructor: Kit Dobson

Description 

This course is designed as an inquiry into the poetics of posthumanism in the place currently known as Canada. Working through theories of post-humanism, and especially post-human ecologies, this course brings students to encounters with the environment in contemporary poetry produced in Canada. It does so in the service of creating a dynamic textual encounter with the flows between the human and the more-than-human worlds that students and poets alike inhabit.

Students will seeks to engage the scholarship of research-creation in order to enable an expanded range for both scholarship and assessment: students in this course will have the capacity not merely to engage with poetic and artistic texts that challenge and blur the (post)human, but they will also have the opportunity to begin to take on the task of research-creation efforts in their own assessments for the course.

Contemporary texts by poets in Canada who take seriously questions of environment, land, and the unstable boundary between the human and the non-human will be studied 

Instructor: Faye Halpern

Description:

This class will follow critic Amy Kaplan’s lead in seeing American literary realism not as a reflection of social reality but as a means of constructing new ideas about such historical developments as the rise of the New Woman and the widespread violence against Black people in the Post-Reconstruction period. We will explore how realist texts depict these developments, how it arose as a response to antebellum sentimentality, and how it constructs its intended readers. To what extent does it invite its readers to adopt a stance of critical distance? Assignments are aimed at introducing students to the different genres of academic life and will include blog posts, a teaching essay or analysis of a scholarly journal, and a conference paper and abstract. In this course, we’ll read works of fiction by Rebecca Harding David, Stephen Crane, Henry James, Charles Chesnutt, and Kate Chopin as well as a range of critical works: works that illuminate literary realism as a genre, works that theorize author-character-reader relationships, and works that expose current literary critical practices.

Instructor: Shaobo Xie

Description

This course explores the idea of minoritarian writing as variously named and practiced in contemporary theory and literature. A minor literature, according to Deleuze and Guattari, is not literature written in a minor language; “it is rather that which a minority constructs within a major language.”

Its three defining characteristics are:

  • the deterritorialization of language
  • the connection of the individual to a political immediacy
  • the collective assemblage of enunciation

The seminar discussions will center around the following questions:

  • What are the central concerns shared among various forms of contemporary minoritarian writing?
  • In what sense is minoritarian writing a revolutionary force?
  • Why is it that a minor literature always opens up a new way of imagining or experiencing aesthetic, cultural, and epistemological otherness?
  • To what extent might a minor literature deterritorialize dominant language and social imaginaries in a way that is really heterogeneous or external to the rule of neoliberal capitalism?
  • What role can minoritarian writing play in transforming the English classroom into a vibrant space of production of creative energies and ideas?

Instructor: Michael Clarke

Description:

A wave of pro-democracy movements has swept the world in recent decades, including the Arab Spring, Tajamuka in Zimbabwe, Movimiento 15-M in Spain, the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong, Occupy Wall Street in the US, and campaigns in Burma, Sudan, and Belarus, to name a few, and these movements join longstanding campaigns like the pro-democracy movement in China. Meanwhile, we have seen the renewal of far-right activism, fascism, and totalitarianism in various parts of the world. Powerful global economic institutions operating outside the control of democratic governments are also putting pressure on democratic governance, and the widespread political prioritization of security and terrorism within ostensibly democratic nations often curtails both citizens’ and non-citizens’ rights, undermining the individual liberty that has long been an integral component of democratic politics. Finally, feminist, anti-colonial, and race studies scholarship continues to challenge many of the supposedly liberatory premises of Western democratic theory.

This context has encouraged a new wave of art and theory on the possibilities, challenges, and contradictions of democracy. This course situates the current outpouring of theoretical reflection in the long history of democratic theory and reads a range of literary texts in relation to such work and as theory in its own right.

Course readings will be selected from among such works as Balzac’s The Chouans (1829), Whitman’s Song of Myself (1855), Mahfouz’s Cairo Modern (1945), Ellison’s Invisible Man (1952), Vieux-Chauvet’s Love, Anger, Madness (1968), Adiga’s The White Tiger (2008), Guo’s I Am China (2014), Kimmerer’s “Allegiance to Gratitude” (2013), Han’s Human Acts (2014), Mbembe’s Out of the Dark Night: Essays on Decolonization (2021), Dahlm’s Empire of the People: Settler Colonialism and the Foundations of Modern Democratic Thought (2018), Hardt and Negri’s Assembly (2017), essays by Agamben, Badiou, Bourdieu, Butler, Žižek and others in What Is a People? (2016) and Democracy in What State? (2012), Brown’s Undoing the Demos (2015), Chatterjee’s Lineages of Political Society: Studies in Postcolonial Democracy (2011), Nancy’s The Truth of Democracy (2010), Rancière’s Hatred of Democracy (2009), Santos’ Democratizing Democracy (2007), Derrida’s Rogues (2005), Mouffe’s The Democratic Paradox (2000), Dhaliwal’s “Can the Subaltern Vote? Radical Democracy, Discourses of Representation and Rights, and Questions of Race,” (1996), Mill’s On Liberty (1859), de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1835/1840), and Rousseau’s The Social Contract (1762).

Instructor: Morgan Vanek

Description

In a 2016 interview with Dissent, feminist philosopher Nancy Fraser declares that the “current, financialized form of capitalism is systematically consuming our capacities to sustain social bonds,” producing a “crisis of care every bit as serious and systemic as the current ecological crisis, with which it is…intertwined.” For Wendy Brown, this crisis is one of the defining features of neoliberalism, the consequence of the “the relentless and ubiquitous economization of all features of life” – and, as economic historians from Silvia Federici and Marilyn Waring to Thomas Piketty have now observed, it has its origins in the gendered separation of social reproduction from economic production, and thus in the protocols of dispossession that helped to define and institutionalize these separate spheres over the course of the eighteenth century.

In this course, reading across a series of eighteenth-century debates about the value of women’s work (and lives) under this emerging capitalist order, we will examine how this notion of gendered difference was developed in order to hold these spheres apart. What, in the eighteenth-century imagination, was a ‘woman’ supposed to do? What economic conditions, institutions, and consequences could compel this work? What can we learn about the category of gender from what these writers imagined as existential threats to the emerging capitalist order? Insisting,  that the domestic policies of enclosure, dispossession, and accumulation that produced these gendered spheres of work and value cannot themselves be separated from the projects of British colonial settlement and mercantile expansion unfolding around the world during this period, and working to resist the separation of the archives that makes the relationship between these projects so difficult to see, most of our research in this course will be collaborative.

In the first half of term, you will prepare a research paper on the economic function of a distinct element of gendered difference in one of these eighteenth-century debates (about sex work, vagrancy, inheritance, the fur trade, the slave trade, or the trade in beauty), with the aim of comparing your findings to your classmates’ in a conference that will draw out points of connection and critical difference between these projects.

In the second half of term, we will use these findings to cast new light on the contemporary crisis of care, and you will collaboratively develop a 45-minute podcast episode on the economic function of a new element of gendered difference at another moment you identify as critical to the development of the catastrophe Fraser and Brown describe here.

Spring 2023 Courses

Instructor: Michael Ullyot

Description

Shakespeare has long been a stalwart of the literary canon. But no amount of historical prestige will earn him our future respect. We can read historical texts in two ways: as historicists, situating their values and methods firmly in the early modern period of their origins; and as presentists, viewing them through the lens of our reception. This course does the latter, asking a question vital of all canonical texts: what value to they offer to readers now? Shakespeare can earn our attention by addressing our urgent projects of decolonization, racial reconciliation, queer equality, and patriarchy’s reckoning — and by reframing contemporary social forces from surveillance capitalism to climate change to political polarization.

This course tests Ben Jonson’s claim in the First Folio that Shakespeare was “not of an age, but for all time.” By reading his texts through the lens of the present, we will test not just his relevance but his worth. We will pair his texts with adaptations and commentary in these fields: selected sonnets with decolonization (L’Abbé); Titus Andronicus with racial justice (Loomba); As You Like It with gender fluidity (Sanchez, Stockton); Hamlet with surveillance (Schalkwyk); The Tempest with imperialism (Singh); The Taming of the Shrew with toxic masculinity (Schwarz). Some primary texts we will read, and others we will watch in performances that address these contemporary resonances — including the 2019 virtual reality adaptation Hamlet 360: Thy Father’s Spirit (YouTube VR), and film adaptations (Franco Zeffirelli’s 1967 Taming of the Shrew; Julie Taymor’s 2010 Tempest).