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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Arts
September 28, 2016
Canadian Excellence


Course Offerings: 2015-16

FALL 2015

EN 600:  Research Methods, Theory, and Professional Issues
Dr. Katherine Bell
Day/Time: Wed. 7:00 - 9:50 pm
Location: 3-103 Woods Bldg.

This course introduces students to bibliographic and research methods, theoretical models, and professional skills and issues related to English and Film Studies. The course is required for all MA students, and attendance is compulsory.

Note: The student's performance in the course will be graded as either "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory." Failure to complete EN600 or to obtain a grade of "satisfactory" may result in suspension from the MA Program.  A student's final grade for the course will not be assigned as "satisfactory" until a grade of "satisfactory" has been obtained in all of the sessions.

EN 608:  Women Writers of the 17th Century
Dr. Anne Russell
Day/Time: Thurs. 9:00 - 11:50 am
Location: 3-105 Woods Bldg.

This course focuses on the work of Aphra Behn (c1640-1689), a prolific playwright, poet, editor of poetry anthologies, and writer of prose fiction. We begin the course with selected works by women writers of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries in order to contextualize the literary environment and generic models employed by early modern women writers.  We will then consider Aphra  Behn’s poetry in light of the construction of authorship and of gender in the seventeenth century. We will analyze Behn’s position as a playwright in a theatre which introduced female actors only in 1661. Her insightful comedies explore the positions of women and men in a marital economy that privileges financial bonds and patriarchal influence  over an individual’s emotion and desire.  We conclude with some of the prose fiction written in the last years of her life. These stories, set primarily outside England, address colonialism, gender, racialized identities, and slavery. In all of our reading we will be attentive to seventeenth-century literary and cultural concerns as well as to our contemporary critical and theoretical perspectives.

EN 609: Canadian Women’s Literature
Dr. Tanis MacDonald
Day/Time: Wed. 9:30 - 12:20 pm
Location: 3-105 Woods Bldg.

Canadian women writers have noted that the legacy of literary feminism requires a sharp political sensibility, an ear for the possibilities of reclaiming the language of literary foremothers in the Canadian cultural milieu, and a willingness to assert an alternative narrative of nation to those offered by the cultural nationalism on the 1970s. This course is designed to introduce graduate students to canonical and emerging works by women writers in Canada, with the aim of discussing the major movements and debates that surround the formation of a "shadow canon" of Canadian feminist writing. We will discuss patterns in Canadian women's literature and genre experimentation as ways to track shifts in political subjectivities. Critical material will engage the literary and cultural dynamics of identity politics and gender theory and invite analysis of genre as a textual strategy in the creation of a feminist counter-public.

EN 619: The History of Film History
Dr. Katherine Spring
Lecture: Mon. 9:30 - 12:20 pm, 3-105 Woods Bldg.
Screening: Mon. 7:00 - 9:50 pm, 3-105 Woods Bldg.

How do historians analyze and reconstruct the past for contemporary readers?  What patterns of narrative, if any, characterize historical writing?  Why are some histories entered into a discipline’s canon while others remain marginalized?  Such questions of historiography form the crux of this graduate seminar on how film history has been written from the 1970s through to today.  In the first unit, “Principles and Methodologies,” we’ll consider how film historians have appealed to three rhetorical devices — causation, objectivity, and narrative discourse — as they develop their arguments.  The second unit, “Debates,” examines controversies that have arisen in film historiography, from the form of early cinema to the definition of classical Hollywood cinema.  The third and final unit, titled “Whither Film History?,” introduces examples that expand the boundaries of canonical film historiography and concludes with a prominent dispute about the state of the field.  Although examples used throughout the course emphasize American cinema of the early 20th century, students will be engaged with broad transferable skills, including the undertaking of research of primary sources, the analysis of historical writing and film texts, and the development of original historical arguments.

EN644: Cosmetics, Aesthetics, and the Beautiful
Dr. Andrea Austin
Day/Time: Tues. 9:30 - 12:20 pm
Location: 3-105 Woods Bldg.

This course will consider the cosmetic as cultural product, spiritual ideal, and iconographic practice.  We will progress from a fundamental framework in aesthetics theory, particularly constructions of “the beautiful” in the visual arts, to a social history of the cosmetic, ranging from the cosmetic use of “natural poisons” (such as lead and arsenic) in the eighteenth century to the advent of a corporate cosmetics industry in the nineteenth century and the trend towards “organics” in the late twentieth century.  A focus on DIY aesthetics, domestic/corporate and organic/synthetic dialectics, and the ontological significance of being “made up” will inform our readings of the primary course fictions.   Selections from print and film texts, and secondary readings in aesthetics and cultural theory, will form our primary readings; course may also include a field trip.


EN 604:  The Victorian Novel: 1848-1860
Dr. Lynn Shakinovsky
Day/Time: Wed. 2:30 - 5:20 pm
Location: 3-103 Woods Bldg.

This course investigates selected major Victorian novels of the 1850s. As one of only two countries to evade the revolutionary wave that swept Europe, and having survived the Chartist disruptions of the 1840s, the England of the 1850s appears to be characterised by placidity, calm, and widespread social consensus. However, while the novels of the period may indeed represent the multiple ways in which mid-Victorian culture successfully resists disquietude, disturbance, and change, they also draw on tension, much of it suppressed. Through close analysis of the primary texts, as well an investigation of the economic, historiographical, and historical background of the period, this course will explore topics such mid-nineteenth century ideas of nation; domesticity; sexuality; cosmopolitanism; shifting imperial relations; migration, emigration, and immigration.

EN 616: Women and Crime in Fiction and Film
Dr. Philippa Gates    
Lecture: Tues. 9:30 - 12:20 pm, 3-105 Woods Bldg.
Screening: Tues. 7:00 - 9:50 pm, 3-103 Woods Bldg.

This course explores women's subjectivity as author and protagonist and also the representation of women's relationships to law and order as detective and criminal in detective fiction and film from the 1880s to today. This course explores what happens to a traditionally male genre-the detective story-when women occupy the key position of hero, criminal, or author. While male and female authors and detectives worked within the same conventions in the early decades of the genre, the 1940s saw a polarization of gender, genre, and nation as the predominantly male American hardboiled tradition attempted to differentiate itself as more authentic than the predominantly female British classical tradition. A similar shift occurred in films from the strong Depression-era woman detective to her demonization or omission in the decades that followed. Only in the 1980s did both fiction and film see a resurgence of the female-authored and-centered detective stories and in new directions, including "dyke noir" and the criminalist/serial killer narrative. We will explore literary as well as cinematic examples of the genre in conjunction with critical texts addressing issues of gender, nation, race, sexuality, and class and also consider how the individual texts can be regarded as a challenge to the mainstream through an emphasis on anti-heroes, gender-bending, and formal stylization. Short stories and novels may include Old Sleuth's dime novel Lady Kate (1886), Agatha Christie's classical The Body in the Library (1942), and Sara Paretsky's revolutionary Indemnity Only (1982). Films may include Daughter of Shanghai (1937) with the only cinematic female Asian detective, Phantom Lady (1944) with the rare female noir detective, and Bound (1996) with lesbian criminal-heroes.

EN 617:  Identity Politics in Film
Dr. Jing Jing Chang
Lecture: Thurs. 9:00 - 11:50 am, 3-105 Woods Bldg.
Screening: Thurs. 7:00 - 9:50 pm, 3-103 Woods Bldg.

This course focuses on the various impacts of the advent and developments of film as technology, art and politics in the cinematic traditions of such countries as China, Mexico, and Iran, among others. Our main goal will be to examine filmgoing as a modernizing yet colonizing social practice and films as cultural documents that mobilized imagination in the processes of nation-building. The modern technology of film brought about a new form of leisure and entertainment, and introduced people to new ways of conceiving time and space that were at once violent and disruptive. Informed by issues and problems tackled by such cultural studies and film scholars as Edward Said, Homi K. Bhabha and Ella Shohat among others, we will engage in in-depth analytic discussions of primarily non-Western national films in light of tradition and modernity, the urban and rural, women and family, body and sexuality, and colonialism and postcolonialism.

EN 622: British Feminist Drama in the 20th Century
Dr. Maria DiCenzo
Day/Time: Mon. 9:30 - 12:20 pm
Location: 4-108 Woods Bldg.

The course involves the study of British feminist drama and theatre from the turn of the 20th century to the present and examines how feminist playwrights have used the genre to explore gender politics. The course is structured around four main periods: “new woman” and suffrage plays written before WWI; the 1950s; feminist/socialist theatre in the 1970s and 1980s; and developments since the 1990s including third wave feminism. The course will take into account  political/historical developments and the material conditions of theatre, to consider how these factors have affected women’s involvement in the theatre (in terms of production and reception). The plays will be read in the context of the history of feminism in the 20th century, and will deal with a variety of issues/debates related to the politics of class, race, national, and sexual identities. The selection of plays is intended to reflect a range of experiments in dramatic form and the secondary readings deal with key debates concerning strategies of representation.

EN 692p: Green Romanticism - From Semiotics to Praxis
Dr. Markus Poetzsch
Day/Time: Fri. 9:30 - 12:20 pm
Location: 3-105 Woods Bldg.

Foregrounding the tension between post-structuralism’s over-arching concern with rhetoricity and ecocriticism’s insistence on the materiality of “nature,” this course examines the interplay of nature-as-word and nature-as-world in the literature of the Romantic Era.  From a wide array of lyric and loco-descriptive poetry, travelogues, natural histories, guidebooks and journals by writers such as William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Coleridge, Thelwall, Blake, Smith, Burns, Baillie, Shelley, Byron, Hemans, Clare and Ruskin, we will consider the artistic processes that alternately celebrate nature as parent or guide, that attempt to make nature as aesthetic spectacle subservient to human ends, that give nature a distinctive voice and moral agency, and, finally, that signal its unrepresentable otherness, what Timothy Morton calls its “strange strangeness.”