Graduate Course Offerings

Tentative 2019-2020 Courses 

Note: English 6999 (Master's Research Essay) is available every semester, though students are encouraged to take this course in the Spring semester.


English 7602: The Female Gaze: Victorian Women Writing, Painting, Exploring (Dr. Annette Staveley, Mondays 2-5 pm)

Kate Bunce, Melody

Through extensive reading, discussion and analysis, we shall look at recent critical interpretations of women's writing in England between 1840 and 1900.Through a series of seminar papers on selected texts, we shall discover how women used their writing to redirect the focus on their supposed limitations in art, experience and activism. In their novels, poetry, diaries and letters, many women in Victorian England actively engaged with the issues of the day. Frequently, they wrote against the dominant opinions about women's education, professional attainment, desires for fiscal independence and sexual fulfillment. We shall choose from a range of writers, both the familiar and the unfamiliar, and shall consider how far they negotiated within the cultural discourses of their time, how far they advanced female agency, and how they answered back against the cultural prescriptions of womanhood. Lesser known writers, artists and explorers such as Gertrude Bell, Sarah Braddon, Kate Bunce, Eleanor Marx, and Ethel Smyth will be viewed as well as the Brontës, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, George Eliot and Elizabeth Gaskell.

FALL 2019

REQUIRED: English 7003: Trends in Contemporary Critical Theory (N. Pedri, Wednesdays 2-5 pm)

7003 Pedri

This course explores trends in contemporary literary theory as they have developed over the past three or so decades. A critical overview of major schools of thought will guide discussions about the role of theory in critical reading practices. Significant attention will be given to how the work of contemporary theorists can inform and enrich the reading of literature, making the practical application of theory central to the course.

Required texts:
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Second Edition. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. New York,   London: Norton, 2010.
Borges, Jorge Luis. Collected Fictions. Trans. Andrew Hurley. New York, Penguin, 1998.
Calvino, Italo. Invisible Cities. Florida: Harcourt, 1974.

English 7353: Women’s Travel Literature (V. Legge, Mondays 10 am - 1 pm)

This course will examine a number of travel narratives written by unusually intrepid women: Aritha van Herk, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson, Josephine Peary, Edith Watson, Mina Hubbard, and Mary Schaeffer. Though oriented northward, these women described their remote destinations as "exotic geographies" (Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism). In Orientalism Said suggests that travel literature contributed to the formation of imperial attitudes and helped empires rule distant lands and unruly people: "From travelers' tales ... colonies were created and ethnocentric perspectives secured" (117). Central to Said's argument is the notion that stories about strange regions of the world enabled writers to assert their own sense of superiority and to privilege their own cultures and histories. This course will investigate why women travelers were attracted to northern regions of the world and what attitudes they expressed about the people who inhabited those regions. We will begin by reading “Ellesmere, Woman as Island,” an excerpt from Aritha van Herk’s Places Far From Ellesmere.

English 7102: Vortex of the Oath: Hawthorne, Melville, Violence (A. Loman, Tuesdays 11 am - 2 pm)

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s fiction and Herman Melville’s poetry and fiction analyze American histories of violence with astonishing rigor and nuance. Hawthorne took up the early-nineteenth-century call to write in the Walter Scott mode about the American colonies, but did so in idiosyncratic, even scandalous ways, focusing on episodes of colonial civil disorder (riots and “extraordinary popular delusions” like the Salem witchcraft crisis). His openly allegorical fiction, like “Earth’s Holocaust” and “The New Adam and Eve,” envisioned apocalyptic futures for America. Melville, meanwhile, confronted slavery in Benito Cereno and the ecological costs of global capitalism in Moby-Dick. Their works grapple with the durable legacies of American violence and engage critically with the various permutations of American exceptionalism.

Although when referring to violence I’ll generally have specific episodes or histories in mind (the Marian persecutions in the case of “Young Goodman Brown”; transatlantic slavery in the case of Benito Cereno), we’ll do a certain amount of what Ann Laura Stoler has called “concept-work” to give the term a theoretical inflection. The theorists we’re likely to consult as guides include Giorgio Agamben, Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, and Rob Nixon.

We’ll read The Scarlet Letter and Moby-Dick along with a selection of novellas and short fiction. I strongly encourage prospective students to read the two novels – especially Moby-Dick – over the summer or else early in the fall.

English 7151: Early Modern Print Culture and the Formation of the English Literary Canon (A. Juhasz-Ormsby, Thursdays: 11 am - 2 pm)

Image reference: Geoffrey Chaucer, Parliament of fowls, London: Wynkyn de Worde, 1530.

This course explores the many roles played by the agents of book production (writers, readers, printers, publishers, and patrons) in the formation of the English literary canon in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. We will delve into the processes of canon formation, engendered by compilers and editors of literary miscellanies and printers of the works of such canonical authors as Geoffrey Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, John Donne, and John Milton. We will also examine how non-canonical writers, particularly women—including Mary Sydney Herbert, Aemilia Lanyer, and Lady Mary Wroth—positioned themselves in the pantheon of English writers and indirectly shaped ideas of canonicity and the emergence of a literary marketplace. Finally, we will discuss the interrelated political, economic, and literary forces that led to the redefinition of authorial activity in the early modern period.

English 7xxx: Creative Writing: Playwrighting (Instructor TBA, Wednesdays: 7 - 10 pm)

Past graduate courses


Department of English

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Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000