ENGL 365/001: Modernist Literature (September 2022)

ENGL 365/001: Modernist Literature

Term 1 | MWF 3:00-4:00p

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Haunted Landscapes of Gothic Modernism

“in the middle of my party, here’s death, she thought” – Mrs. Dalloway

Modernism was born out of seismic, revolutionary shifts in society and culture. World wars, political revolutions in Europe and beyond, murderous civil and colonial/imperial wars, economic depression, and successive waves of technological modernization offering mixed psychological and social benefits and injuries laid siege to assumptions that the world was in any way well-ordered or reliably understood. Its literature both reflects conscious innovation and experiment and sometimes opposes these passions for change. Its obsessions respond in complex ways to those seismic shifts in its representations of gender and sexuality, social structures, race and culture, in all cases often in terms of transgression.

And yet, in its drive to make things new, Modernist literature is often a haunted place: spectres of ancestry, of war, of places escaped from collide with the present moment, creating a dark, Gothic modernity. This troubled place will be our focus in the darkening days of autumn.

Core texts include Henry James, The Turn of the Screw (to be read as a Modernism precursor), Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison; D.H. Lawrence, Women in Love; Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway; James Joyce’s “The Dead” and Katherine Mansfield’s “Prelude” and “At the Bay”; plus perhaps one more work of short fiction.

Evaluation will be based on a midterm essay, a term paper requiring secondary academic research, a final exam, and participation in discussion.

Keep checking this post for updates concerning the course, its texts, and its requirements.

See Recent Posts or Archives (May 2022) in the right sidebar menu for descriptions of my other 2022-23 courses. See Archives (February 2022) for descriptions of my Summer 2022 courses.

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ENGL 301/002: Technical Writing (January 2023)

ENGL 301/002: Technical Writing

Term 2 | TTh 9:30-11a

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Now with added grammar! While 301 is not a course in remedial grammar, this section will provide online Canvas-based writing resources and a series of workshops, designed to help identify writing and proofreading problems, and to provide strategies to address them.

English 301: Technical Writing examines the rhetorical genre of professional and technical communication, especially online, through analysis and application of its principles and practices. You will produce a formal report, investigating resources and/or concerns in a real-life community, as a major project involving a series of linked assignments. This project will involve the study (and possibly practical application) of research ethics where human subjects are involved (e.g. in conducting surveys or interviews).

Think of this course as an extended report-writing Boot Camp: intensive, useful preparation for the last phase of your undergraduate degree, as you start applying to professional and graduate programs, and for the years beyond of work and community involvement. Technical Writing is closed to first- and second-year students in Arts, and cannot be used for credit towards the English Major or Minor.

The course text will be Lannon et al, Technical Communications, 8th Canadian Edition, Pearson, 2020.

Please note that this is a blended course, and will require both participation in synchronous lectures and workshops as well as asynchronous independent work of the sort done in a conventional online course (e.g. Canvas-based textbook exercises and peer feedback on drafts).

Keep checking this post for updates concerning the course, its texts, and its requirements.

See Recent Posts or Archives (May 2022) in the right sidebar menu for descriptions of my other 2022-23 courses. See Archives (February 2022) for descriptions of my Summer 2022 courses.

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ENGL 243/001: Speculative Fiction (January 2023)

ENGL 243/001: Speculative Fiction

Term 2 | TTh 12:30-2p

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Synthetic Humans; Posthuman Dystopias

“We make Angels. In the service of Civilization. There were bad angels once … I make good angels now.” – Niander Wallace, Blade Runner 2049

“Whole generations of disposable people.” – Guinan, “The Measure of a Man”, Star Trek: The Next Generation (season 2)

The near-future and alternate-reality landscapes of science fiction are often terrifying places and have been since Gothic and dystopian impulses intersected in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Shelley’s landmark tale evokes dread in the implications of Victor’s generation of a humanoid Creature; this dread echoes in more recent products or accidents of science: clones, robots and replicants, artificial intelligences, cyborgs. Such texts raise issues of gendered exploitation, consciousness and rights, research ethics, and fear, in the realization that these creatures are, ultimately, not human but posthuman, yet often more sympathetic than their makers. However, despite their apparent superiority, such humanoids tend to be defined as commodities. In this course, we will consider the posthuman element of dystopian speculations reflecting on the present and recent past, especially concerning threats of mass surveillance, profit-motivated technology, environmental crisis, and redefinitions of human identity. Core texts tentatively include William Gibson, Neuromancer; Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski, The Matrix: Shooting Script; Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go; Blade Runner 2049 (dir. Denis Villeneuve) plus one other film (or screenplay) and/or one other novel. Evaluation will be based on a midterm essay, a term paper requiring secondary academic research, a final exam, and participation in discussion.

Keep checking this post for updates concerning the course, its texts, and its requirements.

See Recent Posts or Archives (May 2022) in the right sidebar menu for descriptions of my other 2022-23 courses. See Archives (February 2022) for descriptions of my Summer 2022 courses.

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ENGL 110/005: Approaches to Literature and Culture (September 2022)

ENGL 110/005: Approaches to Literature and Culture

Term 1 | MWF 1:00-2:00p

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Literary Monsters and Monstrous Literature

Rey: “You are a monster.”
Kylo Ren: “Yes, I am.”
– Star Wars: The Last Jedi

“Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time into this breathing world” – Richard III 1.i

What is a monster? We know monsters from myths and legends, folktales, horror fiction and film. We know their variety: the grotesque, the beautiful, the terrifying, the pitiable, the sports of nature and the forces of evil. Dragons, werewolves, vampires, zombies, Frankenstein’s Creature, Dorian Gray, the Joker, Hannibal Lecter, Marisa Coulter, many of the characters in The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones: they’re everywhere, from under the bed to the house next door to the battlefield, and right into a great deal of literature. Which leaves us here: in this section of 110 we’ll focus on how literary texts across the genres use representations of monstrosity in ways that inspire both terror and horror, as well as (let’s be honest) fascination and even enjoyment.

We’ll look at William Shakespeare’s Richard III (a play that meditates on villainy and ambition in demonizing its subject for Tudor audiences, yet still fascinates contemporary ones) and at Ian McKellen’s 1995 film adaptation, which shifts the setting to an alternate-reality 1930s England where fascism takes hold. We will also consider various stage and screen adaptations as approaches to the play, including recent ones using race and gender-diverse casting, and casting as Richard actors who are themselves physically disabled or disfigured. Other core texts include two novels: Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, as well as selected poetry (with a focus on the sonnet form).

Evaluation will be based on two timed essays, a home paper, and a final exam, plus participation in discussion. Each week (except where holidays and timed essays take place) I will deliver two lectures to the whole class, and you will have one small-group meeting with one of our Teaching Assistants. Note: the lectures will be online, delivered on Zoom on Mondays and Wednesdays, and augmented by material on Canvas. The tutorial group meetings with a Teaching Assistant will take place in person on Fridays.

Keep checking this post for updates concerning the course, its texts, and its requirements.

See Recent Posts or Archives (May 2022) in the right sidebar menu for descriptions of my other 2022-23 courses. See Archives (February 2022) for descriptions of my Summer 2022 courses.

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ENGL 100/003: Reading and Writing About Language and Literatures (September 2022)

ENGL 100/003: Reading and Writing About Language and Literatures

Term 1 | MWF 11:00-12:00p

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Haunted Houses

“What is a ghost? A tragedy condemned to repeat itself time and again? An instant of pain, perhaps. Something dead which still seems to be alive. An emotion suspended in time. Like a blurred photograph. Like an insect trapped in amber.” – The Devil’s Backbone (dir. Guillermo Del Toro)

Where is the fascination, even when the deepest mysteries of the universe are being scientifically unlocked, in stories of haunted houses? What accounts for the lure, and even the enjoyment, of tales of terror and horror, even in the 21st century? This course examines the Gothic influence in texts where collisions of past and present, and implications of the uncanny, allow fascinating investigations of social codes and their transgression.

Core texts include Henry James, The Turn of the Screw; Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House; Sarah Waters, The Little Stranger; Helen Oyeyemi, White is for Witching; and The Others (dir. Alejandro Amenábar), as well as Gardner and Diaz, Reading and Writing About Literature (5th edition). Through readings in current criticism and theory, we will develop strategies for textual analysis in literary and cultural studies. We will also consider the difficulty, if not impossibility, of reaching a “fixed” or consensus reading of any text.

Evaluation will be based on a short timed essay, a midterm essay (secondary research required), a term paper (secondary research required), a short informal final reflection essay, and participation in discussion.

Concerning Text Availability:

You may order Reading and Writing About Literature in ebook format through the UBC Bookstore; The Others will be available to stream through Library Online Course Reserves linked to the Canvas site (it’s also available to rent or purchase digitally through Apple/iTunes, Microsoft Store, GooglePlay, YouTube, and Cineplex, or to order on dvd or bluray).

The Turn of the Screw is available in its Broadview edition on RedShelf, GooglePlay, and VitalSource; it’s also available on Project Gutenberg, but the Broadview is reasonably priced and has a very good introduction, plus interesting supplementary materials.

Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, Helen Oyeyemi’s White is for Witching, and Sarah Waters’s The Little Stranger are available in print as well as on the following digital platforms: Apple Books/iBooks, Kindle, Google Play; The Haunting of Hill House and White is for Witching are also available on Kobo (choose the novel The Haunting of Hill House on Kobo, NOT the study guide, which is irrelevant to this course and a waste of money!). The novels can be read in these digital formats using an app and/or a browser, and do not require a specific e-reader.

Only legally published versions of material under copyright will be acceptable for use in this course.

See Recent Posts or Archives (May 2022) in the right sidebar menu for descriptions of my other 2022-23 courses. See Archives (February 2022) for descriptions of my Summer 2022 courses.

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English 490/951 and 491H/951: Combined Majors/Honours Seminar (Summer 2022)

Combined Majors/Honours Seminar – Summer Term 2 MW 12:00-2:00 p.m.

Dr. Gisèle M. Baxter

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Horror/Science: Gothic Echoes in Science Fiction

“It was on a dreary night of November, that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet.” – Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein, Chapter IV.

Over 40 years ago, Patrick Brantlinger argued in “The Gothic Origins of Science Fiction” that a problem in reading Science Fiction as “realistic prophecy … arises from the fact that the conventions of science fiction derive from the conventions of fantasy and romance, and especially from those of the Gothic romance. Science fiction grows out of literary forms that are antithetical to realism.” More recently, two 2019 essays by Daniel Pietersen on Sublime Horror, “The universe is a haunted house – the Gothic roots of science fiction” and “Spiders and flies – the Gothic monsters of sci-fi horror,” explore the intersection of terror and horror tropes in what we can only call Gothic Science Fiction.

This course is not about slick shiny optimistic visions of the future. It’s also not about magical and supernatural creatures (even if some of its characters might resemble them). It’s not about science research that has vastly benefitted worlds and their inhabitants: it’s about bizarre singular passion projects and their progeny, about science gone wrong, about the byways of pseudoscience and paranormal investigations. We will examine the theoretical bases of contemporary approaches to the Gothic and apply them to various examples of fiction and film.

The foundation texts will be Frankenstein (1818 edition), The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr HydeThe Island of Dr. Moreau, I Am Legend, and The Haunting of Hill House (I have ordered all through the UBC Bookstore). And we will look at E.T.A. Hoffman’s 1816 story “The Sandman” (elements of which are echoed in the ballet Coppelia and the opera The Tales of Hoffmann) and his 1814 story “Automata” (available through Library Online Course Reserves). As well, we will examine the films Alien, Ex Machina, and Blade Runner 2049 (all available to stream online through the UBC Library). If you work on Ex Machina, you might also want to look at the published screenplay, which is available as an ebook on Kindle, Kobo, and GooglePlay (though sadly not through the UBC Library).

Please email me (Gisele.Baxter@ubc.ca) if you want a list of texts I’ve requested be put on Library Online Course Reserves. At the start of term, this material will be accessible to your on our Canvas site. Roughly one week before term starts I will send you, through the SSC, a detailed course outline and syllabus.

Evaluation will tentatively be based on a seminar presentation, a formal research paper, contribution to discussion both in class and on the course’s Canvas site, introduction of a relevant critical/theoretical work and a primary text not on our finalized reading/viewing list, and a take-home final reflection essay.

Keep checking this post for updates concerning the course, its texts, and its requirements.

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English 362/921: Victorian Period Literature (Summer 2022)

Victorian Literature – Summer Term 1 TTh 2:00-5:00 p.m. Buchanan B215

Dr. Gisèle M. Baxter

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Ghosts are Real (So are Vampires): Victorian Gothic Terror and Horror

“Ghosts are real, this much I know” – Crimson Peak

“Vampires do exist” – Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Whether we take Edith Cushing or Abraham Van Helsing at their word, the 19th-century Gothic revival certainly emphasized possibilities for terror and horror in tales of the supernatural. However, these interventions of spectral and un-dead beings often take place in the recognizable present; they speak to its anxieties. Perhaps they speak to ours as well, given our recent fascination with Neo-Victorian representations of the 19th century, such as Penny DreadfulFrom HellCrimson Peak, etc. We will examine stories addressing issues of gender and sexuality; class, race, and culture; realism and the supernatural; urban and rural settings, all in a century known for developments in science and technology (especially photography), social upheaval, and a veneer of respectability, yet with monsters lurking in closets and under beds. Our focus will also permit consideration of the boom in publication of popular literature in a variety of formats, as well as the rise of the professional writer during the 19th century.

Core texts include Margaret Oliphant’s The Library Window, Sheridan LeFanu’s Carmilla, Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, and short fiction very likely including M.R. James, “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad”; Elizabeth Gaskell, “The Old Nurse’s Story”; Charlotte Riddell, “The Open Door”; Sheridan LeFanu, “An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street”; R.L. Stevenson, “The Body Snatcher”; E. Nesbit, “John Charrington’s Wedding” and possibly a couple of Victorian werewolf stories (since werewolf stories feature prominently in the research done for both Carmilla and Bram Stoker’s infamous Dracula). You will find a page of links to the short stories in the Notes and Course Materials Module on our Canvas site, as well as a link to the Project Gutenberg edition of Carmilla. I have ordered Broadview editions of The Library Window and The Turn of the Screw through the UBC Bookstore (these editions are reasonably priced and have great supplementary material).

Evaluation will be based on two essays, a take-home final exam, and participation in discussion in class and on the course’s Canvas site.

Keep checking this post for updates concerning the course, its texts, and its requirements.

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English 301/002: Technical Writing (January 2022)

ENGL 301/002: Technical Writing

Dr. Gisèle M. Baxter

Canvas Login | My Website

Term 2 | TTh 9:30-11a

Now with added grammar! While 301 is not a course in remedial grammar, this section will provide online Canvas-based writing resources and a series of workshops, designed to help identify writing and proofreading problems, and to provide strategies to address them.

English 301: Technical Writing examines the rhetorical genre of professional and technical communication, especially online, through analysis and application of its principles and practices. You will produce a formal report, investigating resources and/or concerns in a real-life community, as a major project involving a series of linked assignments. This project will involve the study (and possibly practical application) of research ethics where human subjects are involved (e.g. in conducting surveys or interviews).

Think of this course as an extended report-writing Boot Camp: intensive, useful preparation for the last phase of your undergraduate degree, as you start applying to professional and graduate programs, and for the years beyond of work and community involvement. Technical Writing is closed to first- and second-year students in Arts, and cannot be used for credit towards the English Major or Minor.

The course text will be Lannon et al, Technical Communications, 8th Canadian Edition, Pearson, 2020.

Please note that this is a blended course, and will require both participation in synchronous lectures and workshops as well as asynchronous independent work of the sort done in a conventional online course (e.g. Canvas-based textbook exercises and peer feedback on drafts).

See Recent Posts or Archives (June 2021) in the right sidebar menu for descriptions of my other 2021-22 courses.

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English 243/002: Speculative Fiction (January 2022)

ENGL 243/002: Speculative Fiction: Commodified Populations; Posthuman Dystopias

Dr. Gisèle M. Baxter

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Term 2 | TTh 12:30-2p

“We make Angels. In the service of Civilization. There were bad angels once … I make good angels now.” – Niander Wallace, Blade Runner 2049

“Whole generations of disposable people.” – Guinan, “The Measure of a Man”, Star Trek: The Next Generation (season 2)

The near-future and alternate-reality landscapes of science fiction are often terrifying places, and have been since Gothic and dystopian impulses intersected in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Shelley’s landmark tale evokes dread in the implications of Victor’s generation of a humanoid Creature; this dread echoes in more recent products or accidents of science: clones, robots and replicants, artificial intelligences, cyborgs. Such texts raise issues of gendered exploitation, consciousness and rights, research ethics, and fear, in the realization that these creatures are, ultimately, not human but posthuman, yet often more sympathetic than their makers. However, despite their apparent superiority, such humanoids tend to be defined as commodities.

In this course, we will consider the posthuman element of dystopian speculations reflecting on the present and recent past, especially concerning threats of mass surveillance, profit-motivated technology, environmental crisis, and redefinitions of human identity.

Texts:

  • William Gibson, Neuromancer: the UBC Bookstore has ordered print copies; the ebook is available on Kindle, Kobo, Apple Books, and Google Play
  • Lauren Beukes, Moxyland: the UBC Bookstore has ordered print copies; the ebook is available on Kindle, Kobo, Apple Books, and Google Play
  • Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski, The Matrix: Shooting Script (PDF on DailyScript)
  • Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go: the UBC Bookstore has ordered print copies; the ebook is available on Kindle, Kobo, Apple Books, and Google Play
  • Blade Runner 2049 (dir. Denis Villeneuve): available to stream (no fee) through Library Online Course Reserves; available to rent or purchase via Apple TV, YouTube, Microsoft, Google Play, and Cineplex; available to order as a physical-copy dvd or bluray.

Note: The novels are all under copyright so no legal free or extraordinarily cheap ebook editions of them exist and I can only permit use of legal versions of these course texts.

Evaluation will be based on a midterm essay, a term paper, a final exam, and participation in discussion.

See Recent Posts or Archives (June 2021) in the right sidebar menu for descriptions of my other 2021-22 courses.

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English 110/036: Approaches to Literature (January 2022)

ENGL 110/036: Approaches to Literature: Literary Monsters and Monstrous Literature

Dr. Gisèle M. Baxter

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Term 2 | TTh 2:00-3:30p

Rey: “You are a monster.”
Kylo Ren: “Yes, I am.”
– Star Wars: The Last Jedi

“Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time into this breathing world” – Richard III 1.i

What is a monster? We know monsters from myths and legends, folktales, horror fiction and film. We know their variety: the grotesque, the beautiful, the terrifying, the pitiable, the sports of nature and the forces of evil. Dragons, werewolves, vampires, zombies, Frankenstein’s Creature, Dorian Gray, the Joker, Hannibal Lecter, Marisa Coulter, many of the characters in The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones: they’re everywhere, from under the bed to the house next door to the battlefield, and right into a great deal of literature. Which leaves us here: in this section of 110 we’ll focus on how literary texts across the genres use representations of monstrosity in ways that inspire both terror and horror, as well as (let’s be honest) fascination and even enjoyment.

We’ll look at William Shakespeare’s Richard III (a play that meditates on villainy and ambition in demonizing its subject for Tudor audiences, yet still fascinates contemporary ones). In doing so, we’ll consider various film and stage adaptations, including Ian McKellen’s 1995 film, which shifts the setting to an alternate-reality 1930s England where fascism takes hold, and more recent adaptations using race and gender-diverse casting, and casting as Richard actors who are themselves physically disabled or disfigured.

Core texts will include the following (with availability):

  • Richard III (1995 film; dir. Richard Loncraine): this will be available to stream through Library Online Course Reserves
  • William Shakespeare, Richard III (excerpts): the UBC Bookstore has ordered the inexpensive Signet print edition; you can download the play as a PDF file from the Folger Shakespeare Library
  • Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (Broadview): the UBC Bookstore has ordered print copies; the ebook is available on Google Play, RedShelf, and Vitalsource.
  • Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Penguin): the UBC Bookstore has ordered print copies; the ebook is available on Apple Books, Kindle, Kobo, and Google Play
  • A collection of poems in the public domain will be provided as a PDF file on the course’s Canvas site
  • Janet Gardner and Joanne Diaz, Reading and Writing About Literature (Macmillan Learning, 5th ed.): the ebook is available on RedShelf and VitalSource (and the UBC Bookstore should have digital access cards)

Notes regarding texts:

  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle is still under copyright. That means there are no legal free or extraordinarily cheap ebook editions, and I can only permit use of legal editions. The ebook is approximately $13Cdn; the paperback approximately $20Cdn.
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray is in the public domain, so there are free or cheap ebooks but those are often of poor quality and full of typographical and other errors. If you buy an ebook other than the Broadview choose a Penguin or Oxford edition (they’re cheaper than the Broadview but reliable). Alternately, you can use the Project Gutenberg edition but it is just the text: no introduction or notes.

Evaluation will be based on two short timed essays, a home paper, and a final exam, plus participation in discussion.

See Recent Posts or Archives (June 2021) in the right sidebar menu for descriptions of my other 2021-22 courses.

 

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