ENGL 110/013 September 2104

English 110/013 Approaches to Literature

(note: lectures will take place Tuesdays from 11am-12:50pm in SWNG 122; tutorial groups will meet Thursdays 11am-noon: check the SSC once registered as then you will know your group number.)

General Description:

Through the study of selected examples of poetry, fiction, and drama, this course will introduce you to the fundamentals of the university-level literary study, and furnish you with the skills to think and write critically about literature. Through lectures and discussions, you will learn the basic concepts of genre and form in literature, and methods of literary analysis, to enable you to pursue more specialized English courses at the second year or beyond. The skills developed this term in critical reading and writing will serve you well in your pursuit of a variety of academic courses (not just English). Moreover, they’ll serve you well in your everyday engagement with various forms of cultural expression: novels, movies, songs, television series, etc.

This Section: Ambition and Desire

“Everyone gets everything he wants” – Willard in Apocalypse Now

“We would often be sorry if our wishes were gratified” – Aesop, “The Old Man and Death”

You’ve likely heard the expression “be careful what you wish for.” From Shakespeare’s bloody “Scottish play,” to Wilde’s Victorian Gothic novel, to Atwood’s post-apocalyptic cautionary tale, we will explore drama and fiction representing characters whose desires are certainly ambitious: to gain a throne whoever stands in the way, to pursue any sensational experience without fear of consequence, to destroy in order to remake human life on earth.

We’ll also examine many possibilities of poetic form and expression, mostly keeping our focus on representations of desire and ambition. A core list of poems will be set at the start of term but you’re encouraged to read widely in the anthology, and your tutorial leaders are encouraged to introduce poems they particularly love that aren’t on that core list.

You will need a Campus Wide Login (http://www.cwl.ubc.ca) username and password to access the Connect site (http://elearning.ubc.ca) for this course. All assignments and handouts for this course will be distributed electronically: emailed to you as document attachments and posted on the course’s Connect site. As well, the Connect site can be used to extend discussion and provide links to various resources.


Ebook editions of any of the texts (where available) are acceptable.

  • Lisa Chalykoff et al, eds., The Broadview Introduction to Literature: Poetry.
  • William Shakespeare, Macbeth. Penguin Classics.
  • Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Broadview.
  • Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake. Vintage Canada.
  • The Canadian Writer’s Handbook: Essentials Edition. Oxford.
  • Recommended for issues especially concerned with writing about literature: Janet Gardner’s Reading and Writing about Literature 3rd ed. Bedford.

Course Requirements:

  • Participation (preparation for and contribution to discussion; completion and submission on time of all assignments; attendance): 10%
  • Two in-class essays (1st: 15%; 2nd: 20%)
  • Term paper (25%)
  • Final examination (30%) In order to receive a passing final grade of 50% or greater, you must write and pass the final examination

Course Prerequisite: LPI level 5 or approved LPI exemption required to remain registered in this class. For further details on the LPI requirement, please visit http://www.english.ubc.ca/ugrad/1styear/faq.htm#1

© Gisèle M. Baxter. Not to be copied, used, or revised without explicit written permission from the copyright owner.

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