Course Review: ENG 110

Approaches to Literature

“What’s this course called? ‘Approaches to Literature’? What kind of name is that? How should one approach literature? Here’s an answer. Very cautiously…”

Text: Leaving Home by David French, The Beggar’s Garden by Michel Christie, All That Matters by Wayson Choy

Prof: Duffy Roberts

Duffy is a cartoon character. Literally. Pardon the pun. Even the way he says “hi” in the morning is out of Loony Tunes… I think he would make a really good Goofy. Apart from re-enacting epic battles between his pet cat and the neighbourhood mice, Duffy spends most of his classes close-reading text. While its hard to believe, watching Duffy read is really educational. He keeps on searching for implied meaning, an endeavour most of us have either never attempted, or gave up after the volume of reading at school increased dramatically. Duffy is a post-modernist, so that kind of impacts the reading, since he is obsessed with the power of seemingly minute structural or vocabulary choices. He can also be quite rude, but one soon gets used to it, since he is rude to everyone.

Some quips:

“UBC is a Place of Mind. That means it doesn’t exist in real life, only in your mind.”

“Here’s the thinking behind Imagine Day. Lets give you day to imagine your future at UBC. Except there won’t be classes that day, unlike nearly every other day of your life at UBC. That’s where the ‘imagining’ come in.”

“I am your smartphone for the next 3 hours. You’ll never get bored of your smartphone, so there is no reason to get tired of me.”

“I accept bribes.”

“Property speculation is an old game in Vancouver. Where do you think Richmond came from?”

“Multiculturalism in Vancouver means each culture gets their own ghetto and they are not supposed to mix.”

“Don’t get colonized by the structure of a high-school paper.”


Really good luck getting an A+ or an A in this course. Highest score was 82. The workload was really manageable. Understanding what he wants is really important. I suggest first learning exactly what he wants before bending the rules. This course also requires you to think more and read more carefully then you are used to. Once one has resigned oneself to applying one’s mind, he is pretty accommodating with how you interpret and derive implied meaning from the text. Overall, this course is hard as you want it to be-if you are satisfied with simpler interpretations for a text, this course need not get very difficult and it won’t significantly impact your grade, since most of the class was in the 75-82 channel. He doesn’t give a lot of help while you are working on assignments, so be sure to incorporate recommendations from previous assignments in the new one.

Key Concepts

Home, Belonging and Place

Names and Naming

History, histories and memory

Close Reading inspires Question

Point, Illustration and Elaboration

 Hard Concepts

Close Reading: Never really done this in high school. The way I ended up thinking of close reading is as a generalization, that, while derived from the text, does not speak solely about the text any more.

Value: Still not sure how to approach this. He wanted us to evaluate the implied arguments. Felt like I was contradicting myself.


Thought-provoking class. Really improved my reading, which means a lot, since I am passionate about reading.


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