ENGL 470A (3 cr): Canadian Studies: Canadian Literary Genres

Canadian Literacy Genres: Canadian Studies

Course Description

This course provides a scholarly study of Canadian literature in a historical context with a focus on the intersections and departures between European and Indigenous traditions of literature and orature.

At the heart of this course is an examination of the power of stories, and in particular the stories we tell ourselves about being in Canada. We will examine story telling in literature and the stories we tell about literature; we will look at “whose stories” we listen to, and whose stories we cannot seem to hear – and why not? Edward Chamberlin urges us that, “now, it is more important than ever to attend to what others are saying in their stories and myths – and what we are saying about ourselves.” Students will read a range of literary texts, academic articles and relevant material. Students will be encouraged to develop independent critical responses to the texts as well as active participation in online discussions.

ENGL 470 Canadian Studies is designed for senior students and requires analytical skills and written assignments as befits a 400-level course. This course is of most interest to upper level students specializing in English, Education, First Nations, or History. The course requires regular and consistent engagement and the ability to work with an online community of fellow students. In return, this promises to be an engaging course designed to facilitate regular and lively dialogue between students and with the instructor.

Course Objectives

The objectives of this course are to strengthen your critical and literary skills and to enrich your understanding of the complex historical and contemporary relationships between literature and storytelling. This includes an understanding of the historical relations between nation building, canonization and colonization. This course requires that students have a willingness to develop a critical awareness and sensitivity to the tensions created by racism in Canada in the past and the present.

Through this course of studies students will:

  • Gain perspectives and develop a dialogue on the historical and critical process of developing a Canadian literary canon.
  • Develop an understanding of the relations between nation building and literature.
  • Discuss, research, and write about the intersections and departures between literary narratives and oral stories.
  • Develop reading strategies for recognizing allusions and symbolic knowledge other than Western.
  • Learn to recognize and challenge colonizing narratives and representations.
  • Gain some expertise in story telling.
  • Cultivate the ability to create knowledge through social relationships.
  • Developing expertise with collaborating in online spaces, writing for online spaces and presenting for an online conference.
  • Come to some conclusions on the state of literature in Canada today and offer up ideas for the future.

Upon completion of this course students will be able to discuss the historical and critical processes involved in developing a Canadian literary canon and explain the relations between canon building and nation building in a context that includes First Nations participation and agency in this process. Students will have developed reading strategies for recognizing and understanding allusions and symbolic knowledge other than Western. The end goals for this course are to be able to recognize colonizing narratives and representations, to be able to discuss, research, and write about the intersections and departures between literature and story, and to speculate on the future of literature in Canada in consideration of new media technologies.

Structure of lessons and assignments

This course requires a weekly blog that responds to class readings. These blogs will be assigned due dates that will guide the student’s pace through readings.

There are four units, with three lessons in each unit. Each unit begins with an introduction blog from the instructor that will provide an overview with a suggested schedule for the entire unit. Each lesson includes a required reading and viewing list and sometimes includes recommended titles. The lessons are introduced by way of a lesson plan that provides lesson objectives and introductory comments on each assigned reading with questions to consider as you read. At the end of each lesson there is a blog assignment that normally consists of a list of questions. Students will answer one of these questions.

As well, on a weekly basis students will comment on each other’s blogs. These comments will provide significant and relevant observations or question in the comment box. By significant I mean; the comment offers a new insight or a new example from the text that will enlarge the original answer, or a question with some measure of complexity, or a criticism supported by evidence from the weekly readings.

Instructor’s role and communication options for students

The instructor will keep a regular Course blog that will provide commentary on readings and invite student commentary. The Instructor’s blog will also provide hyperlinks to supplementary readings and visual and video resources.

Students are also encouraged to contact their instructor directly with more specific questions or concerns that arise from the course content, about their assignments or marks, as well as the discussion boards.

Students can e-mail the instructor who will respond at the earliest convenience. Students should not expect responses on weekends or holidays.

The instructor will hold regular weekly office hours on Skype.

Assessment and Assignments

Students are assessed on their written assignments, which include 1) student blogs with hyperlinks, 3) online commentary, 4) sharing resources, 5) self-assessments, 6) participation in an online conference at the end of the term.

Students will be required to complete the following assignments:

  • 30%: 12 Blog Assignments
  • 20%: Dialogues
  • 30%: Conference Presentation
  • 20%: Final Paper

Course Requirements:

  • 12 Blog Assignments. Students will publish a weekly blog (400 – 600 words) with at least two hyperlinks. These blogs will be based on assignment guidelines and will occasionally include self-assessments. Blogs will be assessed and graded twice: once at mid-term for 10% of the total grade and again end of term for 20% of the total grade. Students will be asked to submit their favorite three blogs for evaluation twice: mid-term and end of term.
  • Dialogues: these will include blog commentary, comments and hyperlinks, tweets and webcam videos all delivered via student blogs or the class page. Dialogues will be graded mid-term for 8% of the grade and again end of term for 12% of the grade. This is a class participation grade based on the frequency and quality of participation and evaluated on an ongoing basis.
  • Conference Presentations: Working in small research groups, students will organize and participate in an online Conference that is centrally concerned with innovative ways to intervene in the future direction of Canadian Literature. The conference is an opportunity for students to use their new understanding of how oral stories and textual literature are powerful agents of action in the world — as colonizing narratives or as narratives of liberation or revival. The conference is also an opportunity for students to demonstrate their new social media skills.
  • End of term Paper: You can choose from three types of papers: a reflective essay, a literary essay or a research paper. See the list with instructions at the end of lesson 4:4. Final papers are due in the Instructor’s email box. Papers should be approximately 3000 words and formatted according to MLA formatting and style guide. Papers should be saved as a PDF file before emailing.

Grading standards:

Assignments in the course will be evaluated according to English Department grading standards. All written assignments will be awarded letter grades to be converted to numerical values at the end of the term.

Student blogs and dialogues will be graded twice, mid-term and again at the end of term.

Final Course Grades:

The final course grade will not be a precise mathematical averaging of numerical grades on written assignments, though there will be a correlation between grades on assignments throughout the term and the final grade. The final grade will represent the instructor’s judgment of the student’s total performance in the course.

Required Reading:

Asch, Michael. “Canadian Sovereignty and Universal History.” Storied Communities: Narratives of Contact and Arrival in Constituting Political Community. Ed. Rebecca Johnson, and Jeremy Webber Hester Lessard. Vancouver: U of British Columbia P, 2011. 29 – 39. Print.

Barton, Matt and Klint, Karl. “A Student Guide to Collaborative Writing Technologies,” Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing. Vol. 2. Writing Space.org. April 04/ 2013. Web. http://wac.colostate.edu/books/writingspaces2/barton-and-klint–a-students-guide.pdf

CanLit Guides. “Reading and Writing in Canada, A Classroom Guide to Nationalism.” Canadian Literature. Web. April 4th 2013. [Read the sections that deal with nationalism.]

Carlson, Keith Thor. “Orality and Literacy: The ‘Black and White’ of Salish History.” Orality & Literacy: Reflections Across Disciplines. Ed. Carlson, Kristina Fagna, & Natalia Khamemko-Frieson. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2011. 43-72.

Chamberlin, Edward. If This is Your Land, Where are Your Stories? Finding Common Ground. Toronto: AA. Knopf. 2003. Print.

Chester Blanca.Green Grass Running Water: Theorizing the World of the Novel.” Canadian Literature 161-162. (1999). Web. April 04/2013.

Fee, Margery ed. “50th Anniversary Interventions.” Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 204 (2010) Print. [Read the Editorial (6 – 8); Read all of the “interventions” (103 – 162).]

Flick, Jane. “Reading Notes for Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water.” Canadian Literature 161/162 (1999). Web. April 4th 2013. [This is a reference article that you should study along with your reading of Green Grass Running Water.]

Frye, Northrop. The Bush Garden; Essays on the Canadian Imagination. 2011 Toronto: Anansi. Print. [Read Linda Hutcheon’s “Introduction”, Frye’s “Author’s Preface”, and the final chapter: “Conclusion to a Literary History of Canada.”]

“Get the Most From Word Press.com.” Learn Word Press. Web. April 04/2013. http://learn.wordpress.com/

King, Thomas. The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative. Peterbough: Anansi Press. 2003. Print.
— “Godzilla vs. Post-Colonial.” Unhomely States: Theorizing English-Canadian Postcolonialism. Mississauga, ON: Broadview, 2004. 183-190.
Green Grass Running Water. Toronto: Harper Collins, 1993. Print.

Lutz, John. “First Contact as a Spiritual Performance: Aboriginal — Non-Aboriginal Encounters on the North American West Coast.” Myth and Memory: Rethinking Stories of Indigenous-European Contact. Ed. Lutz. Vancouver: U of British Columbia P, 2007. 30-45. Print.
— “Contact Over and Over Again.” Myth and Memory: Rethinking Stories of Indigenous-European Contact. Ed. Lutz. Vancouver: U of British Columbia P, 2007. 1-15. Print.

MacNeil Courtney. “Orality.” The Chicago School of Media Theory. Uchicagoedublogs. 2007. Web. 19 Feb. 2013

Maracle, Lee. “Toward a National Literature: A Body of Writing.” Across Cultures/Across Borders: Canadian Aboriginal and Native American Literature. Ed. Paul DePasquale, Renate Eigenbrod, and Emma LaRocque. Toronto: Broadview, 2010. Print.

Moodie, Susanna. Roughing it in the Bush. Project Gutenburg, 18 January 2004. Web. 9 Apr 2013.

Robinson, Harry. Living by Stories: a Journey of Landscape and Memory. Compiled and edited by Wendy Wickwire. Vancouver: Talon Books2005. (1-30)
— “Coyote Makes a Deal with the King Of England.” Living by Stories: a Journey of Landscape and Memory. 64-85.

Required Viewing & Listening:

Bony M. “The Rivers of Babylon.” Lyrics. Metro Lyrics. Web. April 04 2013.

Chamberlin, Edward. “Interview with J. Edward Chamberlin.” Writer’s Café. Web. April 04 2013.

King, Thomas, “The Truth about Stories: A Native Narrative.” CBC Massey Lectures. CBC Ideas. Web. April 04/2013. http://www.cbc.ca/ideas

King, Thomas. “I’m not the Indian You had in Mind.” Video. Producer Laura J. Milliken. National Screen Institute. 2007. Web. April 04/2013. http://www.nsi-canada.ca/2012/03/im-not-the-indian-you-had-in-mind/

Wilson, Jordan. “Another Interview with Thomas King.” Canlit.ca/interviews. Video. Web. April 04/2013. This webpage includes a video file and a transcript of the interview: http://canlit.ca/interviews/21

What I Learned In Class Today: Aboriginal Issues in the Classroom. Dir. Karrmen Crey and Amy Perreault. First Nations Studies Program, U. of British Columbia, 2007. Web. April 04 2013. http://www.intheclass.arts.ubc.ca

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