English Course Guide. First-year students

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What courses will you take?

This guide is designed to help you make course selections for 2016-2017. While the Mount's University Calendar gives descriptions for all English and Writing courses, not all of those courses are offered each year. In the drop-down menus below, you'll see more detailed information about the courses offered, program options, an introduction to English at the Mount, information on courses for next year, and checklists to help you plan. Please consult the University Calendar for official information on admissions and program requirements.

  • Program Options -- Students can take a 20-unit Bachelor of Arts degree with an Honours or a Major in English literature (typically four years). English can also be taken as a Combined Major with another subject in the Arts or Science offerings. A 15-unit Bachelor of Arts (General Studies) degree is also available with a Concentration in English (typically three years). These and other options (such as a Minor in Literature or Writing) are explored below in the drop-down menu.
  • ENGL or WRIT -- Courses offered by our department are designated as English (ENGL) or Writing (WRIT) or both (ENGL/WRIT). Courses with the WRIT designation can count towards the Writing Minor or they can be taken as an elective. ENGL/WRIT courses let you decide if you want the course to count towards an English program option, towards the Writing Minor, or as an English or Writing elective.
  • Pre-requisites -- Please consult the University Calendar to ensure you are adequately prepared for the courses you want to take. Generally, taking a 1000-level course is recommended to help you prepare for 2000-level and 3000-level courses.

Looking for Academic Advising?

At the Mount, we want to ensure you're on the right track from registration straight through to graduation. Our academic advisors are here to make sure your course choices work for your degree requirements and timeline. Download our advising checklists and contact your academic advisor - we encourage you to meet in person. A list of academic advisors is posted on the English Department bulletin board on the 5th floor of the Seton Academic Centre (between Room 510 and Room 511), or if you need to be assigned to an advisor, ask our administrative assistant, Tracy McDonald, in Seton 533 (902-457-6346; tracy.mcdonald@msvu.ca).

Victorian lit recitations 2011

Left: Victorian Literature students after a public recitation of 19th-century poetry.


Study what you love

In the English Department you can select courses that cover a wide range of subjects from traditional and historical literatures to contemporary theory and cultural studies. As part of your course work, you may find yourself memorizing lines for a performance project, researching eighteenth-century women writers, examining art responding to 9/11, or analyzing what makes a monster in different cultures. You will craft persuasive essays about books, authors, and issues that excite you. Some of your course work might deal with authors and subjects that you already know you love, and other courses will introduce you to exciting new challenges and approaches.

Even as you may be involved in analyzing how a book is made into a film, or translating lines of medieval poetry, or debating concepts of gender and sexuality in contemporary media, you will also be improving your oral and written communication skills, your research abilities, and your own creativity as a writer while developing the theoretical tools that will lead you to a greater literary and cultural understanding.

We know that you're more likely to succeed in university if you study what you love.

Charlotte Kiddell at Grand Opening of McCain Centre

Left: Charlotte Kiddell, English Honours student and student activist, one of ten Canadians recently chosen by the CBC to interview the Prime Minister one-on-one.


Gain skills in communication and critical analysis

University English teaches you both clear, articulate writing and critical analysis of the ways that language and literature work. These skills are acquired by prolonged experience and practice, rather like high-diving or ballet or piano-playing. Regular attendance at classes is consequently essential, along with active participation.

To maximize participation, English classes at the Mount are usually run in a discussion format. Your instructors will sometimes transmit information necessary to understand the background of literary works or certain critical approaches -- but on the whole, our teaching of English will not be simple transmission, any more than your learning will be simple memorization. Rather, we try to raise thought-provoking questions about literary texts, so that students can try out various solutions. Through weighing one solution against another, and checking all these solutions against the text, you should acquire a good sense of literary judgment. This will, over time, make your responses more convincing, more sophisticated, and more able to take account of the full complexity of literature.

These skills are carried over into the formulation of written arguments. English Department faculty make an effort to give full, careful comments on each student's written work. If taken to heart, these comments should prevent the repetition of errors, and year by year the writing of English students increases in precision and authority.

While all of our English courses will enable you to become a better writer, our Writing courses are for those who are especially interested in exploring the theory and practice of writing in different situations and in different types of writing. Writing courses will introduce writing as a rhetorical practice: a highly intentional exercise of choices to achieve a particular goal. Their topics range from an introduction to the field of writing studies, through creative writing and persuasion, editing and publishing, to theory and research in the field. Our Writing classes are run as small workshops of no more than 20 to 25 students in which you and your instructor and other students work closely on your writing, research, and editing.

The skills gained by these teaching practices -- the ability to think through problems and then to communicate the results convincingly -- will be useful not only in English classes but in any number of different fields and professions. In fact, excellent communication skills are among the top three priorities of most employers today. Read more about our students' career paths.


 Left:  a photo-collage of Halifax street art by Katrina Haight, part of her project in a Contemporary Culture course on psychogeography and the city as text.  Read more about Katrina's project.

Enjoy innovative teaching in a creative community

At the Mount, you will get to know your professors and classmates as you read, discuss, write, and work together in small classes of no more than 20 to 35 students. And your professors will get to know you as well, guiding you through your assignments and advising you on your program of study. Your work is graded by your professor, not by student teaching assistants.

While your professors are all active researchers in their fields, they also look for creative new ways to bring their knowledge into the classroom to share with you. All of our faculty are committed to high standards of teaching, and many of them have won or have been nominated for university, regional, and national teaching awards. Read more about our professors' teaching and research interests and their recent activities.

It's this personal level of attention that allows us to offer a full-year honours thesis course in which a student works with one professor on a substantial research project, a unique opportunity among Halifax universities. Other research and teaching opportunities are also available to our senior students, such as working as a research assistant or writing tutor.




English 1000-level courses. Photo Krista HillPhoto: Krista Hill


If you are considering a degree in English or if you are looking to sharpen your critical faculties, then choose ENGL 1155 or ENGL 1170 or 1171. These courses are introductions to English studies at the university level, but each one takes a different approach. Read the descriptions that follow carefully. 

If this is your first experience of English study at university, please note that it will differ from high school, and students sometimes report a drop in their English grades.  You will need a GPA of 2.0 (equivalent to a C average) in English to become and remain a major.  The Undergraduate Academic Calendar has a full description of the meaning of the various grades used at MSVU, and your English professors will most likely distribute in class the English Department Marking Scheme handout which describes how the department applies the Mount's grading system.  Copies of this handout are available from our department administrative assistant, Tracy McDonald, who is located in Seton 533.


WRIT 1120 is a course in writing theory and practice. It is the foundation of the Writing Minor, but it is valuable for any student.  Those who enjoy writing and its challenges will find stimulating challenges and will acquire a deeper understanding of how writing is accomplished, from the first glimmering of an idea to the final edit. English students (in the honours, advanced major, major, combined major, concentration, or minor programs) in literature can take this course as an elective. 


WRIT 1120: Writing Theory and Practice

Half (0.5) Unit--Fall or Winter  

NOTE: In WRIT 1120, you will be challenged and assisted to develop new strengths, whether or not you consider yourself to be a "good writer" already.  This course is not remedial or a review of what you have learnt in high school; it is a university-level course in which you will learn new writing techniques.  There is a firm exit standard: all students must demonstrate the same minimum competence in university-level writing in order to pass WRIT 1120.  To help you and your professor understand the challenges ahead, you will be asked to write in the very first class, for an entry benchmark.  This task is the purpose of the Calendar note which reads, "A writing exercise will be assigned in the first class. Students whose performances are judged as inadequate will be strongly recommended to withdraw from the course." 


01F   Monday & Wednesday  9:00-10:15   Clare Goulet

02F   Monday & Wednesday 10:30-11:45   Lesley Newhook

03F   Monday & Wednesday 4.30 - 5:45      Lesley Newhook

04F   Tuesday & Thursday 9:00 - 10:15      Dr. Kristin Domm

05F   Tuesday & Thursday 3:00 - 4:15    Dr. Anna Smol        

18F   DLCE   Dr. Nathaniel Street    


06W   Monday & Wednesday  9:00 - 10:15   Clare Goulet

07W   Monday & Wednesday  12:00 - 1:15    Dr. Sandra Orser

08W   Tuesday & Thursday  9:00-10:15    David Wilson

09W  Tuesday & Thursday 10:30 - 11:45   Dr. Sandra Orser

19W   DLCE     Lesley Newhook

In WRIT 1120, you will approach writing from a rhetorical perspective: that is, writing is not just a matter of following a series of rules or applying a set of templates.  Instead, writing involves making choices that are appropriate to the situation.  Assignments will include, but also extend beyond, traditional academic writing.  You will get practice in drafting and substantial revision as well as editing and polishing.  Issues of academic integrity and accurate citation will be addressed in the process of developing research-informed papers.

This course is the foundation of the Writing Minor; it is recommended that you take 1120 before you attempt any other WRIT or WRIT/ENGL courses.

ENGL 1155: Introduction to Literature: Gender and Form

Full (1.0) Unit--Fall and Winter 

An introduction to the critical study of the major forms of fiction, poetry, and drama, using examples from the time of Chaucer to the present day.  Readings will include a balance of female and male writers, and a special focus for discussion will be representations of gender.  Students may not take both ENGL 1155 and ENGL 1170/1171 for credit.

NOTE: This course is also listed as a women-emphasis course in the Women's Studies Department.

01FW       Monday and Wednesday   12:00 - 1:15     Dr. Graham Fraser

02FW       Tuesday and Thursday       1:30 - 2:45    Dr. Karen Macfarlane

ENGL 1170: Introduction to Literature: Reading Literary Forms

Half (0.5) Unit--Fall or Winter

An introduction to the terms and methods of literary analysis.  Through reading and thinking about literary works, students will acquire the skills needed to write about them effectively.

NOTE: Students may not take both English 1155 and English 1170/1171 for credit.


01F     Monday & Wednesday   1:30 - 2;45     Dr. Sandra Orser

02F     Monday & Wednesday   3:00 - 4:15      Dr. Rhoda Zuk

03F     Tuesday & Thursday       10:30 - 11:45    Dr. Sandra Orser

04F     Tuesday & Thursday       12:00-1:15       Dr. Reina Green

18F     DLCE: Tuesday :              6:00-7:15        David Wilson


05W    Monday & Wednesday    3:00 - 4:15    Dr. Rhoda Zuk  

06W    Tuesday & Thursday       3:00 - 4:15   Dr. Anna Smol    


ENGL 1171: Introduction to Literature: Reading Historically

Half (0.5) Unit--Winter only

An examination of the problems involved in interpreting literature of ages other than our own.  By identifying the preconceived notions of historical periods from the middle ages to the present moment, students assess how these preconceptions affect interpretation.  

NOTE: Students who have previously received credit for ENGL 1155 may not take this course for credit. .


01W   Monday & Wednesday  1:30 - 2:45  Dr. Diane Piccitto

02W    Tuesday & Thursday    12:00-1:15     Dr. Rhoda Zuk

18W    DLCE: Tuesday   6:00-7:15                David Wilson

2 studentsPhoto: Krista Hill

You may take a 2000-level ENGL course once you have completed one unit of literature at the 1000 level or five units of any university study. Completion of at least one unit at the 2000 level is recommended for English courses at the 3000 and 4000 level.  WRIT and ENGL/WRIT courses may have particular pre-requisites.

ENGL 2201  Shakespeare/one unit



Monday and Wednesday 10:30 - 11:45

Instructor: Dr. Diane Piccitto


This course will examine a range of plays by William Shakespeare from across his writing career (1590s-1610s), covering the genres of comedy, history, tragedy, and romance and including, for example, As You LikeIt,Hamlet, Richard II, and The Tempest. We will study these works in their historical, socio-political, theatrical, and contemporary cinematic contexts and reflect on the implications these contexts can have for an understanding of his plays. Key themes that will frame our discussions are power, authority, and rebellion in connection to gender, sexuality, and family ties. In addition, we will consider how Shakespeare explores these topics from genre to genre.

ENGL 2202  Introduction to Critical Methods/half unit

Fall term

Tuesday and Thursday 10:30 - 11:45                             

Instructor: Dr. Karen Macfarlane


Literary theory explores how we do what we do as readers and literary critics. It explores the issues around how language works, how we define and work with literary and cultural texts, how we work through the series of complex codes and meanings that make up our culture, how our material position (our social position, our race, gender, ability, sexuality etc.) affects the use of language, the production of literature, the structures and forms of narrative, our position as readers, and a variety of other issues related to our relationship with the texts around us.

This course is structured as an introduction to critical theory as a field of study with the aim of providing students with a strong grounding in the methods, terms, and strategies that underpin English studies. You will be introduced to the major schools and approaches that shape contemporary theory (such as psychoanalysis, Marxist theory, structuralism, poststructuralism, feminist theory and postcolonialism). In addition to reading texts about theory, we will read both selected primary theoretical works and selected literary texts through a variety of critical lenses.

This course is required for all English majors and strongly recommended for all English students at every level of the programme, and for all students interested in thinking about language, literature, and culture.

ENGL/WRIT 2220  Writing to Influence/half unit


Fall term   ENGL/WRIT 2220-18F (DLCE)               

Wednesday 6:00 - 7:15

Instructor: David Wilson


Winter term                     

ENGL/WRIT 2220-01W

Tuesday and Thursday 1:30 - 2:45                 

Instructor: Dr. Nathaniel Street

Pre-requisite: WRIT 1120 or five units of university study.


If you are taking this course in the writing minor, you are recommended to complete WRIT 1120 first.

Building on WRIT 1120, this course explores the rhetoric of persuasion in various genres and situations. The foundation of the course is classical rhetoric, as reinterpreted for modern times.  We explore logic and style as part of effective persuasion, as well as ethical issues that arise.  By the end of the course, students will have been familiarized with a variety of rhetorical and literary terms - impress your friends by referring casually to paronomasia or paraprosdokian.  Some research in the field is required.

ENGL/WRIT 2221  Creative Writing/ half unit

Fall term  

Monday and Wednesday 4:30 - 5:45                   

Instructor: Clare Goulet

Pre-requisite: 0.5 unit of English at the 1000 level or permission of the instructor.

If you are taking this course in the writing minor, you are recommended to complete WRIT 1120 first.

A study of lyric and narrative thinking via specific writing assignments in poetry, fiction, and/or nonfiction, in a workshop environment. Reading and written discussion of (and visits by) contemporary writers is central to the course, with peer-reviewed literary journals drawn on as texts and to establish standards.  Limited enrolment.

WRIT 2222  Introduction to Editing/half unit

Winter term

Monday and Wedneday 1:30 - 2:45                                 

Instructor: Clare Goulet

Pre-requisite: WRIT 1120 and ENGL/WRIT 2220 or permission of the instructor.

An introduction through workshops and case studies to the history and practice of text editing, from manuscript analysis, structural and stylistic issues to copy editing and proofing galleys, in a range of genres: literary, scholarly, scientific, and popular.  Students will have access to manuscripts and editing professionals. Based on the Professional Editorial Standards of the Editors’ Association of Canada.  Limited enrolment.

ENGL /WRIT 2223  History of Writing, Reading, and the Book/half unit

Fall term

Monday and Wednesday 1:30 - 2:45                             

Instructor: Dr. Anna Smol 


Book history is an interdisciplinary field, and in this course our topics will range from literary and rhetorical analysis to historical research to cultural debates. We will study the book as a material object and the development of manuscript and print culture from antiquity to the contemporary era, setting Western developments in a global context. We will examine intersections of oral and written literacies, the development of writing systems, and concepts of reading and authorship. Course readings will alternate between non-fiction (in theoretical, technical, and historical texts) and fiction (such as Geraldine Brooks’ novel People of the Book). Students will have opportunities for basic practice in writing scripts, editing medieval manuscripts, and using a printing press. Guest speakers may include librarians, publishers, storytellers, and book artists, who will enrich our opportunities to examine books in the Mount’s special collections in the MacDonald Collection, the Lesbian Pulp Fiction Collection, and the Canadian Children’s Book Collection. Topics may be as varied as the cultural importance of religious books, the development of a children’s publishing industry, censorship, women as scribes, patrons, and printers, Indigenous oral traditions, typography, and contemporary blogging. The course will offer multiple options for creative projects. 

This course may count as an ENGL half-unit credit or a WRIT half-unit credit. It may also count as a 0.5 elective in the Cultural Studies program.

For more information, please see: annasmol.net/teaching/ENGLWRIT222

ENGL / WRIT / PHIL 2225  Tricksters, Liars, and Sophists: The History of Rhetoric/ half unit

Fall term

Tuesday and Thursday 1:30 - 2:45

Instructor: Dr. Nathaniel Street


This course focuses on the history of the rhetorical tradition in the West from ancient Greece to contemporary thought through a careful study of selected major and marginalized works on rhetoric from a variety of perspectives, including some that are (ostensibly) hostile to rhetoric. The class will both study rhetoric as a historical phenomenon that gives insight into its contemporary place as well as read course texts as live interlocutors that may change and/or enrich how we theorize and practice rhetoric in the present. Additionally, the course will offer counter-histories of more established traditions that emphasize the role of women in rhetorical scholarship and practice, questions the supposed “disappearance” of rhetoric after the fall of the Roman republic, and interrogates rhetoric’s relationship with technological, scientific, and intellectual advances and shifts, including the printing press, turns toward empiricism, and the advent of digital and networked (mass) media. 


ENGL 2261  Short Fiction / half unit

Winter term

Tuesday and Thursday 9:00 - 10:15

Instructor:  Dr. Graham Fraser

This course explores the nature of short fiction through the study of a wide range of short stories and novellas from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.  We will examine the evolution of the short story as a form, with particular attention to the ways in which “realism” in fiction is defined and challenged, in terms of both its subject matter and formal structure, through such artistic movements as allegory, the fairy tale, the gothic, modernism, absurdism, magic realism, graphic storytelling, metafiction, and postmodernism.

english-dept-seminarCourses at the 3000 or 4000 level require successful completion of at least one unit of literature at the 1000 level.  At least one unit at the 2000 level is recommended.

An English Department seminar. Photo: Krista Hill

ENGL 3211 / POLS 3309  The Politics of Tragedy /half unit

Fall term
Monday and Wednesday 10:30 - 11:45
Instructor: Dr. Larissa Atkison

This course asks what tragedy as a genre might teach us about political life. In particular, we will approach tragedy as a resource for thinking about contemporary issues, such as the tension between religious and political freedom, political marginalization and exclusion, deception and manipulation, and civic responsibility. The course focuses on ancient Green, early modern, and contemporary tragedies, including works from Sophocles, Euripides, Shakespeare, Arthur Miller, and J.M. Coetzee. Finally, this course will encourage students to consider, more broadly, the implications and benefits of turning to literature as an alternative and complement to traditional political theory.

ENGL 3307  Romanticism and the Gothic / half unit

Fall term
Monday and Wednesday 3:00 - 4:15
Instructor: Dr. Diane Piccitto

The Romantic period (ca. 1785-1835) was one shaped by the revolutions in America and France, provoking a rethinking of socio-political structures and the rights of individuals. In particular, the French Revolution was seen as a defining event of the era, one that prompted numerous and varied responses, including the general demand for freedom, proto-feminist statements, and the abolition of the slave trade. In this seminar, we will explore the heated debates that emerged from these reactions, as well as what the idea of revolution (in practice and in art) meant to and offered writers of the time, paying special attention to issues of human nature, race, gender, imagination, oppression, liberty, and large-scale change. Beginning with key political-philosophies about revolutionary action, this course will focus on the poetry and prose of the first-generation Romantics, including Wollstonecraft, Blake, Baillie, and Wordsworth, as well as the genre of the Gothic and its relation to the period’s concerns.

ENGL 3327 Victorian Literature / half unit

Fall term
Tuesday and Thursday 3:00 - 4:15
Instructor: Dr. Karen Macfarlane


This course will focus on the influences, debates, and constructions of empire in Victorian literature. We will read a broad range of texts and contextual material to consider the ways in which empire, the debates around imperial intervention, and the construction of “Englishness” shaped British literary production in the nineteenth century. Our discussions will include the ways in which representations of empire intersect with other major movements of the era: the Woman Question, Race and Science, Technology, Class, and Social Reforms.

ENGL 3346 Contemporary Literature / half unit

Winter term
Monday and Wednesday 9:00 - 10:15
Instructor: Dr. Graham Fraser

This course examines some of the concerns of contemporary postmodern fiction.  We will pay particular attention to postmodern conceptions of authorship, history, memory, autobiography, and the role of material objects in culture and fiction.  We will also examine the ways in which these texts challenge the traditional boundaries between fiction and other textual forms (poetry, the image, non-fiction genres) and their efforts to bend or re-create language and fictional form into new shapes.   Some of these works are popular in orientation and others are more obscure – all, however, are important and compelling works of literature which offer a great deal to think about and enjoy. 

Tentative Text List:

Baker, The Mezzanine; Beckett, Nohow On; Brossard, Mauve Desert; Carey, Alva and Irva; Carson, The Autobiography of Red; Hoban, Riddley Walker; Johnson, The Unfortunates; Marcus, The Age of Wire and String; Sebald, Rings of Saturn; Shapton, Important Artifacts…

ENGL/WRIT 3355  Sixteenth-Century Literature half unit

Winter term
Tuesday and Thursday 10:30 - 11:45
Instructor: Dr. Reina Green

While sixteenth-century England was quite a different world from twenty-first-century Canada, some of the challenges faced by people then would be familiar to us now. To begin with, their understanding of the world and their place in it was being challenged by technological developments and scientific discoveries. Not only had the printing press changed people’s access to print media and the type of material available, but also there was a new understanding of the universe, the world, and of the body: stars never before seen were now visible with a telescope, new continents were “discovered,” and there was an improved—though imperfect—knowledge of how the body functioned. More people were moving to urban areas, and the fortunes of some declined while others profited. The sense of a shifting, unstable world is present in the literature of the time.

We will examine a range of poetry and prose, both by well-known authors such as Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, and William Shakespeare, and by their lesser-known contemporaries, including several women writers, in order to explore their ideas about society, gender, love, politics, religion, and literature. The hope is that, in doing so, we will come to understand more about our own world and our place in it.

ENGL 3361  Old English Literature / one unit OR

ENGL/WRIT 3377 and ENGL 3378

Fall - Winter terms
Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 - 1:15
Instructor:  Dr. Anna Smol

Fall term:  Old English: Translation Theory & Practice
Winter term:  Old English: Beowulf, Then & Now

Whether you take this course as a full-unit ENGL 3361 or as half units ENGL/WRIT 3377 and ENGL 3378, the content will be the same. Please contact Dr. Anna Smol if you have any questions. ENGL / WRIT 3377 is a pre-requisite for ENGL 3378.

In the fall term, you will experience the process of translation by learning to read Old English prose and poetry. We will explore various modes and theories of translation with the aim of writing a creative passage of translation and a professional commentary by the end of the semester.  

In the winter term, the focus will turn to translations and adaptations of Old English heroic verse, with an emphasis on Beowulf. We will continue translating passages of Beowulf as we not only examine the poem in its early medieval context but also trace the political and religious uses made of the concept of Anglo-Saxonism from the early modern to the contemporary period. Our study will include adaptations of the text in various media, such as novels, children’s books, graphic novels, and film.

For more information about the course, please see annasmol.net/teaching/engl3361

ENGL 3363  Feminisms and their Literatures / one unit

Fall - Winter terms
Monday and Wednesday 12:00 - 1:15
Instructor: Dr. Rhoda Zuk


This class will examine works of theory and literature (prose, poetry, drama, and the graphic novel) by women writers from around the world. The emphasis will be on work from 1970 to the present. Our strong and sustained emphasis on feminist literary theory will enable us to explore the points at which feminisms, culture, and women's narrative forms intersect. The class will explore feminist resistance to culturally specific issues of voice, language, family, religion, the body, history, and colonisations.


WRIT / COMM 3512  Scientific Writing/ half unit

Winter term
Tuesday and Thursday 4:30 - 5:45
Instructor:  Dr. Tess Laidlaw (Communication Studies)

An examination of writing in science and technology with particular emphasis on the development of high-level skills in writing and editing documents for a variety of science and technology audiences. Students will build on their previous writing skills and science background to analyze audience needs and write and edit a variety of communication pieces.

ENGL 4408  Critical Theory / half unit

Winter term
Tuesday and Thursday 3:00 - 4:15
Instructor: Dr. Karen Macfarlane


This course continues where ENGL 2202 Critical Methods left off. We will focus on the major theorists and theoretical works that have shaped the ways we read and think about literature and culture in the twenty-first century. Our focus will therefore be on the “posts” in contemporary theory: poststructuralism, post-feminism, postcolonialism, post-queer and on… Our discussions will be based on primary theoretical texts, but we will also be discussing selected works from popular culture as a way of thinking about the ways in which theory becomes methodology

ENGL 4446  Studies in Contemporary Culture / half unit

Fall term
Monday and Wednesday 9:00 - 10:15
Instructor: Dr. Graham Fraser


Walking is a way of seeing – a way of knowing.  Since ancient times, peripatetic literature equated walking with the practices of thinking and writing that underscore literature itself.  The rise of the modern city brought about a corresponding body of literature and theory to express the particular experience of the pedestrian exploration of the urban environment, from the Parisian flâneur of Baudelaire and Benjamin to the psychogeographical experiments of the situationists’ dérive.  Wandering outwards from a core of literary and theoretical texts, the course will drift through other neighborhoods of cultural representations of the pedestrian experience, including film, visual and performance art, politics, music, architecture and urban design.  We will explore the city as a textual, aesthetic space, investigating the experience of walking and lostness as embodied metaphors of the acts of reading, writing, and thinking, as ways of knowing and not-knowing. 

This course may well include field work.  Maps will not be required.

Tentative text list: 

Auster, City of Glass; Benjamin, The Arcades Project (selections); Calle, Double Game; Cole, Open City; Debord and Situationist International (excerpts); de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life; Ford, Savage Messiah; Katchor, Julius Knipl: Real Estate Photographer; Perec, An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris; Scott, My Paris; Self, Psychogeography; Sinclair, Lights out for the Territory; Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost; Solnit, Wanderlust; Stilgoe, Outside Lies Magic; Vladislavic, Portrait With Keys; Wood, Everything Sings

Karen Livingstone Image

Our upper-level courses are offered in rotation, usually in alternate years. The courses listed below are the 2000- to 4000-level courses which we hope to offer in 2018-19. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of this projection as the timetable will be affected by faculty sabbaticals, levels of funding, and other factors beyond the department's control. We will ensure, however, that Majors and Honours students will be able to meet their requirements.

Image:  Lothlorien (detail) by Karen Livingstone. Created as part of a creative project / analysis in ENGL 4475. 


  • ENGL 2201  Shakespeare
  • ENGL 2202  Introduction to Critical Methods                                              
  • ENGL 2216  Drama
  • ENGL/WRIT 2220  Writing to Influence
  • ENGL/WRIT 2221 Creative Writing
  • WRIT 2222 Introduction to Editing
  • ENGL 2242 Themes in Women’s Writing
  • ENGL 2251 Canadian Fiction
  • ENGL 2260 Poetry
  • ENGL 2263 Detective Fiction
  • ENGL 2270 Classical Traditions
  • ENGL 3300 Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Literature
  • ENGL 3308 Romantic Revisions
  • WRIT 3313  Modern and Contemporary Drama
  • ENGL 3319  Modern Poetry to 1945
  • ENGL/WRIT 3330 Myths and Theories about Writing
  • ENGL 3364  Shakespeare's Contemporaries
  • ENGL 4407 Queer Theory
  • ENGL 4427  Studies in Victorian Culture
  • ENGL 4475  Studies in Medievalism

Summer School 2019

Summer Session I:

  • WRIT 1120 Writing Theory and Practice
  • ENGL 1170 Introduction to Literature: Reading Literary Forms
  • ENGL 2205  Introduction to Literature for Children and Young Adults
  • ENGL/WRIT 2220 Writing to Influence
  • ENGL 3342  Modern Fiction

 Summer Session II:    

  • ENGL 1171  Introduction to Literature: Reading Historically
  • ENGL/WRIT 2221 Creative Writing
  • WRIT 2222 Introduction to Editing
  • ENGL 4476 Studies in Medieval Culture     

English Honours. Photo Krista HillThe MacDonald Collection, MSVU Library. Photo: Krista Hill

The 20-unit Honours degree in English is designed for students who maintain a GPA of 3.0 or above and who are interested in an in-depth study of English literature.  The Mount Honours English degree is unique among Halifax university English programs in that it includes the writing of an Honours thesis, a year-long full-credit course in which Honours students research a topic that interests them under the supervision of a faculty member and write a thesis on the subject. Students who are considering graduate school should enroll in the Honours program, but it is also a suitable degree for any student who is doing well in English courses.

If you are considering an Honours program, read the package of information for prospective Honours students available from the Department Secretary in Seton 533 and talk to your advisor or the Department Chair about your interest. The program requires careful planning, especially if you are considering graduate studies. Roughly, you should have a GPA of 3.0 or above in order to apply for Honours; MA programs usually require a GPA of 3.0 to 3.5 for admission. Graduate programs in English usually require that students pass a second language exam at some point in their studies, so it is advisable, if you are thinking of going on to do an M.A. or PhD in English, to take a language course during your undergraduate years.

Admission to the Honours program must be approved by the Honours Committee of the English Department. Typically, application through the Department Chair would be made after the completion of 10 units of study; acceptance is contingent upon the agreement of a faculty member to supervise the thesis. Honours students are also required to present an Honours colloquium, and to attend those presented by other Honours students.

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Old English class toastStudents in an Old English class preparing to give their presentations.

The degree with a major is intended for those students with a clearly focused interest who wish to gain knowledge in depth of a single discipline.


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English 2000-level courses. Photo: Krista HillThe combined major degree is intended for those students who wish to gain in-depth knowledge of two disciplines. Students must declare a major or combined major before registering for their sixth unit of coursework. Students who do not make this declaration within this time frame will not be permitted to register for further coursework.

Photo: Krista Hill

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A Concentration in English literature is available for students in the BA General Studies (15-unit degree).

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Students who require a Minor as part of their degree may complete a Minor in English Literature. Please note that the English Department offers two different Minors, one in Literature and one in Writing, and that the requirements are different for each one. A Minor in English Literature consists of three full units of ENGL courses, including two full units of English at the 2000 level or above.

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Writing MinorOffered by the Mount's Department of English, the Writing Minor will enable you to become a strong and flexible writer who can excel in any university field of study or future career. You'll explore the theory and practice of writing, covering communication in many forms such as creative writing, editing, researching in the digital age, the business of publishing, classical rhetoric, scientific writing, and contemporary theories about composition. 

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When you submit an essay as part of the requirements of a university course, it is assumed that the essay is your own work. Plagiarism is an inexcusable offence in the academic world, but some students seem uncertain about how to recognize and avoid plagiarism.

The university calendar defines plagiarism as "presenting someone else’s words, ideas or information as though they were one’s own" and lists a number of specific examples. Note the scope of this definition: words: this means that you must not incorporate material from another source directly into your work without proper citation and quotation marks; ideas: this means that your material must be original – if you are influenced by another’s original thoughts, understanding, interpretation, or perception then you need to acknowledge that influence with a citation; information: there is a difference between common knowledge in the discipline (date of Shakespeare’s death, for instance) and more specialized or controversial information: it is the specialized information that must always be cited. The scope of this definition makes diligence necessary when you are using secondary sources. Keep close track of where you got your information. Any presentation of material other than your own, whether intentional or unintentional, is plagiarism. It is your responsibility to make sure that your paper reflects your own ideas and that the material from which you drew any other information is properly cited.

Quotations: The rules governing quotation and references are very simple. If you find a passage that seems particularly apt for your chosen topic, you may reproduce it in your essay so long as it is copied accurately, enclosed in quotation marks (or indented, in the case of longer quotations), and followed by a correct parenthetical reference. (See  the English Department's A Student's Guide to MLA 2009 for instructions). At the end of the essay, under the heading "Works Cited," you must also list the author's name, the title of the work, the name of the publisher, and the place and date of publication. Detailed descriptions of correct forms for citations can be found in A Student's Guide to MLA 2009..

Paraphrase: You may, however, decide that, although an article or chapter is relevant to your studies, and has influenced you in the preparation of your essay, there is no specific passage that offers itself as quotable material. In this case you may paraphrase or summarize the argument or opinion presented. Since you do not use the words of the original, you do not need to use quotation marks, but you must still provide a correct parenthetical reference (see A Student's Guide to MLA 2009 for instructions). What you must not do, under any circumstances, is find relevant passages on the topic, cut and paste them (or simply copy them out), and offer them as if they were your own work. Note here that you must still indicate clearly in the body of your work that you have drawn your idea/information/interpretation from another source. It is not enough to include the source in your bibliography. Not indicating that specific passages, ideas etc are drawn from another source is plagiarism.

Electronic Sources are not excluded from this rule. If you use information from web sites, from full text databases (like EBSCO), from CD ROMs, or from other electronic sources these must be followed by a proper citation. Cutting and pasting sections of these sources into your own paper, even if you change them slightly or take only sections, is plagiarism and is not allowed. You will be penalized.

Penalties: Plagiarism is theft. Like any other form of dishonesty, it is unacceptable and results in serious consequences. Penalties include the awarding of a grade of F or zero to the assignment containing plagiarized material, or receiving a grade of F for the course (at the time of the infraction), or receiving a grade of F* for the course (which indicates that the course was failed because of cheating. This grade will remain on your transcript). It is that serious a matter.

September 2006