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 2019-2020. 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: The Writing Process

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   Dr. Sandra Orser

03F   Monday & Wednesday 4.30 - 5:45     Dr. Kristin Domm

04F   Tuesday & Thursday 10:30-11:45      Dr. Nathaniel Street

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

18F   TLCOL Wednesday 6:00-7:15           Dr. Scott Stoneman



06W   Monday & Wednesday  9:00 - 10:15  Lesley Newhook

07W   Monday & Wednesday  10:30-11:45   David Wilson

08W   Tuesday & Thursday  9:00-10:15        Dr. Kristin Domm

09W  Tuesday & Thursday 10:30 - 11:45       Dr. R. Babcock

19W   TLCOL Wednesday 6:00 - 7:15           Dr. Stephen Cloutier

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. Rhoda Zuk

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

ENGL 1170: Introduction to Literature: Literary Genres

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. Diane Piccitto

03F     Tuesday & Thursday       9:00 - 10:15    Lesley Newhook

04F     Tuesday & Thursday       12:00-1:15      Lesley Newhook

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


05W    Monday & Wednesday    1:30 - 2:45    Dr. Rhoda Zuk

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

ENGL 1171: Introduction to Literature: Literary Transformations

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  3:00 - 4:15  Dr. Diane Piccitto

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

03W    Tuesday & Thursday  1:30- 2:45      Lesley Newhook

18W    TLCOL: 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

Fall and Winter

Monday and Wednesday 10:30 - 11:45
Instructors: Dr. Reina Green  (Fall term)
   Dr. Diane Piccitto (Winter term)

In this course we will examine a range of plays by William Shakespeare from across his career (1590s-1610s), covering the genres of comedy, history, tragedy, and romance. 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 selected primary theoretical works and we will read selected literary texts through a variety of critical lenses.

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

ENGL 2207   Queer Literature and Culture/half unit

Fall term
Tuesday and Thursday 3:00 - 4:15
Instructor: Dr. Karen Macfarlane
This course invites students to explore representations of marginal identities and experiences in the context of sexuality, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, embodiment, and desire through the perspective of literary studies. Students will be encouraged to analyze, question, and better understand queer representations in a wide range of material (for example literature, film, television, music) taking into account their history, significance, and contemporary impact. Evaluation will be based on close reading and literary critical analysis of texts, class discussion, and analytical writing.


ENGL 2213  Contemporary Film / half unit

Fall term
Tuesday and Thursday 9:00 - 10:15
Instructor: Dr. Gregory Canning

An introduction to the basic techniques of the film art through a study of a wide range of contemporary films.


ENGL/WRIT 2220  Writing to Influence  / half unit

Winter term   01W   Tuesday and Thursday 1:30  2:45    Dr. Nathaniel Street
Fall term  18F  TLCOL  Wednesday 6:00 - 7:15  David Wilson

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.

This class will take Aristotle's definition of rhetoric as "an ability, in each case, to see the available means of persuasion" as a starting point for theorizing and practicing the persuasive power of writing. We will study rhetorical concepts and techniques -- such as invention, kairos, ethos, stasis, and topoi -- for discovering, creating, and analyzing rhetorical argument. Students will do this by learning the theory and history of these concepts, practice using them to analyze the rhetorical power of example texts, and mobilize them in their own writing. This work will culminate in a semester-long research project written for a popular audience in the spirit of essays written for publications like The Walrus, The Atlantic, or The New Yorker. 

ENGL/WRIT 2221  Introduction to 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.

WRIT 2222  Introduction to Editing/half unit

Winter term
Tuesday and Thursday 9:00 - 10:15
Instructor: Cooper Lee Bombardier

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.

ENGL 2251    Canadian Fiction/half unit

Winter term
Monday and Wednesday 9:00 - 10:15
Instructor: Dr. Sandra Orser     

An introduction to Canadian Fiction the short story, and the novel, from colonial times until the present.

ENGL 2263    Detective Fiction/half unit

Winter term
Tuesday and Thursday 3:00 - 4:15
Instructor: Dr. Rhoda Zuk      

A study of detective fiction as it has developed from it genteel English and hard-boiled American origins into a form able to embrace serious social analysis, feminist perspectives and post-modernist poetics.


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/WRIT 3221   Creative Non-Fiction/half unit

Fall term
Tuesday and Thursday 1:30 - 2:45
Instructor:  Dr. Nathaniel Street

The ancient Greeks commonly combined rhetorical instruction with athletic and musical training, which were often done in the same room in sync with each other (the aulus and lyre players would keep a beat so that students could literally stay in rhythm with each other). This educational strategy deliberately weaves bodily movement, sensation, voice, and mind. This may seem strange to us today because the Greeks, unlike us moderns, were hesitant to make any strong division between the mind and the body. It made sense for them to train the brain like it was a muscle and the body like it had an intellect. For these reasons, ancient rhetorical training was primarily driven by exercises, especially imitation, repetition, and adaptation. When written, these exercises were called the progymnasmata, which included fables, maxims, ekphrasis (vivid descriptions that entice the senses), refutations, encomiums and invectives (speeches of praise and blame), and personification. The purpose of these exercises wasn't so much to teach these specific genres of writing, but to train aspiring rhetors in a wide range of rhetorical moves and techniques (in the same way one would teach bodily moves and techniques); and, more importantly, to develop an agility in using those moves so that students would be comfortable mobilizing them when the situation called for them.

In keeping with, and relying on, the tradition of the progymnasmata, this course is aimed at developing your rhetorical facility with creative nonfiction writing, especially in the areas of style, invention, and arrangement. The course will be driven by workshops and, especially, writing exercises that will help you learn how to make a wide range of stylistic moves and train you to adapt those moves based n the specific needs of your writing situation. This will involve a lot of writing; but we will practice writing as an embodied and spatial act. We'll write in response to objects, visual-art, music. We'll not only write a variety of genres, but mediums as well.  Assignments will be of two kinds: 1) a series of medium-length works that will be drafted and refined for submission and 2) a series of short, generally in-class, writing exercises. Taking this class will help you cultivate habits of writing that will carry over to all arenas of life where writing is important, including academic, personal, and professional arenas.


ENGL 3305   Children's Literature/ half unit

Winter term
Monday and Wednesday 3:00 - 4:15
Instructor:  Dr. Rhoda Zuk

In this course we will explore picture books, novels, memoirs and animations created for children by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis writers, illustrators, and animators. We will analyze culturally specific issues with relation to voice, memory and representation in texts by writers such as Nicola I Campbell, Tomson Highway, Thomas King, Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, Catherine Knutson, and George Littlechild. We will also consider animations by Alan Syliboy and an animated cartoon series produced in cooperation with Norval Morrisseau. Our study will be informed by the theoretical frameworks and insights of Indigenous literary critics concerning language, land, orality, spirituality, gender, and resistance.

ENGL 3308 Romantic Rebels and Reformers/ half unit

Winter term
Monday and Wednesday  1:30 - 2:45
Instructor: Dr. Diane Piccitto

The need for socio-political change, particularly with individual and group rights as well as parliamentary reform, persisted throughout the Romantic period (ca. 1785 -1835). While the more immediate context for the second half of this era was the reign and subsequent fall of Napoleon Bonaparte along with the Napoleonic Wars, the French Revolution continued to both inspire and haunt the imagination of a generation of writers that were either very young or not yet born when this historic event transpired. They struggled with the call of liberty and the rousing feats of the Promethean overreacher in the face of the Jovian tyrant on the one hand and the belief in pacifism and the good of the general public on the other. In this course, we will examine various manifestations of socio-political conflicts as well as the viability of slow reform rather than violent revolution in relation to the imagination, the power of poetry, tradition versus progress, individualism versus social good, nature, and domesticity, primarily in the writings of second-generation Romantics such as Lord Byron, P.B. and Mary Shelley, John Keats, and Felicia Hemans. ENGL 3307 is recommended but not required. 

ENGL 3319  Modern Poetry to 1945 / half unit

Winter term
Monday and Wednesday  12:00 - 1:15
Instructor: Dr. Graham Fraser    

In this course we will examine a range of poems and poetics from the Modernist period (1900-1945). We will examine the innovations of Modernist literature against the background of 19th century poetry, and we will look into connections between Modernist poetry and other Modernist movements in art (especially visual art) and the larger cultural, scientific, philosophical, and political shifts and crises which informed the Modernist period.

Modernist poetry is often intentionally difficult in terms of both its poetic form and the complexity of its ideas. It expects much of its audience and demands that its readers rise to its level and meet it on its own terms. This course is designed to confront, understand, and hopefully to enjoy these difficulties (and perhaps even to reveal them to be not so difficult after all). Some of the poets and poetic movements addressed will include: Imagism, Vorticism, Surrealism, Loy, Williams, Yeats, Pound, Eliot, H.D., Stevens, Stein, Moore, Riding, and Bishop.

Text: Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry Volume 1. 3rd ed.


ENGL/WRIT 3330 Myths and Theories about Writing / half unit

Winter term; section 18W
Wednesday 7:00 - 8:30
Instructor:  Dr. Nathaniel Street        

Is writing just second-rate speaking? What does it mean to be an author? Does writing communicate and, if so, what? And what is writing, anyway? Beginning with Plato's Phaedrus, wherein Socrates warns that writing will degrade "living" thought, this class tackles several cornerstone assumptions -- or are they myths? -- about writing.

This class is structured as an extended meditation on the question of writing. At all points, we could reduce the class and its texts to a handful of simple questions: what is writing? how does it work? how does it affect us?  Our course texts will engage these questions from a variety of angles that take into account the mythos of writing. We will treat myth in several ways: as false beliefs about writing that must be re-considered, as legendary points of origin that need to be sifted through, and as a kind of power that must be articulated. We’ll do this by discussing key philosophical and literary texts in class, but you’ll do much of your thinking-work by writing through the texts and the problems and theories they engage Thus, part of the class’ goal is to both theorize and perform the mythological and thinking power of writing.

ENGL/WRIT 3364  Shakespeare's Contemporaries / half unit

Fall term
Monday and Wednesday 1:30 - 2:45
Instructor: Dr. Reina Green

The late sixteenth and early seventeenth century is known as the golden age of English drama and not just because Shakespeare was writing plays then. Playgoing at the time was like watching Netflix today. Theatre was pop culture and, like today’s pop culture, it reflected many of the social concerns of the time—concerns about social hierarchy, gender relations, and politics to name a few. In this course we will read the most popular plays of the period by playwrights who worked alongside or in competition with Shakespeare: writers such as Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton and John Webster who may have influenced Shakespeare’s work or were influenced by it. We will also read works by writers like Elizabeth Cary whose plays were not publicly performed but may have had just as much influence on Shakespeare’s plays. We will think of these works not just as written texts, but as live performances staged for audiences who both cheered and jeered.


ENGL 3365  Eighteenth-Century British Novel / half unit

Fall term
Monday and Wednesday  3:00 - 4:15
Instructor:  Dr. Rhoda Zuk

The eighteenth-century saw the emergence and various developments of a new literary form in English: the novel. This literature can be understood as an aesthetic response to the formation of particular social identities engendered by the flourishing of mercantile capitalism. Each of the novels on our syllabus emphasizes the materiality of the world: money, clothing, household fixtures and objects, even paper and ink. In addition, the works we will analyze, written by women and men of disparate class positions, religious traditions, and political affiliations, have in common themes of work, education, class aspiration, virtue, and reputation.

ENGL/WOMS 4407/  GWGS 6607   Queer Theory / half unit

Fall term
Monday and Wednesday 12:00 - 1:15
Instructor: Dr. Diane Piccitto          

As a theory of otherness, disruption, and alternative ways of being and acting in the world, Queer Theory offers a mode of resisting and deconstructing normative – especially heteronormative – ideologies, discourses, and practices. Addressing representations of marginal identities and experiences, it is a rich theory that continues to develop and be reshaped with contemporary investments, particularly in the context of sexuality, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, as well as numerous constellations of expression, performance, and desire. Throughout the course, we will consider the way various thinkers have contributed to this dense field and interrogate the philosophical implications of their theories, including the relationship between theory and practice, knowledge and being, identity and embodiment. Specifically, we will conduct intensive examinations of fundamental critical texts such as those by Sigmund Freud, Michel Foucault, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Judith Butler to explore the origins of queer cultural criticism as well as more recent theorizations. Students are strongly encouraged to take ENGL 2202 (Introduction to Critical Methods) before taking this course.

ENGL 4427    Studies in Victorian Culture / half unit

Winter term
Tuesday and Thursday 10:30 - 1:45
Instructor:  Dr. Karen Macfarlane

This course will focus on the Gothic in Victorian literature and culture. This is a huge topic (the Gothic is everywhere in Victorian culture!), so our focus will be narrowed down to an exploration of the Gothic and the monster with an emphasis on and its connections with empire and technology. While we will cover a wide range of texts, images and cultural practices from throughout the Victorian period, we will spend most of our time on the works of the fin de siècle (roughly the 1870s to 1914). We will also be reading selected theoretical works to provide context and a framework for our discussions. Emphasis will be on active discussion and ongoing engagement with the material.

Tentative text list: Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray, Richard Marsh The Beetle and selected short stories, images, and primary textual material.

ENGL 4475  Studies in Medievalism:  Tolkien & Myth-making / full unit

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

Medievalism is an expanding field of study that questions the boundaries that we construct between historical periods and between distinct disciplines. It asks us to be aware of our approaches to the past and leads us to inquire into the professionalization of literary studies while appreciating the role of the amateur or fan in creating historical understanding. In studying medievalism, we examine concepts of authenticity and anachronism and the representation of the medieval as the “all-purpose alternative” to modernity, as one critic put it. Theories of translation, performance, and adaptation play an important part in understanding medievalism.

The sub-title of the course, “Tolkien and Myth-making,” indicates our more specific path to exploring medievalism. You will have an opportunity to study closely not only Tolkien’s best known works, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but also other texts such as The Silmarillion,The Children of Húrin, and The Fall of Arthur. In reading Tolkien’s fiction and critical writing, we will be studying his theories about fantasy and myth in the context of other  myth theorists such as Max Müller and Andrew Lang.

Because Tolkien was a medieval scholar whose knowledge of the languages and literatures of premodern texts shaped his fiction, we will read some of the major works of medieval literature (in modern English translations), including Old English, Old Icelandic, Finnish, Welsh, and Middle English texts. However, our study also considers Tolkien’s work as a twentieth-century response to industrialization, environmentalism, surveillance, and the trauma of the world wars, while his handling of gender and race afford opportunities to consider important debates in current fantasy and medieval studies.

Finally, Tolkien’s creation of a body of myths and legends has opened the way for others to engage with his Middle-earth mythology. We’ll discuss some concepts from fandom studies and examine adaptations in various genres, from the Peter Jackson films to video games to fan works such as fiction, art, cosplay, and vidding. You will have the option to create your own adaptation of Tolkien’s work.

For English students who need to fulfill historical requirements, this course counts as a half unit of credit in medieval literature and a half unit of credit in modern literature. The course may also count as a Cultural Studies elective. For more about the course, see http://annasmol.net/teaching/engl4475 .

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 2020-2021. 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/WRIT 2223 History of Writing, Reading, and the Book
  • ENGL 2242 Themes in Women’s Writing
  • ENGL 2260 Poetry
  • ENGL 2261 Short Fiction
  • ENGL 2270 Classical Traditions
  • ENGL 3300 Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Literature
  • ENGL 3327 Victorian Literature
  • ENGL 3346 Contemporary Literature
  • ENGL 3355 Sixteenth-Century Literature
  • ENGL 3356  Seventeenth-Century Literature
  • ENGL 3377  Old English: Translation Theory & Practice
  • ENGL 3378  Old English: Beowulf, Then & Now
  • ENGL 4408 Critical Theory
  • ENGL 4446 Studies in Contemporary Culture

Summer School 2020

Summer Session I:

  • WRIT 1120 Writing Theory and Practice
  • ENGL 1170 Introduction to Literature: Reading Literary Forms
  • ENGL/WRIT 2220 Writing to Influence
  • ENGL 2262 Science Fiction
  • ENGL 3376  Medieval Literature

 Summer Session II:    

  • ENGL 1171  Introduction to Literature: Reading Historically
  • ENGL/WRIT 2221 Creative Writing
  • WRIT 2222 Introduction to Editing

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.

View Program Requirements (Academic Calendar) »

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.


View Program Requirements (Academic Calendar) »

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

View Program Requirements (Academic Calendar) »

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

View Program Requirements (Academic Calendar) »

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.

View Minor Requirements (Academic Calendar) »

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. 

Visit the Writing Minor page »

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