Fall 2019 - ENGL 111W D900

Literary Classics in English (3)

Class Number: 4419

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 3 – Dec 2, 2019: Mon, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.



Examines literary “classics”, variously defined, apprehending them both on their own terms and within larger critical conversations. May incorporate the comparative study of work in related artistic fields and engage relevant media trends. Includes attention to writing skills. Students with credit for ENGL 101W may not take this course for further credit. Writing/Breadth-Humanities.


In the Contact Zone

The colonial spaces that used to be called “frontiers” or “peripheries,” reflecting the viewpoints of self-designated imperial “centres,” have found a more illuminating name in recent critical theory: now we call them “contact zones.” The new name recognizes the mutuality of influence, the creativity, improvisation and adaption that characterize even those colonies marked by the most unequal power relations. Contact zones reverberate with the sound of new ideas and identities being formed; new institutions and practices arising; disparate cultures responding to each other in unforeseen ways. They are places where, as Salman Rushdie says, “strange fusions occur” in people’s “deepest selves,” and their power to stimulate the imagination extends even to artists who know them only at second- or third-hand. Unsurprisingly, they have played a key role in the shaping of modern literature.

Students in ENGL 111W will discover how some basic principles of postcolonial thought can provide a framework for the deeper understanding of “classic” texts composed in a variety of fictional and non-fictional genres over the last four centuries. All of our readings will relate to Europe’s internal or external (or in the case of Shakespeare’s Tempest, imaginary) colonies; few will stray very far from the simplest and most inexhaustible of contact zone plots, where a character from the colonizing power is thrust, Avatar-like, into the alien world of an indigenous community and is transformed by the encounter.

Two analytical papers will give students an opportunity to sharpen their skills in academic writing, while the concepts and texts we discuss will enrich their lives as readers and deepen their sense of the links between culture and economics, politics and art.


  • Attendance and participation 10%
  • Reading quizzes 15%
  • First response paper (3-4 pp.) 15%
  • Second response paper (3-4 pp.) 25%
  • Peer editing exercise 5%
  • Final exam 30%



Sydney Owenson (Lady Morgan), The Wild Irish Girl (Oxford World’s Classics 2008)
ISBN: 9780199552498

Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (Anchor Canada 2009)
ISBN: 9780385667838

William Shakespeare, The Tempest (any edition)

Robert Louis Stevenson, Kidnapped (any edition)

Department Undergraduate Notes:

IMPORTANT NOTE Re 300 and 400 level courses: 75% of spaces in 300 level English courses, and 100% of spaces in 400 level English courses, are reserved for declared English Major, Minor, Extended Minor, Joint Major, and Honours students only, until open enrollment begins.

For all On-Campus Courses, please note the following:
- To receive credit for the course, students must complete all requirements.
- Tutorials/Seminars WILL be held the first week of classes.
- When choosing your schedule, remember to check "Show lab/tutorial sections" to see all Lecture/Seminar/Tutorial times required.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html