Fall 2019 - ENGL 114W D100

Language and Purpose (3)

Class Number: 4452

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu, Th 9:30 AM – 10:20 AM
    WMC 3520, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 6, 2019
    12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
    SSCB 9201, Burnaby



Introduces students to the relationships between writing and purpose, between the features of texts and their meaning and effects. May focus on one or more literary or non-literary genres, including (but not limited to) essays, oratory, autobiography, poetry, and journalism. Includes attention to writing skills. Students with credit for ENGL 104W may not take this course for further credit. Writing/Breadth-Humanities.


Transparency and Obscurity in Literature
This course is balanced on a high wire between two poles: one is the idea that language should be transparent, clear, direct. In other words, the idea that language unveils the truth. The second pole is the idea that language works against meaning. In other words, the idea that language veils the truth…or the possibility that there is no truth. Probably the most flexible and fulfilling version of language – but also the most risky – is that which does not cling to one pole but can move between the two poles.

For participants in this course, the first pole will be located in acquiring the tools of academic writing, and in reading work of literature for their apparent purpose. The second pole will be located in learning about the subtext, context, and intertextuality of works of literature, and in reading those works for the ways in which they deliberately obscure, misdirect, or defer recognition. Students will also have opportunities to write with more creative nuance.

A selection of important works of drama, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry from the past 200 years of English and American literature, will all perform on this high wire, moving between purposeful and purposeless language. To fully appreciate the performance, we will need to review technical aspects of language, aspects of style and rhetorical devices.


Students will learn to apply principles of rhetoric and critical analysis in response to selected readings. They will develop their writing skills through exploratory writing, academic argument, and critical analyses of literary texts. 

A student who successfully completes the course will have reliably demonstrated the ability to: 
Utilize a university-level writing process that employs pre-writing, drafting, and revising strategies  
Plan, analyze, revise, and edit writing in response to instructor feedback 
Generate, organize, and synthesize ideas 
Apply principles of unity, coherence, and emphasis in academic writing 
Write essays responsive to audience, purpose, and occasion 
Observe the grammatical and stylistic conventions of Standard Written English 
Produce academic writing that asserts and defends a clear thesis 
Make an academic argument 
Integrate source material purposefully and effectively, using appropriately documented textual evidence to support generalizations 
Analyze, and interpret, and respond critically to literature through close reading
Evaluate relevance, purpose, and effectiveness of different approaches to literature


  • Participation and Attendance 15%
  • Essay 1 (3 pages) 10%
  • Revision of Essay 1 (3-4 pages) 15%
  • Creative or Academic Essay 2 Proposal (2-3 pages) 10%
  • Creative or Academic Essay 2 (5 pages) 25%
  • Final Exam 25%


Students who feel comfortable with the material and their writing skills after completing the first essay may wish to challenge themselves to write in the style of one or more of the authors we read with the assignments related to the second essay. As for the academic essay, students who write the creative essay will receive extensive guidance and feedback.



The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard (Samuel French)
ISBN: 9780573016370

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs. (Signet-Penguin)
ISBN: 9780451531469

A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf. (Ed. Susan Gubar. Harvest-Harcourt)
ISBN: 9780156030410

Students will also be required to read several short stories, essays, and poems by Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Katherine Mansfield, James Baldwin, Jamaica Kincaid, Simon Springer, and others to be announced. This material will be available online for free, but students are required to bring it to class for discussion purposes, and the instructor strongly recommends that students print copies.

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