Fall 2019 - ENGL 115W D100

Literature and Culture (3)

Class Number: 4462

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 3:30 PM – 4:20 PM
    AQ 3182, Burnaby

    We 3:30 PM – 4:20 PM
    SSCC 9002, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 12, 2019
    8:30 AM – 11:30 AM
    SSCB 9201, Burnaby



An Introduction to the study of literature within the wider cultural field, with a focus on contemporary issues across genres and media. Students with credit for ENGL 105W may not take this course for further credit. Writing/Breadth-Humanities.


Calls for representation in the contemporary media such as #RepresentationMatters and #oscarssowhite are often linked to the need for greater racial and cultural diversity that allows audiences to see themselves reflected. This is fundamentally different from nineteenth-century texts directed at a predominantly white, middle-class reading audience that wanted to foster sympathy for others, including people of colour and the working class. While historically texts were often interested in distinguishing between who deserved sympathy and who didn’t, contemporary texts offer a more complicated approach to representation and sympathy.  

In this course, we will explore how literature shapes culture through representation by asking not just why representation matters, but what the mechanics of representation are. That is, how do narratives shape sympathy and identification? What is the difference between a sympathetic character, a relatable character, and an identifiable character? What kinds of strategies do historical and contemporary texts draw on in their representation of diverse characters and experiences, and how do those change between the 1818 publication of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein and the 2016 release of Ali Wong’s Netflix special, Baby Cobra?


  • Tutorial Attendance and Participation 10%
  • Essay 1: 1st Draft 15%
  • Essay 1: Final Draft 15%
  • Final Essay 30%
  • Final Exam 30%



Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Mariko Tamaki, Skim

G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, Ms Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal

Katherena Vermette, The Break

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