Spring 2019 - ENGL 115W D900

Literature and Culture (3)

Class Number: 1529

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    SUR 3090, Surrey

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 12, 2019
    12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
    SUR 3090, Surrey



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.


The Poetics of Swearing

Blasphemy, cursing, obscenity, profanity, offensive language: many synonyms for swearing in the English language have legal or religious dimensions. These suggest that swearing, no matter what you call it, powerfully marks and transgresses boundaries in speech, violating taboos. Swearing has a long and creative history, as do the religious, moral, legal and other efforts to monitor language use. However, only relatively recently in Euro-American cultures has swearing has been recognized as having a place among other expressive forms of language use, particularly for its flexibility and emphasis. Through analyzing a series of literary and cultural texts, including poetry, fiction, nonfiction scholarly writing, television episodes and popular music, this class will consider the various aspects of swearing. What are our preconceptions about swearing? What effects does it have on speakers and audiences? How does it affect our understanding of content? What opportunities, challenges, and problems does it present? How is swearing connected with racial, gender, age, religious, ability, and sexual identities? As the class develops an understanding of how swearing works, we will also think through what it means to push at the limits of accepted language, thus developing a critical poetics of swearing.


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 and cultural texts.  

A student who successfully completes the course will have reliably demonstrated the ability to:

  • Utilize a university-level writing process employing pre-writing, drafting, and revising strategies
  • Plan, analyze, revise, and edit writing in response to instructor and peer 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 scholarly prose in English
  • Integrate 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
  • Use MLA documentation as appropriate with quotations and paraphrase
  • Examine structure, logic, style, and themes in literary texts
  • Respond critically to, analyze, and interpret texts
  • Discuss and debate texts  

Essential Skills

Creative thinking and problem-solving skills

analyzing and drawing inferences from language 
evaluating relevance, purpose, and effectiveness of different approaches to writing and reading

Oral skills

asking questions in small and large groups 
listening actively and giving feedback 
participating in classroom discussions 

Interpersonal and teamwork skills

working productively in large and small groups 
offering, listening to, and responding appropriately to peer contributions

Personal management skills

scheduling and completing tasks to deadline

Writing skills

  • producing written work that is clear, logically ordered, and focused
  • producing unified and coherent paragraphs
  • producing grammatically correct and effective sentences
  • writing essays that use evidence to defend a thesis
  • gathering information from sources and presenting that information effectively
  • practicing editing and revising strategies
  • revising work in response to feedback

Reading & Information skills

  • reading closely for information, argument, and rhetoric
  • drawing inferences from various texts
  • analyzing and responding critically to a variety of texts

Technological skills

Navigating and using the resources of a LMS (online learning management system)


  • Participation 10%
  • Short Written Assignment (2 pages) 15%
  • Revisions to Short Written Assignment (2 pages) 10%
  • Midterm 10%
  • Essay Proposal (2 pages) 10%
  • Essay (5 pages) 25%
  • Final Exam 20%


Content warning: Students should be prepared to frequently read, hear, and quote language that is explicit, foul, and/or colourful.



Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw 
ISBN: 9780486282220

Black Boy (Southern Night or Part 1 only) by Richard Wright
ISBN: 9780061130243

Serious Money by Caryl Churchill
ISBN: 9780413771209

Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
ISBN: 9780375724831

Go the F--k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortes (cheaper to purchase through Amazon Kindle)
ISBN: 1617750255

A courseware package available for purchase at the bookstore will include an academic introduction to swearing, poetry by Philip Larkin, an academic essay, and other material.

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