Fall 2020 - ENGL 111W D100

Literary Classics in English (3)

Class Number: 4157

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 9 – Dec 8, 2020: Tue, Thu, 11:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 14, 2020
    Mon, 12:00–12:00 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.



Ever heard of Julia Kristeva? Forty years ago she wrote a smart, weird book called Powers of Horror. It’s about things that scare us, things “ejected beyond the scope of the possible, the tolerable, the thinkable.” Unsettling things, sinister things, altogether awful things, but all things that come from us, things that are us. Wanna know more? Well, let's see. You could read Kristeva. Then you could branch out, maybe slog through other books of philosophy, study Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son and Fussli’s The Nightmare, time travel to witness Romeo Castelucci’s freaky take on Dante's Inferno, and watch The Babadook projected onto Edgar Allan Poe's tombstone at midnight. That'd be a start.

Or you could just take this class. We’ll read creepy lit and I’ll put it in the context of all that other stuff: philosophy, art, history, psychology, religion, the occult, politics, even pandemics. In these contexts these stories become creepy for altogether new reasons, reasons that will help explain why the world still fusses so much about the powers of literature. We’ll read classic work by Poe, Shirley Jackson, Joyce Carol Oates, Octavia Butler, Louise Erdrich, H. P. Lovecraft, and Emily Dickinson, among others. We'll also have optional Zoom coffeehouse hours where we'll discuss scary art generally, including films like Get Out (2017), Blood Quantum (2019), The Cabin in the Woods (2011), and maybe, if I can get my nerve up to watch it again, The Babadook (2014).

And because this is a “W” course, we’ll talk a lot about writing. Does that scare you more than anything? It need not. To make the pill go down easier, we’ll read scary writers (Hilary Mantel, Stephen King, Poe) on writing like your life depends on it.


To better understand how language works, especially at the level of metaphor.

To recognize complex relationships between texts and contexts (e.g., historical, social, cultural, philosophical, artistic).

To develop skills in analyzing and interpreting language and texts, broadly defined, and learn strategies for creating and communicating informed claims about them.

To learn to use language, its history, and its capacities to engage with the ideas of others.


  • Paper 1 20%
  • Paper 2 30%
  • Final Exam 30%
  • Tutorial Contributions & Informal Writing 20%


The grade / assignment ditribution above is subject to change.

Your enrollment in this course acknowledges that remote study will entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class and/or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca, 778-782-3112) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion. I am unable to grant accommodations for students unless they are deemed eligible by the Centre for Accessible Learning.


Lectures will be asynchronous. Tutorials, on the other hand, will be synchronous, so you should make sure you’re available online at your scheduled time every week. Tutorials will not be held the first week of the semester.

Obviously, you’ll need a computer or tablet, camera, and reliable internet access for this course. Headsets are helpful in blocking out distractions but certainly not necessary. My expectation is that students will have their cameras on during synchronous discussions. If you feel uncomfortable with that requirement, please discuss your concerns with your tutorial leader once class begins so that we can find a solution.

Did you know that students have access to free Office 365 and Adobe Creative Cloud? This would be a good time to upgrade your software, because you'll be using it a lot.



All required readings will be free to download from our Canvas site. The list below is subject to change.


Octavia Butler

Francis Marion Crawford
The Upper Berth

Emily Dickinson
'Tis so appalling - it Exhillerates -
One need not be a Chamber - to be Haunted
Twas like a Maelstrom, with a notch

Louise Erdrich
The King of Owls

Shirley Jackson
The Haunting of Hill House
The Witch

H. P. Lovecraft
The Outsider

Joyce Carol Oates
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

Edgar Allan Poe
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Tell-Tale Heart
The Masque of the Red Death

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


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).