Spring 2020 - ENGL 492W E100

Topics in World Literatures in English (4)

Rebels & Rebellion in World Lit. in English

Class Number: 2681

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 4:30 PM – 8:20 PM
    HCC 1535, Vancouver

  • Prerequisites:

    One 300 division English course. Reserved for English honours, major, joint major and minor students.



The intensive study of a selection of literary works in English, mainly from regions other than Canada, Britain and the United States. The course may focus on one or several literatures or individual authors, and will be organized according to specific critical methodologies. The course may be repeated for credit if a different topic is taught though students who obtained credit for ENGL 492W prior to Summer 2015 may not take this course for further credit. Writing.


Rebels and Rebellion in World Literature in English
What is the relationship between literature and resistance? In the conflicts that emerged as a direct result of colonial occupation, resistance not only involved warfare and activism; it also required a reckoning with the social, cultural, psychological, and linguistic legacies of occupation. How, then, does a rebel figure become mobilized by resistance forces, whose own relationship with power is often complicated by competing degrees of loyalty and rejection? How does such a figure become woven into the fabric of competing national narratives? This course considers these questions while investigating how rebels and rebellions are portrayed in literary texts that contend with anti-colonial and post-colonial resistance. Through readings of poems, plays, and novels, we will examine diverse portrayals of rebellion—some acclaiming the rebel figure as heroic, others contending with the very problematic of heroic discourse. Our discussions of the literature will be supplemented with shorter readings by theorists such as Barbara Harlow, Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Albert Camus, J.M. Coetzee, and Ananya Jahanara Kabir.


  • Thoughtful participation 10%
  • Reading quizzes 10%
  • 3 response papers (2-3 pp. each) 30%
  • Oral presentation 15%
  • Final essay (9-10 pp.) 35%


Several of the texts we'll study deal with violent and disturbing material, and some students may find them stressful.


Thoughtful Participation: As this is a discussion-based rather than lecture-based course, students should engage thoughtfully and respectfully during every class. You should prepare to ask questions, share insights, and build on peers’ ideas; failure to do so will negatively impact your participation grade. 

Reading quizzes: There will be six closed-book reading quizzes during the semester, always in response to the longer reading materials. Half of the quiz will require you to provide short answers to simple questions; these answers will indicate that you have completed the reading. The other half of the quiz will require a short, paragraph-length response to a prompt. These answers should be well-structured close readings of specific elements within the text. Each quiz is worth 2% of your final grade. If you miss a quiz, you may not make it up; however, the lowest quiz mark will be dropped from your final grade. 

Response papers: During the semester, you will write responses (2-3 pages each) to three of the texts on our reading list. There will be six opportunities for submission, so you may plan your response paper deadlines according to your research interests and your scheduling needs. You may not write a reading response on the same text you choose for your oral presentation. Your responses should be structured as mini-essays, developing focused arguments in response to prompts I provide in advance. You should revise and extend one of these response papers (or your presentation) into your final essay, demonstrating consideration of the feedback you receive.  

Oral presentation: At the beginning of the semester, you will sign up to present on one of course readings. Ahead of your presentation date, you will receive a list of topics; you can develop or narrow your topic in a direction that interests you. Your presentation should last approximately 25-30 minutes. In the first part, you should set out a formal argument about the text, beginning with a clear thesis and followed by a series of supporting arguments and reflections on specific evidence. In the second part, you should guide a discussion of the text by asking a series of questions and engaging with your classmates’ answers. You should send me your thesis and your list of questions at least two days before your presentation; I will share your questions with your classmates so that they can reflect on them ahead of class. At the end of your presentation, you should submit a formal, typed outline of your argument. You should revise and extend this presentation (or one of your response papers) into your final essay, demonstrating consideration of the feedback you receive.  

Final research essay: Your final essay (9 – 10 pp.), due April 7, will revise and extend your oral presentation or one of your response papers. Your argument and execution should indicate reflection on the feedback you receive on the earlier assignment. You should also consider comments provided by peers on your rough draft, which will be discussed during an in-class review workshop on March 31. Since this is a research essay, you should cite a minimum of four secondary sources (please follow MLA citation guidelines). Your grade breakdown for this essay is as follows: (a) overall strength and execution of argument (25%); (b) evidence of engagement with my feedback on your response or presentation (5%); and (c) evidence of engagement with peer feedback as well as thorough, respectful commentary on peers’ rough drafts (5%).



All texts listed are available at the SFU bookstore. There will be additional readings provided in class and/or on Canvas.


Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians

N.K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season

Kamila Shamsie, Home Fire

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