Fall 2021 - ENGL 115W D100

Literature and Culture (3)

Class Number: 4264

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo, We 2:30 PM – 3:20 PM
    SSCB 9200, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 13, 2021
    8:30 AM – 11:30 AM
    SSCC 9001, 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.


Why Poetry (Still) Matters

Why does poetry matter in 2021?

Why did poetry matter in 1389? In 1609? In 1794? In 1965?

This is not an idle question. Whether you think you love it or hate it, poetry was and remains, both as medium and as method, intensely personal and intensely political. Poetry can be both inwardly seeking and outwardly engaged, even at the same moment. At times, as in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, it sprawls across thousands of lines, offering us long narratives that blend social critique, satire, observation, invective, and humour. At other times, as in Blake’s “Infant Sorrow” or Plath’s “You’re,” it is stunningly compact, challenging us to unpack the layers of meaning that exist beneath a precious few well-chosen words. Rather than using an unwieldy anthology, this course will focus on individual poetic statements from five very different poets in order to investigate how poetry works, how it means, and why—even in the hyperconnected multimedia world of the 21st century—it still matters. In considering these issues, we will, of course, attend to the intricacies of language and form (talking about a sonnet without talking about rhyme, meter, metaphor, and structure would be a tricky thing) as well as the particulars of each poem’s time and place. Most important, we will consider the specific linguistic choices made by each of these five writers to reach their distinct poetic ends.


  1. Understand the complex role of poetry in making both the world and our perceptions of it.
  2. Attain knowledge of some of the histories, forms, principles, and contexts of poetic expression.
  3. Develop skills in reading, understanding, analyzing, and interpreting poetic texts.
  4. Develop skills in written argumentation and analysis.


  • Paper 1 Draft (1000 Words) 10%
  • Paper 1 Revision (1000 Words) 15%
  • Paper 2 (1500 Words) 30%
  • Final Exam 30%
  • Tutorial Participation 15%



Please note that these books will NOT be on order through the SFU Bookstore. You are responsible for obtaining them on your own. They are widely available in multiple media through online sources such as Amazon and Indigo or, better yet, through your favorite independent book store (check out Iron Dog Books, Massy Books, the People's Co-Op Bookstore, and Pulpfiction Books for a few great local options).

It's also worth noting here that Amanda Gorman's Gorman The Hill We Climb and Other Poems will be released on September 21, 2021. Please don't purchase the standalone edition of the poem "The Hill We Climb," which is available now. You will need the complete volume for this course.


Blake, William. Songs of Innocence and of Experience. 4th ed. Ed. Geoffrey Keynes. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1977.
ISBN: 978-0192810892

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. Eds. Constance B. Hieatt and A. Kent Hieatt. New York: Bantam Dell, 2006.
ISBN: 978-0808508618

Gorman, Amanda. The Hill We Climb and Other Poems. New York: Penguin Random House, 2021. NOTE: This book will be published on September 21, 2021. Please order this specific edition when it comes out, not the edition of the individual poem “The Hill We Climb,” which is already available.
ISBN: 978-0593465066

Plath, Sylvia. Ariel: The Restored Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 2005.
ISBN: 0060732601

Shakespeare, William. The Sonnets. Ed. Stephen Orgel and John Hollander. New York: Penguin, 2017.
ISBN: 978-0143131717

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 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware 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.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.