Fall 2021 - ENGL 414W D100

Seminar in Literature and History (4)


Class Number: 6539

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We, Fr 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    AQ 5050, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units or two 300 division English courses.



Advanced seminar on selected literary works as they intersect with and are shaped by their historical, social, and cultural environments. May be organized by theme, critical approach, historical period, or individual author. This course may be repeated for credit if a different topic is taught. Writing.



The clash of societies and the internecine battles within them have wrought incalculable loss and suffering throughout human history. These conflicts have inspired a vast literature: authors have both decried the horrors of war and celebrated marital heroics and victories. In this course we will look at a broad representation of war in literature, from Ancient Greece to contemporary America. We will read poems, novels, plays, graphic novels, and journalism. In each case we will examine how literary genres accommodate and shape the facts (and myths) of various wars by imposing narrative form upon them.


  • Understand how culturally specific narrative forms determine the telling of history.
  • Literary mindedness. Understand the complex role of language and text in making the world and our perceptions of it.
  • Literary knowledge. Attain knowledge of the histories, forms, principles, and contexts of literary expression to the present moment.
  • Analytical proficiency. Develop skills in analyzing and interpreting language and text, broadly defined.
  • Research proficiency. Develop directed and independent research skills.
  • Argumentation and communications agility. Design cogent written and oral arguments advancingcinformed claims about language and literary cultures, their expression, and their contexts.
  • Cultural literacy. Learn to use language, its history, and its capacities to engage with the ideas of others.


  • Participation 15%
  • Seminar presentation 20%
  • Short paper 25%
  • Research proposal and bibliography 5%
  • Research paper 35%


Please note: much of this literature represents acts of extreme violence as well as racial prejudice (the enemy in war literature is often represented as sub-human). Do not take this course if you find such material triggering or upsetting. 

To receive credit for this course, students must complete all requirements.



Course texts:

As the SFU Bookstore is still transitioning back to in-person service, it makes more sense to order the books online. All of the course books are available through Amazon and other services. I have included links to the recommended editions below.

Students will be provided with additional poetry.



Homer, The Iliad


William Shakespeare, Henry V


Bertolt Brecht, Mother Courage


Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five


Maximilian Uriarte, Battle Born: Lapis Lazuli


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.