Fall 2022 - ENGL 111W D100

Literary Classics in English (3)

Class Number: 4417

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu, Th 9:30 AM – 10:20 AM
    RCB IMAGTH, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 17, 2022
    8:30 AM – 11:30 AM
    SSCB 9200, Burnaby



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.


h a u n t e d

Edgar Allan Poe, King of the Weird, says something especially weird in “The Fall of the House of Usher.” There he claims that what should really scare us are not scary things but our fear of those things. Wanna know more? Well, you could slog through books of philosophy (William James would help) and literary theory (hello Julia Kristeva and Tzvetan Todorov!), spend quality time with some of history’s freakier paintings (Francisco Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son anyone?), and watch Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook projected onto Poe’s Baltimore tombstone at midnight.

Or you could just take this class.

We’ll read old and new ‘classic’ horror and tales of haunting—our tentative list includes Ambrose Bierce, Octavia E. Butler, Angela Carter, Francis Marion Crawford, Emily Dickinson, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Nalo Hopkinson, Washington Irving, Shirley Jackson, Daniel Heath Justice, Joyce Carol Oates, Fitz-James O’Brien, and of course lots of Poe—and I’ll put it in the context of all that other stuff: philosophy, art, history, psychology, religion, and the occult. In these contexts this work becomes creepy for altogether new reasons. Beyond the required reading, we might have an optional Zoom coffeehouse (i.e., Zoffeehouse) to discuss a horror film or two. I may also host an optional book club where we’ll read perhaps the weirdest of modern haunted house stories, Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. Finally, 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.

Content warning: Literature, like all art, insists on asking hard questions about us and the world in which we live. This means we’re going to deal at length with some tough topics, likely including physical, sexual, and racial violence; genocide; child abuse; incest; and suicide. At times there will also be considerable gore, which I know is hard for some people to take. (I have my limits, too, despite the fact that I’m a lover of horror movies.) If you have concerns whether you can handle the readings and/or discussions of this content, please think seriously about whether this is the course for you. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out via email.

Course delivery heads-up: This is an in-person course, not a remote course. It will not go well if you cannot consistently attend lecture and tutorial in person. Because our particular lecture theatre does not support video recording, lectures will not be video recorded, though hopefully I'll be able to make audio available after the fact.


  1. Better understand how language, and especially figurative language, works;
  2. recognize complex relationships between texts and contexts (e.g., historical, social, cultural, philosophical);
  3. apprehend literature and writing generally as social critique;
  4. develop skills in analyzing and interpreting language and text, broadly defined, and to learn strategies for creating and communicating informed claims about them; and
  5. strengthen competency in engaging and responding to the ideas of others.


  • Tutorial Participation 5%
  • Informal Writing (Canvas discussion forums) 5%
  • Argumentation Exercises (formal writing, 3 assignments of about 300-500 words each) 30%
  • Essay (1200-1500 words) 30%
  • Final Exam (3 hr, cumulative) 30%


Please note that the assignments and percentages listed above are tentative and will be finalized on the first day of tutorial.



With two exceptions all readings will be available for download from our course Canvas site. The two exceptions (noted under "Required Reading" below) are Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics, 2013) and Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein’s book They Say / I Say (5th ed., Norton, 2021). Both are available for purchase at SFU Bookstore.

Can you use a different edition of The Haunting of Hill House? Yes, so long as you don't mind your page numbers matching up with the ones from class, which can be a pain. Also, the edition I've assigned is pretty cool. You'll know why when you lay eyes on it.

Can you use a different edittion of They Say / I Say? It's not a good idea. I'll be assigning elements of the book's online component (access to which you get when you purchase the new edition), and completing these assignments will be part of your course grade. That said, access to the online components can be purchased separately from the book, so if you have an older edition or borrow the newest edition from a friend, you'll be okay: it'll just take some extra work on your part.

If you want to participate in the optional book club, should it happen, you can purchase House of Leaves on your own once the semester gets underway.


Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House, ed. Guillermo del Toro (Penguin Classics, 2013)

Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein, They Say / I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing, 5th ed. (Norton, 2021)


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

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 website 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