Fall 2022 - ENGL 383 E100

Studies in Popular Literature and Culture (4)

Class Number: 4520

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 4:30 PM – 8:20 PM
    WMC 2522, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    30 units or two 200-division English courses.



A study of popular literature and its cultural contexts. May be defined by genre, author, period, or critical approach. This course may be repeated for credit if a different topic is taught, though students who obtained credit for ENGL 363 prior to Summer 2015 may not take this course for further credit. Breadth-Humanities.


Hitchcock and the thriller in fiction and film

Hitchcock. The name evokes psychological thrillers, mistaken identities, phobias and obsessions, and characters making decisions in circumstances that are at best uncertain and at worst terrifying. Hitchcock constructed these worlds by inventing his own style. It is even an adjective: “Hitchcockian”. His style combines suspense and horror — especially the horror of either knowing too much or knowing too little — and a smidgeon of comedy, though dark comedy to be sure. But Hitchcock famously drew on novels and stories to build his films. We can learn a great deal about Hitchcock by reading the novels he used to make his films, noting how he "translated" the words on the page into images and stories. 

We will read some of the prominent works Hitchcock drew on for several of his films. Specifically, we will read and then view The 39 Steps, Rebecca, Strangers on a Train, and Psycho. We will attend to details of scene construction and also to themes and ideas.

The course will be offered in person, but some information will be posted on Canvas. In addition to studying the novels listed, students must be prepared to view a number of Hitchcock's films, at least one every two weeks. Students are not expected to have a background in film theory or criticism, or even be familiar with Hitchcock's films. Attendance is very important so please arrange your schedule so you can attend all Lectures and Seminars (unless, of course, something unforeseen occurs).



Develop an understanding of the relationship between novels and films; develop critical thinking and writing skills; become familiar with -- and able to formulate insights about -- suspenseful works, both novels and films; to discuss coherently and dispassionately aesthetic works that proceed via the manipulation of the passions; become knowledgeable about a unique genre: the "Hitchcockian" thriller.



Attendance: 10%

Quiz, based on Lecture and Seminar material: 10%

First paper (6-7 pages), due mid-term: 40%

Term paper (6-7 pages), due end-of-term: 40%



Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier (any edition, including e-book)

Strangers on a Train, Patricia Highsmith (any edition, including e-book)

The 39 Steps, John Buchan (any edition, including e-book)

Psycho, Robert Bloch (any edition, including e-book)

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