Spring 2022 - ENGL 355 E100

Canadian Literatures (4)

Black Canadian Writing

Class Number: 5240

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 4:30 PM – 8:20 PM
    AQ 5039, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 23, 2022
    7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
    SWH 10061, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    30 units or two 200 division English courses.



Study of selected works of Canadian literature, including Indigenous, diasporic, and settler texts. May draw from a variety of methods, critical debates, regions, and historical periods. This course may be repeated for credit if a different topic is taught.


Black Canadian Writing


In recent years, Black writers such as Lawrence Hill, Dionne Brand, Canisia Lubrin, and others, have published some of the most critically acclaimed and internationally prominent works of Canadian literature.  Yet ‘Black Canadian literature’ is not in fact a 'new' or recent phenomena.  The field boasts a 200-year year archive, beginning with 18th century slave narratives; and it references a still deeper 400-year legacy of Black life and struggle ‘here.’  To read Black Canadian literature is recognize the force of the local within global legacies of Black art.  It is also to confront the social and cultural legacies of modernity, the conditions and limits of ‘being human,’ and the challenges of advancing ethical diasporic relations upon Indigenous lands.

This course will have four main sections.  In the first, we will consider how the foundational histories of transatlantic slavery have been represented in major texts, beginning with Lawrence Hill’s uniquely popular novel The Book of Negroes, before turning to Dionne Brand’s singularly important reflections on diasporic identity in A Map to the Door of No Return.  In the second section, we will examine Black avant-garde aesthetics alongside the tradition of Black radical thought by turning to the celebrated poetry of Canisia Lubrin and the prominent criticism of Christina Sharpe and Rinaldo Walcott.  In the third section, we will explore the complex cultural presence of Black people in British Columbia through the often startling writings of Wayde Compton and Chantal Gibson.  We will also here devote needed attention to key theories and representations of Black/Indigenous relations.  In the fourth section we will read They Said This Would Be Fun: Race, Campus Life, and Growing Up, a celebrated book by Eternity Martis, who happens, fortuitously, to be the non-fiction writer-in-residence at the SFU library this year. 


See above.


  • Presentation and Write-Up (5-6 pages) 20%
  • Creative Project and Self-Study (3 pages) 30%
  • Essay (10-12 pages) 30%
  • Participation 20%



Hill, Lawrence.  The Book of Negroes.  [any edition]
ISBN: 1443408980, etc.

Brand, Dionne.  A Map to the Door of No Return: Notes on Belonging.  Vintage Canada, 2002.
ISBN: 0385258925

Lubrin, Canisia.  The Dyzgraphxst.  McClelland & Stewart, 2020.
ISBN: 0771048696

Compton, Wayde.  After Canaan. Arsenal Pulp Press, 2020
ISBN: 1551523744

Gibson, Chantal.  How She Read.  Caitlin, 2019.
ISBN: 1987915968

Walcott, Rinaldo.  On Property.  Biblioasis, 2021.
ISBN: 1771964073

Martis, Eternity.  They Said This Would Be Fun: Race, Campus Life, and Growing Up.  McClelland & Stewart, 2021.
ISBN: 0771062206

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 spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this 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 spring 2022 term.