Spring 2022 - ENGL 493W D100

Seminar in Special Topics (4)

Class Number: 8000

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 10 – Apr 11, 2022: Tue, Thu, 11:30 a.m.–1:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units or two 300 division English courses.



Advanced seminar. May be organized by author, genre, period, critical approach, or other criteria. This course may be repeated for credit if a different topic is taught. Writing.


Books, Bodies, and Borders: Women Writers’ (Trans)national Archives & Practices

Michel Foucault observes in The Archaeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on Language that one’s literary contributions are provisional, dependent upon the discourses of the period that inform one’s texts; he argues that archives are not “the sum of all texts that a culture has kept upon its person as documents attesting to its own past,” but rather “the law of what can be said, the system that governs the appearance of statements as unique events” (1972, 128-9). An archive defines “at the outset the system of its enunciability” (129). What is included within a repository—and the shape of the repository itself—determines and limits potential enunciations of personhood. A woman writer could only uneasily make claims to authorship, if discourses of a given period or the “law of what can be said” would not recognize her as such.

This course focuses on women writers’ archives and literary exchanges in Canada, and  characterizes the socio-political contexts that undergird them; it explores what incarnations these archives and literary papers may assume at different epochs and explore how socio-political archival representations of women evolve over time in response to structures of power. Exploring critical work of the last twenty years that addresses archival theory, we will investigate how women’s archives may be seen as an extension of their literary lives and characterized multiply—as feminist, queer, activist—and therefore might be called upon to generate collective action; to go against a patriarchal, sexist, racist, or imperial grain; or to develop networks and alliances that supersede political or national borders. Using several different female writers (their books and/or their archival materials), and working with the archives at Simon Fraser University and the Special Collections of the University of British Columbia, among others, we will read how women’s literary lives were forged, contested, and negotiated. We will consider how race, gender, and sexual orientation intersect with, affect, and/or supersede national interests and claims to nation, through the very means by which women’s archives (institutional and other) are forged and preserved over time, and by the materials that are selected for preservation therein.


  • Response Papers (1.5-2 pages, x2) 15%
  • Seminar/Conference Paper (7-8 pages) 25%
  • Final Paper/Podcast (15-18 pages) 40%
  • Participation 20%



Required Readings in this class will involve texts and archives. Other theoretical texts will be added to the course to provide us with some context for and the lexicon animating debates about archives.


Sheila Watson, unpublished journals (online archive, University of Toronto; see Fred Flahiff’s always someone to kill the doves)

Pauline Johnson, selected texts TBA (E. Pauline Johnson Collection, City of Vancouver Archives, and Simon Fraser Special Collections)

Jane Rule, Taking My Life (Jane Rule Fonds, UBC Special Collections, and Simon Fraser University Special Collections)

Emily Carr, Klee Wyck (BCARS, Victoria University)

Larissa Lai, Salt Fish Girl (Larissa Lai Fonds, Simon Fraser University Special Collections)

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.