Spring 2022 - ENGL 833 G100

Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature (4)

Class Number: 4910

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 4:30 PM – 8:20 PM
    AQ 6093, Burnaby



Examines selected nineteenth-century works in a variety of genres organized by cultural movements, critical issues, or theoretical approaches. May include works in a variety of media and from diverse geopolitical regions.


Unsettling Victorian Literature

In this course, we will identify basic assumptions about what Victorian literature is and why we study it today. While our initial discussion will focus on “what” is Victorian, we will quickly move to “where,” and “when,” is Victorian. Is Victorian somewhere in the past and far away in England or is it still thriving in some forms today? In what ways might we ourselves be Victorian? Is Victorian still necessary or relevant?

We will begin to answer these questions by thinking together about where and who we are when we study Victorian literature. As part of this process, we will engage perspectives that have conventionally been invisible in the field of Victorian Studies, such as intersections of racialized, settler colonial and environmental awareness in Victorian literature. In this way, we will work toward recovering the historical experiences of Indigenous peoples in predominantly white settler nations that emerged during the nineteenth century, attending to processes and effects of dispossession and violence entailed in colonialism, and questioning ongoing tendencies toward disavowal or conceptual displacement of this history. Our focus will shift from metropolitan, imperial culture to Indigenous and settler perspectives. Our approach will be comparative, looking at historical relationships between nature and society across global geo-political spaces. And our method will be disruptive, upending the standard, linear cultural history by reading contemporary literature, such as Tomson Highway’s (Cree) play The Rez Sisters (1988), that writes back to the colonial consolidation of the Victorian period.

The first weeks of the course will engage Victorian literature and culture through a settler colonial, Indigenous, and ecocritical lens by studying a canon linked to the remote region of northern England (the English Lake District, now a national park and a UNESCO world heritage site) made famous in the nineteenth century by the nature poet William Wordsworth. This canon of literature functions within a centre/periphery, local/global geo-cultural framework that will help us identify and disrupt colonial paradigms. The remainder of the course will study literature from colonial societies by and about settlers and Indigenous peoples, including Olive Schreiner’s Story of an African Farm; selections from Anna Jameson’s Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada; Jane Johnston Schoolcraft’s (Ojibwe) poetry and oral transcriptions; Black emigrant, Mary Ann Shadd’s pamphlet A Plea for Emigration; and E. Pauline Johnson’s (Kanien'kehá:ka) poetry and Legends of Vancouver.


  • Online Discussion Posts 20%
  • Oral Presentation and Short Paper (1,000 words) 30%
  • Final Paper - 15-18 pages (30%), and annotated bibliography and proposal (10%) 40%
  • Participation 10%


The themes of this course are in conversation with the North American Victorian Studies Conference (NAVSA), "Unsettling Victorians," co-hosted by Margaret Linley and Carolyn Lesjak in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, on traditional, ancestral, and unceded Coast Salish territory, March 3-5, 2022. Students in this course will have the opportunity to attend the conference to hear three days of exciting papers by international scholars.



Five of our books are available from Broadview Press. I recommend that you order directly from the press to get the best rate. Tomson Highway's The Rez Sisters can be ordered directly from Fifth House or through a local bookstore, such as Iron Dog or Massey Books. All other readings will be available on the Engl 833 Canvas website.


Mary Shelley Frankenstein 3rd ed. Broadview
ISBN: 9781554811038

Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Barton. Broadview
ISBN: 9781551111698

Olive Schreiner, Story of an African Farm. Broadview
ISBN: 9781551112862

Mary Ann Shadd, A Plea for Emigration. Broadview
ISBN: 9781554813216

Tekahionwake: E. Pauline Johnson’s Writings on Native North America. Broadview
ISBN: 978-1-55481-191-5

Tomson Highway,The Rez Sisters. Fifth House Publishers
ISBN: 978-0920079447

Additional weekly critical and theoretical readings will be available on the 833 Canvas website.

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

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.