Spring 2024 - ENGL 115W D100

Literature and Culture (3)

Class Number: 4753

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Mon, Wed, 1:30–2:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 24, 2024
    Wed, 12:00–3:00 p.m.



An Introduction to the study of literature within the wider cultural field, with a focus on contemporary issues across genres and media. Students with credit for ENGL 105W may not take this course for further credit. Writing/Breadth-Humanities.


Monsters and Modern Society

This course asks how and why literary and cultural representations of monsters have changed in relation to developments within modern society. In particular, the course explores how our perceptions and representations of monstrosity tie to broader issues of modern life, from the nineteenth-century to the present. Such issues include: the rise of the enlightenment; the collapse of traditional ways of life; advancements in technology and industrial capitalism; and the legacies of transatlantic slavery and settler colonialism.


Monsters are unsettling because they often represent an extreme interruption of and difference from everyday social norms and “human” ways of life. Throughout the course, however, we will ask whether monsters actually reveal something fundamental about humanity in the modern world. To explore such questions, we will read a range of genres that varyingly depict monstrosity as an issue of modern life, from horror to science fiction to contemporary courtroom drama.


Through studying these texts, we will learn about: how a scientific experiment goes horribly wrong in Frankenstein; how one man suddenly wakes up to find himself a giant insect in The Metamorphosis; the ways a dystopian society of advanced technology challenges what it means to be an empathetic human (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?); how another dystopian society forces humanity to reconcile itself with alien life forms (Bloodchild); and to what extent, as asked by the recent film Saint Omer, the media and the public have a key role in shaping our understandings of monstrosity.


  • Participation (attendance & informal writing in tutorials or on Canvas) 10%
  • Essay 1 (800 words) 20%
  • Essay 2 (1000 words) 20%
  • Revision of Essay 2 (1000-1200 words) 25%
  • Final exam 25%



All the books have been ordered and should be available at the SFU Bookstore early in the term. You may also order them from your favourite local bookstore or online. You may use electronic copies of the books. A limited number of copies will be on reserve at the SFU library. Many if not all will be available through your local Public Library. A stream of Saint Omer will be available through SFU library’s online catalog.


Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis (the new translation by Susan Bernofsky (2014) is required)

Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Octavia E. Butler, Bloodchild and Other Stories

Alice Diop (dir.), Saint Omer


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