Summer 2018 - ENGL 383 J100

Studies in Popular Literature and Culture (4)


Class Number: 5517

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 5:30 PM – 9:20 PM
    HCC 1315, Vancouver

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



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. The name evokes psychological thrillers, mistaken identities, phobias and obsessions, and characters making decisions in cinematic worlds 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. We can learn about Hitchcock's style by reading the novels he adapted to make his films, noting how he "translated" the words on the page into images and stories. 

We will begin by reading and then viewing The Lodger, proceed to The 39 Steps, Rebecca, Strangers on a Train, and Rear Window (a short story) and conclude with Psycho. We will attend to details of scene construction and also to themes and ideas.

In addition to studying the novels listed, students must be prepared to view a number of Hitchcock's films, especially in Lecture but occasionally at home. When films are screened, the format will be as follows: I will introduce the film, we will watch it and then we will discuss it. You are not expected to have a background in film theory or criticism, or even be familiar with Hitchcock's films. 

NB: Photocopies and handouts will be sold at cost. 



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 very unique genre: the "Hitchcockian" thriller.



Contributions to the discussions: 20%

Five (2-3 pages) Response papers: 50%

Term paper (6-8 pages): 30%

(NB: your term paper may use material from, and expand on, one or more of your responses, but will be expected to be considerably more thorough.)



Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier 

Strangers on a Train, Patricia Highsmith 

The 39 Steps, John Buchan

The Lodger, Maria Belloc Lowndes

Psycho, Robert Bloch


Alfred Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much, Michael Wood

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 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.