Spring 2023 - ENGL 355 D100

Canadian Literatures (4)

Class Number: 4303

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 4 – Apr 11, 2023: Tue, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

    Jan 4 – Apr 11, 2023: Thu, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • 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.


COURSE TITLE: CanLit Goes Viral!

When we read, and study, Canadian literatures we immediately call into question the universalism of "literature" with the specificities of Canada - but what do we mean by this nation? Does, for example, oral testimony at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's inquiry into the Indian Residential Schools "count" as literature? We will read Survivors Speak, which collects such testimony, and seek to understand its rhetoric, its poetics, its political efficacy. We will then turn to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, a novel that, when published in 1985, seems to be addressing gender politics in an international frame (theocracy in Iran, totalitarianism in Eastern Europe, ascendant neoliberalism in the U.S.) but can also be read, we will speculate, in light of the Trump presidency and the present-day battles over women's reproductive rights. We will then turn to more local concerns: first, with Kevin Chong's novel The Plague (2018), which updates and multiculturalizes Albert Camus' 1947 novel, and can be read in the context of Covid-19. Then we will finish our survey by reading the work of the English department's writer-in-residence, Mercedes Eng, in this case her 2017 book Prison Industrial Complex Explodes: A Poem, which draws on conceptual and appropriative poetic techniques to explore her family history and carceral power. Prison literature, anti-Asian racism during the pandemic, gender politics and a critical account of reconciliation: make no mistake, these are concerns that we find in Canadian literatures today, but it is also by reading literature, by engaging with the language, tropes, and poetics of form, that we learn about those texts and, in so doing, learn about ourselves, as reading subjects.


To improve interpretive, literary-critical, and decolonial forms of writing, reading, and inquiry.


  • presentation 20%
  • poetry reading review 10%
  • term paper proposal/annotated bibliography 20%
  • attendance and participation 10%
  • term paper 40%



Survivors Speak, Truth and Reconciliation Commission (PDF on Canvas)

The Plague, Kevin Chong

Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood

Prison Industrical Complex Explodes: A Poem by Mercedes Eng


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