Spring 2024 - ENGL 111W D900

Literary Classics in English (3)

Class Number: 4482

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

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

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 21, 2024
    Sun, 7:00–10:00 p.m.



Examines literary “classics”, variously defined, apprehending them both on their own terms and within larger critical conversations. May incorporate the comparative study of work in related artistic fields and engage relevant media trends. Includes attention to writing skills. Students with credit for ENGL 101W may not take this course for further credit. Writing/Breadth-Humanities.


"Horrible Choices": Tragic drama

Tragedies are not exactly the ancient world’s horror movies, but they come close, as they are scary, profound, moving and unforgettable. Part of what makes them unforgettable is the way they present our choices: we don't just choose, we are forced to choose between/among terrible options. There are important existential lessons to be learned here. 

The scenarios include families scheming and fighting to kill each other, victims taking horrific revenge on perpetrators, and most notoriously, a character killing his father and marrying his mother.

The course will introduce students to tragic drama, and the culture that gave rise to these plays, via the study of four well-known classical tragedies from the eastern Mediterranean basin: The OresteiaOedipus the KingAntigone, and Medea. While we will learn about theme, character, setting, stage organization, audience, etc., the focus will be on this radical culture that focused so intently on tragic destruction and the horrible consequences of choices made.

Literary and historical context will figure prominently, particularly in the lectures, but don't be put off by this: you are not required to have a philosophy or a history degree, you are merely required to be attentive and curious.   

This is the course text: Mary Lefkowitz and James Romm, eds. The Greek Plays: Sixteen plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, Modern Library (2017). You must use this edition, which conveniently contains everything we'll need for the course. This text also has introductions to each of our four plays, as well as a very good general introduction to Greek tragedy. There will be a syllabus and as the course is a W course, you'll have to do some drafting and revision work. Attendance is important.



* Learn about this much respected genre: tragic drama

* Become a better reader of rich and moving literary works

* Become a better writer: structure essays better; use the details of the texts to support arguments; and formulate strong thesis statements.

* Enjoy the experience of having your emotions activated by these works


  • Tutorial participation and Lecture/Tutorial attendance 20%
  • 1 single page in-class writing assignment 5%
  • Midterm Essay: 5 pages (with revision) 25%
  • Final Essay: 5 pages 25%
  • Final Exam 25%





See above. You must use the following edition, which also exists in a paperback edition:

The Greek Plays: Sixteen plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides (edited by Mary Lefkowitz and James Romm).

Here is the ISBN 13: 978-0812983098
ISBN: 978-0812983098


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


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the term are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.