Spring 2024 - ENGL 361 D100

Diaspora Literatures in English (4)

Class Number: 5732

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Wed, Fri, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    30 units or two 200-division English courses. Students in the Global Asia Program Minor may enroll with permission of the instructor.



Study of primarily 20th- and 21st-century literatures and cultures by diasporic or racialized authors, oftentimes highlighting longstanding legacies of migration, racialization, social justice, and aesthetic innovation. Focus may include Asian, Black, Caribbean, or South Asian literatures and expressive arts. This course may be repeated for credit if a different topic is taught.


"nothing as intimate as history”: Dionne Brand’s Poetics 

Over nearly four decades, the poetry of Dionne Brand, a Trinidadian Canadian writer, has not only forged innovative linguistic structures and vocabularies but has also served as a powerful testament to the intricate interplay between literature and the shaping of race, ethnicity, as well as both national and diasporic identities and spaces. Brand's work, characterized by a profound alertness that transcends the boundaries of our current realities, invites us to contemplate other possible temporalities and places. This course explores how her ongoing commitment to witnessing and imagining speaks directly to our contemporary existence while simultaneously transcending the limitations, enclosures, and violences of our world. 

The primary text for this course is Brand's Nomenclature: New and Collected Poems, consisting of eight volumes of her poetry published between 1982 and 2010 — Primitive Offensive, Winter Epigrams, Chronicles of the Hostile Sun, No Language Is Neutral, Land to Light On, thirsty, Inventory, and Ossuaries— along with a new long poem titled "Nomenclature for the Time Being." Each of these works showcases a distinct aspect of Brand's concern with race, ethnicity, identity, language, colonialism, and sexuality.

By the end of this course, students will gain an understanding of how literature and language function as tools to reflect, perform, complicate, and critique constructions of race, ethnicity, and national and diasporic identities. Through their critical engagement with Dionne Brand's poetry, students will also develop the skills to analyze complex literary works and engage with the broader discourse surrounding issues of race, identity, and diaspora. 


  1. Students will strengthen their writing and argumentation skills, and learn how to combine scholarly research with close reading.
  2. Students will gain insights into how literature can address issues related to race, ethnicity, identity, language, colonialism, and sexuality.
  3. Students will develop skills in discussing, debating, and presenting their ideas effectively in a collaborative learning environment.
  4. Students will develop the ability to critically engage with complex literary works, specifically Dionne Brand's poetry, and gain a deep understanding of how literature can be a tool for critique of constructions of race, ethnicity, and national and diasporic identities.
  5. Students will engage with theories of diaspora, postcolonialism, and poetics. 


  • 5-Step Paragraphs (3 x 5%) 15%
  • Crafting Introductions and Thesis Statements (2 x 5%) 10%
  • Combining Scholarly Research with Close Reading (2 x 5%) 10%
  • Research Essay (2000 words) 20%
  • Creative Project 25%
  • Participation 20%



Dionne Brand, Nomenclature: New and Collected Poems 

ISBN: 0771098464


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