Spring 2024 - ENGL 383 D100

Studies in Popular Literature and Culture (4)

Class Number: 4952

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Tue, Thu, 8:30–10:20 a.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    30 units or two 200-division English courses.



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.


Roll a D20 to Hit: telling stories through games

The past ten years have seen an explosion in gaming. Board-game sales have reached an all-time high; table-top role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons have become immensely popular; video games generate billions of dollars a year in profit. Many, if not most, of these games are narrative driven. That is, they tell stories, and those stories draw upon literary archetypes or directly reference classic literature. The more sophisticated of them represent complex fictional characters whose struggles produce storylines so compelling that they are spun off into novels and films. In this course we will study the narratology of gaming, looking at board games, table-top role-playing games, and video games (in that order) and seek to answer the question, can games be literature? Please note: this is not a course in games or game design; it is a course in the literary experiences that games can generate.

Because it is not practical for all students to play all the games we may discuss, the course will rely heavily on student presentations. Be prepared to talk about two types of games and write about the third. Students may have the opportunity to work with the narrative mechanics of games in class.


Students will be provided with essays on gaming and literature. These readings are mandatory and will form the basis of much class discussion. It is expected that students will reference this material (and more) in their essays and presentations.

Each student will give a short presentation on two types of games. The short paper may be based on one of those presentations. The major paper must deal with a different type of game than was addressed in the student’s two presentations.

Some games represent acts of violence. Please do not take this course if you find such representations triggering or upsetting.

Tentative schedule – weeks of

Jan. 8th: introduction

Jan. 15th - Feb. 7th: board games

Feb. 12th - Mar. 6th table-top role-playing games

Mar. 11th - Apr. 7th: video games



Course requirements:

Two presentations: 40%

Short paper: 25% (2,000 words), due Feb. 16th

Major paper: 30% (2,500 words), due Apr. 5th

Participation and attendance 5%


Please submit all writing assignments as MS Word documents attached to the course Canvas page.



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