Spring 2024 - ENGL 415W D100

Seminar in Media, Culture and Performance (4)

Class Number: 4814

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Tue, Thu, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units or two 300-division English courses.



Advanced seminar in the relation of literature and media (manuscript, print, visual, aural, electronic, and/or oral) within their cultural and/or performative contexts. This course may be repeated for credit if a different topic is taught. Writing.


Writing on Reading

This is a course about reading and readers. It’s about BookTok, BookTube, Bookstagram, and what’s been called the “mass personal” of sharing our reading online, but it's also about why reading remains solitary, private. It’s about the history, the philosophy, and even the (neuro)science of reading. It’s about academic theories of reading—“surface reading,” “distant reading,” “symptomatic reading,” “close reading”—and it’s about why we read differently when we’re not reading for classes like this. It’s about what being “a reader” signals—about why we arrange our bookshelves just so, and why bookstores spend so much time arranging theirs a certain way, too. Above all, this class is about how reading is represented in literature, and we’ll spend the bulk of our time reading novels that ask what reading means, how it happens, and why it matters.



Assignments (tentative)

10% Informed seminar participation
45% Formal writing exercises (3 of about 500-750 words each)
10% Seminar paper mini draft (1000-1250 words) and annotated bibliography
30% Seminar paper final draft (2500-3000 words)
5% Creative/critical/theoretical project



Texts (tentative)

Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler (Everyman’s Library, 1991)
Mark R. Danielewski, House of Leaves (Pantheon, second ed., full-color, 2000)
Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkensteain, They Say / I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing (Norton, 5th ed., 2021)
Henry James, The Turn of the Screw and Other Ghost Stories (Penguin, 2018)
Peter Mendelsund, What We See When We Read (Vintage, 2014)
Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being (Penguin, 2013)

Please obtain the texts on your own in any format you like, though I am requiring you to have the print edition of House of Leaves for reasons you’ll understand when you see it. As for editions, I’ve noted above which editions I’ll be using.

We may also do an optional book club-style reading over the course of the semester with R. F. Kuang's new novel Babel, depending on interest.


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