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Obasan Essay Ap Literature Syllabus

English 110, Section 021:  Approaches to Literature,  2005-2006, Term 2

Lectures:  Monday and Wednesday, 2:00-2:50 in Henn 202


Professor Glenn Deer  Office:  BUTO 604  Tel:  822-4469 

Email:  gdeer@interchange.ubc.ca   Office hours:  M 3:15-4:15, WF 11:00-12:00


Discussion Groups:  Friday  2:00-2:50

            LT1     Buch B228     TA:  Simon Rolston

            LT2     Buch B312     TA:  Julia Obert

            LT3     Buch B323     TA:  Medha Samarasinghe

            LT4     Buch B230     TA:  Sarah Munro

            LT5     Brock 2367     TA:  Jason Somers

            LT6     Henn 301        TA:  Jennifer Brown


This course is an introduction to the literary criticism of fiction, drama, and poetry.  We will focus especially on the literary techniques employed by contemporary Canadian writers in the context of Canadian identities, multiculturalism, and inter-ethnic social relationships. 

       Some of the key questions that will guide our study of the primary texts will include the following:

How does literature represent the identities of individuals and groups?

How do writers represent or resist the concept of a Canadian national identity?

How does literature enable the exploration of Canadian multiculturalism?

How do writers break the cultural silences previously imposed by war, racism, trauma, and abuse?

How do writers represent Canadian spaces as either restrictive or open?

How do writers represent the relationships between different generations of Canadians?


Required Texts


Novels:    Joy Kogawa, Obasan ;  Dennis Bock, Olympia.

Drama:     Ethnicities, edited by Anne Nothof.  We will study two plays from this anthology, including Marty Chanπs Mom, Dad, Iπm Living With a White Girl, and Padma Viswanathanπs House of Sacred Cows.

Poetry/bio-text:  Fred Wah, Diamond Grill;   plus, a course packet of  selected poems by Kuldip Gill, Michael Ondaatje, Duncan Campbell Scott, Anneharte, Margaret Atwood, Earle Birney, Irving Layton, George Elliott Clarke, Dionne Brand, and Rita Wong. (The course packet will be available in the bookstore.)




Any current handbook for writers (e.g. The Canadian Writerπs Handbook or the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers) with guidelines for writing essays, editing style, and formatting citations. 



Lecture/Discussion Group Schedule

Wed, Jan. 4:  Introduction to the course

Fri,   Jan. 6:  Discussion group introduction


Mon, Jan. 9:  Joy Kogawa, Obasan (1-45)

Wed, Jan. 11:  Obasan (46-82)

Fri, Jan. 13:  Discussion group on Obasan (1-82)


Mon, Jan. 16:  Obasan (83-118)

Wed, Jan. 18:  Obasan (119-182)

Fri, Jan. 20:   Discussion group on Obasan (83-182)


Mon, Jan. 23:  Obasan (183-234)

Wed, Jan. 25:  Obasan (235-274)

Fri, Jan. 27:  In-class Essay on Obasan (20%)


Mon, Jan. 30:  Dennis Bock, Olympia (1-54)

Wed, Feb. 1:    Olympia (55-122)

Fri, Feb. 3:  Discussion group on Olympia (1-122)


Mon, Feb. 6:  Olympia (123-162)

Wed, Feb. 8:  Olympia (163-195)

Fri, Feb. 10:  Discussion group on Olympia (123-195)


Mid-Term Reading Week Break:  No classes, February 13 to February 17 inclusive


Mon, Feb. 20:  Marty Chan, Mom, Dad, Iπm Living With a White Girl (95-116, bottom)

Wed, Feb. 22:  Mom, Dad, Iπm Living With a White Girl (116-136)

Fri, Feb. 24:  Discussion Group on Mom, Dad ä


Mon, Feb. 27:  At-home Essay Due on Olympia or Mom, Dad ä

(1000 words, or 4-5 pages, 25%)

                         Mom, Dad Iπm Living With a White Girl (137-167)

Wed, March 1: Padma Viswanathan, House of Sacred Cows (15-57)

Fri, March 3:  Discussion group on House of Sacred Cows


Mon, March 6:  House of Sacred Cows (58-79)

Wed, March 8:  House of Sacred Cows (79-91);  Poems:  ≥Letters and Other Worlds,≤ by   Michael Ondaatje;  ≥Love Letters, Canada to India, 1930s,≤ and ≥Travelling Through the Borderlands≤  by Kuldip Gill

Friday, March 10:  Discussion group on Viswanathan, Ondaatje, Gill




Mon, March 13:  Poems:  ≥The Onondaga Madonna,≤ by Duncan Campbell Scott; ≥How to Stop Writing About Indians,≤ ≥How to Write About White People,≤ ≥Saskatchewan Indians Were Dancing≤ by Annharte

Wed, March 15:  Poems:  ≥This is A Photograph of Me,≤ by Margaret Atwood; Anglo-Saxon Street,≤ and ≥Bushed≤ by Earle Birney

Fri, March 17:  Discussion group on poetry


Mon, March 20:  Poems:  ≥Keine Lazarovitch, ≥ by Irving Layton;  ≥Primitivism,≤ ≥Self-Portrait≤, and ≥Burning Poems≤ by George Elliott Clarke.  

Wed, March 22:  Poems:  ≥Maybe this wide country just stretches your life to a thinness≤ by Dionne Brand; ≥The Jade Lady, ≤≥Denim Blues, and ≥A Good Spy is ä≤ by Rita Wong

Fri, March 24:  In-class Essay on Poetry


Mon, March 27:  Fred Wah, Diamond Grill

Wed, March 29:  Diamond Grill

Fri, March 31:  Discussion group on Diamond Grill


Mon, April 3:  Diamond Grill

Wed, April 5:  Diamond Grill and review

Fri, April 7:     Last discussion group. 


Final examination period begins on Tuesday, April 11th.   Date and location for English 110/021 tba. 


Mark Distribution: 

In-class Essay #1:  20% (400-500 words)

At-home Essay:     25%  (1000-1200 words)

In-class Essay #2:  20%  (400-500 words)

Participation:            5%  (Based on positive contributions to class discussions, attendance, and any other factors deemed relevant by the Teaching Assistant)

Final Exam:            30%


Policies on attendance and academic honesty:

1)  Regular attendance at lectures and participation in the class discussion of readings are required in the discussion groups.   Please read the material by the assigned date in order to benefit fully from the lectures and to contribute usefully to the class discussions.    Classes will obviously be more interesting and rewarding when everyone is keeping up wih the readings and trying to participate in the discussion of the texts and the key ideas.   

     Students who are absent for medical reasons must provide official documentation.  Students who miss extended periods of classes will face a lower participation grade.   University regulations require that students who will miss classes because of religious holidays must inform the instructor at least two weeks in advance. 


2)  Ethical academic conduct and honesty are expected in all work.  Plagiarism, or the intentional unacknowledged use of another writerπs work, is unethical and university policy prescribes significant penalties for plagiarism.  Your writing should be based on your own intellectual work and sources that are consulted should be documented in the official MLA style.

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