D-Level Course Topics

D-level courses provide opportunities for more sophisticated study and are founded on discussion-based learning, and they require some independent work on the part of the student. These courses are generally restricted in enrolment and focus on seminar discussion.

If you are pursuing an English Specialist or Major, you will need to take one or more D-level courses to graduate. You shouldn't necessarily wait until your fourth year of study to embark on a D-level -- you might be ready earlier, especially if you have taken a C-level course in a similar topic or thread.

Most D-level seminars are "topics" or "studies" courses, meaning that the focus, approach, and texts may change significantly from year to year. Below you will find the current descriptions of this year's D-level courses, including the specific area(s) of focus. You should always double-check the Registrar's Calendar for information about pre-requisites or recommended preparation. We also encourage you to talk to professors about D-level options and expectations.



(Click HERE for Fall 2019 Courses)


ENGD05 Diasporic-Indigenous Relations on Turtle Island ❄️

Instructor: Karina Vernon

In this course we consider the possibilities opened up by literature for thinking about the historical and ongoing relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people on the northern part of Turtle Island (the Iroquois, Anishinabek and Lenape name for North America). How does literature written by both diasporic and Indigenous writers call upon readers to act, identify, empathize and become responsible to history, to relating, and to what effect? Students will have the opportunity to consider how literature can help address histories of colonial violence by helping us to think differently about questions about land, justice, memory, community, the environment, and the future of living together, in greater balance, on Turtle Island.


ENGD19 Theoretical Approaches to Early Modern English Literature & Culture: Early Modern Sexualities ❄️

Instructor: Urvashi Chakravarty

What does it mean to speak of (a) 'sexuality,' and what might it mean to think of sexualities as historically constructed, shaped, or prohibited? What is the relationship of 'sexuality' to desire, practice, embodiment, or identity? In this course, we shall read a number of early modern texts alongside critical work on gender, sexuality, and queer theory to address a series of questions: how our understandings of gender, sexuality, and queerness historically constructed and contested? How do we (re-) conceive of the role of acts or identities in articulating gendered, embodied, and/or sexualized selves? How do we ensure that we are reading intersectionally in our lines of inquiry? How might the field of early modern studies not only respond to but also inform work in sexuality studies? And how might these questions cast new light on matters of race, nation, empire, and colonialism; religion and theology; the environment and ecocriticism; class and capitalism; family and kinship? 

Course Features: Readings in early modern literature will include works by Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Donne; we shall also read foundational and current critical work in gender, sexuality, queer, and trans studies.

Note: Pre-1900 course


ENGD29 Chaucer's Early Works ❄️

Instructor: Kara Gaston

Advanced study of Chaucer’s early writings, from The Book of the Duchess to Troilus and Criseyde. Consisting of dream visions, fantastic journeys, and historical fictions, these works all push beyond the boundaries of everyday experience, depicting everything from the lifestyles of ancient Trojans to a flight through the stars. This course will explore the forms and literary genres that Chaucer uses to mediate between the everyday and the extraordinary. We will also consider related problems in literary theory and criticism, considering how scholars bridge the gap between our own time and the medieval past.

Note: Pre-1900 course


ENGD48 Studies in Major Victorian Writers ❄️

Instructor: Sonja Nikkila

In this seminar we will be diving into Charlotte Brontë's most famous novel, and then pushing it through the looking-glass as we investigate how different adaptations offer us different reflections on the themes, questions, and problems contained in the original 1847 text. We will explore how Jane Eyre has been translated into television and film, and also how other authors have responded to the "poor, plain, obscure and little" governess in their own works. The seminar format will encourage students to develop, discuss, and ultimately present their own ideas about how to "read" and "re-read" Jane Eyre.

Readings: Jane Eyre, alongside a selection of 20th century and contemporary re-visions, including the Gothic Rebecca (by Du Maurier / Hitchcock), Jasper Fforde's madcap alternate reality detective novel The Eyre Affair, Patricia Park's Re Jane (the tale of a biracial Korean-American growing up in Queens in the 1980s), a neo-Victorian riff on British Imperial identity and Sikh culture in Jane Steele (by Lindsday Faye), and Sharon Shinn's full-fledged off-planet science fiction retelling, Jenna Starborn.

Note: Pre-1900 course


ENGD60 Topics in American Prose ❄️

Instructor: Neal Dolan

Scholarship Kids: Self-formation through Literacy in 20th-Century American Memoirs, Novels, and Short Stories

Many prominent American writers of the twentieth century were the first person in their families, over many generations, to acquire advanced literacy. This experience, as documented in a range of remarkable memoirs, novels, and stories published unto the present, has been represented as vastly liberating, but also often acutely painful. It seems to entail both an exhilarating expansion of horizons and a difficult uprooting. In this course we will read a selection of such works in an effort to further our understanding of the affectively ambivalent process of socialization into the modern American-liberal symbolic. We will be especially interested in depictions of what Habermas calls “context shattering” – crisis moments in which the achievement of advanced literacy causes the “spellbinding authority” of long-established traditions to be demystified, destabilized, and perhaps transcended. Habermas argues that such “shatterings” are necessary stages in a forward path towards real human moral and political progress. We will ask whether these works support Habermas’s outlook. May we read the dis-embedded selves painfully achieved and powerfully described in these American bildungs-narratives as figures of human enlightenment and emancipation? Might these works thus provide secondary symbolic orientation and cohesion for members of dispersed, individualistic, liberal communities no longer gripped and bound by archaic solidarities?

Readings will include:

Richard Wright, Black Boy (1937) - memoir
James Baldwin, “Notes of a Native Son” (1955) - essay
Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman (1957; 2015) - short novel, first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird
Henry Louis Gates, Colored People (1994) - short memoir
James Farrell, My Days of Anger (1943) or a couple of short stories, or Young Lonigan
Alice McDermott, After This (2006) - novel
from Richard Rodriguez, Hunger of Memory (1983) - short memoir
Dorothy Allison, Bastard Out of Carolina (1992) - memoir
Tara Westover, Educated (2018) - memoir
Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian (2009) - novel


ENGD91 Avant-Garde Cinema ❄️

Instructor: Garry Leonard

An exploration of Avant-Garde cinema from the earliest experiments of German Expressionism and Surrealism to our own time. The emphasis will be on cinema as an art form aware of its own uniqueness, and determined to discover new ways to exploit the full potential of the “cinematic."


ENGD95 Creative Writing as a Profession ❄️

Instructor: SJ Sindu (Sinduja Sathiyaseelan)

A practical introduction to the tools, skills and knowledge-base required to publish in the digital age and to sustain a professional creative writing career. Topics include: the publishing landscape, pitching creative work, and employment avenues for creative writers. Will also include a workshop component (open to all genres).




ENGD07 Studies in Postmodern Poetry 🍁

Instructor: Ryan Fitzpatrick

Topic: Poetics as Research

What is the relationship between poetry and research? Working in the university, we often have to negotiate a weird separation between creative and academic work. It’s easy to convince a prof to read your essay about a poem, but what about a poem that’s an essay? Or a data set? Or an archival investigation? Can poetry do research? The short answer is an unqualified YES! Poetry has a long history as an investigative tool or method. In this class, we will read a constellation of poets who use research as a compositional strategy. For these poets, poetry provides a set of formal tools that allow them to do research in ways different than journalistic or academic prose. Poetry allows a different kind of material attention to historical narratives, to archival documents, to local spaces, to personal experience, and to the materiality of language itself. In other words, poetry does research otherwise.

Each week we will think through an investigative stance that is exemplified by the book we’ll read together. These stances all constitute tendencies within 20th and 21st century avant-garde and experimental poetics in North America and, together, we’ll build an understanding of the histories of those tendencies – the discussions and debates, the flare-ups and flame wars. The tendencies we’ll dig into include documentary poetry, site-specificity, auto-poetry, conceptual writing, critical theory, treating language as information, activist poetics, and lots more.

Readings include Muriel Rukeyser, Charles Olson, Bernadette Mayer, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Erín Moure, M. Nourbese Philip, Jordan Abel, Mark Nowak, Claudia Rankine, Cheena Marie Lo, and Jordan Scott.


ENGD14 Topics in Early Modern English Literature and Culture 🍁

Instructor: Yulia Ryzhik

Topic: Shakespeare and Satire

We will read several of Shakespeare's plays in the context of early modern satirical traditions, their sources, influences, and afterlives. To what extent did Shakespeare engage with contemporary debates over the form and function of satire--particularly the fashionable formal verse satire, with its cultivated harshness and obscenity? How do his plays compare with the more overtly satirical dramas of his contemporaries and rivals? We will consider satire from a theoretical perspective, especially in relation to hierarchies of class, race, and gender, and will interrogate the ability (or inability) of satire to address social injustice. Through plays such as As You Like It, Troilus and Cressida, Othello, King Lear, and Timon of Athens, we will see how Shakespeare puts diverse satirical modes into conversation and develops his own satirical strategies. 

Note: Pre-1900 course


ENGD22 Special Topics in Creative Writing II 🍁

Instructor: Alyx Dellamonica

This multi-genre creative writing course, designed around a specific theme or topic, will encourage interdisciplinary practice, experiential adventuring, and rigorous theoretical reflection through readings, exercises, field trips, projects, etc. Admission by portfolio.

Note: Please be sure to check the Calendar for enrollment limits and requirements.


ENGD62 Topics in Postcolonial Literature and Film 🍁

Instructor: Sara Saljoughi

An exploration of multicultural perspectives on issues of power, perception, and identity as revealed in representations of imperialism and colonialism from the early twentieth century to the present.


ENGD84 Canadian Writing in the 21st Century 🍁

Instructor: SJ Sindu (Sinduja Sathiyaseelan)

An analysis of features of Canadian writing at the end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first century. This course will consider such topics as changing themes and sensibilities, canonical challenges, and millennial and apocalyptic themes associated with the end of the twentieth century.




ENGD26 Independent Studies: Creative Writing: Poetry

ENGD27 Independent Studies in Creative Writing: Prose

ENGD28 Independent Studies in Creative Writing: Special Topics

The three creative writing independent study courses are taught by creative writing faculty — please see the Calendar for enrollment requirements and procedures.


ENGD98 Senior Essay & Capstone Seminar

Instructor: Sonja Nikkila (Fall-Winter)

An intensive year-long seminar that supports students in the development of a major independent scholarly project. Drawing on workshops and peer review, bi-monthly seminar meetings will introduce students to advanced research methodologies in English and will provide an important framework for students as they develop their individual senior essays.

Note: Depending on the subject area of the senior essay, this course can be counted towards the Pre-1900 requirement. Also, please see the Calendar for enrollment requirements and procedures.