Contemporary Canadian Literature in English

Course title: Contemporary Canadian Literature in English
Instructor: Assoc. Prof. Vanja Polić
ECTS credits: 6
Language: English
Duration: 4th or 6th semester
Status: elective
Enrolment requirements: completed Introduction to English literature, enrolment in the 4th or 6th semester
Course description: The starting point for the course is the genre of the cowboy western and the myth of the Wild West. The course proceeds to analyse the ways in which they are reinscribed and transformed in contemporary Canadian literature with the aim of bringing to the surface the hitherto suppressed accounts in the dominant discourse of history. These are cultural-historical aspects of Canadian society such as white settlement and colonial history of western Canada; marginal or silenced voices in the Wild West myth such as women’s voices, First Nations voices and immigrants from visible minorities; realities of the life in the West vs. their portrayal in the Wild West myth.  From a literary-theoretical perspective, the course will observe postmodernism in CanLit through the metamorphosis of the “traditional” cowboy western genre as trivial literature into serious literature such as historiographic metafiction and historical novel.
Objectives: Acquainting the students with contemporary Canadian culture and history through relevant works from Canadian literature.
Course requirements: The final grade is based on continuous assessment which includes regular attendance, preparation for and participation in class, writing small assignments, timely submission of the final paper, and obligatory sitting for midterm and endterm exam. The paper is worth 35%, midterm and endterm exams are worth 50% and other elements of continuous assessment are worth 15% of the final grade. Students must meet all requirements of continuous assessment.

The exact date of the mid-term exam is defined in cooperation with the students. Topics for the main written assignment (student paper) are selected during week 8.

Week by week schedule
WEEK 1: introduction into Canada: history and geography
WEEK 2: the Wild West myth and the Frontier thesis – US vs. Canada
WEEK 3: G. Bowering, Shoot! – introduction to the 19th c. society and the First Nations
WEEK 4: G. Bowering, Shoot! – Canada as a postcolonial country?
WEEK 5: historiographic metafiction (Hutcheon) and shedding light on history
WEEK 6: G. Vanderhaeghe, The Englishman’s Boy – creation of the national myth
WEEK 7: G. Vanderhaeghe, The Englishman’s Boy – sequel
WEEK 8: mid-term exam and essay topics
WEEK 9: F. Stenson, Lightning – historical approach to cowboys and the Wild West
WEEK 10: G. Bowering, Caprice – the Wild West as a story
WEEK 11: G. Bowering, Caprice – sequel
WEEK 12: P. deWitt, The Sisters Brothers – ironizing the Wild West
WEEK 13: P. deWitt, The Sisters Brothers – sequel
WEEK 14: final remarks, end-term exam

Reading list:
Bowering, George. Caprice
Bowering, George. Shoot!
deWitt, Patrick. The Sisters Brothers
Vanderhaeghe, Guy. The Englishman’s Boy
Stenson, Fred. Lightning – selections
American Review of Canadian Studies, special issue: The West. 33, no. 4 (Winter 2003)
Hutcheon, Linda. “Historiographic Metafiction”, The Canadian Postmodern.
Turner, F. J. The Frontier in American History – selected chapters
See. Scott W. The History of Canada
Slotkin, Richard. Gunfighter Nation: the myth of the frontier in twentieth-century America – selected chapters
Critical articles on the novels