University of Vermont: English 180: Topics in Canadian Literature

English 180 is one of the core courses I teach in the University of Vermont’s Department of English. A variable-content “Topics” course, it is set up to allow the instructor the freedom to design the course as he or she wishes. It also, however, allows students to take the course more than once. I take both of these characteristics of the Topics course seriously and so I rarely teach the same version of the course twice.

In every version of English 180 that I teach, I do try to address several key questions, the answers to which can naturally differ depending on which books I am teaching. I pose these questions at the beginning of my courses and revisit them throughout the semester. They include: “How does this work connect to the time and place in which it was written?” “How do the histories of Canada’s literatures differ from what we have learned about the literary histories of England, France, the United States, and other anglophone and francophone nations?” “What assumptions and knowledge, or lack thereof about Canada are we bringing to this text?” “What does it mean to read and interpret the literature of a country that is not your own?”

    Versions of English 180 taught since 2003:

  • Contemporary Literature from Canada, Fall 2010
  • The Literatures of Canada since 1968, Fall 2009
  • Canadian Women Writers, Spring 2009 (2 sections)
  • 20th Century Canadian Fiction, Fall 2008
  • 21st Century Canadian Fiction, Summer 2008
  • 20th Century Canadian Fiction, Fall 2007 (2 sections)
  • Contemporary Canadian Fiction, Fall 2006 (2 sections)
  • Canadian Fiction Since 1985, Fall 2005 (2 sections)
  • Canadian Lit. Survey: from oral to postmodern narrative, Spring 2005
  • Canadian Lit. Survey: from oral to postmodern narrative, Fall 2003