Current Teaching

Fall 2020 Courses

Planning Updates

Though a lot of uncertainty remains around how things will unfold over the next few months, we do now know that Dalhousie’s fall term will be ‘predominantly online’: see this May 20, 2020 update from President Saini for more information. (Scroll down for updates about Winter 2021.)

Students should feel confident that the fall term will be a much more orderly and intellectually richer experience than was possible at the end of the Winter 2020 term, when courses designed for face-to-face delivery had to be very abruptly converted for online delivery under very trying circumstances for everyone. Your professors (including me) are already busily training and planning to make their fall courses as engaging, accessible, and sustainable as possible. (See here for a statement to that effect from the English Department!) When we resume our work together in September, it won’t be exactly the same as if we were meeting in person in our classrooms and offices, but we will all have the same goals and aspirations for our courses and your professors will be just as dedicated as always to helping you learn and flourish. If we all do our best to show patience, compassion, and persistence, we can make the best of the options we have for moving ahead.

One possible silver lining to a (mostly) online fall term: if classes are held “asynchronously” (meaning none of the course meetings or requirements are in real time), there will also be no, or at least fewer, scheduling conflicts. Watch for announcements about this and/or ask professors about their plans if you are wondering if you can take their courses.

I will continue to update this page as the fall term approaches. In the meantime, here are the descriptions for my fall courses. More detailed information will be made available over the summer, and registered students will have access to the course Brightspace sites by late August.

The Dalhousie University Bookstore is making preparations for online delivery of course books. All of the books I am assigning for my fall courses are also available as e-books for those who find that option more accessible; links to some sources are included below.

If you have questions about my fall classes, feel free to email me. Contact information for all members of the department can be found here.

English 1015, How Literature Works

Please visit the English 1015 (Fall 2020) website for updated course information in a mobile-friendly version. This website will be updated over the summer as plans for the course firm up.

In this section of English 1015 we will study a range of literary works that illustrate the power of language, when artfully deployed, to surprise, move, anger, persuade, and entertain us. We will pay close attention to how good writers use literary and rhetorical strategies to further their ideas and achieve their effects–to how literature works, not just how it makes us feel or what it makes us think about. You will be challenged to engage actively and critically with our texts through debate, discussion, and writing of your own. The course objectives are, first, to enhance your love of reading, and second, to provide you with the skills, vocabulary, knowledge and experience to express and support well-informed opinions about what you read, whether in or out of class.

Required Textbook

The Concise Broadview Introduction to Literature, 2nd edition.

    • This textbook has been ordered through the Dalhousie Bookstore as the main text for my section of English 1015. Hard copies can be shipped to students’ home addresses.
    • Students who prefer to use an e-book will be able to order the complete Broadview Introduction to Literature directly from Broadview in time for fall classes, for the same price as the hard copy of the concise edition.
    • The Concise edition is a subset of the full edition. Required readings will be restricted to those available in both editions.

English 3032, The 19th-Century British Novel from Dickens to Hardy

Please visit the English 3032 (Fall 2020) website for updated course information in a mobile-friendly presentation.

In this class we will study British novels from the second half of the nineteenth century. Drawing on the now-established traditions of the novel, authors during this period found ways to revise or challenge its conventions by experimenting with fictional forms, techniques, and subjects. The pressing issues of social and personal reform that motivated earlier Victorian fiction continued to inspire great, moving and innovative writing by novelists such as Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy, both of whom will be represented on the reading list. We may look at an example of the scandalous genre known as ‘sensation fiction’—such as Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret. We will also treat ourselves to George Eliot’s Middlemarch, often considered the very greatest 19th-century English novel. Some of our readings will be long; you should be prepared to put in enough time to read them attentively. But they will also be delightful, so your effort will be heartily repaid in pleasure.

Book List

Charles Dickens, Hard Times

Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South

George Eliot, Middlemarch

Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure

I always order Oxford World’s Classics editions for my 19th-century fiction classes: they are reliable, scholarly editions, nicely produced and reasonably priced. Any scholarly edition will do, however, if you are prepared to put in a bit of extra time tracking down passages we focus on in discussion or assignments. (Where possible, I will indicate chapter and/or volume numbers as well as page numbers to make that work easier.) Good alternatives include Penguin Classics, Norton Critical editions, and Broadview editions. I do not recommend free or discount editions that have not been prepared by a scholarly editor: the text may be different or unreliable, scanning errors may have occurred, and you won’t have the notes or other materials (introductions, appendices) that we will draw on.

Oxford World’s Classics editions of these novels are available as ebooks from Vital Source, e.g. AbeBooks.Com is a good source of inexpensive used copies.

Note that with an eye to the special challenges of managing online courses (for all of us), I am assigning fewer novels than usual in this iteration of English 3032 (four instead of five). It’s still a lot of reading (and starting ahead is never a bad idea) but I hope that reading books remains a happy constant for you in these otherwise strange times! My own enthusiasm for our readings and our work together on them is another constant you can count on.

Winter 2021 Courses

As of mid-June, I can add that many winter-term courses will also be online (to enable students to complete their year without moving to Halifax, for instance), though exactly which courses is a work in progress. Both of my own Winter 2021 courses will be online and (at least mostly) asynchronous. English 4604 (The Victorian ‘Woman Question’) may include some real-time discussions; we will work that out together once we know what time zones we are all in and what our overall situations are. More information about my winter term classes (including reading lists) will be added here as my plans firm up.

Updated June 15, 2020