Current Teaching

My 2022-23 Classes

Dal_MarionMcCain_Building

Plans for 2022-23 remain contingent on the local situation with regard to COVID-19 and on the resulting Public Health directives. The latest updates from the university can always be found at this link: https://www.dal.ca/covid-19-information-and-updates.html

Masking will be strongly encouraged in my classes, for the comfort and safety of all of us, to keep our classroom as accessible as possible, and to minimize the foreseeable disruptions of illness, including absenteeism and class cancellations. Class policies will be designed to enable you to stay home if you are unwell: there will be no grades specifically for attendance; we will plan and work collectively to support students who miss in-person class discussions and activities; and there will be virtual options for all course requirements.

This page gives some basic information about my Fall 2022 and Winter 2023 courses, including the book lists (all finalized as of June 2022). The page will be updated intermittently; check back as the relevant term approaches for the latest information. Brightspace sites will be available to registered students prior to the start of each term. If you have questions about any of my courses that aren’t answered here, don’t hesitate to email me. Contact information for all members of the department can be found here.

FALL 2022

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

MWF 9:35-10:25 LSC 03655 (Oceanography wing)

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 are represented on the reading list. We will also look at an example of the scandalous genre known as ‘sensation fiction’—Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret—and we will treat ourselves to George Eliot’s Middlemarch, often considered the greatest 19th-century English novel. Some of our readings are long; you should be prepared to put in the time to read them attentively. Your effort will be heartily repaid in both pleasure and insight. Regular, well-informed, and enthusiastic class participation will be encouraged; regular, well-informed, and meticulous writing will be required.

A detailed syllabus and schedule for English 3032 will be available for registered students on Brightspace by the end of August. If you have any questions about the course in the meantime, please feel free to email me (Dr.Maitzen@Dal.Ca).

CONFIRMED Reading List

Link to course books at Dal Bookstore:

https://bookstore.dal.ca/CourseSearch/?course%5b%5d=SUB,FALL22,ENGL,ENGL3032,01

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley’s Secret
George Eliot, Middlemarch
Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure

Please note: I have ordered Oxford World’s Classics (OWC) editions for all of these books: they are reliable, scholarly editions, nicely produced and reasonably priced. Please use the assigned editions if you can. You can also access all of the OWC editions for free through the Oxford Classics Online database (available through the Dal libraries website), and even if you use other editions for reading, it would be a good idea to use these for your assignments. If you are shopping for used editions, good schlarly alternatives to the OWC editions include Penguin Classics, Norton Critical editions, and Broadview editions. I do not recommend relying on free or discount editions that have not been prepared by a scholarly editor: the text may be different or unreliable, and scanning errors may have occurred (something that can really make a mess if the novel includes any dialect).

English 4205, Women and Detective Fiction

MWF 12:35-1:25 McCain 2116

Until September, permissions for all 4000-level seminars are handled by Mary Beth MacIsaac in the English Department office. Please contact her (mbmacisaac@dal.ca) for information about registering for this course.

To Sherlock Holmes, she was always the woman.
—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “A Scandal in Bohemia”

At least since Irene Adler beat Sherlock Holmes at his own game, women have had an extensive and complicated relationship with both detectives and detective fiction. Even before Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple first appeared in 1930, they did their share of crime-solving, and Christie is just one of the many women writers prominent in the field in the ‘Golden Age’ of detective fiction in the 1920s and 1930s. Women including Vera Caspary and Dorothy B. Hughes wrote noir fiction in the mid-century, often pushing back against the tropes and conventions of their hard-boiled male contemporaries; and P. D. James, Sue Grafton, and Sara Paretsky are only a few of the many women whose crime fiction topped late 20th-century best-seller lists. In this course we will read a sampling of fiction by women that explores the relationship between gender and crime, sometimes by centering women as investigators, sometimes by interrogating women’s conventional roles in the mystery genre, from victim to femme fatale. We will explore the different approaches in our readings to questions about crime, law, justice, morality, knowledge, and power, and about the role class and race play in how these issues are configured and what resolution is imagined as possible or desirable.

A detailed syllabus and schedule for English 4205 will be available for registered students on Brightspace by the end of August. If you have any questions about the course in the meantime, please feel free to email me (Dr.Maitzen@Dal.Ca).

Book List (Books for English 4205 are available at the King’s Coop Bookstore)

Agatha Christie, Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories
Carolyn Keene, Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Old Clock
Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night
Dorothy B. Hughes, In a Lonely Place
P. D. James, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman
Sue Grafton, A is for Alibi
Barbara Neely, Blanche on the Lam
Katherena Vermette, The Break

WINTER 2023

English 1015, How Literature Works (Online Asynchronous)

A mobile-friendly course website for English 1015 is available here with more information about this online offering. Asynchronous online courses require students to be well organized and self-directed. It is important to consider whether this online section of English 1015 will be a good fit for you.

conciseBILIn 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.

    • You will need this book right away and then throughout the term. Some alternatives will be provided to the readings for the first two weeks, to allow time for you to get your copy, but for copyright reasons you must (and should) buy a legitimate version of the reader as soon as possible.
    • This textbook will be 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  can order the ebook of 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 ordered for this course is a subset of the full edition. Required readings will be restricted to those available in both editions.
    • The 1st edition of the Concise edition is also acceptable, though it is possible we will consider some readings not available in that earlier version.

English 2040, Mystery and Detective Fiction

MWF 9:35-10:25 LSC C-240

From historical to clerical, from academic to urban, from culinary to equestrian, from regional American to vintage English—today, mystery and detective fiction comes in every imaginable variety. In this course we will look at the origins of the genre in the 19th century and then trace some of its developments in the 20th century. We will consider formal issues, such as the conventions, limits, and possibilities of a genre premised on secrets and lies; we will look at what these fictions say, directly or indirectly, about meaning, knowledge, law, justice, gender, society, and morality; and we will ponder the ethics of finding crime entertaining.

Plans for the 2023 version of this class are still tentative; updated information, including a finalized book list, will be posted here by late fall and a detailed syllabus and schedule will be available for registered students on Brightspace by the end of December.

Book List (it looks long, but most of these are pretty quick reads, plus of course they are very entertaining!)

As of June 20, 2022, this is the confirmed book list. All of the books below have been ordered for the course through the Dalhousie Bookstore.

Classic Crime Stories (Dover Thrift Edition)
Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone (Oxford World’s Classics)
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles (Oxford World’s Classics)
Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (any edition is fine)
Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon (any edition is fine)
Sjöwall and Wahlöö, The Terrorists (Vintage Crime)
Sara Paretsky, Indemnity Only (any edition is fine)
Ian Rankin, Knots and Crosses (any edition is fine)
Walter Mosley, Devil in a Blue Dress (any edition is fine)

Most of these books are available in multiple editions (especially if you shop for used copies), and it is fine to use any version you find (though be prepared to hunt for passages, as in class discussion and handouts I will refer to examples using the page numbers in the assigned editions). The major exception is The Moonstone, for which I strongly recommend the Oxford World’s Classics edition (which is available through the Dal bookstore and also, free, as an ebook through the Dal library) – you will want the notes and other supporting apparatus. The OUP edition of The Hound of the Baskervilles is also preferable, for the same reason.