Have a Question? Contact the Humanities Office or an Academic Unit


Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2013/2014

Term: 2

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Lorraine York

Email: yorkl@mcmaster.ca

Office: Chester New Hall 304

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23739


Office Hours: Mondays 1-2 pm

Course Objectives:

This course

-allows for an in-depth examination of the works, in various genres, of one writer

-asks students to mediate critical approaches to that writer

-develops skills in writing short written expositions of a critical position

-reinforces and applies knowledge of critical theories

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

The Collected Works of Billy the Kid

Coming Through Slaughter

Films of Michael Ondaatje (to be screened by instructor)

Elimination Dance

Running in the Family

In the Skin of a Lion

The English Patient

Anil’s Ghost

The Cat’s Table


Custom Courseware pack

Method of Assessment:

4 two-page double-spaced position papers: 40% (ie, 10% each)

            Proposal for term paper: 15% (1 page single-spaced proposal plus 1 page bibliography)

                        due Feb. 25

            one major term paper (2,000 words): 35% due March 18th

            participation: 10%

position papers to be submitted after being read, in hard copy, at the end of the class

proposals and term paper to be submitted to Avenue dropbox

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:


            January 7: Introduction and screening of Films by Michael Ondaatje (“Clinton Special”; “Sons of Captain Poetry”; “Carry on Crime and Punishment”)


            January 14: hour 1: discussion of films

                        hour 2: Collected Works of Billy the Kid

                        Critical reading: Manina Jones: “The Collected Works of Billy the Kid: Scripting

                                                the Docudrama”

                        Group A position paper topics  #1 distributed


            January 21:  Coming Through Slaughter

                        Critical Reading: Nancy Bjerring, “Deconstructing the ‘Desert of Facts’:

                                    Detection and Antidetection in Coming Through Slaughter

                        Group B position paper topics #1 distributed


January 28: Elimination Dance and poetry from coursepack

            Critical reading:  Sam Solecki, “Introduction: The Slight Silver Key”

                        Group A Position Paper #1 due

                        Group A position paper topics #2 distributed


            February 4: Running in the Family

                        Critical reading: Ajay Heble, “Rumours of Topography: The Cultural Politics of

                                                Running in the Family”

                        Group B Position paper #1 due

                        Group B position paper topics #2 distributed


            February 11:  In the Skin of a Lion

                        Critical reading: Rod Schumacher, “Patrick’s Quest: Narration and Subjectivity in

                                    Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion

                        Group A Position paper #2 due

                        Group A position paper topics #3 distributed


            February 25 : In the Skin of a Lion

                        Critical Reading: Glen Lowry, “The Representation of ‘Race’ in Ondaatje’s In the

                                    Skin of a Lion”

                        Group B Position Paper #2 due

                        Group B position paper topics #3 distributed          

                        Proposal and bibliography due


            March 4: The English Patient

                        Group A Position Paper #3 due


            March 11: The English Patient

                        Critical reading: Josef Pesch, “Dropping the Bomb? On Critical and Cinematic

                                    Reactions to Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient

                        Group B Position Paper #3 due

                        Group A position paper topics #4 distributed


            March 18: Anil’s Ghost

                        Critical Reading: Teresa Derrickson, “Will the ‘Un-Truth’ Set You Free?: A                                               Critical Look at Global Human Rights Discourse in Michael Ondaatje’s                                            Anil’s Ghost

                                    Term paper due

                                    Group B position paper topics #4 distributed


            March 25: Anil’s Ghost

                        Critical Reading: Chelva Kanaganayakam, “In Defense of Anil’s Ghost

                        Group A position paper #4 due


April 1: The Cat’s Table

            Critical Reading: Roma Tearns, “The Cat’s Table, By Michael Ondaatje.”

                        Group B position paper #4 due


            April 8: The Cat’s Table: conclude