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ENGLISH 2KK3 Studies in Women Writers (C01)

Academic Year: Winter 2020

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Grace Kehler


Office: Chester New Hall 208

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23723

Office Hours: After Class or by appointment

Course Objectives:

Course Description:

This course explores the writing and other artistic compositions of women in terms of ongoingness and resurgence in recent times of trouble and violence. Please be advised that some of the texts, especially Antonia’s Line and Women Talking, contain difficult subject matter such as explicit representations of or references to (sexual) violence. In the case of Women Talking, the atrocities are based on historical events that took place in the Bolivian, Old Mennonite Colony of Manitoba (2005-2009). The texts also include humour, tenderness, and hopefulness, but do speak with me if you have any concerns. The course, after all, is about resurgence!

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:


Toews, Miriam. Women Talking. (buy at the campus store or online)

Online and Visual Texts. (see the schedule below)

Method of Assessment:


Tutorial Assignments                                           15%                                                        Details TBA

In-Class Participation                                           10%                                           Weekly Group Work

3 Brief Papers (1300 words) @ 15% each           45%                                  See Schedule for due dates

Final Exam (2 hours)                                            30%                                                          April 2020

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

 Attendance and Participation

Success in the course depends on consistent attendance at and participation in lectures (10%) and tutorials (15%). Please ensure that you carefully watch or read all of the course texts prior to the class or your tutorial and come prepared to enter into group work with comments or questions. Please enter into groups of about six people, so that we’ll have a chance to hear from most of you.

Late Assignments

Extensions must be approved before the due date. Late assignments will be deducted one percent per day (including Saturdays and Sundays).

Assignment Review and Grade Inquiries

Students must allow 24 hours after graded assignments are returned before approaching their TA with queries about their grade. Instructors and TAs are available to discuss grades only during office hours or by appointment; graded assignments will not be discussed via email. If you are unsure why you received a particular grade, read the comments over carefully and review the assignment details. If you are still unsure or would like clarification or tips for improving on your next assignment, please meet with your TA to discuss the grade.

If students would like to request a change to their grade, they must provide their TA with a written explanation outlining why they believe a higher grade is warranted, and be prepared to leave this with their TA for her/his consideration. If, after discussing the matter with their TA, an agreement cannot be reached, students can then make an appointment with both the TA and instructor together to discuss the circumstances. Please note that requests for a re-evaluation of assignment grades may result in a lower grade than was originally assigned if the instructor deems this warranted.

Disputes regarding grades will only be considered if students are able to present the original marked copy of the class work. For this reason, students should retain all pieces of work submitted and graded during the term. They should also retain a copy of any outlines, drafts and research notes in case of academic integrity concerns.

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

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 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 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:


7 January

Introduction to the primary course theme:

  • ongoingness and resurgence in times of trouble and violence

In-Class Workshop on In-Class Participation in Group Work!

  • Students will collaborate to provide concrete ideas for weekly group work
  • While I will always come prepared with a lecture and questions, I need to know how we can enliven the two-hour Tuesday class with your ideas, voices, and concerns

14 January


Clements, Marie. The Road Forward. National Film Board of Canada, 2017.

  • Available through McMaster library live streaming


Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. “Nishnaabeg Brilliance as Radical Resurgence Theory.” As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance. University of Minnesota Press, 2017, pp 11-37.

  • PDF on Avenue


21 January


Gorris, Marleen. Antonia’s Line. Asmik Ace Entertainment, 1995.

  • Available through McMaster library live streaming


Lorde, Audre. “Uses of the Erotic.” Sexualities & Communication in Everyday Life: A Reader, edited by Karen E. Lovass and Mercilee M. Jenkins, Sage, 2007, pp. 87-91.

  • PDF on Avenue

Oliver, Kelly. “Ecological Subjectivity: Merleau-Ponty and a Vision of Ethics.” Studies in Practical Philosophy Vol 4, No 1 (2004): 102-125.

  • PDF on Avenue


28 January


Honeyland. Directed by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubo Stefanov, performance by Hatidze Muratova, Trice, 2019.

READ the story behind the documentary and a selection of the reviews (see “Press”) on the co-directors home page


Ginn, Franklin, and Kelsey Green. “The Smell of Selfless Love: Sharing Vulnerability with Bees in Alternative Apiculture.” Environmental Humanities, vol. 4, 2014, pp. 149-170.

OR Excerpt from:

Swan, Heather. Where Honeybees Thrive: Stories from the Field. Vol. 10. Penn State Press, 2017.

  • This book is on order


4 February

FIRST BRIEF PAPER DUE (a close reading of one of the three films above)


Toews, Miriam. Women Talking. Knopf, 2018.

  • Print copy available at McMaster
  • Also available through


11 February


Toews, Miriam. Women Talking. Knopf, 2018.

Secondary Reading: TBA


17-21 February



25 February (3-4.30 pm)

Miriam Toews at McMaster: Reading and Discussion

Location: TBA


3 March

SECOND BRIEF PAPER DUE (on Toews’ McMaster talk and novel)

Plett, Casey. “Not Bleak.” A Safe Girl to Love. Topside, 2014, pp 122-177.

  • PDF on Avenue

Secondary Readings: TBA


10 & 17 March

Deanna Bowen: lecture and museum tour of A Harlem Nocturne (details to follow)


Bowen’s A Harlem Nocturne (McMaster Museum of Art)


Interview with Bowen:


Excerpts from Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake. (PDF online)

Catalogue Overview of A Harlem Nocturne

24 March

Workshop on third brief paper (on Deanna Bowen’s exhibit A Harlem Nocturne)

31 March

THIRD BRIEF PAPER DUE (on Bowen’s exhibit, A Harlem Nocturne)


Oliver, Mary. Selection of Poems. (Avenue)

7 April

Workshop: Student-generated review of course themes in preparation for the final exam.