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ENGLISH 1AA3 Lit. in English: Longer Genre

Academic Year: Fall 2017

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Nadine Attewell


Office: Chester New Hall 311

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24492

Office Hours: MW 2.30 - 4 pm

Course Objectives:

In the first of his 2002 Massey Lectures for the CBC, Cherokee writer Thomas King says that “stories are wondrous. And they are dangerous” (9). How stories work in the world, he also suggests, is complex and difficult to pin down. In this course, we will read literary texts that both tell powerful stories about the often disorienting world in which we find ourselves, and invite us to reflect on the place of literature in the world. The course therefore functions as an introduction to the study of literature, equipping you with many of the conceptual and writing tools that you will need to become an expert reader of fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction. In addition to learning how to ask good questions of literary texts, however, we will explore how literary texts can help us to ask good questions of the world. How can literature speak to our times? What makes works of literature “timely”? What can literary works tell us – if anything – about what it means to live, love, relate, know, remember, and die in a world shaped by colonialism, slavery, authoritarian rule, racism, sexual violence, war, capitalism, poverty, misogyny, homophobia, and the slow violence of unfolding environmental disaster?



Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

First-Year English and Cultural Studies Handbook (available through the course A2L website)

Thomas King, The Truth About Stories (2003)

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (1985)

Dionne Brand, No Language is Neutral (1990)

David Chariandy, Soucouyant (2007)

Solmaz Sharif, Look (2016)

Daniel Coleman, Yardwork (2017



Method of Assessment:

Attendance and Engagement (see syllabus for more details): 10%

Tutorial Assignment (see syllabus for more details): 10%

Short Essay (3 pages double-spaced; due in tutorial the week of October 2): 15%

Long Essay (6 pages double-spaced; due in tutorial the week of November 13): 30%

Final Exam (to be scheduled by the Office of the Registrar): 35%



Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Essays are due in tutorial during the weeks indicated. Late assignments will be penalized two percentage points per day (excluding weekends). Students are expected to retain a copy of each essay they submit. Please check the detailed late policy posted on the course website for more information.

Your success in this class is important to the teaching staff. If there are circumstances that may affect your performance in the course and/or if you have had accommodations approved by Student Accessibility Services, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can work together to develop strategies for adapting assignments to meet both your needs and the requirements of the course. Whether or not you have a documented need for accommodation, remember that many resources exist on campus to support your learning. This includes the Student Success Centre, which provides academic skills support for all students.



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:

Schedule of Readings and Assignments (subject to revision)

September 6 Introductions

Note: Tutorials begin the week of September 11

September 11 Thomas King, The Truth About Stories (Chapters I and II)

September 13 Thomas King, The Truth About Stories (Chapters III and IV)

September 18 Thomas King, The Truth About Stories (complete)

September 20 Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (Parts I – IV)

September 25 Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (Parts V – IX)

September 27 Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (Parts X – XIII)

Note: Essay 1 due in tutorial the week of October 2

October 2 Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (complete)

October 4 Dionne Brand, No Language is Neutral (pp. 3 – 16)

October 9 Thanksgiving Break

October 11 Thanksgiving Break

October 16 Dionne Brand, No Language is Neutral (pp. 19 – 31)

October 18 Dionne Brand, No Language is Neutral (complete)

October 23 Dionne Brand, No Language is Neutral (complete)

October 25 David Chariandy, Soucouyant (Chapters 1 and 2)

October 30 David Chariandy, Soucouyant (Chapters 3 and 4)

November 1 David Chariandy, Soucouyant (Chapter 5)

November 6 David Chariandy, Soucouyant (Chapter 6)

November 8 Solmaz Sharif, Look (Part I)

Note: Essay 2 due in tutorial the week of November 13

November 13 Solmaz Sharif, Look (Part II)

November 15 Solmaz Sharif, Look (Part III)

November 20 Solmaz Sharif, Look (complete)

November 22 Daniel Coleman, Yardwork (pp. 7 – 12)

Note: tutorials end the week of November 27 (inclusive)

November 27 Daniel Coleman, Yardwork (pp. 13 – 90)

November 29 Daniel Coleman, Yardwork (pp. 91 – 162)

December 4 Daniel Coleman, Yardwork (complete)

December 6 Conclusions



Other Course Information: