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ENGLISH 4CF3 Contemporary Fiction (C01)

Academic Year: Fall 2018

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. James King


Office: Chester New Hall 316

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24493

Office Hours: Tuesdays 1:30-3:20 pm

Course Objectives:

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course, devoted to various kinds of recent fictional narratives, emphasizes the diverse range of approaches taken by the writers studied. The themes include the search for sexual and personal identity, immigration, queerness, and parental/child conflict.

This seminar course requires all participants to present two seminars (10 mins and 15 mins in length, respectively) and to write a term paper (2000-3000 words) on topic devised in consultation with the instructor.

COURSE OBJECTIVES: Students taking this course will gain an appreciation of the various kinds of fictional writing being done in Canada, the United States and England and will have the opportunity to engage with a wide variety of texts.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:


Running in the Family (Ondaatje)

Etienne’s Alphabet (King)

Funny Boy (Selvadurai)

Annie John (Kincaid)

On Chesil Beach (McEwan)

Tales from Firozsha Baag (Mistry)

The Interpreter of Maladies (Lahiri)

The Emigrants (Sebald)

The Line of Beauty (Hollinghurst)

Written on the Body (Winterson)

The Woman Warrior (Kingston)

Moon Palace (Auster)


Method of Assessment:


Attendance: 10%

Participation: 10%

First Seminar: 15%

Second Seminar: 25%

Term Paper: 40% (due 20 November)

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Written Work and Late Submissions:

Late Assignment Policy:

The course essay is due at the beginning of class on the assigned date. Late essays will be docked one grade-point per day for up to seven days (including Saturdays and Sundays). Essays more than seven days late will not be accepted.


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:


4 September: Introduction

11 September: Running in the Family

18 September: Etienne’s Alphabet


25 September: Funny Boy

2 October: Annie John

16 October: On Chesil Beach

23 October: Tales from Firozsha Baag

30 October: The Interpreter of Maladies


6 November: The Emigrants

13 November: The Line of Beauty

20 November: Written on the Body

27 November: The Woman Warrior

4 December: Moon Palace