Bring Your Love of Learning

Bring Your Love of Learning to VIU English

Interested in taking some great electives? Upper-level English courses could be exactly what you’re looking for!  From courses in popular culture and film to environmental and Indigenous perspectives, VIU’s English Department offers diverse courses on compelling topics that will enhance your education experience. 

Click here to see our “Courses” tab for information on the wide range of courses on offer in 2021-2022. Please note the prerequisites for individual courses. 

And if you’re a member of the community who is curious about some aspect of literature, film, or culture and want to learn more about it, without the need for exams or credit, click here for more information from VIU’s Love of Learning website.

None of these courses requires previous knowledge or expertise in its subject matter, and every one of them offers an engaging way to inform yourself about a specific topic, era, or field of interest.


Featured Courses for 2021-2022

Bring your interest in contemporary issues and culture to VIU English!  Our lively courses are designed to reflect on and foster insights into the histories and implications of our current social and political preoccupations.  We would love to have you join our conversations!

Popular Culture

ENGL 230 Literature and Popular Culture                      
Prof. Daniel Burgoyne
Spring 2022   Tues 5:30-8:30pm                                         

This course explores intersections between literature and popular culture from the late 18th century to the early 21stcentury. Beginning with Bluebook Gothic and early pulp fiction, the question of how pop culture encouraged formulaic genres, broadened reading audiences, and arguably maintained the socio-economic status quo will be considered. The focus will include accounts of popular culture that see it—and literary expressions of it—as sites of conflict, contestation, transformation, and socio-cultural change.

ENGL 233 Literature and Film                                         
Prof. Jay Ruzesky
Fall 2021        Wed 5:30-8:30pm     online synchronous

This class will look specifically at the way literature and film share a fascination with themes suggested by the broad metaphor of crime and criminals: - good and evil; - physical, social, and psychological prisons; - the hero and the anti-hero; - conformity and breaking rules. Students will study poems, stories, novels, myths, and films and will examine the way those sources develop the ideas of crime and criminality. The course will include analysis of the extent to which media and form alter the themes conveyed. 

ENGL 273: Ancients and Moderns                                     
Prof. Anna Atkinson
Fall 2021        Wed 2:30-5:30pm     blended asynchronous

One of the best-beloved of English children’s literary series, C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia owes a lot of its structure and symbolism to a much older text: the Bible itself. Students in this course will read through the Chronicles, while reading parallel biblical texts, and consider the re-creation and interpretation of the biblical original that Lewis undertakes. 

FILM 201: Film Studies                                                      
Prof. Clay Armstrong
Spring 2022   Thurs 5:30-8:30pm   online synchronous

A continuation of Film 101, this course will strengthen critical perspectives on film by examining how narrative technique, acting, cinematography, editing, mise-en-scene and sound all work together to convey meaning. Students will study, amongst other things, motion pictures that both establish and subvert filmmaking conventions in a range of genres including Science Fiction, Horror, Western, Gangster, and War. 

ENGL 394: Topics in Television Narrative: Black Mirror        
Prof. Cynthea Masson Fall 2021         

Mon 2:30-5:30pm     online synchronous

This course will focus on the critically acclaimed, award-winning, technology-focused, dystopian science fiction television series Black Mirror. Each week, participants will watch one episode (outside of class), read (at least) one scholarly article, and prepare assigned exercises for discussion. Course content emerging from the conjunction of episodes and articles will include topics such as technology and the body; digital cultures; narrative structures; audience agency; and various facets of television studies. 

Indigenous Perspectives

ENGL 220: Canadian Literature in Context                                 
Prof. Farah Moosa     
Spring 2022  Tues/Thurs 2:30-4pm                                                                                            

What histories and cultural legacies do we inherit from our individual and shared pasts? What do we owe ourselves and others as a result of such inheritances? In this course, we will read contemporary Canadian literary works that help us think through our answers to such questions. Drawing on current debates in memory, trauma, indigenous, and diaspora studies, we will discuss issues of colonialism, race, class, gender, and generational identity.

ENGL 221: North American Indigenous Literature        
Prof. Dawn Thompson
Fall 2021 Tues/Thurs 11:30-1pm 

This course is about bringing together people who are interested in Indigenous literatures; bringing together Western academic and Indigenous perspectives on literature and learning; and bringing together, in a respectful way, different cultures and ways of being in the world. Because that is what Indigenous literatures do: they find remarkable ways to merge the story and song tradition of oral cultures with the literary tradition of novels, poetry and drama in order to reach out to, and transform, readers from all cultures. 

ENGL 332: Indigenous Lit on Turtle Island                     
Prof. Paul Watkins
Spring 2022 Mon/Wed 2:30-4pm 

The stories we tell matter, especially since Canada’s story is often about the country’s strained relationship with Indigenous people.  Students will read, watch, and listen as they engage with a range of Indigenous literatures. While many of these stories deal with the lasting effects of Canada’s colonial past, they are also about healing, reconciliation, resurgence, and hope. Remaining attentive to contemporary injustices and Indigenous resistance movements, students will also witness how these texts are engaged with the communities from which they write and to whom they respond. The hope in this course is to open up spaces that challenge the colonization that affects us all, whether we are aware of it or not. 

ENGL 327:  World Indigenous Literatures                       
Prof. Dawn Thompson
Spring 2022 Tues/Thurs 1-2:30pm

This course will consider works of literature by Indigenous writers on at least five continents.  Although specific circumstances vary widely, Indigenous Peoples around the world share histories of colonization and dislocation, as well as struggles for human rights and self-determination. This introductory exploration will offer a glimpse into these and other issues through works of literature published during the “Postcolonial” era.

333: Topics in Post-Colonial Literature: The Personal is Political   
Prof
Toni Smith
Fall 2021 Tues/Thurs 1-2:30pm                                                                                   

Post-colonial novels tell stories of the personal impacts colonialism had on individuals, families, and cultures, and also share stories of resistance and resourcefulness in the face of harsh, restrictive policies.  Join us to read novels from the 1970s-2000s, written by authors from South Asia, Africa, Latin America, and North America that explore the complex ways that the personal and political intersect.   

Environmental Perspectives

English 231: Post-Carbon Fiction                                                   
Prof. Anna Atkinson
Spring 2022   Tues/Thurs 10-11:30am       blended asynchronous 

This course begins with the understanding that fossil fuels are not only planet-killers in their contributions to Climate Change, but also finite resources. This means that eventually our society will not be able to run on oil because there simply won’t be enough of it. This is the natural conclusion of a theory called “peak oil.” The course will include a close look at this term, as well as the ways in which various authors have imagined what a world beyond an industrial petroculture actually could look like. 

ENGL 329: Topics in Children’s & YA Literature: Multi-species Entanglements in Young People's Literature                                                    
Prof. Terri Doughty        
Fall 2021    Thurs 5:30-8:30pm             blended asynchronous                            

Ecocriticism, Animal Studies and Critical Posthumanism have been productive tools to explore how literature for young people addresses human and more-than-human interactions and challenges the speciesist assumption of human superiority to or separation from nature. Students will explore a range of picturebooks, graphic narratives, and novels that ask interesting questions about multi-species entanglements and human relations to the land. 

ENGL 325: Topics in Environmental Literature: North American Wilderness Narratives, 1903-2006                                                         
Prof. Clay Armstrong
Spring 2022 Mon/Wed 10-11:30am                                                                              

This course will explore a range of works inspired by raw experiences in the natural world, or what Walt Whitman called “Nature without check, with original energy.” Readings will move from traditional literary works to the wilderness narratives of mid-century and finish with the more recent non-fiction writing focused on the experience of individuals trying to escape back into what William Faulkner described as “an old dead time.”

Online Courses

ENGL 222: Introduction to World Literature                  
Prof. Melissa Stephens
Fall 2021        online asynchronous

This course explores how notions of “home” and "health" may be unsettled by issues of social, economic, or environmental justice. All materials will be written in or translated into English, and students may engage with works connected to places ranging from Trinidad, Nigeria, India, Cuba, and Italy, to the Marshall Islands, the Philippines, and the United Arab Emirates.

ENGL 233 Literature and Film                                          
Prof. Jay Ruzesky
Fall 2021        Wedn 5:30-8:30pm     online synchronous

This class will look specifically at the way literature and film share a fascination with themes suggested by the broad metaphor of crime and criminals: - good and evil; - physical, social, and psychological prisons; - the hero and the anti-hero; - conformity and breaking rules. Students will study poems, stories, novels, myths, and films and will examine the way those sources develop the ideas of crime and criminality. The course will include analysis of the extent to which media and form alter the themes conveyed. 

ENGL 312: History of Critical Theory                              
Prof. Sally Carpentier
Fall 2021        online asynchronous

This course will begin with the Ancient Greeks and examine major literary critics up to the 20th century. It will survey historically significant theoretical issues and their underlying assumptions, their changing definition of literature and criticism, and the specific interrelationships among politics, poetics, and philosophy at a given time. 

ENGL 394: Topics in Television Narrative: Black Mirror        
Prof. Cynthea Masson Fall 2021         
Mon 2:30-5:30pm     online synchronous

This course will focus on the critically acclaimed, award-winning, technology-focused, dystopian science fiction television series Black Mirror. Each week, participants will watch one episode (outside of class), read (at least) one scholarly article, and prepare assigned exercises for discussion. Course content emerging from the conjunction of episodes and articles will include topics such as technology and the body; digital cultures; narrative structures; audience agency; and various facets of television studies. 

And so much more!  See our “Courses” tab for more about other courses being offered this year!