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Literature for Our Time

SYLLABUS 2017-18

Course Description

This course explores how recent literature in English responds to our world in poetry, prose, and drama. In the fall term we’ll visit some famous landmarks of early and mid-twentieth-century literature: London Bridge on a winter morning, a lighthouse off the west coast of Scotland, a sunlit living room in suburban New England, and a wave-washed beach in South America, among others. In the spring term, our guides will be closer to our own time, living writers and more recent books. In both terms, emphases will include literature’s reasons for being, its formal qualities, historical context, relation to other media, and relevance to our moment in time.

Required Books

Fall Term: T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land, Prufrock, and Other Poems (Dover); Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (Broadview); Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot (Grove); Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (Anchor); Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (Vintage); Gabriel García Márquez, Leaf Storm and Other Stories (Harper); Sylvia Plath, Ariel (Harper).

Spring Term: John Cameron Mitchell, Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Dramatists Play Service); Miriam Toews, A Complicate Kindness (Vintage Canada); Samuel Archibald, Arvida (Biblioasis); Eden Robinson, Monkey Beach (Vintage); Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story (Random House); Phoebe Wang, Admission Requirements (M&S); Jillian Tamaki, Boundless (D&Q).

All books will be available at the University of Toronto Bookstore, 214 College St.

Fall 2017 Syllabus

 Date  Tutorial  Lecture

Sept. 8



Sept. 15


Eliot, "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

Sep. 22

Eliot, "Prufrock"

Eliot, The Waste Land

Sep. 29

Eliot, Waste Land

Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Oct. 6

Assignment #1

Lighthouse; Modern Times (film)

Oct. 13

To the Lighthouse

Beckett, Waiting for Godot

Oct. 20

Waiting For Godot

Achebe, Things Fall Apart

Oct. 27

Things Fall Apart

Nabokov, Lolita

Nov. 3

Making an Argument

Nabokov, Lolita

  Nov. 6-10   Reading Week

Nov. 17

Essay #1; Lolita

García Márquez, Leaf Storm

Nov. 24

Leaf Storm

Plath, Ariel

Dec. 1


Plath, Ariel

Spring 2014 Syllabus


 Tutorial  Lecture

Jan. 5

None Hedwig & The Angry Inch (film)

Jan. 12

Essay #1 Review Hedwig & The Angry Inch

Jan. 19

Hedwig Toews, A Complicated Kindness  

Jan. 26

Essay #2; A Complicated Kindness A Complicated Kindness; Archibald, Arvida

Feb. 2

Arvida Archibald, Arvida

Feb. 9

Close Reading Robinson, Monkey Beach

Feb. 16

Monkey Beach Monkey Beach; Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story
 Feb. 19-23 Reading Week (Feb. 20 = last day to drop Y courses from record)

Mar. 2

Super Sad True Love Story Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story

Mar. 9

Essay #3; Exam Strategies Wang, Admission Requirements

Mar. 16

Admission Requirements Wang, Admission Requirements

Mar. 23

Boundless Tamaki, Boundless