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Courses (2024-25)

Literature and Critical Theory courses for the 2024-25 academic year. Please note: course listings change from year to year. Should you have any questions, please contact

LCT202Y1Y | Forms of Representation

Forms of Representation
Professor Ann Komaromi & Professor Sarah Dowling
M 12-2

In this class students will explore the problem of representation across cultural boundaries. We will consider works from the western tradition and beyond, investigating how imaginative texts foster reflection on ourselves and our world. We will pay particular attention to the questions of what “form” is, and what “representation” is. In other words, we will investigate the ways that meaning is produced and understood by members of a culture, and we will examine the special roles that art can play in society and in politics.Topics for critical reflection include: genre, narrative, aesthetics, history, the self and the other, sexuality, and ecology. The texts we'll read might include Homer’s The Odyssey, excerpts from the Bible and the Koran, Aristotle’s Poetics, Sappho's poetry, Dante’s Inferno, Equiano’s Interesting Narrative, Mahasweta Devi's Imaginary Maps, portions of Auerbach’s Figura, and Foucault’s The History of Sexuality. Course activities may include a visit to the E.J. Pratt Library’s Special Collections, and/or sessions with invited scholars and writers. Assessment will be based on committed participation during tutorial and lecture, presentations, and a sequence of written assignments.

Exclusion: VIC202Y1
Distribution Requirement: Humanities
Breadth Requirement: Thought, Belief and Behaviour (2)

LCT203H1F | Empires I

Empires I
Professor Mary Nyquist
T 10-12

What is colonialism and how is it related to “empires?” Why and how are the European empires that developed in the early modern period so often associated with “race” and racialization? In this course we will explore the early stages of European colonialism and the long-term impact of the transformations it inaugurated. The rise of Portuguese, Spanish, English, and French empires will be studied by readings of a variety of literary texts. We will discuss issues relating to capitalism, colonialism, gender, the rise of racializing discourses, and forms of resistance against oppressive colonial rule.  Students will acquire a strong set of interpretative and writing skills, will learn to situate the literature we discuss in a broad, historical framework, and will be encouraged to think critically about contemporary manifestations of the issues we take up.
Methods of evaluation: two short essays (15 each); one in-class commentary (25%); a final take-home essay (20%); participation (25%)

Exclusion: VIC203H1VIC203Y1
Distribution Requirement Status: Humanities
Breadth Requirement: Creative and Cultural Representations (1)
LCT204H1S | Canons and Canonicity

Canons and Canonicity 
Professor Paul Stevens
T 1-2, R 1-3 

The focus of this course is Paradise Lost. We discuss Milton’s “imperial epic” in a number of interrelated contexts: for instance, Adam and Eve, romance and gender relations; Satan, power, and nation formation; God, justice and the meaning of grace. All these issues are immediately relevant to the way we live now, from popular music to contemporary politics. Most importantly, we discuss the poem both in relation to the inherited “canon” of Scripture and the emerging “canon” of English literature. What are canons and to what extent did English literature become a “secular scripture”? This allows us to examine Milton’s influence in such very recent works of literature as Cormac McCarthy’s demonic epic Blood Meridian.

Cross-listed: REN241H1F
Exclusion: VIC204H1, REN241H1F
Distribution Requirement Status: Humanities
Breadth Requirement: Creative and Cultural Representations (1)
LCT205H1S | Empires II

Empires II
Professor Conrad James
T 10-12

The principal focus of this course is the complex engagement of literature and the arts with both colonial and neo-colonial encounters between, Europe, Africa and the Americas over the last five hundred years. Exploring world cultures through the prism of colonial encounters facilitates discussions about the genesis of contemporary politics of globalisation as well as the accompanying dynamics of exploitation and resistance. This approach will also help to elucidate the ways in which contact between different world zones have been pivotal in the development of new national and regional cultures. In the process we engage with a wide range of questions including environmental precarity, food security, cultural violence, religious alterity, revolutions, and the coming of age of new subjectivities.

The material to be discussed will be organized under four broad headings: The Columbian Exchange in Cinema and Art; Colonial Encounters and Latin American Politics of Identity; Fictions of Colonial Encounters in West Africa; Narratives of Colonial and Neo-Colonial Encounters in the Caribbean.


Primary texts may include works by

Miguel de Cervantes, Juan Rulfo, Octaivo Paz, Carlos Fuentes, William Shakespeare, Joseph Conrad, Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Ama Ata Aidoo, Derek Walcott, Earl Lovelace, Olive Senior, Jaime Manrique and Anthony Winkler.

Exclusion: VIC205H1VIC203Y1
Distribution Requirements: Humanities
Breadth Requirements: Creative and Cultural Representations (1)
LCT249H1F | Marx, Nietzsche, Freud

Marx, Nietzsche, Freud
Professor Willi Goetschel
W 3-5

This is an introductory course to the thought of Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Sigmund Freud and their pioneering contributions to the understanding of the individual and society in modernity. Readings include selections from writings of the early Marx, the Communist Manifesto, and Capital, Nietzsche's critique of culture, academe, and nationalism, and Freud's theory of culture, his views on the psychopathology of everyday life, on the meaning of dreams, symptoms, the return of the repressed, and what it might mean to live in a free society.

Distribution Requirements: Humanities
Breadth Requirements: Creative and Cultural Representations (1)
LCT301H1S | Seminar in Critical Writing

Seminar in Critical Writing
Professor Lee Emrich
R 12-2

This course is a writing intensive class devoted to the practice and analysis of critical writing. We will explore the critical tradition, the public(s) for whom one writes, and the choice of voice, point of view, and writerly form. The class will be structured around workshop style discussion and writing exercises.

Distribution Requirement Status: Humanities
Breadth Requirement: Creative and Cultural Representations (1)
LCT302H1S | Pasts and Futures

Pasts and Futures 
Professor Talia Isaacson
F 12-2

In this course, we will explore various uses of the theme of Prometheus in literature and theory as a lens into the social, political, and philosophical problems of the day. During times of upheaval, many thinkers and writers have been drawn to this mythological figure. We will explore the malleability of the myth, and ask: What does the interpretation of Prometheus tell us about the values, ideals, or fears of the author or society? And what does the limited nature of humankind’s foresight revealed by the Prometheus myth—a contradictory condition of knowledge and ignorance—teach us about our approach to creating radically different futures?

In Greek Mythology, Prometheus is a titan and a great defender of mortals; he stole fire for humankind and is further associated with the human arts, technology, craftmanship, writing, prophecy, and medicine. His myth has been received and reworked within traditions as diverse as Christian theology, anarchism, abolitionism, existentialism, psychoanalysis, and anticolonialism. Thinkers and writers from these traditions present distinct, and often contradictory, views of Prometheus—a hero whose story contains each generation’s questions about the human condition. Whether he is presented as a helpless victim of injustice, a symbol of a dangerous desire for mastery, or a revolutionary hero, Prometheus often appears as a sign of necessary change.

We will organize our attention to this theme in relation to multiple periods and traditions, and encounter Prometheus in various guises. We will also explore the uptake of the myth in various philosophical schools.

Exclusion: VIC302H1
Distribution Requirements: Humanities
Breadth Requirements: Creative and Cultural Representations (1)
LCT304H1F | Praxis and Performance

Praxis and Performance
Professor Rebecca Comay
W 1-3

“Drama” means “action,” in Greek, while “theater” derives from the same root as “theory” (both latter terms have something to do with seeing as well as thinking.)  Whatever else is going on, theatres are public places of assembly that offer a channel between ideas and actions, theory and practice, thoughts and deeds.  This is probably why theaters have often thrived during times of revolutionary upheaval, and also why they have been so frequently subject to censorship and censure. The theatre is a place where anxieties and desires are experienced and forged around the unstable relationships between words and actions; between private and public; individual and collective; seeing and being seen; the visible and the invisible; exposure and disclosure; presence and absence; acting and pretending (or mere “acting”); spectatorship and surveillance; empathy and voyeurism; representation and misrepresentation; spontaneity and habit; inclusion and exclusion.

Theatre is also a place which lets us observe and reflect on how these relationships play out unevenly along social lines --class, gender, race, sexuality, ability/disability, age, religion, etc... In this course, we’ll be looking at a variety of texts, films and performances that explore some of these shifting relationships.   We’ll be thinking about the connection between theatres and other spaces of spectatorship and performance–the law-court, the sports arena, the prison, the place of worship, the festival, the domestic interior, the airport, the lecture hall, the street, the political assembly. We’ll be thinking about the shifts in spectatorship introduced by new technologies (film, internet, AI). Inevitably, and throughout the course, we’ll be thinking about the classroom and the university (physical, virtual, imaginary, impossible) as a scene of pedagogy, performance, disciplining, surveillance, and (sometimes) activism.  

Works will include: Shakespeare, Hamlet; Alfred Hitchcock, Stage Fright; Diderot, “Paradox of the Actor”; Sergei Eisenstein, October: Ten Days that Shook the World; Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem; Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish (excerpts); Judith Butler, “Imitation and Gender Subordination”; Samuel Beckett, Catastrophe and other short plays; Brecht, “What is Epic Theatre?”; Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet (excerpts);  Frantz Fanon, “The ‘Fact’ of Blackness,” in Black Skin, White Masks; Saidiya Hartman, Scenes of Subjection (excerpts); John Cage,  4’33”; Franz Kafka, “The Hunger Artist”: Marina Abramovič, The Artist is Present (exhibition); Tehching Hsieh, One Year Performance 1980–1981; Chris Burden, Bed Piece; Mona Hatoum, Performance Still; Laura Poitras, Citizenfour;  Shoshana Zuboff, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism (excerpts); Hito Steyerl, How Not to Be Seen: A Fucking Didactic Educational.MOV File; Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, The Undercommons.

Recommended Preparation: LCT202Y1
Exclusion: VIC304H1
Distribution Requirements: Humanities
Breadth Requirements: Creative and Cultural Representations (1)
LCT305H1F | Institutions and Power
Exclusion: VIC305H1
Distribution Requirements: Humanities
Breadth Requirements: Creative and Cultural Representations (1)
LCT306H1S | Culture and Media

Culture and Media
Professor Atsuko Sakaki
R 10-12

This year’s theme is: Image, Sound, Text in Print Culture (Mass Reproduction) In this course we consider how visual, aural, and textual media within the regime of print culture (preceded by manuscript culture, followed by digital culture) have had formative effects on the production, distribution, and reception of art works, through reading theoretical and literary works. Questions to be asked include: How do human bodies and natural and social environs interact with mechanical reproduction? How do artists operate through their opportunities and mediums provided by the system? How do viewers, listeners, and readers have access to and process works of art in or as reproduction (e.g., photography as a medium or an art form in itself)? How do the flux of non-art stimuli (e.g., sound of nature, noise) complicate the boundaries between nature and culture and between the everyday and art? How has manuscript culture persisted and infiltrated print culture? What potentials for experience (e.g., tactile) have been imagined as impossible/possible and materialized/denied through the analog media? How does the copying of image, sound, and text affect the human sense of temporality (e.g., duration, iterability, memory)? Theorists to be considered may include: Bal, Barthes, Batchen, Baudrillard, Benjamin, Berger, Bourdieu, Burgin, Derrida, Flusser, Grosz, Kittler, Lefebvre, Nancy, Silverman, Sontag, Szendy, Voegelin. Writers of literary sources to be read may include: Abe, Auster, Bernhard, Calvino, Cole, Cortazar, Kafka, Kanai, Ondaatje, Pamuk, Tanizaki, Vladislavic.

Exclusion: VIC306H1
Distribution Requirements: Humanities
Breadth Requirements: Creative and Cultural Representations (1)
LCT308H1S | Identities

Professor Andreas Motsch
W 10-12

Though “identity” might suggest sameness, it is historically unstable and has many components, including ability/disability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, health/illness, ‘race,’ sexuality, and religion. This course considers the complexities of identity-formation and identity-transformation as captured in literary texts and cultural artefacts over a wide range of historical and cultural contexts.

Recommended Preparation: LCT202Y1

Distribution Requirements: Humanities
Breadth Requirements: Thought, Belief and Behaviour (2)

LCT402H1S | Translation and Comparativity

Translation and Comparativity
Professor Eric Cazdyn
W 1-4

This course will consider questions of adaptation, appropriation, imitation, hybridity and incommensurability across languages, geographical regions, epochs, media, and academic disciplines. Course topics may include the role of translation in the historical projects of nation-building and empire.

Prerequisite: LCT202Y1 and one of: LCT302H1LCT303H1LCT304H1LCT305H1LCT306H1LCT307H1; or permission of instructor.
Exclusion: VIC402H1
Distribution Requirements: Humanities
Breadth Requirements: Thought, Belief and Behaviour (2)

LCT494 | LCT Senior Research Paper

Senior Research Paper

This course provides an opportunity to design an interdisciplinary course of study, not otherwise available within the Faculty, with the intent of addressing specific topics in Literature and Critical Theory. Written application (detailed proposal, reading list and a letter of support from a Victoria College faculty member who is prepared to supervise) must be submitted for approval on behalf of Victoria College. For application procedures visit the Victoria College website. Not eligible for CR/NCR option.

This course is available in two formats, based on the nature of the independent study:
LCT494H1F/S - 0.5 credit, completed in the Fall (F) or Winter (S) semester
LCT494Y1Y - 1 credit, completed over both Fall and Winter semesters of the academic year

To request a Literature and Critical Theory Independent Study, please submit an application by August 1, 2022:

Your application with consist of the following:
1) Vic Independent Study Form 
Fill out separately and attach the file in the application
Please be sure to select the correct course code (ie: VIC390), on the form. 
2) Course description with Bibliography
3) Supervisor's letter of support
4) Unofficial Transcript

Prerequisite: Completion of 14.0 credits and permission of Program Coordinator.
Exclusion: VIC494H1
Distribution Requirements: Humanities

LCT401H1 Fall Courses | Cross-listed from Comparative Literature

LCT401 courses offer you the opportunity to take part in a graduate seminar in Comparative Literature. The courses listed below are all 'Special Topics' courses for the fall term, and may differ from year to year.

Please note: you may only take one LCT401 course (i.e 0.5 credit).

To apply: please email with the name of the 401 course section you'd like to apply to (e.g. LCT401 - Literature, Trauma, Modernity) by August 1, 2024.

LCT401H1 Spring Courses | Cross-listed from Comparative Literature

LCT401 courses offer you the opportunity to take part in a graduate seminar in Comparative Literature. The courses listed below are all 'Special Topics' courses for the fall term, and may differ from year to year.

Please note: you may only take one LCT401 course (i.e 0.5 credit).

To apply: please email with the name of the 401 course section you'd like to apply to (e.g. LCT401 - Literature, Trauma, Modernity) by August 25, 2024.