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ENGL 551: Comparative Canadian Literature

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Delivery mode: Individualized-Study.

Credits: 3

Precluded course: ENGL 551 cannot be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for Athabasca University's ENGL 451.

Centre: Master of Arts Integrated Studies

Program: Master of Arts Integrated Studies


English 551 is a further study of Canada's ethnic minority writing in the context of the on-going discourse between English Canada and Quebec. Among the topics to be examined are: the nature of Canada's national literature, racial questions, the diversity of Canadian culture, nationalism in both English Canada and Quebec, and identity.

English 551 is unique in its emphasis on the relationship between English - Canadian and French - Canadian writing, and on the exploration of ethnic minority writing and the immigrant experience in Canada. A number of theories on ethnic minority writing will be discussed. It is assumed that students in English 551 have some knowledge of Canadian literature and history.

English 551 will be of particular interest to students in the following MAIS areas of inquiry: Cultural Studies or Canadian Studies.

To learn more about ENGL 551, the professor, the course syllabus, etc. click here.

Course Objectives

This exploration of the comparative study of Canadian literature is designed to help students achieve the following objectives.

  1. Develop an understanding of cultural diversity in Canada with special emphasis on Quebec writing and racial questions.
  2. Read, understand, and enjoy a number of significant works of English-Canadian and French-Canadian literature.
  3. Introduce students to the comparative study of Canadian-Quebec writing in the context of social pluralism.
  4. Begin to study Canadian immigrant writing and ethnic minority writing as a part of Canadian Studies.
  5. Acquire a critical knowledge of the literary themes, motifs, structures, narratives, points of view, and values that are typical of various regions of Canada.
  6. Begin to acquire a historical perspective of the development of literature in English and French Canada.
  7. Begin to identify the common elements in the works of various Canadian authors, be they English, French, or immigrant.
  8. Consider questions of social conflict as they are reflected in works of literature.
  9. Develop an understanding of the place of Canadian literature in the world context.
  10. Develop and refine research skills.
  11. Develop communication skills in essays and research papers.
  12. Acquire a sound basis for further work in Canadian Literature and Canadian Studies.

Student Evaluation

To receive credit for this course, you must complete one essay assignment and two research papers, and must receive a grade of at least 50 per cent on each. The following chart indicates the assignment activity, the date it is due according to the schedule provided, the percentage given to each course requirement in arriving at a final composite mark for the course, and the suggested word length for each assignment.

Week Due Assignment Weighting Length
Essay Assignment 1
2000-3000 words (8 pages)
Research Paper 1
4000-6000 words (16 pages)
Research Paper 2
4000-6000 words (16 pages)

Your written assignments are due at the times indicated on the weekly study schedule that appears in the course Study Guide. You may wish to discuss your choice of topic for your essay or research paper with your professor before beginning your assignment.

Course Materials

The course materials for English 551 include the items listed below.


The following textbooks and readers are used in this course. Please consult the Study Schedule in the Study Guide to learn at which points in the course the different readings are required.

  • Callaghan, Morley. Such Is My Beloved. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1989.
  • Edwards, Caterina. Homeground. Montreal: Guernica, 1990.
  • Godbout, Jacques. Knife on the Table. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1968.
  • Harris, Claire. Drawing Down A Daughter. Fredericton: Goose Lane Editions, 1992.
  • Kreisel, Henry. The Almost Meeting. Edmonton: NeWest Press, 1981.
  • Micone, Marco. Two Plays: Voiceless People and Addolorata. Montreal: Guernica, 1988.
  • Tana, Paul, and Bruno Ramirez. Sarrasine. Toronto: Guernica, 1996.
  • Vassanji, M. G. No New Land. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1991.


  • Kamboureli, Smaro, ed. Making A Difference. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • Pivato, Joseph. Echo: Essays on Other Literatures. Toronto: Guernica, 1994.
  • Verduyn, Christl, ed. Literary Pluralities. Peterborough: Broadview Press/Journal of Canadian Studies, 1998.

Athabasca University Materials

Study Guide: The Study Guide directs your study activity throughout the course. It indicates what you are to read, and when, and provides notes and commentaries on the material to be studied. The Study Guide also indicates the points at which you are to complete the course assignments in order to receive credit. Please read it through before beginning your studies. Please be sure to attach a tutor-marked exercise form to each assignment when you submit it to your professor for grading and feedback.

Forms: The forms you will need to submit assignments or notify the University of a change in your status as a student.

Canadian Literature on the 'Net

The Athabasca University home page has four sites for Canadian Literature in addition to all the information on our Canadian Literature courses. Professor Joseph Pivato has established a Web site for research on ethnic minority writing in Canada, with links to other sites in Canada and elsewhere. The URL is: http://www.athabascau.ca/cll/research/ethnic.htm.

A site for the History of Italian-Canadian Writing may be found at: http://www.athabascau.ca/cll/research/hisitcan.htm.

A general site for Canadian Studies is located at: http://www.athabascau.ca/cll/canstud.html.

The URL for the Athabasca site on Canadian Writers is: http://www.athabascau.ca/writers/.