English (ENGL) 492

Research and Writing Projects in Literature (Revision 2)

ENGL 492 Course Cover

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: ENGL 211 and ENGL 212 or equivalent, plus two senior English courses and permission of the professor is required.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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ENGL 492 is not available for challenge.

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** Notes: To request permission to register in this course, and to discuss topic ideas, please contact the course coordinator. If you are registering through the financial aid office, you must still contact the course coordinator to seek permission, even if your financial aid has been approved. Please allow plenty of time to discuss topic ideas before your registration deadline.


Students in ENGL 492 complete an extended research and writing project under the direction of a professor. The topic for the project will be determined by consultation between the student and the professor.

Students may wish to focus on a particular literary theme, idea, or theoretical problem. For example, students might focus on the problem of intergenerational experiences in recent immigrant literature, the representation of medical technologies in contemporary science fiction, adaptations between literature and other media, the ways in which emerging theories of the Anthropocene or the Energy Humanities compel us to reinterpret canonical texts, and so on. Possibilities also exist for students to undertake other forms of innovative or interdisciplinary projects.

Students may also use the course to focus on the works of a major author or to investigate a particular aspect of a historical period within the development of English literature. Examples of canonical authors whose works students may wish to study include (but are not limited to) Geoffrey Chaucer, Christopher Marlowe, John Donne, Lady Mary Wroth, John Milton, Aphra Behn, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Olaudah Equiano, Mary Wollstonecraft, William Wordsworth, Jane Austen, John Keats, Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, Walt Whitman, George Eliot, Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, Jean Rhys, John Steinbeck, Kurt Vonnegut, Nadine Gordimer, Maya Angelou, Derek Walcott, Toni Morrison, Alice Munro, Sylvia Plath, Wole Soyinka, Don DeLillo, Caryl Churchill, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Kathy Acker, Salman Rushdie, Thomson Highway, Amy Tan, Dionne Brand, Judith Thompson, Louise Erdrich, Diana Abu-Jaber, Madeleine Thien, and others. A typical project may involve, for example, a study of two authors or a study of two works by a single author.

For creative writing students, ENGL 492 can also be used to develop an extended creative project such as a novel.

While the choice of topic is flexible, it may be limited by the research and teaching interests of the faculty in the Centre for Humanities. Students are encouraged to exercise imagination and creativity in the project that they propose and to develop a topic that is significant, compelling, and speaks to their particular interests.


Early on in the course students will complete a project proposal that includes the goals, procedures, and deadlines for completing the different phases of the work. The course of study will normally culminate in the production of a major scholarly paper.

There are three specifications on scholarly projects for this course:

  1. Projects must include the study of at least two literary texts and a literary problem, and may involve the application of a particular literary theory or methodology.
  2. Projects must be acceptable to the professor who works with the student.
  3. Project results must be presented in a formal essay written in Standard English.

Note that ENGL 492 has a similar purpose and structure as ENGL 491, which has a strong emphasis on cultural studies.

In the case of a creative writing project, your professor will discuss your intended project with you in order to establish expectations for the form, length, and other details.


To receive credit for ENGL 492, you must achieve a minimum grade of 50 per cent on each assignment and a composite course grade of at least D (50 percent). The weighting of the course assignments is as follows:

Activity Weight
Assignment 1: Detailed Project Proposal 10%
Assignment 2: Progress Report 10%
Assignment 3: Finished Research Paper 70%
Assignment 4: Complete Bibliography 10%
Total 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Roberts, Edgar V. Writing About Literature. 13th ed., Pearson Education, 2012.

Other Materials

All other materials are available online; this includes a study guide and a student manual.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, July 17, 2017.

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