English (ENGL) 551

Comparative Canadian Literature (Revision 3)

ENGL 551 Course Cover

Permanently closed, effective September 10, 2019

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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.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Program: Master of Arts - Interdisciplinary Studies

**Note: Students in Group Study courses are advised that this syllabus may vary in key details in each instance of the course. Always refer to the Moodle site for the most up-to-date details on texts, assignment structure, and grading.**


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 Canada, the North, and the Globe.

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, students must participate in the online activities, successfully complete the assignments, and achieve a final mark of at least 60 per cent. Students should be familiar with the Master of Arts—Interdisciplinary Studies grading system. Please note that it is students' responsibility to maintain their program status. Any student who receives a grade of "F" in one course, or a grade of "C" in more than one course, may be required to withdraw from the program.

The following table summarizes the evaluation activities and the credit weights associated with them.


Assignment Weighting
Essay Assignment 1 20%
Research Paper 1 40%
Research Paper 2 40%
Total 100%

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. (2nd ed.). Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • 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 Printed Materials

Course Guide: The Course Guide contains the course objectives, reading assignments, course part introductions, online activities, assignments, and other information that you will need to complete the course successfully. The "Study Schedule" identifies the course activities and assignments that you are to complete each week.

Athabasca University Online Materials

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://engl.athabascau.ca/faculty/jpivato/ethnic.php.

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://can.athabascau.ca/.

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

Course Home Page You will find Course Information (including the Assignment File and other pertinent information) at the top of the course home page. You will find your assignments and links to submit your work to your professor on the course home page.

Athabasca University Library: Students are encouraged to browse the Library's Web site to review the Library collection of journal databases, electronic journals, and digital reference tools: http://library.athabascau.ca.

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 3, November 1, 2008.