As a full time college professor, I teach three or four courses each term. The courses below represent those I have taught and which I continue to teach at Red Deer College. I have also supervised Honours students, some of whom have won prestigious prizes such as the Silver Medal for English, the Campbell Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature, the Birk Sproxton Award, and numerous Red Deer College writing awards. Please see my teaching philosophy here.
English 389: The Writing of Alice Munro
This course examines the short stories of Alice Munro, from her early writing in the 1970s to her recent writing in the 2000s. Taking a historical materialist approach, we will examine the stories in relation to the socio-cultural milieu in which they were produced. To this effect, we will contextualize the writing in relation to feminist theories and women’s movements related to the contemporary time period. In addition, we will consider Munro’s attention to gender roles and sexual identities, her complex narrative techniques, and her choice to write exclusively in the short story genre. We will study her stories in relation to post-structuralism and postmodernism with particular attention to themes regarding women and gender.
English 509: Ghosts and Haunting in Canadian Literature
This course examines how contemporary Canadian fiction is haunted by Canadian history: a history of practicing British cultural traditions, of fraught Aboriginal-settler relations and changing immigration practices. Such fiction responds to Canadian history with a postcolonial awareness and an understanding of unresolved problems in Canada's past. Thus it is infiltrated with ghosts and unsettled remains. We will examine metaphors of monstrosity and haunting in order to understand how some of Canada's writers imagine and recreate the intertwinement of the past and the present. Texts to be studied include Jacqueline Baker's The Horseman's Graves, David Chariandy's Soucouyant, Joy Kogawa's Obasan, Anne Marie MacDonald's Fall on Your Knees, and Michael Ondaatje's Anil's Ghost.
English 312/ 473: Contemporary Canadian Literature
This course examines contemporary Canadian writing since 1959, with an eye to the history and context out of which it was produced. We will consider important historical documents regarding the production of literature in Canada, such as the Massey Commission, which lead to the Canada Council for the Arts. We will discuss key concepts regarding Canadian literature, such as multiculturalism, nationalism, and perceptions of the rural and the urban. The course will incorporate important literary works of various genres by such authors as Northrop Frye, W. H. New, Rohinton Mistry, Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, bp Nichol, Rudy Wiee, and Robert Kroetsch.
English 371: Multicultural Canadian Literature
This course will introduce students to Canadian multicultural literatures, and it will address the complexities of and intersections between culture and language. The course will begin by considering the Canadian Multiculturalism Act, and will address how and why the Act emerged in the context of the Biculturalism and Bilingualism Act. With these state-implemented documents in mind, we will examine representative works of literature by and about immigrants and Aboriginal peoples. We will focus on writing the twentieth and twenty first centuries, but we will also consider the history of immigration policy, and we will address Canada's cultural representations of the immigrant in relation to its representations of Aboriginal peoples. We will not study authors or texts as representative of certain cultures or cultural experiences. Rather, we will examine different cultural perspectives in dialogue with each other in order ti give rise the the labyrinth of personal and political issues the texts raise. The aims of the course are threefold: to develop critical reading and thinking skills, to develop critical writing skills, and to gain and understanding of and appreciation for the diverse literatures and cultures of Canada.
English 311/ 471: Early Canadian Literature
This course is a survey of Canadian literature from its beginnings to the middle of the twentieth century. The course will address important historical moments and events related to early Canadian literature, and will consider how the formation and history of Canada shaped early Canadian literature and vice versa. Students will interpret works of early Canadian literature in relation to literary and historical cultures in America and Britain; apply historical movements, terms, and concepts to works of early Canadian literature; and analyse and evaluate works of early Canadian literature with regard to their cultural and literary context. The course will consider historical documents such as the Indian Act and Louis Riel's "Address to the Jury," and will incorporate important literary works of various genres by such authors as Pauline Johnson, Susanna Moodie, Archibald Lampman, L.M. Montgomery, Emily Murphy, Stephen Leacock, and Robert Service.
English 371: Hockey in Canadian Literature
This course examines how hockey is integral to and part of Canada's National Imaginary. By considering various works of Canadian literature that take hockey as its subject or theme, we will explore how hockey is celebrated, romanticized, mythologized, and politicized in Canadian literature. In addition, we will look at problems in the "machismo" culture of hockey, especially as problems are explained by Laura Robinson and in the accounts of abuse by Sheldon Kennedy an Theo Fleury. Texts to be studied include Richard Harrison's Hero of the Play: Poems Revised and New, Cara Hedley's Twenty Miles, Birk Sproxton's The Hockey Fan Came Riding, and Fred Stenson's Teeth.
English 371: English Canadian Women's Literature
This course introduces students to and/ or extends their knowledge of contemporary English Canadian women's literature. We study the novels and short stories of internationally acclaimed writers: Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Carol Shields, and Miram Toews. Our readings of texts will be informed by current theories on women's writing which address gender postmodernism and nation. We will deconstruct pervasive images of women and analyse the ways in which women use language to define Canadian experiences. Of particular interest will be issues of cultural identity, sexuality, domesticity, marriage, and motherhood-issues that continue to affect the lives and careers of many Canadian literary women. We will focus on writing after 1960, but we will also examine the history of women's writing in Canada, and contemporary women writers' representations of Canada and Canadians in relation to that history.
English 389: Women's Life Writing
This course examines the life writing of women authors of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We will study theories of autobiography, including important feminist theorists such as Shari Benstock, Julia Watson, Sidonie Smith, an Jill Ker Conway. With this theory in mind, we will address how identities of gender, race, class, nationality, and sexuality inform works of life writing; and we will discuss how the authors push the boundaries of genres and forms--including the fine line between visual art and life writing in graphic memoirs. Finally, we will consider blog writing and social media as new forms of life writing in what critic Julie Rak calls the current "memoir boom."
English 391/ 491: Postcolonial Literatures of Africa
This course examines representative works of modern and contemporary African literature in English with a focus on understanding and appreciating African literatures, peoples, and cultures. Works of literature will be contextualized within the history and politics in which they were produced, and they will be discussed in relation to postcolonial theory--particularly as that theory relates to Africa. Students will gain an increased awareness of the cultural context and diversity of postcolonial African literature. The aims of the course are fourfold: to develop critical reading and thinking skills, to develop critical writing skills, to gain understanding and knowledge of postcolonial theory as it relates to Africa, to gain and understanding of the appreciations for the diverse literatures and cultures of Africa. We will examine African postcolonial theory and literature in order to give rise to the labyrinth of personal, political, and literary issues the text raise. Works to be studied include those by authors such as Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Flora Nwapa, Mariama Ba, Buchi Emecheta, Bessie Head, and Zoe Wicomb.
English 366: The Short Story
This course examines representative works of short fiction illustrating the tradition of the short story in English. The course will examine contemporary experiments in the short story form and introduce a technical vocabulary appropriate to the study of narrative. We will begin b studying masters of the short story genre, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Kate Chopin, Alice Munro, Carol Shields, Alice Munro, and others. Topics to be discussed include: the gothic mode, psychoanalysis, home, place, gender, race, and multiculturalism. We will examine Margaret Laurence's short story collection, A Bird in the House, paying particular attention to how these collected stories intersect with one another and how or if they constitute a unified whole.
English 219: Essay Composition and Critical Reading
This course focuses on formal university level writing and the skills related to critical reading, interpretation, and argument. (I have taught this course in both online and face to face formats.)
English 220: Literary Analysis
This course explores a range of genres and focuses on deepening the required structural and critical skills related to thinking and writing about literature. (I have taught this course in both online and face to face formats.)
Laura K Davis
Educator | Scholar | Writer
Educator | Scholar | Writer