Syllabus Seminar 410

The Contemporary Canadian Novel in English

 (Seminar 410, American Studies)

Prof. Dr. Kathleen Scherf (Thompson Rivers University, Canada)

Office: SB II, 04-451

Phone: 3925994

Email: kath@tru.caOR

Office Hours: W 1400-1500

Spring/Summer Semester, 2018

Wednesdays, 12:15 to 13:45 (18 April to 4 July inclusive)

Room: GF 01, 521 (This will likely change.)

In this course, students will explore two contemporary Canadian novels that reflect current issues and themes in the Canadian experience, most notably the voice of Indigenous people. During the course, we will interrogate ideas such as: identity and family, ethnicity, migration, place-making, indigeneity, diaspora, nationalism, regionalism, voice/s, authenticity.

Reading List:

 Birdie, Tracey Lindberg, 2015

 Various settings in Canada, from Edmonton to the small west coast town of Gibson’s Landing, BC. Experience of a young Indigenous woman coming to terms with her life. Cree folklore and oral tradition feature in the contemporary narrative examining family relations.

The Break, Katherena Vermette, 2017

Set in Winnipeg. Realistic novel of urban Aboriginal and Metis life. Multiple voices, all Indigenous. Expansive notion of family.


18 Apr:            Introduction to the novels and themes

25 Apr:            Birdie, Prologue, Chapters 1-3

2 May:             Chapters 4-6

9 May:             Chapters 7-9

16 May:           Chapters 10-12

23 May:           Chapters 13, Epilogue

30 May:           reading break

6 Jun:              The Break,Part One

13 Jun:            Part Two

20 Jun:            Part Three

27 Jun:            Part Four

4 Jul:               Course conclusions, essay discussion

Assessment: Your assignments will depend on your module requirements for this course, which will be one of or a combination of an oral exam, a presentation, and a paper. In the second class, on 25 April, you are required to hand in to me one page containing: your name, your student number, and the assessment requirements of your module for this course.

If you are writing a paper, it is due to me as a Word attachment (please do not PDF me) by email at kath@tru.caon WEDNESDAY 18 JULY 2018. I will be back in Canada at this point; you must also hand in a hard copy, as per JGU protocol, by the same day, to the mailbox of Prof. Dr. Mita Banerjee in the American Studies Secretary’s Office in Philo II, 02-208.

The active participation expected in this course is to: read the two novels, attend class, engage in class discussion, and finish assignments.