Room: ECH 320,
unless otherwise noted                                                                                                         

Wednesday/Friday 9:00-10:20
September  2010 – April 2011                                                                                            

Engl 4416 (Honours Seminar)
Atlantic Canadian Women Writers

Dr. Kathleen McConnell                                                                                                                     Office: ECH 323
Hours: TBA                                                                                                              
Ph: 460-0394      


This course is not the usual hermetic, write-a-term-paper-for-the-prof deal, oh no. We’re going to get the word OUT on some of Canada’s least appreciated, best writers, through the NB Literary Encyclopedia, CanLit, Wikipedia, the Research and Ideas fair and any other reputable venue we find.

            Who? The already-established names: Anne Compton, Mary Dalton, Sue Goyette, Rita Joe, Travis Lane, Anne Simpson, Maxine Tynes. The prior generations:  Elizabeth Bishop, Anna Minerva Henderson, Travis Lane, Kay Smith. The unexpected names: Shari Andrews, Tammy Armstrong, Lesley-Anne Bourne, Elizabeth Brewster, Lynn Davies, Sheree Fitch, Lorri Neilsen Glenn, Tonya Gunvaldsen Klassen, Elizabeth Harvor, Eileen Cameron Henry, Janice Kulyk Keefer, Carole Langille, Jeanette Lynes, Sue MacLeod, Sharon McCartney, Eleonore Schonmaier, Alison Smith, Agnes Walsh, Marion Francis White, Shauntay Grant. I’ll stop there, but there’re lots more. There’s an“etc” implied at the end of all these lists, and there’s a lot of crossover betwixt them, too.

            How? We’ll start with really short “seed” presentations on some of the research tools available to us, then move on to merely short presentations on issues in Canadian poetry that will define the whole, rough field, roughly. Then we’ll do longer presentations on the established and prior generations of Atlantic Canadian Poets, to get our bearings in that neglected and overgrown acerage. While you’re doing that, I’ll be bringing poems and books into class for us to discuss.

In the winter term, we’ll start looking at the culture of writing in this region – writing groups, prizes, periodicals, reviewing, arts support, etc – and how they cultivate, neglect  and otherwise shape the good writing life in this region. Finally, there will be a long project concerning the work and lives of two or more of the lesser-known poets.

And somewhere in there, you’re invited to do your own creative response to the material on the course.

A note of caution: this is an honours seminar. You have a lot of freedom, but that means you also have a lot of responsibility, particularly in terms of  keeping track of, and preparing for, presentations.


The course uses Moodle, and the HIL’s e-resources extensively, so consistent, reliable access to a computer and the internet is essential. You’ll also be in the library A LOT.

            Have a good desk dictionary at your disposal (i.e. Oxford or Webster), as well as a writing reference with a glossary (i.e. Rooke, Hacker, the MLA Handbook, etc.).       


Breakdown of Marks

Research Resources............................................................. 5%
Issues in Canadian Poetry Presentation................................ 10%
Issues in Atlantic Canadian Poets’ Work............................... 20%

The Real World and Writers.................................................. 10%
Two (or more) Writers Examined........................................... 25%

Going Public........................................................................ 10%
Participation........................................................................ 10%
Creative Project ................................................................... 10%

Additional information will be provided on most of these at the appropriate time.

In presentations, use visual aids and/or handouts wherever appropriate. Do not simply read a paper.

Presentations missed for legitimate, documented reasons, and with due notice given to the prof (at least 24 hours in advance, where possible) will be rescheduled as soon as possible, usually the next class. Those who miss their presentations without notice or documentation will incur a grade of "0" and my wrath.

Research Resources 5%
The HIL has numerous on-line and real-world resources. Each student will become an expert in one of these, learning its secret strengths and frustrating, idiotic weaknesses.  You’ll be expected to give a 5-10 minute demonstration of “your” database or section of the library, and the rest of us will consider you to be the go-to person for that particular resource. Handouts or links in Moodle may be appropriate.

Issues in Canadian Poetry 10%
Before we can start talking about Atlantic Canadian Poetry, we need to get familiar with the field of Canadian Poetry as a whole. To do this, each student will give a 15-20 minute presentation on an assigned topic. At the end of the class in which you give the presentation, you need to hand in something coherent (i.e. in sentence form, with references and a bibliography) to the prof.

Issues in Atlantic Canadian Poets’ Work 20%
We’ve plumbed some of the resources available to us. We’ve discovered some of the more important issues in Canadian Writing.  Next, each student will become the expert in one of the more important women poets of the region: read their major books; scan the minor ones; try to find articles and reviews on them; find articles and books about the themes that come up in their work. Again, the purpose of all this research is to come up with a 20 minute presentation, and also, this time, a proper MLA-style paper on the work of your writer.

The Real World and Atlantic Canadian Women Writers 10%
This is analogous to the “Issues in Canadian Poetry” seminar of the first term; each student will give a 10-20 minute presentation on an assigned topic, concerning, for example, the influence of writing prizes, funding programs, writing groups, etc on specific writers’ work, or writing in the region in general At the end of the class in which you give the presentation, you need to hand in something coherent (i.e. in sentence form, with references and a bibliography) to the prof.

Two (or more) Writers Examined 25%
In this paper and presentation duo, students will compare and contrast the works of two or (in rare cases) more writers. Essay topics will be supplied, but you may opt use your own, if you get permission of the prof. You will be expected to give a 20 minute presentation on the work in progress; your classmates are invited to suggest possible directions and resources which you may have neglected. The final paper will follow the MLA style in form and content.

Going Public 10%
Take one, or part of one, of your scholarly projects public in some manner: preferably an entry in the NB Literary Encyclopedia, but you could discuss with me doing an entry for the CanLit database, or Wikipedia; or submitting a paper to the Research and Ideas Fair, or the Atlantic Undergraduate English Conference; or doing a review for a literary periodical like The Fiddlehead, The Antigonish Review, etc. (If you have another suggestion, please bring it to me.)

            Ideally, the project need not be accepted by the end of the course; I just need evidence that it was submitted. But, there’s no reason for it NOT to be submitted and accepted....

            People who go public, or try to, with more than one project will find their participation mark goes through the roof.

Participation 10% (hint: look up h)
This will evaluated on the basis of attendance, promptness, attention to the presentations (indicated by your willingness to respond with questions), preparedness, participating in on-line elements and discussions, etc.

Creative Project 10%
You need to create something – anything – in response to the material that you’ve encountered in the course. Past creative projects have included (but were not limited to) poems, stories, paintings, sculptures, dioramas, board games, plays, radio shows, youtube vids, costumes.... Your imagination is the only limit. (Okay. And the practical stuff – time, money....)


Necessary Evils

Late Work And Absences
As responsible adults, it is up to students to keep track of assignments and due dates. Assignments are due at the beginning of the class period indicated. Extensions must be requested at least one day before the assignment is due; an Extension Form must be completed with the professor, and attached to the paper when it is handed in.

As mentioned earlier, presentations missed for legitimate, documented reasons and with due notice given to the prof (at least 24 hours in advance, where possible), will be rescheduled as soon as possible, usually the next class. Those who miss their presentations without notice or documentation will receive a grade of "0".

Students who submit late written assignments for reasons beyond their control will not be penalized, particularly if they inform the instructor of their situation at least a day before the assignment is due. When appropriate, documentation of the need for an extended due date will be required.

Students who inexplicably miss more than two classes per term will lose 1% from their grade for every subsequent missed class.

Expectations, Evaluation, Academic Misconduct

No cell phones or other electronic devices allowed. Except for presentations, laptops may be used only if deemed necessary by the Coordinator for Students’ Accessibility.

In the University Calendar there is a general Statement of Mutual Academic Expectations. Specifically for this class you will be expected to respect your fellow students, as well as your own education, by
• having prepared the material scheduled for the day;
• being responsible for material that you may have missed;
• showing up on time with the necessary material for the class
• not preparing to leave before time; and        
• keeping in mind that this is a classroom, not a cafeteria or a lounge.

Check out the University Calendar for an explanation of letter grades and GPAs, and for the rules governing academic misconduct. Plagiarism is the representation of someone else’s ideas, data, or opinions as your own. It is a serious form of intellectual dishonesty. University regulations on plagiarism and cheating will be strictly enforced. Please come to see me if you have any questions about what constitutes plagiarism.

Letter / number grade equivalents for this course are as follows:
A+       93-100%         
A         88-92.9%        
A-        83-87.9%
B+       78-82.9%
B         73-77.9%
B-        66-72.9%
C+       63-65.9%
C         56-62.9%
C-        53-55.9%
D         50-52.9%
F          below 50%

Kathleen McConnell / English / Faculty / STU Homepage