ENGL 3416A  -  Contemporary Canadian Drama

Winter 2016  SYLLABUS

(Updated: January 4, 2016)


 Broad Goals / Texts / Grading / Assignments  /Schedule


"The drama has been in the past, and may be again, not only the most striking symbol of a nation's culture ... but the central structure enshrining much that is finest in a nation's

spiritual and artistic greatness"  (Massey Commission Report, 1951).



INSTRUCTOR    Professor Robert Cooper:   cooper@algomau.ca.

Website:    http://eduventure.ca.                    CMS


OFFICE HOURS    WW106.  By appointment: Mon. and Wed., 10:00 to 11:00 AM


CLASS MEETINGS       Tuesday/Thursday.   10:00 to 11:20 in EW203



"This course will offer a survey the Canadian dramatic voice from the 1940s to the present, as it has been shaped by the political, geographical, and cultural milieu. Assignments will include essays and seminars. Playwrights to be studied might include George Ryga, John Herbert, Michael Cook, David Fennario, Michel Tremblay, David French, Tomson Highway, John Gray, Marie Clements, Monique Mojica, Daniel MacIvor, Joan MacLeod, Wendy Lill, Judith Thompson, Djanet Sears, and Guillermo Verdecchia. In addition, critical texts by specialists in Canadian theatre will be studied. Prerequisite: 6 credits from ENGL 1005/1205/1705. Students may not retain credit for both ENGL 3416 and ENGL 4416. (sem 3) (3 cr)"



The course is arranged roughly around basic themes in Canadian drama.  These include:


A seminar is an adventure in learning during which we pool our resources and all learn from one another, students sharing equal responsibility with the professor for the success of each meeting. Since this is a senior seminar, your responsibility to fellow seminarians is great—and engaged participation in the course and near perfect attendance are required. The course will be primarily discussion based. Having carefully read and contemplated the texts/ topics under consideration, you must come prepared to share ideas and participate in the discussion. You must come prepared for vibrant, intellectually stimulating class discussions.



Because each week’s work builds upon the previous week’s work, discussions, seminars and lectures, and because assignments are numerous, full attendance is required. Students need to be in class to hone their oral skills in seminar and discussion situations. While a formal speech is not required, the ability to express oneself in a classroom situation is required.  Punctual and regular attendance at the various academic exercises is required of every student. After a class has begun, a student may not be admitted to the classroom without the instructor’s permission. If there are extenuating circumstances bearing upon a student’s absence, the instructor should be notified. Absences in excess of 20 per cent may jeopardize receipt of credit for the course.” (Quoted from Chapter 3, page 35 of the Academic Calendar.)

Important date: January 22 is the last date to withdraw from 2016W courses without academic penalty.


Cell phones must be switched off during the class as ringing telephones are distracting for the class and for the instructor. Laptops may be used for academic purposes only. Recreational use of Facebook and YouTube is not allowed in class. Again, this is because it is distracting for other students and is disrespectful to others in the room.




Upon successful completion of this course, you should be able to

• Explicate and interpret the plays you have read;

• Discuss the primary themes of these plays;

• Display a fair understanding of trends in Canadian drama from the 1940s to the present;

• Identify how the Canadian dramatic voice has been shaped by the political, geographical, and cultural milieu;

• Make connections between these plays and their historical, political, social, philosophical, religious, regional, literary, artistic and theatrical contexts;

• Read and respond to critical commentary on these plays.


Participation in seminars


Two formal presentations  (2 X 15)


Blog posts


Final exam





Please note that a missing assignments will result in a grade of zero (0) for that assignment until that assignment is handed in, which must be within one (1) week of the date the assignment was due.  A penalty of 10% per day, including weekends, will be assessed on all late assignments.  No make-ups will be permitted for in-class quizzes, announced or unannounced.



Wasserman, J., ed., Modern Canadian Plays, 5th ed., Volumes I and II (Talon Books, 2012).



  1. Plagiarism is a serious offence. It will not be tolerated. The University takes a very serious view of academic offences such as plagiarism, cheating, and impersonation. Regulations and procedures stipulated in the AU Student Code of Conduct (Academic) will apply and are available in the AU Academic Calendar, available online at http://www.algomau.ca/uploads/file/pdf/chapter_3.pdf.
  2. This course will give you a clear understanding of plagiarism and how to avoid it. If you have any questions about plagiarism, please come and ask me. I reserve the right to process your work through plagiarism detection software such as Turnitin.
  3. Intentional, gross, and egregious plagiarism will result in summary dismissal from the course, with a grade of F. and could result in your expulsion from the university.
  4. Careless plagiarism, resulting from sloppy research methodology and a lack of care and attention to the rules of citation, will result in a failing grade for that assignment.
  5. Accidental plagiarism, as an apparent result of the learning process, may result in lost marks, but not necessarily a failing grade for the assignment.



Assignments, including readings and exercises, should be prepared before the class periods in which they are to be collected or discussed. They are to be typed. Hand-written assignments will not be accepted. You will be responsible for completing all assignments even if you have been absent the day on which the assignment was given and/or collected. Please make arrangements to submit your assignments even if you are too ill to come to class.  All assignments are subject to change with one class period’s notice.


Assignment Format

  1. All assignments are supposed to encourage you to expand and deepen your thinking. They are one way for you to show me how well you can do the task assigned.
  2. All assignments must be typed, double-spaced, with adequate margins (1") all round. They should comply with MLA format.
  3. Every assignment must begin with a cover page that contains the following information:  Title and type of essay, your name, instructor's name, course and section, date due (and date submitted if different).
  4. Each subsequent page must show the student’s name and page number.
  5. All references and quotations must be cited in the appropriate manner.
  6. Each assignment should be submitted when scheduled.  In the unlikely event that an assignment must be submitted late, it must he handed in to the faculty secretary.



Here are a few very important items of information that should make it easier for you to understand and remember what will be expected of you in your English course this semester.


1.  MOST IMPORTANT  -  The seminar room should be a place where  we feel free and comfortable to explore, try new ideas, and make mistakes.  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES will we tolerate any students (or instructor) who taint this environment by making any degrading or disempowering gesture or comment that causes another student to feel unwelcome or uncomfortable.  You are encouraged to argue any point, but remember that it is the idea that you are disputing, not the person.


2.  ALSO IMPORTANT  -  Please let me know if there is anything (major or minor) which troubles or confuses you.  I cannot help you solve a problem if I do not know about it.


3.  If you cannot hear me or another student, please make this known immediately.


4.  Take care of all 'handouts' as I will not have extras.  Handouts will be distributed only on the day of the class.  Copies missed as a result of absence must be obtained from your colleagues.


5.  If you have been absent, check with a colleague to find out what you have missed, or refer to the schedule.  You also may find some guidance and information on the web site (http://eduventure.ca/ENGL3416A16W.htm) to find out what you have missed.  Then if you need further clarification, please contact me during office hours.


6.  Assignments must be handed in at the start of the class when they are due.  Late assignments must be handed in for comment.  Missing assignments will result in a grade of zero (0) for that assignment.  A late assignments will be assessed a penalty of 10 % per day, weekends included, and must be handed in within one (1) week of its due date, or a failing grade will be reported for that assignment.


7.  Hand in late assignments directly into my hand when I am not talking to another student.  Do not leave them on the desk or elsewhere, except with the departmental secretary, who will put them into my mailbox.


8.  ALWAYS save your rough copies and notes for an assignment until the end of the course.  This is for your own protection in case someone "borrows" your assignment and hands it in as his own.  Also, your rough work will serve as evidence that you are the author of the work you have handed in and have not "borrowed" it from someone.  Additionally, writing is a process, and you need to be able to show me that you are proficient in the process.  Finally, in the unlikely event that your assignment is lost, you can reconstruct a replacement, especially if you have saved a copy of the final hand-in on disk or on photo-copy.


9.  If, for some unfortunate but valid reason, you will not be able to complete an assignment on time, please consult with me to arrange for a mutually acceptable alternative without penalty.  I do understand that disasters of a personal or mechanical nature occur from time to time, and I do not believe that people should be penalized for events that are not under their control.  But you must talk to me to keep me informed.  One way to minimize the potential damages caused by these disasters is to prepare your assignments well ahead of time.  If you are unable to attend class, give your assignment to someone else to deliver to me or to the secretary.


10. Correct all errors as soon as your work is returned to you.  There is no point in my noting areas that could use improvement if you are going to ignore my suggestions.


11. If there is anything that you do not understand about the marking of a paper, or cannot correct, please consult with me before or after class, or make an appointment to see me.


12. You are responsible for the remediation of any grammatical and mechanical problems which you might have with your writing.  Sloppy writing will not be tolerated.






















           NOTE:  Revisions of this schedule may occur throughout the course as necessity and the needs of the students may require.

                                                                           Note:  “R”  =  Thursday 



Session #1 - Tuesday

Session #2 - Thursday


Jan 5-7



Themes in Native theatre


Jan 12-14



The Ecstasy of Rita Joe


Dry Lips Outta Move to Kapuskasing


Jan 19-21



Bordertown Cafe  (I: 325)


Blood Relations


Jan 26-28



Sticks and Stones: The Donnelly’s



Never Swim Alone (I:83)


Feb 2-4



Les Belles-Soeurs  (I:59)


7 Stories (II:53)


Feb 9-11



Leaving Home  (I:93)


Kim’s Convenience  (II:475)

Feb 16-18

Reading Week



Feb 23-25



Billy Bishop Goes to War (I:201)


Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)   (I:389)


Mar 1-3



The Shape of a Girl  (II:2730


Drag Queens on Trial (I:301)


Mar 8-10






Mar 15-17





Mar 22-24





Mar 29-31


Wrap-up Conference

Themes to be announced

Wrap-up Conference

Themes to be announced