ENGL 495


Senior English Seminar


Dr. Philip Mingay


credits 3(hrs lect 0 - hrs sem 3 - hrs lab 0)


This course is designed to help graduating English literature students to explore in depth foundational questions in the discipline. Students study basic methods of research with special attention to problems in scholarship in English literature. The course involves a research project leading to a scholarly critical essay.

Prerequisites: Six credits in English at the 300-level




Selected readings will be provided for discussion in our Schedule below. Excerpts from Literature Through the Eyes of  Faith, In Bed with the Word, and others will be linked on the website or placed on reserve in the library. 


Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. 3rd ed. Manchester, England: Manchester UP, 2009.

I have additional copies of this book.   

Early in the term, students will identify an author/text for independent study. This primary material will be supplemented with substantive secondary source research. To keep the project manageable, please select from one of the following texts:


Timothy Findley. Not Wanted on the Voyage

Joseph Boyden. The Orenda 

Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Scarlet Letter

Mary Shelley. Frankenstein

Yann Martell. Life of Pi

Joseph Conrad. Heart of Darkness

William Shakespeare. The Tempest

Charlotte Bronte. Jane Eyre

Thomas King. The Back of the Turtle

Harper Lee. To Kill and Mockingbird

Flannery O’Connor.  Selections from A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories

Poetry selections TBA

Some of these texts you may have encountered before in your introductory English courses.  If you wish, this may be an opportunity to re-examine familiar texts in a more profound and scholarly fashion. 



Journal Responses


Annotated Bibliography


Formal Outline


Research Essay





This course is designed to raise students’ awareness of how and to what extent their Christian values inform their interpretations of literature. As third-year students of English, students already understand that every act of reading is an act of interpretation. This course will sharpen that awareness and provide analytical skills to discern assumptions at work in our own writing as well as that of others, including discussions of the various schools of literary theory. Through this increasing awareness, the course will call students to a higher accountability for the integration of their faith and learning in their literary studies. Topics will include:

  • Situating ourselves as critic-readers
    • Contextualizing our reading histories
    • Understanding the role literary theory
    • Recognizing assumptions in Christian critics
    • Considering our own assumptions
    • Establishing the direction of our research projects
  • Formulating our research projects
    • Finalizing our selection of author/text(s)
    • Major research component: compiling notes and bibliography
  • Drafting our Outlines
  • Writing our Final Research Papers

 The course will involve self-assessment in the form of journal entries, discussion of assigned readings, and a major analytical research project. The project will include an annotated bibliography and a formal outline, and the final research essay itself. Detailed instructions for each phase will be distributed throughout the term. However, for research links and information, we will piggyback the Other Resources page for ENGL 405. You will also be asked to lead discussion for one class and relate the reading for that day to your own theoretical perspective. 

Students will be self-directed in their research and will meet individually with the instructor on established dates to discuss and submit their stages of progress.




Subject of Discussion

January 5-7

Introduction/Syllabus Distribution

What is Theory?  What is Literature?

Eagleton, "What is Literature?"


Assumptions About Faith and Literature

Clouser, "The Myth of Religious Neutrality (Intro and as much of Chapt 2 as possible)

Spencer, "What Counts as Christian Criticism?"

Coleman, "Posture," from In Bed with the Word (on reserve)

Discussion Leaders:


Literature Though the Eyes of Faith (Chapt 11)

Discussion Leaders: Sieger, Breanna


No class: IS Conference


Recognizing Your Direction

New Criticism and Reader Response

Discussion Leaders: Ally, Keri

February 2-4

Recognizing Your Direction

Feminism and Deconstruction

Application: Bennett and Royle, Reading Gender

Discussion Leaders: Danica, Tara


Recognizing Your Direction

Postmodernism, Postcolonialism

Smith, "Is the Devil from Paris?"

Christianity and Postmodernism

Journal Entries due Feb 11

Discussion Leaders: Sunna, Renae


Reading Week: no classes

23-March 11

class (if necessary)

Outlines and Research meetings

Outline due March 4

16-April 1

Annotated Bibliography due March 18


Final Research Paper due April 8



Rise of Theory




Academic dishonesty is a serious offence with potentially disastrous consequences, and I intend to hold you to the highest standards of integrity and honesty. Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with University policies regarding scholarly ethics and academic integrity (see current King's calendar).

There is a zero tolerance policy and multiple incidents may affect your academic record. Stiff penalties apply for offenders:

•  First offense = automatic zero on the assignment.

•  Second offense = automatic failure of the course.

•  Subsequent offense = convening of Discipline Committee with power to recommend penalties up to and including expulsion from the University.

Please discuss with me any concerns you may have regarding your research or other matters.  I will also address plagiarism and proper citation methods throughout the semester, and post information on our website.


Students with documented disabilities who desire accommodation must make themselves known to the Student Life Office as soon as possible. In order to receive the services you require, appropriate documentation must be on file; in some instances, additional financial supports may be available. You will need to provide the office with a copy of your documentation that states the nature of the disability and the accommodation services you require.  Requests for accommodations should be made during the first 3 weeks of the semester. Contact the Student Life Office directly in office A125, by email at or by phone at 780-465-8309.


Department of English

Student Academic Support Services