I have now graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in English. At first, I was scared to graduate and join the so-called ~real world~ but now I am excited to start taking what I’ve learned here at Ryerson and putting it into practice. As I come to the end of my degree, I can easily look back and remember which courses I enjoyed the most.
It is important to note that every professor teaches each course a different way, so the books and topics I mention might not be the same ones you will get, depending on which professor you have. Be sure to refer to your program’s course calendar before signing up for ANY courses at Ryerson!
Every English student is required to take one practicum course to graduate, and my choice was creative writing. This course is my top pick because it offered a hands-on approach to creative writing, and completely changed how I viewed the creative process. My professor told us that a writer is not a secluded person typing alone in their attic, but rather a collaborative person who needs to engage with other writers in order to improve and succeed. For homework each week we would write one page of a creative piece (poem, story, screenplay, comic, whatever you like!) and bring it to the next class. In class we were assembled into random groups of four students and would take turns giving constructive criticism to the piece. This course improved my creative writing tremendously and was amazing to see how productive you can be when you work within a community of writers.
One of the reasons I chose English at Ryerson was because of the diverse course material you are able to engage with. I was in Literatures of Asia, and my professor has made it all about FOOD! We explored how food is political and the role it plays in fictional texts by Asian authors. My favourite book I read in this class was Hiromi Goto’s Chorus of Mushrooms, an experimental novel about three generations of Japanese women in Western Canada. Food in this novel acts as rejuvenation and a connection to the Japanese heritage of these three women, which was really interesting to learn about. I always came out of this class craving some sort of East Asian food, which is both a blessing and a curse.
In this class, I had a great time re-reading childhood favourites like Cinderella, Bluebeard (always freaked me out), and Jack and the Beanstalk. This class was interesting because it looked at the social issues and morals behind these stories that I had no idea about when I read them as a child. My professor had us read contemporary fantasies like The Hobbit and Pan’s Labyrinth, as well as feminist re-tellings of classics like Little Red Riding Hood. In the final assignment for this class, we had the option to create ~anything~ relating to the course material, so I wrote a comedic fairy tale mash-up. A classic for the ages.
If you are into freedom, jazz, highways, or Emily Dickinson, then this is the course for you. This course explores the American culture and literature from the 19th and 20th century, which is a cool way to learn about one of the world’s most iconic countries. The reason I enjoyed American Literature so much was because of the diverse course readings as well as discussion of contemporary issues. I took this course in the wake of the Ferguson protests in 2014, so it was shocking to see how texts from the early 1900s that dealt with American race relations were still relevant today.
In the 20th century, everyone was about making weird art and pushing the boundaries of literature and I LOVE that. Some of my favourite books of all time came from the course, most notably Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s The Thing Around Your Neck. What I liked about this course was that while it sounds like a broad topic, it explored specific aspects of the 20th century depending on the book we were studying. For example, we explored the Nigerian political landscape and migration to America when we read Achichie’s book, but when we read Carson’s novel we talked about how Greek myths were incorporated in literature.
Feature Image: research.archives.gov