your student life specialists

Archive for the ‘english’


corn pops and comp lit: being american at u of t

Dear askastudent,

So I just recently developed an interest in UofT for grad school. Canada seems pretty great, and I want to explore some other places in the world. I would go to school for Literature, which falls in the Arts and Sciences program if my research is correct. Anyway, I was just wondering if you could give some advice about what would be expected from life in Canada that differs from the states. Is there any way to go about making the tuition cheaper? What is the english/comp lit department like?

Any words of wisdom will suffice, like I said: simply curious! Thanks


Hi there oh curious American,

You asked the right guy! The handsome and mysterious genius behind askastudent may just be an American student, and may also just be doing the undergraduate program in Comparative Literature.

The Centre for Comparative Literature is a fantastic and well respected program. Literary theorist Northrop Frye is just one of the great academics who made their careers at the University’s Victoria College, and your colleagues and professors in the program are of the highest caliber. What that also means is that it’s pretty tough to get in! For starters, the masters program requires you to be highly proficient in at least one language other than English, and for the doctorate, at least two (some students have an arsenal of a half dozen).

Something else to consider: Despite the program’s high profile and prestige, humanities programs in Canada and at U of T are constantly under attack as academia angles towards more profitable ventures like science and business research. Just recently, the Centre for Comparative Literature was on the chopping block, and only thanks to spirited organizing and activism on the part of the students is it still intact.

There is also a larger Department of English, which I know less about except that my English TAs have always been big sweethearts! Poke around the sites and maybe you can see which program suits you.

As for being American in Canada, I can sincerely say it totally rules. The differences are minor, and can therefore sometimes be all the more surreal. Let me prepare you for a few:
– It’s more than likely that you will develop the subtle Canadian pronunciation of ‘out’ and ‘about.’ You might even pick up the dreaded ‘eh’ You won’t notice it until your American friends from home tease you for it, so it can be an ugly surprise, but you’ll learn to embrace it.
– About half of the words with spelling differences in British English maintain them here. ‘Colour,’ ‘favourite,’ ‘centre’ and ‘theatre’ are the first ones to learn, but you’ll be stretching it a bit if you use ‘globalization.’ Either way, I’ve never had a professor get on my case about it, despite my best efforts at losing sleep over it in my first year.
– Money is cute and bright here, and there’s lots more change.
– Hockey is the name of the game here.
– The corn pops are different– and much, much worse.
Regarding the tuition, there’s not much to be done- you’ll be paying international fees for at least a few years of your degree. Even if you get engaged your first week on campus, the process towards Canadian residence or citizenship is longer than a Master’s degree.

Here’s a helpful article about the experience of immigrating to Canada as an American: Immigrant with an Asterisk ()
Stay sweet, and kiss the land of the free for me!



one is the loneliness class capacity

Hi there,By any chance do you know of any place students have written about their experiences with ENG390Y1/392H1/393H1? I’m interested in taking an Individual Studies course next year and am curious about what students who have taken it have to say.Thanks!



Strangely enough, there are no forums dedicated to English Individual Studies courses. I actually haven’t heard of any students who have taken those courses. I bet they’re awesome though.

No, I’m not being sarcastic. A course where you propose the material is bound to be a pretty awarding experience. That close-knit experience with a professor will be super beneficial too; both for a reference and to develop your skills one-on-one.

Sometimes silence is a good thing. Hearing nothing about these courses probably means there are no huge complaints about them,




programs for bookworms

Hi aska,

I’m a second-year undergrad at UTSG, and I’ll get straight to the point: what’s the difference between the MAJ English and the MAJ Literary Studies (Comparative Literature)? The thing is, I want to be either a translator or work for a publishing house but I’m not sure which would be more beneficial to my (vague) goals.

Also, up until recently (literally, 10 minutes ago) I was registered with two subject PoSTs in French (the literature stream) and English, then I decided to change my English major to VicU’s literary studies program. Now, I just dropped two English courses and am 2nd on the waiting list for VIC201Y; I’m /still/ on the waiting list for an FSL course so I can’t even try to join the waiting list for VIC210Y… Both have a meeting section of 60 people and I’d be first on the waiting list for 210. Did I just shoot myself in the foot? Repeatedly? With a 10-gauge shotgun?

A second year who just can’t make up her mind.


Hey there. In fitting form, I will answer your two-part question in um, two parts.

1. While every program is different, doing Graduate Studies in English or Comparative Literature is a very different process. Take a look at the courses available in U of T’s Master’s English Program – the Canterbury Tales, Olde English. You’re doing the basic framework of British (and some American) literature. U of T’s Comperative Literature program on the other hand, offers interdisciplinary programs with the Women & Gender Studies program, for instance, or a class in psychoanalysis.

Basically you’re looking at the difference between Harold Bloom or Jacques Lacan.

If you’re intersted in doing more interdisciplinary stuff with your literature, or like reading work in translation, Comp Lit is probably the way to go. (Especially if you like reading work in translation!) If you want to go into publishing, it might make a hell of a lot more sense to look into Ryerson’s Publishing post-doc, where you will get actual applicable experience in publishing that will get you a job – and not just a thesis completed on Middle English phonetics, or whatever.

Can you tell I dislike academia? I will probably end up being a tool & die maker after all.

2. Obviously things have changed in the second week of classes – so maybe you have gotten into your classes after all? If not, you will have to retry taking those courses next year. The good news is that if you’re interested in Comp Lit. and English – Literary Studies is the best program at U of T to be in. There are small classes, great professors and really intriguing subject matter – and you probably won’t have to read any Chaucer! Take Julian Patrick’s Postmodern Film & Literature class when you get the chance and watch this Zizek movie.

Good luck!

xoxo, Askastudent


jonesing for jane austen

hey aska,

I just finished my first year as a lifesci kid and I’m going into my second
as an english/global health maj.

here’s my question:

is it safe to jump into a 300 level course (ENG307 to be exact) without
having taken a proper ENG course before?

This course doesn’t have any pre-reqs, and the anti-calendar gives it a
pretty awesome review (91% retake) But I’m a little hesitant because the
only ‘English’ course i took last year was hum199 (first year seminar on
poetry). I did really well, and English has always been my best subject, but
I don’t want to get ahead of myself and assume I’ll be alright for a 300

any advice? know anyone else i should talk to?

thanks in advance


So you’re into “Victorian Women Writers”, eh? I’m into Soviet Realists, myself.

Judging by the course description (and that promising anti calendar review!), this course seems like a good one to take for an English newbie such as yourself. Here’s why:

We will situate these texts in a range of contexts such as debates about nationality, class, race, and gender; generic conventions; and the material contexts of patronage and publishing. This section of ENG307H will also introduce you to basic reference and research sources for the study of eighteenth-century English literature and English literature generally. An online exercise on Blackboard will give you practice using these before you hand in your major research paper.

Just because it’s a 300 level course, doesn’t always make it difficult. It seems like this is more of a easy breezy survey course vibe, and not a difficult intensive seminar.

Just to be sure though, I’d contact the English Department and even possibly the English Students Union in the fall about additional help or prep work required for the course (they have probably also have students who’ve taken the course before and can offer some tips). Remember that the Writing Centre is always a totally helpful resource when it comes to writing papers.

Best of luck to you in your quest to learn more about these strange creatures called “women writers.”

xoxo, Askastudent


can’t read good, is hard english?

how would you rate the difficulty in english at u of t? as well, do you think you can give some advice to me since i’m planning to major in english? thank you :D!


English related quandery: do you think the late David Foster Wallace would have eventually added emoticons to his writing style? Hmm…

Okay, so being the intrepid Aska that I am, I investigated the question by asking English-alum, current Walrus intern and all-around babe Naomi Skwarna for her advice. Here’s what Naomi says about English at U of T:

It varies from prof-to-prof, subject-to-subject.

A Few Thingies I Know to be True:

There will always be a lot of reading

You will always do better if you take at least one critical theory class

Pick professors who you like, not subjects

It’s not hard like science-hard, but it is time-consuming and potentially

Compared to other University English programs, the material seems more
conservative, and grading is considerably harder. This is what I hear from
people at other schools

Hope that helps!
Thanks Naomi! If you’re interested in English and want to read works that are in translation, be sure to peruse the offerings at the Literary Studies program at Victoria College, particularly David Gilmour’s “Love and Sex In The Short Story” class. Sizzling.

xoxo, Askastudent


stand by me

In the calendar it says that the 200 courses are open to students who have obtained standing in 1.0 ENG FCE or in any 4.0 FCE. What exactly does it mean by obtained standing? Does it mean enrolled in?


Hey there, I checked out the English specifications in the calendar for what you had mentioned, but couldn’t find the exact sentence. Irregardless,? “Obtained Standing” means “passed the course.”? So if you’ve already passed one ENG credit previously, or four additional credits, you can take 200 level classes.

U of T English ain’t no Brock guide to Jane Austen. They’ve got like, way high standards.

xoxo, Askastudent


i think i might be too perfect

Hi. I was just wondering if a 94% average appears to be good enough for U of T SG for the humanities.? My English mark is an 80 and it says in the viewbook that particular attention is paid to English. Do you know what the approx. cut off for the english mark required is? Thanks.



like, how particular is particular?

So, I stumbled across this website while Googling (Google is your best friend…sometimes) and found the answers to my questions. Well, most of them anyway. There is just one thing I want to clarify. I applied to the Humanities Program at UofT. The Viewbook says that the university pays particular attention to my English marks. Now, I ended up with an 82 in the course (bear with me, I know you don’t like to hear about marks), and with my teacher that is about the best mark ever (according to my guidence councilor). With a different teacher, I could have ended up with a 90. So, what are my chances? Is 82 considered scratch-my-eyes-out horrible or passable? I know that it isn’t spectacular, so I’m not even going to go there. I have exhausted all possible resources available to me. So, please help me out. Before I hemorrhage out of sheer anxiety.

Thanks much.




How many Cardassians does it take to change a light bulb?

Due to the lack of elaborate information elsewhere, I have resorted to you. How exactly is ENG237? What books do you read and what kind of people are in the class? (the latter was a non-serious question, but feel free to answer it as seriously as you like)



How ?bout teaching art history? in English?

I am about to go into first year and at first was excited about going to UofT, but now…I’m not so sure. I’m going into English and Art History, but more and more I keep on thinking that I’m going to just end up waisting four years on something that will in the end be entirely useless! I’m not a brain, I can’t do math or science for shit. What the hell can I do with a BA in Art History and English?
Please, don’t suggest teaching, I hate children.




quit your whining and pick up a book

Uh, sorry to bug you like 10 minutes after I just submitted my first question(LOL) … but I just thought of another question. Needs answering, okay?!?!Alright so is Humanities really a useless stream to pursue? =[ In particular,English? Apparently the only thing to be is a teacher/professor … and thatdoesn’t sound appealing AT ALL.Noone has told me anything that I could be if I major in English.. thatprobably means I’m screwed. Fabulous … it’s a shame because I love creativewriting but come on, writing for the rest of my life? Uhh…

? (more…)


mesa needsa tudor

Hello! I’m in grade 11, and i want to go to univercity of toronto for Life
science. My average now is 86. all my marks are above 85 except English and
Physics. I know that U of T particularly look at the mark for English and Math.
I have 97 in math… and i suck at English… does it really matter in Gr 12
that my english mark needs to be over 85? I just dont think i can do it…all
my other subjects can be above 87 for sure…so does anyone have any great
ideas about how to get into u of t with a low english mark? Thanks a lot



some times generic can still be great…the rundown, perhaps?

If I got an ENG100H1 credit and a generic ENG1*** credit from my AP exams (which
I did), should I bother taking JEF100, or should I just take a second year Lit
course? Is there a really huge difference between first and second year English
I ask because now these AP credits count towards my 6 first year course
maximum, and I still need my science distribution credit. Or if I can take my
science distribution next year, it would be nice to have a backup course in
case I decide I want to change my program after first year. (more…)

  • Caution! student content ahead

    This site contains candid exchanges between students. Prepare yourself for vivid language and opinions.
  • Categories

  • Archives