Tiffany Potter


I have taught in the UBC Department of English since 1999, and was awarded the Fairclough Teaching Prize in 2006. I currently co-facilitate the New Faculty Community of Practice in collaboration with the Centre for Teaching and Learning Technology.

Selected Recent Courses:

  • ENGL 357: Smut, Decadence and Philosophy: 18th-Century Libertinism
    Libertinism is much more than the elite masculinist subculture of smut and decadence for which it is often mistaken. It is also a philosophical and ideological stance, informed by eighteenth-century ideas of power, economy, religion, identity, and sexuality. The aim of this course is first to come to terms with the mercurial qualities of libertinism over the Restoration and eighteenth century, and then to consider its symbiotic relationship with the culture that both informed and was informed by it. We will begin with the historical and philosophical contexts of libertinism, including the works of Thomas Hobbes and Bernard Mandeville. We will then consider a series of literary texts in this context, including work by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, Aphra Behn, George Etherege, Samuel Richardson and Henry Fielding. In addition to these canonical figures, we will consider some relatively less-represented female writers such as Mary Davys, Eliza Haywood, and Elizabeth Cooper in an effort to begin to come to terms with the possibility of a female libertine, and with the implications of the discourse for women and other non-hegemonic social groups.
  • ENGL 357: Gender and Indigeneity in the Eighteenth Century
    Eighteenth-century England widely imagined its own prescriptive models of both masculinity and femininity as natural, rather than as performative indicators of identity and status. The first portion of the course will focus on the notion of gender in England, though poetry by Behn, Pope, Swift, and Montagu, and novels by Haywood, Davys and Richardson. The last third of the course will focus upon how these constructions of gender were imported to the North American colonial arena, now assumed not just natural, but universal as well. We will read some short early contact narratives, Mary Rowlandson’s story of her capture by the Algonquin, and Robert Rogers’ heroic tragedy Ponteach. This course combines both canonical and less-known literary texts with cultural documents to allow us to engage a wide scope of perspectives on issues of gender and race in the eighteenth century.
  • ENGL 358: Eighteenth-Century Drama
    After the silence of the Puritan Commonwealth, London’s theatres burst into social, artistic and ideological prominence with the restoration of King Charles II. Through heroic drama, tragedy, burlesque, laughing comedy, weeping comedy, and laughing comedy again, plays contributed to cultural dialogues on the relative identities of the nation and the individual through such conflicting elements as noble heroics, brilliant wit, political subversion, historical revisionism, and some rather explicit sex. Our approach will allow us to consider the ways in which English playwrights both echoed and reinscribed ideas of heroic masculinity and femininity, sexuality and marriage, intellectualism and passion, violence and its burlesques, as well as the ways in which the dramatic genres of the era embraced both spectatorship and readership and made the political into the (very) personal. Playwrights include Dryden, Buckingham, Behn, Etherege, Wycherley, Congreve, Farquhar, Steele, Fielding, Goldsmith, Sheridan and Robert Rogers. Our last play will examine how these values of performative identity and community translate into other national and racial contexts.
  • ENGL 490: Women and Popular Culture in the Eighteenth Century
    Studies of modern popular culture have illuminated the complex relationships that individuals and groups maintain with the larger artistic, political, and social movements around them. Through detailed engagements with representations of women’s popular culture, this seminar group will work collaboratively to illuminate the relationships among high culture, women’s culture, and popular culture, and the ways in which the conventional masculinization of high culture creates the feminine as the popular. Recognition of the historically naturalized links between the feminine and the popular in fiction (both frivolous, both products of fashion, both determined by performance and consumption) will provide a scaffold for our work in other literary and cultural contexts that have previously been regarded as separated by less nuanced boundaries of high and low culture. Texts will include works by Aphra Behn, Delarivier Manley, Richard Steele, Eliza Haywood, Mary Davys, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Samuel Johnson, and Jane Austen.
  • ENGL 490: Captivity and Indigeneity in Eighteenth-Century North America
    Gender, masculinity and femininity were ideas widely believed firmly understood in eighteenth-century North America; the idea of race, however, was only coming to be defined in scientific terms in the second half of the century, and in popular and literary terms, ideas of difference yielded wildly conflicting theories and experiences. One of the most intriguing sites for this contention was in the newly-invented genre of the captivity narrative. Illuminated by ethnographies, fiction, and one play published across the period, this 15-student seminar will examine the literary and cultural implications of the captivity narrative, which brings together elements of fiction, history, ethnography, conduct book, and sermon to entrench cultural norms in early America and Canada, and to reflect on the cultural values of parent cultures back home in Europe. We will examine a combination of literary, historical and theoretical texts to engage constructions of gender and race originating in and imported to the North American colonial context, to consider how they were used as a preliminary vocabulary for imagining and reporting the Indigenous nations and individuals encountered there for literary and political markets.