Courses

Current Courses (2019/20)

The courses listed below are offered in 2019-2020. The Humanities Program is distinctive in its explicit focus on interdisciplinary scholarship in practice and in theory. It builds on the tradition in Humanities at York of reading a broad diversity of texts, both historical and contemporary, which range from works of literature, religion, philosophy, science, and politics to oral traditions, visual arts, and music.

Fall Term 2019

GS/HUMA 6157 3.0: Comparative and World Literature Seminar: History and Practice

Time:  Monday 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Location:
Professor: Susan Ingram

Course Description:

This seminar introduces students to the conditions of emergence and development of the discipline of Comparative Literature from its beginnings in nineteenth-century Europe to its most recent global iteration of World Literature. Students will experience how expanded understandings of cultural translation and textuality have radically altered and expanded the Eurocentric character of the discipline.

Questions for investigation include (with the emphasis changing from year to year): What are the politics (the stakes, the ethics, the costs) of practicing Comparative Literature? How do those compare with the practice of World Literature? How do they relate to colonial, post-colonial, diasporic, cultural, translation studies and digital humanities? How are Comparative Literature and World Literature practiced in different locations? What role has the globalization of capital played in the formation of the discipline? How are theoretical and methodological decisions and approaches such as World Literature redefining the discipline?

Texts will include theoretical and methodological readings by Theodor Adorno, Emily Apter, Erich Auerbach, Pascale Casanova, Wai Chee Dimock, David Damrosch, Charles Mill Gayley, J.W. von Goethe, Édouard Glissant, Johann Gottfried Herder, Kobayashi Hideo, Djelal Kadir, Franco Moretti, Bruce Robbins, Edward Said, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Germaine de Staël, Lawrence Venuti, Ng?gi? wa Thiong'o, René Wellek, and others.

To ensure some continuity, it is recommended that The Princeton Sourcebook in Comparative Literature (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2009) initially serve as core text, with complementary readings. (Cross-listed to EN 6157 & TRAS 6157)

GS/HUMA 6228 3.0: Religion, Secularism and the Colonial Encounter

Time:  Thursday 2:30 pm - 5:30 pm
Location: R S501
Professor: Alicia Turner

Course Description:

This course explores the history of category "religion" and its deployment in the colonial projects of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The rise of secularism in Europe was a process of defining certain discourses, practices and experiences as "religious" and isolating them as distinct from social and political aspect of life, a worldview and orientation. This way of knowing and ordain the world did not easily translate into the cultures colonized by European powers. Looking at case studies from Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, this course will explore how religion became a vector of colonial power in the hands of missionaries and others and a means of resisting colonial hegemony for colonial subjects. Furthermore, it will investigate the ways in which contesting the meaning and definition of "religion" became a way of negotiating the limits of colonial authority. Key texts would include Tomoko Masuzawa, The Invention of World Religions, Talal Asad, Genealogies of Religion, Jean and John Comaroff, Of Revelation and Revolution, Bruce Lincoln, Theorizing Myth, Richard King, Orientalism and Religion, Markus Dressler and Arvind-Pal S. Mandair, Secularism and Religion Making, Saba Mahmood, Religious Difference in a Secular Age, Penny Edwards Cambodge.

GS/HUMA 6234 3.0: Ethics and Alterity: Connecting Disparate Discourses in European Thought

Time:  Thursday 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Location:
Professor: Avron Kulak

Course Description:

In this course we read six texts – Descartes’ Discourse on Method, Kant’s Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, Nietzsche’s The Gay Science, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and Kafka’s The Trial – that are among the most debated (infamous, problematic, misunderstood…) in modern European religious thought, philosophy, and literature.  We do so in order to pose the question of whether an ethics of alterity is presupposed by, and thus allows readers to establish the interconnections among, thinkers whose texts are often viewed as involving disparate, even opposed, discourses.  Central to the course, then, is the following problematic.  Descartes develops his cogito (involving the necessary existence of both divine and human being), Kant his concept of reason (his grounding for morality), Kierkegaard his concept of faith (his suspension of ethics), Nietzsche his concept of atheism (involving the death of God), and Shakespeare and Kafka their literary responses to the problematic relationship between the individual and the universal by making central to their interpretive enterprises not only the inviolable singularity of both self and other but also the idea that the self has no existence outside the other – the idea that the self, in order to be itself, must, from the beginning, be other than itself.  How, then, in light of these shared commitments – commitments that connect ethics and alterity – are we to understand the apparent oppositions between faith and reason, between faith and atheism, between philosophy and literature, and between literature and religion – oppositions that beset so much of (post-)modern theory?  Overall, the course addresses itself to the question of whether a focus on the values that underpin religious, philosophical, and literary texts provides a basis for thinking about the interconnections – for working through the often conflictual relationships – among diverse thinkers and disciplines in modern European thought.

 

GS/HUMA 6239 3.0: Understanding Exegesis in Select Philosophical Texts

Time:  Tuesday 8:30 am - 11:30 am
Location: R S501
Professor: Stan Tweyman

Course Description:

For Philosophy to prosper, Descartes speaks of the need of philosophy to emulate geometry, and Hume talks of the need of philosophy to emulate Newtonian physics. These respective claims are misleading, inasmuch as their methodologies, in fact, vary, according to the work and topic. With Descartes, we focus on his Regulae and Meditations; with Hume, his Treatise of Human Nature and Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.

GS/HUMA 6245 3.0: Future Cinema

Time:  Wednesday 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Location: CFT 137B
Professor:

Course Description:

Examines the shift from traditional cinematic spectacle to works probing the frontiers of interactive, performative, and networked media. Drawing upon a broad range of scholarship, including film theory, communication studies, cultural studies and new media theory, the course will consider how digital technologies are transforming the semiotic fabric of contemporary visual culture. Our focus will be on the phenomenon Gene Youngblood described three decades ago as ‘expanded cinema’—an explosion of the frame outward towards immersive, interactive and interconnected (i.e., environmental) forms of culture. (Crosslisted to: GS/FILM 6245 3.00, GS/CMCT 6507 3.00)

 

GS/HUMA 6322 3.0: Modernism, Interdisciplinarity, and the Arts

Time:  Friday 11:30 am - 2:30 pm
Location: R S501
Professor:

Course Description:

Examines the literary, musical, and visual cultures of modernism to create better understanding of the forms, meanings, and significance of interdisciplinary art practices. (Crosslisted to: GS/EN 6549 3.00)

GS/HUMA 6330 3.0: Contemporary Perspectives on Sound

Time:  Monday 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Location: R S501
Professor: David Cecchetto

Course Description:

This course considers sound as a social, aesthetic, historical, material, and political phenomenon, highlighting how it integrates with contemporary artistic practices. Students learn about sound art and experimental music; be introduced to the physics of sound; and explore how sonic and extra-sonic forces collide. Through these foci, the course addresses the cultural politics of sound, sound-making, hearing, and performance.

GS/HUMA 6332 3.0: Evolution and Victorian Culture

Time:  Wednesday 11:30 am - 2:30 pm
Location: R S501
Professor: Bernie Lightman

Course Description:

An exploration of the dynamic interplay between evolution and a wide range of Victorian cultural activities including painting, sculpture, dance,music, fiction, poetry, cinema, architecture, theatre, photography, museums, exhibitions, and popular culture. The emphasis is on the different concepts of evolution that were at play and how they were appropriated for different cultural uses.

GS/HUMA 6334 3.0: A History of Reading

Time:  Wednesday 2:30pm - 5:30pm
Location: VH 1152
Professor: Antonio Ricci

Course Description:

Examines the nature and history of reading from an interdisciplinary perspective. What does reading mean? What have books meant to readers from antiquity to the present day? The course addresses these questions by focusing on the dynamic between the tangible objects that carry words into the world — manuscripts, printed books, digital media— and the intangible verbal text.  (Crosslisted to: GS/EN 6334 3.00)


(Note: The day/time/locations may change)

Winter Term 2020

GS/HUMA 6100 3.0: Shadows on the City of Light: Paris, 1938-1968

Time:  Thursday 2:30 pm - 5:30 pm
Location:   BC 228
Professor: Sara Horowitz

Course Description:

This interdisciplinary course focuses on the place of Paris in literary writing during and about a fraught era that encompasses the Nazi occupation of the city during WWII; the emerging discourse about deportation, resistance and collaboration; the African American diaspora; the Algerian War; and the student revolution. Discussions engage the spatial turn in literary studies and memory studies.

GS/HUMA 6135 3.0: The Making of Asian Studies: Critical Perspectives

Time:  Thursday  2:30 pm - 5:30 pm
Location: R S133
Professor: Laam Hae

Course Description:

Offers a historical examination of the multiple, overlapping processes through which Asian identities and regions were constituted. It will also examine new directions in Asian studies in an era of intensified global flows, transnationalism, and the presence of Asian diaspora in Canada and elsewhere. (Crosslisted to: GS/GEOG 5700 3.00, GS/SOCI 6745 3.00, GS/ANTH 5500 3.00, GS/CMCT 6136 3.00, GS/HIST 5480 3.00)

GS/HUMA 6159 3.0: The Nation and Its Women

Time:  Thursday 11:30 am - 2:30 pm
Location: R S501
Professor: Shobna Nijhawan

Course Description:

This course interrogates the relationship of women and nations in history and the present day. It begins with foundational texts from scholarship on colonial history and gender studies before delving into specific regional, national and transnational feminist contexts. The primary sources cover social reformist, nationalist and British colonial documents alongside less-commonly known literary expressions composed in different South Asian vernaculars.

GS/HUMA 6207 3.0: Religion and Contemporary Cinema

Time:  Wednesday 2:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Location: R S501
Professor: Jamie Scott

Course Description:

This course brings into conversation the interpretive vocabularies of Religious Studies and Film Studies. It provides students with opportunities to study and research the ways in which contemporary cinema narrativizes, problematizes, recontextualizes and celebrates religious myths, histories, rituals and doctrines.

GS/HUMA 6215 3.0: Secularism and its Challenges

Time:  Wednesday 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Location: R S156
Professor: Amila Buturovic

Course Description:

Examines the ideas and principles of secularism as enacted against the backdrop of religious resurgence in several cultural contexts. It explores different interpretations of the secular idea in an attempt to understand, through comparison, the patterns of religious/secular interaction.

GS/HUMA 6309 3.0: Essays in the Philosophy of Freedom

Time:  Thursday 11:30 am - 2:30 pm
Location: R S536
Professor: Joan Steigerwald

Course Description:

Examines important texts on the philosophy of human freedom in modern continental philosophy from the late eighteenth to late twentieth centuries. It focuses on essays by Kant, Schelling, Heidegger and Žižek, in which the later essays interrogate the earlier essays. (Crosslisted to: GS/SPTH 6137 3.00)

GS/HUMA 6333 3.0: History of Things

Time:  Wednesday 11:30 am - 2:30 pm
Location: R S501
Professor: Katey Anderson

Course Description:

This course explores critical debates and interdisciplinary research methods employed in the study of material objects. It draws on case studies and theoretical work on material culture, display, and representation to consider the influence of the 'material turn' on contemporary scholarship and on historical and curatorial practices. (Crosslisted to: GS/CMCT 6133 3.00, GS/HIST 5740 3.00)

GS/HUMA 6500 3.0: Advanced Practices and Methodologies in Humanities Research

Time:  Tuesday 4:00pm - 7:00pm
Location: BSB 203
Professor: Susan Ingram

Course Description:

The course provides PhD students with advanced tools for interdisciplinary Humanities scholarship. As the capstone course in their degree, it ensures that students are well versed in conducting, presenting and publishing research, with an emphasis on qualitative methods. Students practice, and reflect on, the framing of research topics and fields as well as the design and conducting of courses. They explore what constitutes a field of inquiry in interdisciplinary Humanities research, investigate affordances and limitations of disciplinary traditions and boundaries, and learn to identify approaches to scholarship that are relevant for their selected areas. The course thus supports the preparation of comprehensive exam lists and dissertation proposals while also providing students with an advanced theoretical and methodological apparatus for Humanities research.

HUMA 6500 Course Description

 


(Note: The day/time/locations may change)

Fall/Winter Term 2019-2020

GS/HUMA 5100 6.0 Core Practices and Methodologies in Humanities Research

Time: Tuesday 4:00pm-7:00pm
Location: R S501
Professor: Victor Shea

Course Description:

The course provides MA students with the core tools for interdisciplinary Humanities scholarship. It introduces basic techniques and methodologies of conducting, presenting and publishing research, with an emphasis on qualitative methods. Students practice, and reflect on, the process of planning, carrying out, and presenting research in ways that are adequate for specific contexts, topics, and problematics in the Humanities.

General Program Courses

  • Humanities 5000 3.0 & 6.0: Directed Readings for M.A. Students
    Permission of Program Director required.
  • Humanities 5002 0.0 M.A.: Major Research Paper
    Students will be required to demonstrate in a Major Research Paper their grasp of a subject within the interdisciplinary study of culture in Humanities. See Requirements for obtaining a MA in Humanities
  • Humanities 5100 6.0: Core Practices and Methodologies in Humanities Research
    The course provides MA students with the core tools for interdisciplinary Humanities scholarship.
    Mandatory course for MA students who are entering the program beginning Fall 2012.
  • Humanities 6000 3.0 & 6.0: Directed Readings for Ph.D. Students
    Permission of Program Director required.
  • Humanities 6500 3.0: Advanced Methodologies for Interdisciplinary Humanities
    PhD students will be required to enrol in this course as it is specifically targeted towards their Program Learning Objectives .
    Mandatory PhD course for students who are entering the program beginning Fall 2015.
  • Humanities 7000 0.0: PhD Dissertation Research
    No course credit.