Current Courses (2018/19)

The courses listed below are offered in 2018-2019. 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.

Summer Term 2018

GS/HUMA 6308 3.0 Images of Animals

Time: Tuesday & Thursday 11:00ampm - 2:00pm
Location: VC 105
Professor: Jody Berland
NOTE: This course is in the S1 Session - April 30 - June 11, 2018

Course Description:

Referring to literary and media sources, as well as historical, cultural and scientific texts, the course examines the creation, development and consequences of varied perspectives on non-human animals and on the viability of animals in a world dominated by humans.

Images of Animals 2018 description

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

Fall Term 2018

GS/HUMA 6107 3.0: Inventing Modernisms: Place and Sensibility

Time: Tuesday 11:30am - 2:30pm
Location: VC 119
Professor: Richard Teleky

Course Description:

This course explores the relation of Paris, a centre of cultural interchange, to the creation of early twentieth century modernist art and aesthetics. Issues such as displacement, exile, and immigration; primitivism; ethnicity and nationality; gender and sexuality; the interrelation of art forms, styles and community; and the impact of the First World War are discussed in the work of writers, visual artists and musicians, as well as how the historical memory of an art movement - and moment - is created.

GS/HUMA 6115 3.0: Straddling Modernity: Selfhood in 20th Century Japanese Literature, Film, and Art

Time: Wednesday 11:30am - 2:30pm
Location: MC 215
Professor: Ted Goossen

Course Description:

A critical examination of the interaction between traditional East Asian and "modern" constructions of subjectivity and the self, focused on late 19th and 20th century Japanese literature, art, and film. No prior knowledge is required, and comparative approaches are welcomed.

GS/HUMA 6153 3.0: The Reader: Examining the Culture of Readers and Representations of Readers in Literature, Film, and Other Arts

Time:  Wednesday 2:30pm - 5:30pm
Location: MC 214
Professor: Priscila Uppal

Course Description:

This course explores the act of reading as a complex cultural practice and examines how readers and reading have been represented in various artistic genres including literature, film, and visual art. We will discuss and debate diverse approaches and theories regarding the purpose and practice of reading, as well as how theories of reading and readership affect both the production and dissemination of literary texts. The course's focus on the figure of "The Reader" is intended to raise provocative and vital questions related to the practice of reading and the representation of readers, ranging from issues of preserving and/or fostering cultural and intellectual knowledge, to issues of privilege, censorship, book club culture, among many others.

GS/HUMA 6158 3.0: Law, Literature and Visual Culture: Case Studies

Time:  Tuesday 11:30am - 2:30pm
Location: RS 501
Professor: Vermonja Alston

Course Description:

This course follows the inductive case studies approach characteristic of legal methodology and pedagogy. But rather than track legal precedent from one case to another, we examine how literary, visual, and performance arts engage with the historically significant legal opinions and statutes that constitute primary texts for legal scholars and practitioners. The first iteration of the course takes as its foundation the engagement of literary, performance, and visual culture with courtroom narratives, documents, and case law, including, but not limited to:
o The Nuremberg and Eichmann trials engaged by lawyer-objectivist poet Charles Reznikoff in Holocaust;
o Reznikoff's condensation of U.S. courtroom narratives of racial injustice in Testimony;
o Lord Mansfield's decision in the English legal case, Gregson v. Gilbert, regarding the recovery of insurance proceeds for the loss of human 'cargo' on the slave ship Zong, the subject of J. M. W. Turner's painting, "Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and
Dying-Typhoon Coming On," David Dabydeen's poem, Turner, novelist Fred D'Aguiar's Feeding the Ghost, lawyer-poet M. NourbeSe Philip's Zong, and most recently English director Amma Asante's Belle, a film that had its premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.

Law, performances, and literature all use language, imagery or actual images as a tool for ordering a world. Asante's film's dialogic relationship with the painting "Lady Elizabeth Murray and Dido Elizabeth Belle" has been a successful marketing strategy for Belle, while the backstory of Lord Mansfield's deliberations over Gregson v. Gilbert (1783), receives considerably less critical commentary. The popularity of images of the biracial family narrative (made possible by Mansfield's 1772 decision in Somerset v. Stewart) overshadows the less pleasing (aesthetically speaking) images and narratives of the transatlantic slave trade. The two images bookend this course.
(Cross listed to GS/EN 6980 3.0)

GS/HUMA 6229 3.0: The Return of the Religious in Contemporary Continental Thought

Time:  Thursday 2:30pm - 5:30
Location: VC 105
Professor: Mark Cauchi

Course Description:

For much of the late-19th and early-20th centuries, European philosophers, social and political theorists, and cultural critics accepted the so-called "secularization thesis" which posited that modernization leads to secularization. But, as the secularization thesis was increasingly called into question by various developments in the late-20th century, many theorists have had to re-think the relationship between secular and religious thought and culture. This course examines this resurgence of interest in religion in contemporary continental thought, but also serves as an introduction to the thought of the various major thinkers discussed. Drawing from among thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Jurgen Habermas, Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida, Julia Kristeva, Jean-Luc Marion, Jean-Luc Nancy, Alain Badiou, Giogio Agamben, and Slavoj Zizek, the course will include topics from among theism and atheism, faith and knowledge, creation/creativity/creatureliness, ontotheology, ethics, the (wholly) other, political theology, sovereignty, messianism, and the secular/postsecular. Because the course is dealing with European thinkers, the religions discussed are predominantly from the Abrahamic religions. One question the course will have to address, therefore, is the applicability of their claims to non-Abrahamic religiosity and, following upon this question, the question about what is religion. To respond to these latter questions, the course may draw upon the work of Jonathan Z. Smith, Talal Asad, and Saba Mahmood.

GS/HUMA 6335 3.0: Academic Conference Experience—Organization, Engagement, and Reflection

Time:  Monday 11:30am - 2:30pm
Location: VH 1152
Professor: David Cecchetto

Course Description:

This course offers experiential education through a full-spectrum engagement with an academic conference, offering the opportunity for scholarly participation in and reflection on the organization of a significant event (TBD, based on the year the course is offered). Participation includes ‘behind the scenes’ planning, but the course will primarily focus on extensive critical scholarly engagement with the conference’s academic materials both in their own right and insofar as they are amplified, attenuated, and modified by the conference as a form of collective knowledge-sharing.

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

Time:  Tuesday 4:00pm - 7:00pm
Location: MC 215
Professor: Markus Reisenleitner

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.

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

Winter Term 2019

GS/HUMA 6154 3.0: Introduction to Mindfulness: Understanding and Using Mindfulness in the Professions

Time: Tuesday 8:30am - 11:30am
Location: RS 536
Professor: Deborah Orr

Course Description:

There is a rapidly growing interest in the uses of mindfulness meditation in disciplines and professions as disparate as education, psychotherapy, social work, physics, environmentalism, business leadership, the arts, sports, and a multitude of others. This course will provide the student with an introduction to some of the major literature on and practices of mindfulness. This introduction will provide a survey of possible uses of mindfulness as well as an informed grounding in the main schools of thought that inform mindfulness practice.

GS/HUMA 6160 3.0: Knowledge's 'Other': Perspectives on Ignorance

Time:  Wednesday - 2:30pm
Location: MC 215
Professor: Sylwia Chrostowska

Course Description:

It is still taken for granted that philosophy and critical thinking lead to knowledge, including the knowledge of self. But where does one begin: is the starting point absolute ignorance, or is ignorance always already relative, definable by a low level of general knowledge, or a lack of competence in a specific domain? Does it make sense to speak of ignorance in cases where it is (still) absolute or in cases of feelings (love is known to be blind)? Where does thinking convert into knowledge, and become liable to ignorance, and based on what standards or currency? Does doubt belong to ignorance or to knowledge? What qualifies knowledge as critical? Do we take someone else's word for it? If so, is that knowledge, or just received opinion (however reputable)? How is it that the wisest man at a time when wisdom was a virtue was a man who claimed he knew nothing? Was he joking, ironic, or falsely modest? What might be the ethical uses and psychological abuses of this Socratic realization or total "ignorance-claim"? Do ignorance and knowledge exist on a continuum, or is ignorance simply the inverse of knowledge, and its history the negative of the history of knowledge (however dispersed)? Should ignorance be historicized in its own right? Can it be systematically studied and theorized, as a necessary part of a robust theory of knowledge? And how can we speak of an "epistemology of ignorance" without contradiction? Are we here at the very limit of thought?
The purpose of this seminar is to explore the cultural presence of ignorance, its historical and contemporary varieties (intentional, interested, honest, informed, etc.); its senses, orders, or uses (epistemological, ethical, sociological, economic, political, theological, psychoanalytic, etc.); its figures (the mob, the madman, the holy fool, the barbarian, the Dark Ages, etc.); and its overlap with a "family" of other concepts: stupidity, illiteracy, madness/folly, (Edenic) innocence, doubt, (objective or subjective

GS/HUMA 6165 3.0: Love Actually: Biblical, Medieval and Modern Hebrew Love Poetry (in Translation)

Time:  Wednesday 2:30pm - 6:30pm
Location: MC 216
Professor: Laura Wiseman

Course Description:

In this interactive seminar, participants examine biblical, medieval and modern Hebrew love poetry in English translation. The poems begin with the biblical collection known as the Song of Songs, progress to medieval poems of courtly love and musings on the period’s closely bound trio of wine, women and death (Scheindlin 1986), and erupt in the lyrical reflections and performative love poems of the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Participants identify, compare and contrast the characteristics, content, concepts and motifs of each layer; magnify their own capacity for close listening, close reading and strong readings; and build skills in literary analysis with an accent on discernment of intertextuality, especially its effects on and enrichment of the poems. Course readings consist of a combination of research and primary texts: conceptual frameworks pertaining to intertextuality and selected poetics, and translations of selected Hebrew poems. This seminar is crosslisted for students of Humanities, Education, Comparative Literature and World Literature, concerned with textual analysis of literary sources.

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

Fall/Winter Term 2018-2019

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

Time: Tuesday 4:00pm-7:00pm
Location: BC 225
Professor: Mark Cauchi

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.