Current Courses (2017/18)

The courses listed below are offered in 2017-2018. 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 2017

GS/HUMA 6146 3.0 Borders of Knowledge: Metis Thought in International Contexts

Time: Monday & Tuesday 4:00pm - 7:00pm
Location: DB 0009
Professor: David McNab
NOTE: This course is in the D2 Session - July 4 - 31, 2017

Course Description:

This research seminar explores, through a comprehensive Indigenous (Metis-meaning miscere-mixed) framework the character and the methods of Metis Thought in an International context. It examines a variety of applications of Metis Thought, from the perspective of Metis persons, including, among others, the issues of Metis and non-Metis governments, International diplomacy, Metis Music and Literature, including historical writings, filmmaking and other media. Topics explored will include, among others, the international iconography of Louis Riel, the formation of Metis identities, and their development around the globe in their communities, the resistance movements since the 19th century and the advent of multiculturalism and transnational policies. The students will also participate in forms of experiential Metis education through small scale field projects involving Metis issues.  Guest speakers will be brought in to illustrate Metis Thought.

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

Fall Term 2017

GS/HUMA 6148 3.0: Narrative: Theory and Interpretation

Time: Friday 11:30am - 2:30pm
Location: MC 101A
Professor: Matthew Clark

Course Description:

Narrative is a fundamental human characteristic - perhaps as fundamental as language. This course investigates narrative theory and interpretation in literature, but also with some attention to narrative in history, philosophy, social science, and even in natural science. Topics may include rhetorical and cognitive narratology, mimesis, the role of character in narrative, point of view, and plot grammars. Scholars whose work may be studied include Wayne Booth, Erich Auerbach, Kenneth Burke, Dorrit Cohn, Mieke Bal, Peter Rabinowitz, Monika Fludernik, and James Phelan.

GS/HUMA 6204 3.0: Holocaust Narratives: Exploring the Limits of Representation”

Time: Monday 2:30pm - 5:30pm
Location: VH 1152
Professor: Sara Horowitz

Course Description:

This course examines fictional and life-writing narrative representations of the Holocaust.  Through close readings of a variety of texts including diaries, memoirs, novels and stories, the course looks at the place of atrocity and loss in shaping memory and writing history.

GS/HUMA 6215 3.0: Secularism And Its Challenges

Time: Thursday 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: MC 216
Professor: Amila Buturovic

Course Description:

The course 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 6233 3.0: Faith, Reason, Atheism: European Thought and the Irreducibly Other

Time: Thursday 4:00pm - 7:00pm
Location: MC 101A
Professor: Avron Kulak

Course Description:

This course examines the relationships among the European discourses of faith, reason, and atheism in order to assess the thesis that their disparate approaches to conceiving not only the individual but also relations among individuals are connected by their commitment to a standard or principle - God, the categorical imperative, the Übermensch… - that, in being irreducibly other, renders each individual other than her- or himself.  Central to the course are the following questions.  If each of faith, reason, and atheism is founded on bringing the self into relationship with that which is irreducibly other, how are we to understand the relationships among their proponents?  What, in other words, is to be made of Kant invoking the authority of Jesus as support for his claim that the origin of the divine lies in reason; of Kierkegaard limiting the omnipotence of God to human freedom; of the claim on the part of Nietzsche, after announcing the death of God, that he begins and ends with faith?  Overall, the course addresses itself to the question of whether a focus on faith, reason, and atheism as founded on a conception of the human being as constituted by the irreducibly other provides a hermeneutical basis for thinking about the interconnections - for working through the multiple and often conflictual relationships - among these apparently disparate discourses in European thought.  Key texts of ancient Greek philosophy and central books of the Bible will be read in order to provide the background, at once historical, ethical, and ontological, that is essential for exploring the relationships among faith, reason, and atheism in modernity.

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

Winter Term 2018

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

Time: Thursday 11:30am - 2:30pm
Location: VH 1152
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.

GS/HUMA 6207 3.0: Religion and Contemporary Cinema

Time:  Thursday 2:30pm - 6:30pm
Location: MC 215
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 6309 3.0: Essays in the Philosophy of Freedom

Time: TBA
Location: RS 202
Professor: Joan Steigerwald

Course Description:

This course 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. (Cross-listed to GS/SPT 6137)

GS/HUMA 6327 3.0: lntermedial Bloomsbury: Literature, Visual Art, and the Omega Workshop

Time: Thursday 4:00pm- 7:00pm
Location: MC 101A
Professor: Elicia Clements

Course Description:

Although the concept of intermediality has been defined in various ways--as a bridge between medial differences, for example, or, as the combination and adaptation of several media--it is often understood as representative of our current cultural moment, indicative of the interconnectedness of modern media. Yet, the members of the Bloomsbury Group (an oscillating yet somewhat congealed community that developed around Virginia Woolf and her sister, Vanessa Bell) were earnest about their interart aesthetic at the beginning of the twentieth century. This course examines what might now be called a proto-intermedial impetus in Bloomsbury. Exploring the writings of Virginia and Leonard Woolf, Roger Fry,
Lytton Strachey, E. M. Forster and others, together with the painting, sculpture, textiles, and
decorative arts of Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, and those involved in the Omega Workshop, we will investigate what Virginia Woolf might have meant when she claimed that "Hamlet or a Beethoven quartet is the truth about this vast mass that we call the world ... we are the words; we are the music; we are the thing itself."
(Cross-listed to GS/EN 6591)

GS/HUMA 6334 3.0: A History of Reading: Texts and Artifacts from Antiquity to the Digital Age

Time: Wednesday 2:30pm - 5:30pm
Location: SC 220
Professor: Antionio Ricci

Course Description:

The course 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 focussing on the dynamic relationship between the tangible objects that carry words into the world — manuscripts, printed books, and digital media — and the intangible entity of the text, the verbal work not limited to any one physical artifact. The course draws upon various approaches, theories, and methodologies that embrace the question of reading: the history of books, philosophy, literary studies, and intellectual and cultural history. Topics considered may include the physiology of reading, private and public reading, literature and artifacts, aesthetic value, sacred reading, the modalities by which the material forms of written communication shape textual meaning and the reading experience, word and image, orality and literacy, and the influence of historical context on authors and readers. The principal geographical focus of the course is on Europe, the Mediterranean and the Americas, but topics related to non-Western traditions of reading can be selected by students for assignments.
The topics considered are illustrated by material preserved in the Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections at York University and the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto. (Cross-listed to GS/EN 6334)

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

Time: Tuesday 11:30am - 2:30pm
Location:  VH 1152
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)

Fall/Winter Term 2017-2018

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

Time: Tuesday 4:00pm-7:00pm
Location: MC 215
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.

GS/HUMA 6310 6.0:Contexts Of Victorian Science

Time: Wednesday 11:30am - 2:30pm
Location:  VH 1152
Professor: Bernie Lightman

Course Description:

Contexts of Victorian Science. This course focuses on nineteenth century
British and European science and its social, political, cultural, and intellectual contexts. Adopting the contextualist approach to the history of science allows us to raise a series of provocative questions: in what way did all of these different contexts shape the  nature  of nineteenth century scientific thought? How were scientific  facts  socially constructed? What was it about the nineteenth century context that led many intellectuals to reject Christianity and embrace science as providing a new, privileged form of knowledge? Included among the topics to be covered are the discourse of natural theology, the politics of geological controversy, Scottish philosophy and phrenology, radical working class
Lamarckianism in England during the 1830s, the plurality of worlds debate, science an gender, the professionalization of science, English scientific naturalism and German scientific materialism,the literary structure of Darwin's Origin of Species, Darwinian theory and its ideological uses, and late nineteenth century physics and psychics. This course will be of interest to students of British, European, social, and intellectual history.
(Cross-listed to GS/HIST 5830, GS/SPTH 6100A, GS/STS 6305)

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.