Courses

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: Cancelled
Location: Cancelled
Professor: Cancelled
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 6147 3.0: Seminar in Psychoanalytic Theory and Pedagogy

Time: Tuesday 2:30pm - 5:30pm
Location: WC 283B
Professor: Deborah Britzman

Course Description:

This seminar engages some key concepts in psychoanalysis to investigate learning and contemporary psychoanalytic debates in education. Foundational methodological writings in the interdisciplinary field of education and psychoanalysis and some contemporary debates posed by more recent pedagogies on education as symptomatic of crisis are considered. (Cross-listed to EDUC 5815 & SPTH 6628)

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

Time:  Tuesday 2:30pm - 5:30pm
Location: MC 216
Professor: Marie-Christine Leps

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 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 EN 6980 3.0)

HUMA 6158 Course Description

GS/HUMA 6167 3.0: Imagining Slavery and Freedom

Time:  Monday 2:30pm - 5:30pm
Location: SC 220
Professor: Christina Sharpe

Course Description:

In Toni Morrison’s landmark novel Beloved, the character Baby Suggs tells the formerly enslaved and putatively free born Black people gathered in the Clearing that, “the only grace they could have was the grace they could imagine. That if they could not see it, they would not have it.” This calling speaks powerfully to the work of the imagination in ushering in livable worlds. In this graduate seminar, we draw on a range of texts—slave narratives, novels, poetry, music, film, photographs, art installations—to think through questions of slavery and freedom across the Americas (Caribbean, US and Canada). We read these historical and cultural texts alongside some of the most important Black cultural studies, queer and feminist theorists of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries, including Tina Campt, Saidiya Hartman, Hortense Spillers, Edouard Glissant, Fred Moten, Dionne Brand, Rinaldo Walcott, Katherine McKittrick, Marisa Fuentes, M. NourbeSe Philip, Fred D’Aguiar, Michel Rolph-Trouillot, and others. Together, we think about what Hartman calls the “afterlife of slavery” and what Walcott refers to as “the long emancipation” and, in the process, theorize concepts of slavery, “archives,” sound, image, blackness and imagination. We also consider the ways that Black life is rendered disposable and the multiple modes of forms of resistance to the extension of Black unfreedom. The question of imagination is key to the work we do here. What do the terms mean separately and together? How are new worlds imagined? What does slavery sound like? What does freedom sound like? These and other questions are at the core of the reading and thinking in this course.

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

Time:  Thursday 11:30am - 2:30pm
Location: MC 101A
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 6245 3.0: Future Cinema to Film

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

Course Description:

This course 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.

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 6336 3.0: Modernity and the Relationship between the Religious and the Secular: Reading Hegel and Kierkegaard

Time:  Monday 2:30pm - 5:30pm
Location: RS 803
Professor: Brady Polka

Course Description:

The aim of this course is to provide students with an indepth, hermeneutical experience in reading central texts of Hegel and Kierkegaard, two of the most important thinkers in the European tradition who makes the issue of the relationship of the religious and the secular central to their thought. The issue fundamental to the course is to examine how we are to understand modernity, in the European tradition of thought, in light of the relationship between the religious and the secular. In other words: What is theology (the logos of God)? What is philosophy (the love of wisdom)? What is the secular (given that St. Jerome translated eternity as existing in saecula saeculorum, for the age of ages)? (Cross-listed to SPTH 6188)

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.

HUMA 6500 Course Description


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

Winter Term 2019

GS/HUMA 6109 3.0: Cultural History of Europe 1400-1800

Time: Monday 11:30am - 2:30pm
Location: TBA
Professor: Tom Cohen

Course Description:

Cross-listed to HIST 5051

GS/HUMA 6129 3.0: Black Women's Writing in the African Diaspora

Time: Thursday 11:30am - 2:30pm
Location: MC 101A
Professor: Andrea Medovarski

Course Description:

This course offers a critical engagement of the dialogue that Caribbean, African American, black Canadian and black British literatures open up across academic disciplines and cultural and national boundaries. By first locating black women's texts within their specific geographical and cultural contexts, the course explores the potential of African diaspora literatures to engage personal explorations of self, identity and belonging as part of wider socio-historical and cultural discussions about black women's lives. But by further understanding that black women's lives intersect across multiple borders----geographical, historical, racial, cultural and sexual----the course also allows for the reading of these texts as part of a shared diasporic literary tradition that recognizes not only points of difference, but also crucial points of thematic and structural convergence. The course attempts to read these texts, then, as part of a historical and literary continuum within the African diaspora, across which women meet in coalition and partnership. As a broader aim, the course also attempts to insert women’s voices into conceptualizations of the African Diaspora. With its etymological invocation of the scattering of seeds, the concept of diaspora has clearly masculine resonances. In focusing instead on women’s voices and narratives, the course will broaden existing literary and theoretical understandings of Diaspora, from which women’s perspectives are sometimes marginalized.

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

Time: Thursday 2:30pm - 5:30pm
Location: VH 1152
Professor: Laam Hae

Course Description:

This course 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. (Cross-listed to HIST 5480, GEOG 5700, SOCI 6745, ANTH 5500 & CMCT 6136)

GS/HUMA 6152 3.0: Black Song: Introduction to African American Poetry

Time: Wednesday 4:00pm - 7:00pm
Location: MC 101A
Professor: Leslie Sanders

Course Description:

A survey of African American poetry with an emphasis on its concern with the representation of black vernacular, colloquial forms and music. Focus on Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Amiri Baraka, and Sonia Sanchez. (Cross-listed to EN 6616)

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. (Cross-listed to EDUC 5519)

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

Time:  Wednesday 11:3.am - 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 6164 3.0: Visual & Verbal Portraiture in Nonlinear Life Writing

Time: Tuesday 5:30pm - 8:30pm
Location: WC 117
Professor: Laura Wiseman

Course Description:

This seminar examines forms, functions, influence, and effects of visual and verbalportraiture in contemporary life writing such as autobiographical narrative, diary, travelogueand poetry, as well as their interactions. The course analyzes self-portraiture in such worksas ways of knowing (epistemology) and ways of showing (methodologies). It studiesconstructions of self and concepts of bios, performativity, alterity, fixity and fluidity in non-chronological life writing. The course considers questions of the roles and reliability of visualand verbal images of self—whether photographic, iconic, illustrative or intertextual—andtheir relationships to texts in terms of complement, supplement, [self]referentiality,[re]presentation, [re]liability, [de]stabilization and enrichment. Seminar participantsinvestigate theoretical discourses in autobiographical writing, photography, painting,intertextuality and self-portraiture as the foundation for analyses of selected primary worksof non-linear life writing. Primary works may include, but are not limited to compositions by Roland Barthes, Dahlia Ravikovitch and Frida Kahlo. (Cross-listed to EDUC 5522)

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. (Cross-listed to EDUC 6165 & EN 6165).

GS/HUMA 6308 3.0: Images of Animals

Time: Thursday 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Location: MC101A
Professor: Jody Berland

Course Description:

This is an interdisciplinary graduate course exploring critical issues in the study of animal representation.  It considers historical, formal, and ethical themes pertaining to the mediated representation of nonhuman subjects in visual culture, cinema, sound, and new media. Readings will address how works drawn from multiple genres and formats construct animal “natures” and human-animal relations and differences.


(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.