Previous Courses

Summer Term 2016

GS/HUMA 6221 3.0 Cultural and Architectural Contexts of Churches in Canada

Time: Monday/Wednesday 11:30am - 2:30pm
Location: RN 8014
Professor: Malcolm Thurlby

Course Description:
This course examines Canadian Churches in their architectural, religious, historical, social, ethnic and geographical contexts. The theory, form, function and iconography of church architecture in Canada is studied, chronologically and thematically, as offering perspectives on the cultural history of Canada.


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

Fall Term 2016

GS/HUMA 6140 3.0: Western Thought of Empire

Time: Friday 11:30am - 2:30pm
Location: MC 101A
Professor: Nalini Persram

Course Description:

The course examines how empire has figured in the works of dominant seventeenth eighteenth and nineteenth century ‘Western’ social and political thinkers.  Issues about race, civilization, progress and modernity, and imperialism, colonialism, etc., are critically assessed discursively, ideological, sociopolitically.
(Cross-listed to GS/SPTH 6196 3.0)

GS/HUMA 6150 3.0: The Fiction of Postmodern Multiculturalism

Time: Wednesday 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: VH 1152
Professor: TV Reed

Course Description:

The course brings two key, contested concepts in contemporary cultural theory, the postmodern and the multicultural, into mutual interaction and interrogation. While there is a body of literature and cultural theory that is often identified as postmodern, that concept, like all critical concepts, is merely a device that allows us to see some aspects of or social texts while obscuring others. And in this case the concept itself is a notoriously slippery one whose meaning is highly contested. Thus the course looks at various attempts to define "postmodernity" (as general social condition) and "postmodernism" (as aesthetic ideology & cultural style), recognizing that these definitions, while sometimes overlapping, are also at times contradictory. One can clarify this range of definitions, but one cannot by fiat eliminate the contradictions, since what is at stake in these debates is nothing less than the attempt to understand what is particular to one's historical time and the fiction writing most characteristic of our time.
Likewise, the concept of multiculturalism has had a wide range of ideological articulations, from far right to far left. The course aims to interrogate each of these concepts by reading and critically examining a body of North American fiction (US, and Canadian), by writers identified as ethnic minorities from the position of dominant Anglo or white subject positions. The course examines in particular the uneven effects of postmodernities and postmodernisms as shaped by differences in race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, gender, and region/nation, as well as intertwined questions of environmental justice, and neo-colonial globalization.
The course takes a heuristic approach to various conceptualizations of postmodern and multicultural; evaluating the usefulness and limits of these concepts as lenses for reading a wide array of contemporary written (and a couple of filmic) texts...
(Cross-listed to GS/EN 6745 3.0)

GS/HUMA 6156 3.0: Orientalism vs. Occidentalism: Envisioning the Other in Japan and the West

Time: Thursday 4:00pm - 7:00pm
Location: VH 2000
Professor: Ted Goossen

Course Description:

Just as stereotypes of the Japanese have predominated in the West, so have Japanese views of the West and its people been shaped by collective, often media-driven expressions of cultural and racial difference. Drawing on artistic, literary, and cinematic texts, as well as politically and commercially generated images, this course examines how the two sides have envisioned the Other, and the degree to which those visions have interacted with each other in modern times, so that, to take but one example, samurai often resemble cowboys in Japanese popular culture, while cowboys may look more like samurai in the West.

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

Time: Tuesday 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: Glendon Campus
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 GS/EN 6157 3.0 & TRAS 6157 3.0)

GS/HUMA 6163 3.0: Critical Posthumanism(s)

Time: Thursday 11:30am - 2:30pm
Location: BSB 204
Professor: David Cecchetto

Course Description:

This course considers the relatively recent emergence of 'critical posthumanism' as a transdisciplinary scholarly discourse, highlighting in particular the novel methods that have subtended this 'nonhuman turn.' Among other things, students will learn: "what animals can teach us about politics" (Massumi); that twenty-first century media "impact [human] experience without yielding any perceptual correlate" (Hansen); and how "to be one is always to become with many" (Haraway). Moreover, students will trace the ways that these insights are themselves entangled with technical, aesthetic, and theoretical processes that are performatively in excess of themselves, shedding light on the practical contributions that posthumanism makes to Humanities research at large.

GS/HUMA 6164 3.0: Visual & Verbal Portraiture in Nonlinear Life Writing

Time: Thursday 5:30pm - 8:30pm
Location: MC 157A
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 GS/EDUC 5522 3.0)

GS/HUMA 6232 3.0: The Ethics of Metaphysics and the Metaphysics of Ethics: From the Ethics of Spinoza to Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals

Time: Tuesday 2:30pm - 5:30pm
Location: RN 201
Professor: Brady Polka

Course Description:

The aim of this course is to show how and why major thinkers in the European tradition transform our modern understanding of both ethics and metaphysics and so of philosophy itself. Spinoza, Kant, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche, whose central works comprise the reading in this course, demonstrate that, because ethics is the ground of metaphysics, metaphysics is essentially ethics. In making the relationship of ethics and metaphysics central to philosophy, these thinkers at the same time show that philosophy must engage concepts that are fundamental to religion (theology): God (including the death of God), love, duty (covenantal relationship), the will to truth (the will not to deceive, not even oneself), faith (faithfulness), and so what Kierkegaard calls the absolute relationship to the absolute and what Kant calls the kingdom of ends wherein we have the duty of treating all human beings as ends in themselves (or subjects) and not as means (or objects). It is little wonder, consequently, that Kierkegaard proclaims that truth is subjectivity. This course, then, takes up fundamental issues that are central to modernity as they involve working through the relationship between ethics and metaphysics and so what we are to understand by the concepts of person, God, community and so of the relationship between reason and faith, philosophy and theology, and the secular and the religious.

GS/HUMA 6318 3.0: Science and Print Culture

Time: Friday 2:30 - 5:30pm
Location: BC 228
Professor: Bernie Lightman

Course Description:

This course examines how scientific ideas have been disseminated in print from the seventeenth century to the present. Topics include the impact of new printing technologies, the role of scientific periodicals, and the relationship between publishers and scientists.
(Cross-listed to GS/STS 6301 3.0)

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

Time: Monday 5:30pm - 8:30pm
Location: RN 814
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 co prehensive 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 2017

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

Time: Friday 2:30pm - 5:30pm
Location: RS 202
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 GS/GEOG 5700, SOCI 6745, ANTH 5500, CMCT 6136, HIST 5480)

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

Time: Tuesday 8:30am - 11:30am
Location: MC 101A
Professor: Deborah Orr

Course Description:

This course will be organized around, Jay Garfield's translation and commentary on Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika (Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way). This is a core text of Buddhism and informs the mindfulness practices of the major schools of Buddhism. We will survey foundational texts drawn from these schools as well as contemporary teachers and professionals who incorporate mindfulness in their work.

GS/HUMA 6159 3.0: The Nation and Its Women: Case Studies from South Asia and the South Asian Diaspora

Time: Thursday 11:30am - 2:30pm
Location: VH 2016
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 (always available in English or English translation) cover social reformist, nationalist and British colonial documents alongside less-commonly known literary expressions (in prose, poetry and autobiographical genres) composed by women in different South Asian vernaculars (Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Gujarati). As we move from the colonial to diasporic contexts, the literary expressions of women writers and (political and literary) activists are broadened to include women filmmakers and South Asian feminist scholars. The course objectives are twofold: (1) to discuss specific case studies from the South Asian context in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the emergence of women as subject citizens and political actors in public spheres and (2) to develop an understanding of the methodological issues at stake when writing about "Third-World" women's empowerment and emancipation.

GS/HUMA 6216 3.0: Moses through the Centuries

Time: CANCELLED
Location: CANCELLED
Professor: CANCELLED

Course Description:

This course begins by examining the Moses story as found in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Subsequently, we will look at how the image of Moses has changed throughout the ages both within a religious context and within the arts.

GS/HUMA 6331 3.0: Postsecular Cinema: Rethinking Modernity and Religion through Film-Philosophy

Time: Tuesday 11:30am - 2:30pm
Location: BC 214
Professor: Mark Cauchi

Course Description:

The last couple of decades have witnessed a number of social, political and cultural developments that have prompted new questions in the humanities and social sciences about the relationship between modernity, religion, and secularism.  Critical discourses in philosophy, social and political theory, and cultural studies have emerged around concepts such as the "return of the religious," the wholly other, disenchantment, and the postsecular, all of which challenge the long-regnant idea that modernization leads to secularization.  World and art cinema, often a pulse-taker of social and cultural change, has not been immune to these developments, even though scholars in film studies have largely ignored them.  This course aims to set contemporary world and art cinema in dialogue with these developments and critical discourses.  While it will be important and necessary to bring to bear the critical tools of film criticism on these films, the primary methodology and theoretical orientation of the course will be the recently emerged field of film-philosophy.  This field undertakes to bring together film and philosophy on an equal footing, less in a way that philosophy explains film ("philosophy of film") or that films provide handy illustrations of philosophical ideas (the Philosophy and X series), and more with the assumption that films think and philosophize in their own way and can therefore be set in dialogue with philosophical discourses.  We will thus attempt to think through the relationship between modernity, religion, and the secular through a film-philosophical analysis of contemporary art and world cinema.

To consider our subject we will draw from among the theoretical writings of André Bazin, Jane Bennet, Stanley Cavell, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, G. W. F. Hegel, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jurgen Habermas, Jacques Rancière, and Charles Taylor, among others.  We shall deal with films from directors such as Chantal Akerman, Bruno Dumont, Abba

GS/HUMA 6325 3.0:The Idea of Utopia: Introduction to Utopology

Time: Monday 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Location:  VH 1152
Professor: Sylwia Chorostowski

Course Description:

This course explores the different historical conceptions and tasks of utopia in shaping the culture of modernity and its political horizon from the nineteenth century to the present.  The course considers the critiques of utopian thought and its valences in contemporary cultural and political theories.

GS/HUMA 6326 3.0: Theories of Material Culture

Time: Thursday 4:00pm - 7:00pm
Location:RN 836A
Professor: Sarah Blake

Course Description:

Material culture has always played a critical role in defining the human, from the earliest emergence of the species as tool-using through to our current moment when the blurring of biological and technological boundaries has brought us to the brink of posthumanism. This course explores various theories that each seek in some way to define materiality and the role of the material world in shaping human identity and in distinguishing specific human cultures, with an emphasis on the intersection of materiality and literature.

GS/HUMA 6329 3.0: Digital Humanities and Social Change

Time: Wednesday 11:30am - 2:30pm
Location: RN 814
Professor: TV Reed

Course Description:

Digital technologies have vastly transformed many areas of social life, and none more profoundly than the realm of education and scholarship. The terrain generally known as "digital humanities" has multiple dimensions and a rich array of techno-cultural possibilities. This course stresses the ways in which new media technologies are transforming the nature of scholarship, the nature of literary and cultural texts, and the relation of scholarship and pedagogy to the wider social world. While the term "social media" has come to have a somewhat narrower definition, in fact all information passing through the internet and other forms of networked communication are social in nature. At a time where the practical relevancy of the humanities is being question in many parts of academe, digital humanities work promises to show just how deeply the impact of the arts and human sciences can be on wider communities. Vast numbers of cultural texts and vast amounts of cultural information is being made available to previously unreachable audiences through digital humanities work.

The course begins by surveying the wider array of objects, methods and projects found under the digital humanities rubric, and then focuses on work that explicitly engages the process of bringing about cultural enrichment and positive social change for people in and beyond academe.
While the course inevitably deals with some of the technical aspects of the field, the focus is on the socio-cultural dimensions of the DH, and no prior expertise in digital technology is presumed. Term projects, individual or teamed, are based in students' particular fields of study. Emphasis is on social ends, not technical means. Any technical skills needed for the projects are developed in the process of creating them.
(Cross-listed to GS/EN 6747 3.0)


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

Fall/Winter Term 2016-2017

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

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


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

General Program Courses

  • Humanities 5000 3.0 & 6.0Directed Readings for M.A. Students
    Permission of Program Director required.
  • Humanities 5001 0.0Graduate Seminar for M.A. Students
    The Graduate Seminar gives students exposure to a wide range of methodological and theoretical issues and problems fundamental to the study of Humanities. The Seminar meets once every three weeks during the academic year and the themes are tied directly into the courses being offered that particular year. Non-credit required course for all M.A. and Ph.D. students in their first year of study.
  • Humanities 5002 0.0 MA: Major Research Paper
    The Major Research Paper may be related to the work students have done in one or more of their courses, but it must demonstrate independent research.
  • Humanities 6000 3.0 & 6.0: Directed Readings for Ph.D. Students
    Permission of Program Director required.
  • Humanities 6001 0.0: Graduate Seminar for Ph.D. Students
    The Graduate Seminar gives students exposure to a wide range of methodological and theoretical issues and problems fundamental to the study of Humanities. The Seminar meets once every three weeks during the academic year and the themes are tied directly into the courses being offered that particular year. Non-credit required course for all M.A. and Ph.D. students in their first year of study.
  • Humanities 7000 0.0: Ph. D. Dissertation Research
    No course credit.