2019-20 Cultural Studies Course Offerings

Cultural Studies

Students in the M.A. in Cultural Studies specialize in one of two areas: Texts and Cultures and Curatorial Practices.

Students in both specializations will have an opportunity to take courses drawn from six related topic areas: Cultural Theory; Cultures of Childhood; Genders, Sexualities and Cultures; Local, National and Global Cultures; Manuscript, Print and Digital Cultures; and Visual Cultures. The courses offered for each topic area will vary year by year, and will focus on a specific aspect of culture in relation to that topic. Generic course descriptions are available here.


Course Offerings 2019-2020 (NOTE: These listings are subject to change):


SPRING 2019:


GENG-7820/3 Topics in Visual Cultures: South Asian Diasporic Film

(May 6th - June 14th Tu/Thurs 1 to 4 pm)

Professor Sharanpal Ruprai

This course explores South Asian diasporic experiences and stories through an examination of film and feminist theory. After a discussion of key terms and considering our frames of reference, we will address the development of South Asian women’s film, blogs, and other controversial pieces by artists from the diaspora. The course will focus on the ways in which South Asian people have articulated their subjectivity, challenged or reformulated societal and familial roles, negotiated traditions, responded to political and cultural demands, and formulated new South Asian feminist aesthetics. Specifically, we will explore the identities which the second- and third-born generations and/or those raised in the diaspora are cultivating.


Geng-7112/3 Topics in Cultural Theory: Art, Activism, and Curating with Care

(May 6th - June 17th Mon/Wed 2:30 to 5:15 pm)

Professor Jennifer Robinson  

This course explores the relationship between arts practice, creative research methodologies, and social justice. Whether in the space of a gallery, community centre, or on the walls of buildings in the streets—art can create avenues for anti-oppressive, anti-colonial, inclusive, and truly collaborative research practice. This course follows a series of inquiries: (1) How acts of resistance, resilience and cultural resurgence are produced through creative practice; (2) How art as activism can mobilize institutional change and contribute positively to the lives of individuals and to the wellness of communities; (3) How aesthetic action is produced through creative practice, that is, how visiting an exhibition, engaging in public programming, and creating arts- based projects require us—whether as researchers, artists, curators, students, or visitors—to feel; (4) And finally, how relational arts-based research and pedagogies of care can build communities of resistance. 


MA in Cultural Studies Courses for Fall and Winter Terms 2019-20


Fall GENG-7103/3 Research Methods and Practice (required for all students)

Dr. Heather Snell; Mondays 6-9pm

This course aims to equip students with advanced bibliographical and research skills that will support their graduate study. Such resources will include archival, library, web-based and informational technologies, and will incorporate theoretical and applied methodologies. Each year course material will be integrated with other graduate courses being offered, and might include a practicum in local cultural projects and communities.


Fall GENG-7112/3 Concepts in Cultural Studies (highly recommended for Texts & Cultures students)

Dr. Matthew Flisfeder; Tuesdays 6-9pm

This course is a historical and theoretical survey of cultural studies, from the field’s emergence as an outgrowth of the British New Left in the 1950s to the study of emergent cultural forms and practices in our globalized and post-industrial present. It includes readings in theory and criticism, each complemented by class discussion about various cultural practices that have the potential to illuminate the radically contextual project of cultural studies. Key concepts covered may include: ideology and hegemony; the articulations of race, gender, and class; colonialism and diasporic identities; popular culture and the politics of taste; museums and curatorial practices.


Fall GENG-7112/3 Topics in Cultural Theory: Black Liberation Struggles in Arts and Culture: Literature, Oratory, and Pop Culture

Dr. Chigbo Anyaduba; Mondays 2:30-5:15pm

This seminar course explores artistic and popular cultural expressions of “black” liberation struggles against the historic background of anti-slave movements across Europe and the Americas, civil rights struggles in the US, and anti-colonial liberation struggles in Africa and the Caribbean. We examine selected works across diverse genres and media including literature, popular music, and oratory. We study works by such artists, activists, and public intellectuals as Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. DuBois, Julius Nyerere, Amilcar Cabral, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Derek Walcott, Bob Marley, Toni Morison, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Nelson Mandela, Mariam Makeba, Ava DuVernay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, among several others. Works by these artists and activists provide the basis for exploring visions and cultures of emancipatory struggle – whether these visions have been construed by their authors and critics in utopian terms or as articulations of resistance, justice and survival – and their influence on other forms of social and political struggles.


Fall GENG 7820/3 Topics in Visual Cultures: Indigenous Comics & Graphic Narratives

Dr. Candida Rifkind; Wednesdays 6-9pm

This seminar course explores recent Indigenous-created comics and graphic novels within the contexts of contemporary Indigenous literature, art, film, television, and gaming. We will study works by North American comics creators from diverse regions, communities, and backgrounds, all of whom are using graphic narratives in different ways to represent past, present, and future Indigenous experiences, both real and fictional. The course includes critical and theoretical material by Indigenous scholars and knowledge keepers, comics scholars, and cultural theorists, and an experiential component to engage with Indigenous gallery art, visual culture, and digital gaming. Evaluation consists of seminar participation, collaborative presentations, in-class workshops, response papers or sketchdoodles, and the choice of a research or creative project. Collectively, the class will decide how to mobilize our learning through social media, blog and posts, reviews, and other forms of professional writing.


Fall/Winter GENG-7131/6 Special Studies in Cultural Theory and Practice: Practicum in Curatorial Studies (required for Curatorial Practices students)

Dr. Serena Keshavjee; Fridays 2:30-5:15pm

This course combines the theory and practice of curatorial work, public history and experiential learning for students interested in achieving a university credit by working with a local museum or art gallery. Students are expected to work 6 hours a week in the host institution, as well as attend classes once a week, for a more theoretical perspective. Partnerships opportunities include local galleries and museums.


Fall/Winter GENG-7821/6 Topics in Visual Cultures: The History of Museums and Collecting (The Idea of the Museum) (highly recommended for Curatorial Practices students)

Instructor Rose Logie; Thursdays 2:30-5:15pm

Museums do more than just collect art objects; they display and produce culture. This course examines the collecting practices of Western museums, before and after the Enlightenment, as well as ideologies of collecting. We investigate how museums developed in tandem with the discipline of art history, and how


Winter GENG-7112/3 Topics in Cultural Theory: Thinking Through the Museum

Dr. Angela Failler; Tuesdays 2:30-5:15pm

Museums are sites of representation, meaning making, and knowledge production. As trusted institutions, they have the power to legitimatize particular stories about people, places, events, and things. They contribute to public dialogue on culture, society, history, and collective memory. Arguably, they also serve a pedagogical role. What, then, can we learn from museums? How might museums help us think through the pressing dilemmas of our time? Drawing on critical museology, cultural studies and intersectional feminism, this seminar course explores contemporary issues of local and global consequence including debates surrounding conceptions of sex, gender, race, nation, citizenship, sovereignty, and belonging as they appear (or disappear) in the museum. Special attention is paid to how museums become sites of activism and protest when movements such as Idle No More, Black Lives Matter, and #MeToo raise questions about their relevance and/or potential role in decolonization, reconciliation, and other calls for social justice. 


Winter GENG-7109 /3 Topics in Genders, Sexualities and Culture: Libertines, Whores, Mollies, and Female Husbands: Transgressive Sexuality in the Restoration and Early Eighteenth Century

Dr. Kathryn Ready; Tuesdays 11:30-2:15

This course examines a range of representations of transgressive sexuality in England and Great Britain during the Restoration and early eighteenth century, with an effort to place these materials into cultural context, and to consider various theoretical frameworks for understanding them, including the work of Michel Foucault and Thomas Laqueur. For the study of sexuality, the Restoration period and eighteenth century arguably command special interest. In the backlash against Puritanism following the end of the Interregnum, English society saw more relaxed attitudes towards sex and more open expression of sexual desire (at least among elites) than ever before. Although moral censure and legal and other penalties remained potentially high, cults of libertinism flourished around the court of Charles II, and with these came greater tolerance for various forms of extramarital and homosexual sex. As the eighteenth century wore on, attitudes began to shift once again. In the meantime, understandings of sexuality and sexual difference were changing and becoming secularized as a result of developments in medicine and elsewhere. Some of the writers we will look act in this context include Aphra Behn; John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester; Jonathan Swift; Alexander Pope; Mary Wortley Montagu; John Gay; John Cleland; and Henry Fielding. We will also be looking at visual materials from the period and a variety of primary source materials.


Winter GENG-7901/3Topics in Genders, Sexualities and Cultures: The Uncanny, the Grotesque, and the Horror: Sex, Sexualities, and Gender in Fairy Tale Media

Dr. Pauline Greenhill; Thursdays 1:00-5:15pm

The burgeoning interest in fairy tales and fairy-tale media (especially film) has led to a corresponding flowering of theory and analysis in fairy-tale studies.  Fairy tales’ ongoing relevance can be traced to their malleability to different cultural contexts, but also to their continuing address to common issues significant across societies.  In their international, inter/transmedial, hybrid forms (written, oral, visual art, film, television, game, and so on) fairy tales can offer unexpected, even subversive, views, imagining alternatives to the status quo. Despite fairy tales’ and fairy-tale media’s reputation for conservative worldviews, they often envision and deal with the uncanny, the grotesque, and horror. Particularly beyond Hollywood blockbusters, live-action feature fairy-tale films implicating (as does the classic horror genre) sex, sexuality, and gender include, for example, Korean fairy-tale horror films exploring the family as a site for sexualised violence (Bluebeard 2017; Cinderella 2006; Hansel & Gretel 2007; The Red Shoes 2005; A Tale of Two Sisters 2003). TV productions, including The Red Riding Trilogy (2009), Grimm (2011-2017), and TV films Snow White: A Tale of Terror  (1997) and Bluebeard (2009), and games, such as The Path, sometimes unexpectedly invoke gendered horror tropes.  Imagined transformations in these works, including from human to non-human, often manifested in unusual embodiment, including part human, part animal, are indicated in emerging discourses on fairy tales in disability studies, feminist gender studies, and transgender studies. Further, fairy tales’ representations of magical, often utopian, transformations in time and space offer implications for critical race/class studies and postcolonial/decolonial studies.


Special Studies Forms

Directed Study Application Form
Advisor's Form
Course Outline Template: Instructors will use their department's template for the appropriate term.

*Please note that there are multiple time formats for Spring/Summer courses; your outline should indicate which one you are adhering to. See academic dates here.

The deadline for submitting final grades for Spring/Summer courses vary in accordance with time format, another fact to keep in mind as you design a special studies course. Faculty members are typically given two weeks after the end of the course to submit final grades, but they should consult the Coordinator for specific dates.