Cultural Studies

Cultural Studies

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program

Cultural Studies

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program

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Elective Courses

In addition to your core course requirements, Cultural Studies students will complete up to 4 elective courses (depending on program of study). Electives may be selected from courses offered by Cultural Studies and/or from courses offered by other departments.  Cultural Studies students who would like to take graduate courses in other departments will require permission from the instructor.

Please note that graduate courses are often timetabled in July and this page will be updated as information becomes available to us.  Class times and locations will also be made available by the department where the courses is offered - please be sure to check the graduate section of their website.

How do I register in a non-CUST elective?

Step 1.  Identify the instructor for any non-CUST elective course that is of interest to you.  Students seeking electives should review the list below and explore other opportunities by reviewing the graduate websites for any departments of interest (i.e., the list below is not always comprehensive). Often, professors will be willing to take a CS student into their course if there is room, and if the student has the appropriate background.

Step 2.  Write to the instructor, by email, with a description of your goals and background, and ask if they will accept you into their course. Please note that the answer may not be certain yet, and may depend on enrollment numbers, but establishing the relationship is the first step.

Step 3.  Once you have approval, you will need to print and complete an Academic Change Form.  Once completed, you will need to sign the form yourself and arrange for it to be signed by (1) the course instructor and (2) your supervisor.  Bring the completed, signed form to Danielle in B126B.  This can often be done by fax or email.

Explore 2017-2018 Electives, by Department

Art History

Department of Art History Website

ARTH 813: Topics in Visual and Material Culture II: Image, Object, Thing: Theories of Visuality and Materiality (Fall 2017, Wednesdays, 8:30-11:20am in Ontario Hall 210 with Allison Morehead)

  • This course will introduce graduate students to the theories of visuality and materiality that have functioned and continue to function as “dangerous supplements” to art history. We will explore how different concepts of images, objects, and things might be mobilized in a critical art historical practice. In doing so we will analyse the debates and historiography of visual and material culture studies, with particular attention paid to the role of critical gender analyses mobilized (or not) by the texts under consideration. Readings will include work by Leora Auslander, Mieke Bal, Bill Brown, Whitney Davis, James Elkins, Richard Grassby, Martin Heidegger, W.J.T. Mitchell, Marcia Pointon, Jules David Prown, and Michael Yonan. For their research projects, students will choose between a methodological paper, exploring the methods of visual and material culture studies in relation to their own areas of research interest, and a historiographical paper considering selected texts of visual and/or material culture studies.
  • Please contact Allison Morehead for permission to take this course.

ARTH 810: Museums, Collecting, and Culture I: Decolonizing the Museum - Cultural Heritage and First People (Winter 2018), Norman Vorano

  • Given the colonial roots of the modern museum, it is no surprise that the relationship between Museums and the Indigenous Peoples of North American has been fraught with conflict, disjunctures, and political interventions during the 20th century. But this relationship has also engendered new understandings of collections, insights into the core function of contemporary curatorial practice, informal and formal institutional partnerships between major museum and Indigenous centres, and broad inter-cultural collaborations. As well, Indigenous communities are increasingly creating their own museums and heritage centers to explore history from an Indigenous perspective. These encounters have called into question the role of museums, collections, and the disciplinary formations that are associated with Museums, principally anthropology and art history. This course uses a case-study approach to track and critically appraise the evolving relationship between Museums and Indigenous peoples in North America in order to contextualize and understand the emerging issues in contemporary curatorial and museum practice concerning representation, repatriation, sacred materials and both tangible and intangible cultural heritage.
  • Please contact Norman Vorano for permission to take this course.

Department of Classics Website

  • CLST 404: Topography of Athens (Winter 2018), Cristiana Zaccagnino
    • The growth of Athens from the Neolithic period to Late Antiquity. Emphasis on social and political developments and personal aspirations which determine the cityscape. PREREQUISITE CLST 303/3.0 or CLST 304/3.0 or CLST 330/3.0 or CLST 331/3.0, or permission of the Department.
    • As a graduate student, you may take this course as a graduate level Cultural Studies Directed Reading Course and requires the permission of the instructor. Please contact Cristiana Zaccagnino for permission to take this course.
  • CLST 804: Topography of Athens (Winter 2018), Cristiana Zaccagnino
    • The growth of Athens from the final Neolithic period to Late Antiquity based on archaeological, literary, epigraphical evidence. (May be offered jointly with CLST-404*. There are additional requirements for students at the graduate level but these are determined and discussed at the onset of the course.).
    • Please contact Cristiana Zaccagnino for permission to take this course.
Dan School of Drama and Music

Dan School of Drama and Music Website

Please check the departmental website and/or websites of affiliated faculty for courses of interest

  • Dram419: Selected Opera Designers (Winter 2018), Natalie Rewa
    • This study proposes to consider the work of a selection of production designers for contemporary opera performance. Our study will look at the designerly re-envisioning of well-known operas as well as design for current opera and the critical vocabularies that emerge from these intersections of design, performance, casting and music/sound. Beginning with observed description by experiencing opera in production we will address critical and narratival role by design as an environment, the attitudes to the body in costuming, and the active use of stage and computer technologies enabled by individual opera houses. The focus is international as well as local according to resources. Issues to be considered include the cultural expression by the materiality of the production design, the cultural shifts in the dynamic use of such environments, the dramaturgy effected by the design and the attitudes to the body in staged/costumed performance. The study will be of opera in performance – viewed in class and as available online. Individual research projects will be developed in consultation with the instructor.
    • Restrictions: None; no knowledge of opera or performance necessary.
    • Please contact Natalie Rewa for permission to take this course.

Department of English Website

  • ENGL 482: Topics in Indigenous Lit II:  Contemporary North American Indigenous Literatures (Winter 2018), Petra Fachinger
    • This seminar examines contemporary Aboriginal and Native American literatures. We will study the themes, aesthetics, and politics of novels, short stories, poetry, and plays written in English. While close attention will be given to territorial, tribal, national, and cultural diversity, as well as the heterogeneity of the texts, pan-Indigenous approaches will be considered where appropriate. We will discuss textual and theoretical approaches to topics such as appropriation; residential schools and intergenerational trauma; resurgence, activism, and decolonization; urban indigeneity and contemporary identities; gender and sexuality; and the environment. We might include texts by Jordan Abel, Sherman Alexie, Jeannette Armstrong, Beth Brant, Cherie Dimaline, Louise Erdrich, Melanie Florence, Naomi Fontaine, Joy Harjo, Linda Hogan, Falen Johnson, Lenore Keeshig, Thomas King, Lee Maracle, Eden Robinson, Gregory Scofield, Leslie Silko, Leanne Simpson, and Drew Hayden Taylor.
    • As a graduate student, you may take this course as a graduate level Cultural Studies Directed Reading Course and requires the permission of the instructor. Please contact Petra Fachinger for permission to take this course.
  • ENGL 872: The Environment in Contemporary Canadian and Aboriginal Literature (Winter 2018), Petra Fachinger
    • This seminar will be concerned with contemporary Canadian and Aboriginal texts that take environmental issues as their topic. It intends to acknowledge the historical, cultural, and social specificities that affect environmental writing in this country within the global context. We will consider a variety of modes and genres, including the novel, Indigenous ways of storytelling, journalistic writing, creative nonfiction, “ecopoetry,” and “ecodrama” to explore questions of ecological poetics and social and environmental justice. Our discussion will be informed by various ecocritical approaches including ecofeminism, “eco-ability,” ecocriticism and urban environments, and the intersection between ecocriticism and Indigenous Studies. Please contact Petra Fachinger for permission to take this course.
  • CWRI 293/295 (Fall 2017) and CWRI 294/295 (Winter 2018), Carolyn Smart
    • As a graduate student, you may take any of these creative writing courses as a graduate level Cultural Studies Directed Reading Course. Review individual course descriptions here.
    • Please contact Carolyn Smart for permission to take this course. You will need to provide a sample of your work for consideration for entry: your strongest non-rhyming poem or short fiction, plus your student number. Submissions are due as follows: fall term submissions (293 and 295) should be in by the end of June; winter term (294 and 295) by the end of October.
  • ENGL881: Topics in American Literature: Permacultural Studies, or How to Make Critique Sustainable (Winter 2018), Molly Wallace
    • There is in fact much at hand and in reach that is good, useful, encouraging, and full of promise. —Wendell Berry
    • In an age of peak oil, food crisis, and a changing and unpredictable climate, cultural critics have drawn on the strategies of critique amply available in the broader cultural studies toolkit. To the oil economy, to the legacies of nuclear, coal, and gas industries, to industrial agriculture, cultural critics have quite rightly said “no,” providing richly layered historical diagnoses variously indicting the Enlightenment, capitalism, imperialism, or anthropocentrism more generally. As useful and necessary as this form of critique has been, however, it remains vulnerable to the paucity of imagination that characterizes the world more generally. To what, a beleaguered (eco)critic might ask, can we say “yes”? Now more than ever, it seems to be easier, as Fredric Jameson opined some years ago, “to imagine the deterioration of the earth and of nature than the breakdown of late capitalism,” a phenomenon partly due to our residual postmodern fear of utopian metanarratives. This course is an experiment in reviving the ecotopian imagination. Drawing on the principles of permaculture (earth care, people care, fair share), we will investigate alternatives among us, from practices of ecological and community supported agriculture to decentralized forms of power generation (wind, solar, tidal, geothermal) to intentional communities and slow economies. We will begin in the 1960s and work our way to the present, and while we will read some ecotopian fiction, the wager of this course is that the permacultural imagination might be found more readily in other genre: essay, poetry, drama, music, visual art, landscape architecture, and film.
    • Course requirements: Active participation, including at least one formal presentation; response papers; independent research paper in both conference and article length versions.
    • Please contact Molly Wallace for permission to take this course.
  • ENGL815: Rigour and Readability: Writing for the World (Fall 2017), Laura Murray
    • However incisive or elegant an academic essay may be, the genre is designed for one kind of audience, and a fairly small one at that. If we believe literary study is truly important and fascinating, we might want to share our ideas more broadly. But how to translate complex and nuanced knowledge into more accessible genres without sacrificing its integrity? In this course, we aim to find out. To that end, we will read a variety of intellectual and critical writing from a variety of genres and venues. We will think about what audiences we might wish to reach. But most importantly, we will write, workshop, and revise every week. We will write about literary works, about cultural phenomena, about use of language we see about us. We will write journal entries, blog posts, op-ed pieces, tweets, speeches, creative nonfiction, and other genres that might take us where we want to go. Students will be expected to make some of their work public through the course blog or other channels. The goal is to acquire more choices and voices, more control over diction, evidence, and persuasive techniques, more clarity about the ideas we wish to communicate — and indeed, in the end, more skill in writing grant applications, lectures, abstracts, and essays.
    • Please contact Laura Murray for permission to take this course.
  • ENGL 876: Postcolonialism: "Hopes and Impediments" (Spring 2018), Asha Varadharajan
    • This course will serve as a broad introduction to the historical depth and geographical scope of what has come to be known as the "postcolonial" condition. We will read mainly Anglophone literatures from colonies of the British Empire contending with the cultural, political, economic, and psychic legacy of imperialism with and against non-fiction, manifestos, historiography, theory, and visual, digital, performance, and aural/oral cultural production. The latter may include languages other than English. The emphasis in this course will be on postcolonial "writing" as a passionate and tongue-in-cheek repudiation and rearticulation of colonial language, values, and systems. Some of the questions we might ask are: what does it mean for postcolonial subjects to describe themselves as "black skins, white masks?" how do postcolonial writers communicate in a language not their own, an experience all their own (Chinua Achebe)? how has the colonial experience contributed to the current shape of our world--its economic disparities and its social and cultural mélange? what is the difference between mimic and creole identities? how do gender and sexuality intersect with postcoloniality? how has the long history of independence from colonization altered the literary forms and socio-political and cultural concerns of postcolonial writing? how has the shift to the environmental, the diasporic, the global, the multicultural, the cosmopolitan, the biopolitical, the refugee and the animal (to name a few!) diluted or enhanced the force of anti-colonial struggle?
    • Please contact Asha Varadharajan for permission to take this course.
    Film and Media

    Department of Film and Media Website

    • Please check the departmental website and/or websites of affiliated faculty for courses of interest
    Gender Studies

    Department of Gender Studies Website

    • GNDS 903: Applications of Gender Studies  (Winter 2018), Scott Morgensen
      • Examines critical theories of applications of gender studies research within work for social change. Materials address such themes as power in research and representation, academic and nonacademic research, institutional constraints on research, research in the public, private, not-for-profit, and activist sectors, community-based research, researcher responsibilities, and research careers. Students plan applications of original research, and evaluate plans by utilizing critical theories of application.
      • Enrollment restricted to PhD students. Students must be developing a PhD project that focuses on its applications within work for social change. Preparation in Gender Studies is preferred.
      • Please contact Scott Morgensen for permission to take this course.
    Geography and Planning

    Department of Geography and Planning Website

    • GPHY889: Geographies of Citizenship (Winter 2018), Audrey Kobayashi
      • Exact content is determined in discussions with students, around the theme of citizenship and human rights, including issues of racism, ablism, and other forms of oppression.
      • Non-geography students will be asked to do a small amount of background reading.
      • Please contact Audrey Kobayashi for permission to take this course.
    • GPHY 870: Historical and Cultural Issues in Fieldwork, Laura Cameron (Fall 2017)
      • This course actively explores the histories, practises and cultural meanings of fieldwork. Geographical fieldwork is considered along with conceptions of the 'field' in allied disciplines such as ecology and anthropology. Constructions of the 'field' are addressed in terms of empire, nationalism, 'nature', pedagogy, translocalism, the lab-field border, performativity and in relation to its role as a gendered, ethical, imaginative, sensory and affective space of knowledge and activity.
      • Fieldwork has long had a key role in the making of knowledge in both social and natural sciences. Recent work in geography, sociology and the history of science has begun to explore diverse cultures of the field, raising a range of questions about the nature of field knowledge. Where is the field and for whom? The course focuses on case studies and currents pertinent to the study of field cultures within North America and elsewhere. The primary objective is to provide opportunities for in-depth discussion and activities to help understand and reassess the motives, practises and status of fieldwork.
      • Weekly seminars will involve excursions, discussion of the course readings, films, field exercises as well as presentations integrating course themes and reflections upon the students' past and future fieldwork activities. The readings, including relevant journal articles and book chapters, will be made available.
      • Please contact Laura Cameron for permission to take this course.
    Global Development Studies

    Department of Global Development Studies Website

    DEVS 865: The ‘African Renaissance’ in Global Perspective (Fall 2017, tentative), Marc Epprecht

    • This course will evaluate the premises and promises of the “African renaissance” (or “Africa rising” narrative) in relation to global trends, notably, climate change, the rise of China and South-South trade, and protectionism/xenophobia in the West. It begins with a critical overview of the history of underdevelopment under colonial and neo-colonial conditions, including through unequal relations in the production of knowledge about Africa. Students then examine a specific proposed “renaissance” strategy, critically assessing the debates and leading to mature reflection on “what next”? Topics include: aid versus trade, colonial borders/languages vs. indigenous cultures/languages, tourism, health, human rights, refugees/migration, social media, and much more. The major research essay will involve a case study of urban redevelopment in light of these global challenges.
    • Please contact Marc Epprecht for permission to take this course.

    DEVS 305: Cuban Culture and Society (Winter 2018), Susan Lord and Freddy Monasterio

    • Cuban Culture and Society is a 3rd year DEVS course typically co-taught by Karen Dubinsky and Susan Lord. This year it will be co-taught by Susan Lord and Freddy Monasterio. Graduate students have regularly taken the course as an AUDIT or as a credit (via directed study). Seminars on Thursday nights through much of the Winter semester, followed by TWO WEEKS IN HAVANA. The instructors have been researching in cuba for many years and have contacts with a range of other researchers, artists, filmmakers, musicians and curators, as well as University of Havana and Cuba’s Superior Art Institute (like an OCADU). No Spanish is required. Cost TBD (approx. 2700-3000) includes flight, all meals except weekend lunches, hotel, transfers, busses, entrance fees, etc.
    • Please contact Susan with any questions or expressions of interest: All the grad students who have come in the past have had an amazing experience. In fact, last year someone did a repeat!

    Department of History Website

    History 865: Empires and Intimacies (Fall 2017), Karen Dubinsky

    • This course explores familial and intimate relations of power created in and by empires from the late nineteenth century to the present. The readings are thematic and interdisciplinary, drawn from transnational contexts, primarily in the Americas. Topics include colonial knowledge formation, child welfare and adoption, militarism, tourism, visual cultures, decolonization and sexual politics.
    • Please contact Karen Dubinsky for permission to take this course.

    HIST 877: History, Memory, Commemoration (Fall 2017), Caroline-Isabelle Caron

    • Students will explore the multitudinous ways individuals and collectivities imagine, (re)create, perform and relate to their pasts, since the 19th century. This graduate seminar will introduce the major theoretical frameworks of collective memory, commemoration and memorials, public and institutional history, and other forms of collective memory making, using seminal Canadian, American and European case studies. Particular attention will be given to the major approaches developed over the last thirty years, introducing the most important researchers of this very popular field, also focussing on ground-breaking techniques and innovative primary sources. The major objective is to familiarize students with the best studies in the field and prepare them to undertake studies using these principles.
    • Some knowledge of historical methods an asset.
    • Please contact Caroline-Isabelle Caron for permission to take this course.
    School of Kinesiology and Health Studies

    School of Kinesiology and Health Studies

    KHS 869:The Body and Social Theory (Fall 2017), Samantha King

    • What is the body and how is it most usefully theorized? What does contemporary theory reveal about bodily categorization and regulation, sameness and difference? Does it make sense to speak of a singular body or are bodies always porous, multiple, and diffuse? How do we capture the lively and dynamic character of intercorporeal entanglements while also attending to the implication of bodies in enduring social structures and configurations of power? How do ideas and feelings become embodied and how does embodiment shape ideas and feelings? How do bodily meanings and experiences transmute across space and time? How, when, why and for whom do bodies come to matter?

    • These are some of the questions we will address as we engage with a broad range of literature on bodies. Our goal will be to keep both the stuffness of bodies and their cultural meanings within our collective grasp. Following a survey of some broad conceptual terrain, we will focus on a number of key bodily contexts and experiences, including reproduction, genetics, pain, food, and cancer. Our objectives are as follows: 1) to reflect upon the meaning and matter of “the body” and its significance in the social world; 2) to learn key theoretical approaches and concepts (e.g., embodiment, corporeality, affect, discipline, biopolitics, posthumanism); 3) to explore prominent intellectual debates in the body studies field; 4) to consider how research on bodies might contribute to the development of theory; and 5) to practice advanced skills in reading, writing, hearing, and speaking about the body and social theory.
    • Please contact Samantha King for permission to take this course.

    KHS 873: Cultural Studies Methodologies for Kinesiology and Health Studies (Fall 2017, Tuesdays 12:30-3:30), Mary Louise Adams

    • This course presents an inter-disciplinary overview of issues related to the politics of knowledge. Taking a historical perspective, we look at critiques of modernist science and at the theoretical grounding of post-positivist approaches to research before engaging with a range of contemporary critical epistemologies from Indigenous, post-colonial, and feminist perspectives. The aim of the course is to familiarize students with methodological debates that have shaped work in Cultural Studies and other fields in which research has explicit political goals for social change. Questions that we might entertain: What is the value of research? What are the political consequences of research practices in different historical and social contexts? Why do research at all? Who or what benefits from research? What would anti-oppressive research look like? Is activist research possible? Is there space for progressive, social justice-oriented research in the neoliberal university? While the course is organized around the conceptual aspects of research and knowledge-production, students' individual research interests will help to ground our discussions.
    • It would be useful to have some background in social theory or to have taken some kind of research methods course - but not essential.
    • Please contact Mary Louise Adams for permission to take this course.


    • Please check the departmental website and/or websites of affiliated faculty for courses of interest

    Department of Philosophy Website

    PHIL4/893: Environmental Philosophy (Winter 2018), Mick Smith

    • This course will engage with a number of key environmental issues such as biodiversity and extinction, preservation or conservation, environmental and social justice, eco-feminism, deep ecology, bioregionalism and ecological restoration drawing on a number of philosophical traditions in ethics, hermeneutics, political philosophy, pragmatism, philosophy of science and phenomenology. The aim is to provide both an overview of the variety of topics that can be encompassed within environmental philosophy and to encourage participants to develop critical and innovative approaches to questions of direct practical import. While the focus will generally be on our ethical relations to non-human entities and our understanding and interpretation of these relations we will be particularly concerned to examine the ways in which our ethical evaluations might be informed by and inform our understandings of particular places/environments.
    • Please contact Mick Smith for permission to take this course.

    PHIL821: Ethical Issues II - Settler Colonialism and the Carceral State (Winter 2018), Lisa Guenther

    • Indigenous peoples make up 4% of Canada’s population and 25% of its prison population. In this seminar, we will explore the possibilities and the limits of Foucault’s genealogical method for problematizing aboriginal hyperincarceration in Canada. Foucault’s account of race as a sorting mechanism between “those who must live” and “those who may die” seems useful for understanding the structural violence of incarceration, but Foucault’s relative lack of engagement with colonial power demands a broader critical interrogation of the history and politics of settler colonialism and indigenous genocide. This seminar undertakes to address this gap through a reading of historical, theoretical, and activist critics of carceral (and) colonial power in Canada, with a focus on work by indigenous scholars such as Audra Simpson, Glen Coulthard, Leanne Simpson, Patricia Monture-Angus, and Taiake Alfred.
    • Please contact Lisa Guenther for permission to take this course.
    Political Studies

    Department of Political Studies

    • POLS 856: Political Theories of Identity Politics, Winter 2018, Eleanor MacDonald

    • Whether we are discussing the recent election of Donald Trump, the Black Lives Matter movement, the water crisis in Canada’s indigenous communities, the ongoing crisis of violence against women, the Orlando shootings, Brexit, or, really, most if not all of the political issues of our times, we quickly encounter the phenomenon of identities as political. There are numerous ways to think about identities – as social categories, as subjective experiences, as discursive productions, as economically and politically derived.  In this course, we study a range of ways of theorizing identity, including Marxism, Foucauldian, psychoanalytic, anti-racist, feminist, queer, indigenous, and so forth. We also look at a range of identities: class, gender, race, sexuality, and indigeneity among others. In thinking about identity, one must also address questions of power and oppression, and their bases in economic, legal, cultural and political structures, institutions, discourses and practices. One must also consider the experiences of identity as subjective, emotional, psychic, interrelational, and movement based. Identity can be both unifying and divisive, oriented to agency or debilitating. This course views theorizing identity as a route to thinking about social justice questions and movement activism, and as a prism through which to understand many of the significant questions of contemporary social and political thought.
    • Please contact Eleanor MacDonald for permission to take this course.

    Department of Psychology Website

    • Please check the departmental website and/or websites of affiliated faculty for courses of interest

    School of Religion Website

    • RELS 894: Religion and Politics in Contemporary China, James Miller (Winter 2018)
      • Wednesdays, 11:30-2:30pm, Dunning 10
      • Examines Chinese and foreign religions in mainland China from 1949 to the present day. Topics include the status of established religions, the political control of new religious movements and the resurgence of traditional Chinese religion and ideologies including Daoism and Confucianism.
      • Please contact the instructor, James Miller, for permission to take this course.
    • RELS 802: Method and theory in the Study of Region, Ellen Goldberg
      • Looks at recent articulations and applications of theories and methods in Religious Studies.
      • Please contact the instructor, Ellen Goldberg, for permission to take this course.
    • RELS 822: Yoga in India and the west, Ellen Goldberg
      • Surveys the history and philosophy of yoga in India and the West. Yoga practicum: estimated cost $85.00
      • Please contact the instructor, Ellen Goldberg, for permission to take this course.

    Department of Sociology Website

    SOCY931: New Media Cultures (Winter 2018), Martin Hand

    • We live in cultures which are increasingly organized around or saturated with digital information or new media. In this advanced course we will engage with some of the major commentators on relationships between new media and culture, working through a series of key ideas and problems focused around intersections of theory and practice. Instead of maintaining a domination/resistance conception of cultural industries and practices, we will explore complex dynamics of innovation and consumption across a variety of arenas. There will be scope to engage with notions of mobility, speed, reflection, reflexivity, information, virtuality, consumption, in the context of different spaces or objects (city; home; archive; gallery; brand, memory, sounds, visions, events, body, etc.) and practices (photography, art, writing, listening, tourism, learning, etc.) which exemplify contemporary debates about new media in cultural sociology.
    • Some background in media studies/sociology/communications is preferred for this course.
    • Please contact Martin Hand for permission to take this course.