Cultural Studies

Cultural Studies

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program

Cultural Studies

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program

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Cultural Studies Courses 2018-2019

Cultural Studies MA and PhD students must take "CUST 802/902 Cultural Studies Colloquium" plus four or six other courses (depending on program of study).  At least two courses must be chosen from the Cultural Studies core course offerings listed below.  Remaining courses may be chosen from the Cultural Studies elective and/or micro courses listed below, or selected from elective courses offered by other departments.  All courses are generally completed during the first year of study.

Please note that the dates and times for all graduate level courses are scheduled in July; this page will be updated as details are confirmed.

Cultural Studies CORE Course Offerings

Cultural Studies Fall 2018 Core Course Offerings

CUST 803 Cultural Studies Historiography (3.0 Units)
Scott Rutherford
Wednesdays, 8:30-11:30 (***NEW***Goodwin 247 )
This course introduces students to key debates, concerns, and texts that have shaped the field of Cultural Studies over time, tracing multiple genealogies of the field in its international and interdisciplinary origins.

CUST 805 Research-Creation Methodologies (3.0 Units)
Dorit Naaman
Tuesdays, 11:30-2:30 (***NEW***Isabel Bader Centre, Room 307)
This course is designed to support students whose intellectual approach combines creative and academic research practices.  The course will value the development of knowledge and innovation through artistic practice, scholarly investigation, and experimentation. 

Fall 2018 Research-Creation Methodologies - Detailed Course Description

Research-Creation is a relatively new fundable category by the federal government and its most developed definition is by SSHRC as “An approach to research that combines creative and academic research practices, and supports the development of knowledge and innovation through artistic expression, scholarly investigation, and experimentation. The creation process is situated within the research activity and produces critically informed work in a variety of media (art forms).” Refer to:  In a purposeful combination of creative production and research, artists-researchers produce new research methods, and/or novel forms of knowledge generation and consumption. 

This course is designed for Research-Creation practitioners or those planning to integrate creative practice with graduate research. Students without an active artistic practice should consult the instructor before registering in the course.  The course has three goals:

  1. To familiarize ourselves with critical writing about Research-Creation
  2. To examine Research-Creation projects and assess their methods, successes and failures.
  3. To experiment with producing work from within a Research-Creation methodology.



Cultural Studies Winter 2019 Core Course Offerings

CUST 800 Cultural Studies Theory (3.0 Units) 
Keren Zaiontz
Wednesdays, 8:30-11:30 (***NEW***Isabel Bader Centre, Room 307)
This course introduces students to a range of major theoretical strains within Cultural Studies such as those associated with Marxism, feminism, postcolonialism, and visual, critical race, Indigenous, and queer studies. Students will learn to mobilize key conceptual vocabulary of foundational and emerging frameworks of the field.

CUST 804 Community-Based Research (3.0 Units)
Reena Kukreja
Fridays, 11:30-2:30 (Watson Hall 207)
As cultural producers, activists, and/or researches, Cultural Studies students interact with various communities within, beyond, and on the margins of the academy. This course engages with the theoretical, political, practical, personal, and institutional challenges and opportunities of community-based research.

CUST 802/902 Cultural Studies Colloquium (6.0 Units)
Fall 2018/Winter 2019.  Required Course.

Jeff Brison
Wednesdays, 2:30-5:30 (Mackintosh-Corry Hall B176 Area - Lecture Theatre - B125)
This course is designed to acquaint graduate students with both current work in the field and various professional issues, through a combination of research presentations and participatory workshops. Grading is on a Pass/Fail basis. Students are required to attend at least 50% of the sessions of this course during their first year in the program.

NEW Micro Courses

We are excited to announce three new “micro courses” for September 2018. These courses will allow for intensive study in a condensed format (generally speaking, weekly for 5 weeks or biweekly for 10 weeks). Each course will be counted as a 1.0 unit course. So, one would need to take three to earn the equivalent of 1 elective. We will be offering three per year and it does not matter in which year of study you take the micro courses. As well, students are welcome to take only 1 or 2 micro courses, in addition to their required course work.

CUST 817 Signs of the Times
Asha Varadharajan
Fall 2018 (1.0 Unit)
Selected Thursdays, 12-2:30 (Oct 4, 11, 18, Nov 1, 8) (Watson Hall 401)
This course will offer specialized in-depth consideration of issues of contemporary social, political, and cultural relevance.
Cultural Studies MA and PhD students will have enrollment priority; non-CUST students are welcome to request permission from Asha Varadharajan to enroll in the course.

Fall 2018 Detailed Course Description — Bodies in Motion: Refugees in Modern Times

Bodies in Motion: Refugees in Modern Times​ with Asha Varadharajan

In the wake of the Holocaust, Hannah Arendt argued that the scale and depth of displacement she witnessed demanded a new guarantee for human dignity.  Arendt's writings indicate that displacement is not unprecedented, but that its scale and brutality continue to escalate.   Both ecologically and politically motivated forced displacement are the highest on record in our historical moment; thus, it is imperative to revisit the "refugee crisis" with a new set of questions and a different form of hope.

Our keywords will be:  "bare life," biopolitics, risk, rights, humanitarian intervention, "economies of abandonment," "hostipitality" and deterritorialization. In each case, we will ask how and why the figure (in both senses of the word) of the refugee recalibrates and reinvents these keywords. The required readings will be drawn from studies of visual culture, political philosophy, socio-cultural anthropology, UN policy documents, investigative journalism, new media, documentary, poetry and fiction.  Our aim is to comprehend the singularity and historicity of the condition of the refugee.  We will hold a preliminary meeting as a diagnostic exercise to determine needs, interests, and skills of the projected participants in the seminar.  The required readings for the seminar will strike a balance between the results of this conversation and the instructor's knowledge of crucial scholarship in the field that must be encountered.  All assignments for this course will be expressed in a public voice designed to appeal and provoke widely while informed by scholarly and analytical rigour.  Posters, audio/video, spoken word, song (lyric and music), art and photography, investigative reporting, interviews, are all welcome but must be discussed with the instructor in advance.

Attendance is mandatory unless prevented by a genuine emergency.  Be prepared for focus, depth, and intensity!  Participation will account for 25% of the grade, knowledge of and engagement with the required readings will account for 25% of the grade (think of ways to make these visible and audible), and major project for 50% of the grade. The course will run for 5 weeks including the preliminary meeting.


CUST 816 Theory in Society
Scott Rutherford

Winter 2019 (1.0 Unit)
Selected Thursdays, 6:30-9:30 (Jan 10, 18, 25, 31; Feb 7, 14) (Mackintosh-Corry Hall D405)
This course offers specialized in-depth consideration of a key theorist or theoretical school.
Cultural Studies MA and PhD students will have enrollment priority; non-CUST students are welcome to request permission from Scott Rutherford to enroll in the course.

Winter 2019 Detailed Course Description — Race and Politics

Theory in Society - Race and Politics​ with Scott Rutherford

Rather than focusing on an individual theorist, this course considers original works produced individually and collectively by scholars associated with the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) in the late 1970s and 1980s. We will pay attention on to 'Race and Politics' sub-group at the CCCS, especially essays collected in The Empire Strikes Back and in Policing the Crisis. We will also read other selected works of the Women’s Studies Group, Hazel Carby, Angela McRobbie, Stuart Hall and Paul Gilroy. We will read closely, questioning how Cultural Studies scholars situated theoretical work on racism and other inequalities within the society they lived in, the lead up to and early years of Thatcher-era Britain. Is it possible for theory to cross the boundaries of space and time? Do their insights offer avenues for understanding the current political moment within our own localities? What boundaries can we allow theory and scholarship to cross in helping explain similar, but still different, tensions? These are some of the questions we will pursue in this microcourse.

A secondary goal for this course is to establish our own series of working papers that future readers can return to in order to imagine new ways of understanding their own precarious moments.

The course is composed of five sessions in January and February with a final written submission due at the end of term.


CUST 815 Methods in Practice
Elaine Power

Spring 2019 (1.0 Unit)
Selected Tuesdays, 10-1 (Apr 23, 30; May 7, 14) (Mackintosh-Corry Hall D405)
This course will offer specialized in-depth instruction in topics related to Cultural Studies Methodology.
Cultural Studies MA and PhD students will have enrollment priority; non-CUST students are welcome to request permission from Elaine Power to enroll in the course.

Spring 2019 Detailed Course Description — Talking with People: Qualitative Research Interview

Talking with People: Qualitative Research Interview​ with Elaine Power

“If you want to know how people understand their world and their lives, why not talk with them?” (Brinkmann & Kvale, 2015). The research interview is a form of conversation, and while we all have experience engaging in this social practice, the research interview involves the cultivation of particular skills that are best learned by doing.

This mini-course is designed to be a practical, hands-on course to gain basic knowledge and practice of interviewing skills. The course will introduce epistemological issues, taking a constructivist position that an interview produces co-constructed data, and take up questions related to being an ethical researcher. Students will conduct an audio-recorded interview, transcribe and code it. We will consider issues of how to ensure the quality of qualitative research and ways of reporting qualitative research, including arts-informed methods.

Required text: Brinkmann, S., & Kvale, S. (2015). InterViews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.


NEW Special Topics Course: CUST 892 Public Art & Sensory Implication

Special Topics courses will provide intensive coverage of a special topic within Cultural Studies, and will be offered periodically based on faculty availability and expertise. Information will be posted here as it becomes available.

CUST 892 Special Topics I
Public Art & Sensory Implication, Dylan Robinson

Winter 2019 (3.0 Units)
Tuesdays, 11:30-2:30 (Mackintosh-Corry Hall D217)

  • This course will focus on public art, activism and other interventions in public space. We will examine the ways in which public art implicates viewers in a politics of accountability through their sensory, material and affective impact. How do public art’s forms, materiality and modes of address act as strategies of sensory interpellation? We will draw upon theories that assert the fundamentally political nature of aesthetics in order to question the roles that alienation and enchantment (amongst other affective experiences) play in the sensory experience of public work.
  • Areas of specific focus will include sound art, forms of gathering/discursive space, and examining how public space and normative histories of place are interrogated from Indigenous, Black, queer, and feminist perspectives. 
  • Please contact Dylan Robinson for permission to take this course.
NEW Special Topics Course: CUST 893 Listening Otherwise

Special Topics courses will provide intensive coverage of a special topic within Cultural Studies, and will be offered periodically based on faculty availability and expertise. Information will be posted here as it becomes available.

CUST 893 Listening Otherwise, Dylan Robinson
(Winter 2019, 3 Units)
Thursdays, 11:30-2:30 (Mackintosh-Corry Hall D217)

  • We listen every day, every moment, yet often do not consider the ways in which this form of perception is guided by factors including gender, sexuality, race, class, and ability (i.e. our individual positionality). Listening Otherwise considers the particular ways in which listening takes place in different settings (the concert hall, gallery, and urban and domestic spaces), and is influenced not only by cultural and gendered norms, but also by values of the institutions we are part of and the nation states we live within.
  • The course is envisioned as a kind of “listening lab” in which we will experiment with different practices of listening. Students will have the opportunity to explore new ways of listening to music (recorded and live performance), of listening to place (as a ‘visitor/guest’ or when ‘at home’), and reconsider the political stakes of listening. As a Principal’s Dream Course, we will benefit from learning from a wide range of visiting artists, musicians, and scholars who will share their work with the class. We will listen to multiple genres of music, sound art and places themselves as we ask how the body listens “beyond the ear”.
  • Please contact Dylan Robinson for permission to take this course.
NEW CUST 806 Topics in Indigenous Studies *** Thursdays at 6:30pm in the Cultural Studies Board Room***

CUST 806
Topics in Indigenous Studies, Michael Doxtater

Fall 2018 (3.0 Units)
Thursdays 6:30-9:30 p.m. (*** NEW: Thursdays at 6:30pm in the Cultural Studies Board Room***)

This course examines issues pertaining to Indigenous knowledge, traditions, cultures, histories, and experience.

Seminar Overview:

The study of human cultural development entailed the dichotomy of one studying the cultural “Other.” In the 1800s the fields of ethnology, anthropology, and archeology originated the professional monopolies that assumed a right to explore other cultures in the quest of understanding the true nature of the world. The frontier for studying human development features theorists with names like Lewis Henry Morgan, Darwin, Freud, James Mooney, Franz Boas, and Margaret Mead. The underlying theme – we study Others to learn about ourselves. 

Following World War II the shift in studying human development coincided with self-doubts about western civilization’s epidemic war set against endemic tribal wars of primitive man. Who is the primitive here? In this era theorists like Kurt Lewin, Uri Bronfenbrenner, and Edwards Demming, working in the rebuilding of a post-war world, devised organizational systems using self-evaluation to solve local problems. Ideas like “cultural relativity” preface the new discourse with Others. Now we turn inward and study ourselves to learn about ourselves—especially relevant in regions where industrial and corporate downsizing are consistent with decolonization worldwide.

Indigenous populations face these same challenges as resource-based economies transform. However, in many regions in Canada when the colonizers leave the remaining population need to reinvent themselves. The notion of critical reflection and self-study assumes the framework for the field of Indigenous Human Ecology. Masters of Indigenous arts and sciences have taken the opportunity to study Indigenous Society—the foundational principle for Indigenous Human Ecology (IHE).

The “Topics in Indigenous Studies” graduate seminar examines contemporary “indigenography” within the framework of Indigenous Human Ecology—the audio-visual, graphic, textual, and performative communication of Indigenous culture. Themes begin in an era the Manitou Arts Foundation called The Psychic Revolution that began in the 1960s with the Indian Pavilion at Expo '67. Art, photography, theatre, dance, and film communicate resistance to cultural genocide in what Shelley Niro describes as cultural guerrilla-warfare--cultural aspect through signs and symbols of Indigenous culture. Examples of Indigenographers include: Niro, Shirley Cheechoo, Doug Cuthand, Alanis Obomsawin, and Greg Coyes; West coast, Plains, Eastern Woodlands, and Great Lakes artists include Odjig, Morriseau, Janvier, Reid, and Robert Houle; a vast array of Indigenous photographers are included; theatre includes Daniel ‘David Moses and Thomson Highway; performance artists includes Santee Smith and Willie Dunn.


NEW CUST 807 Settler Colonialism and Incarceration

CUST 807
Settler Colonialism and Incarceration, Lisa Guenther

Winter 2019 (3.0 Units)
Tuesdays, 2:30-5:30 (Watson Hall 207)
In Canada, Indigenous people are ten times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Indigenous people.  The disproportion is even more extreme in the Prairie provinces, reaching a factor of 33 in Saskatchewan.  The number of Indigenous women behind bars more than doubled between 2001 and 2012, even as the cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women were routinely neglected by police.  And yet, in spite of this national crisis—as well as similar patterns in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States—there is relatively little theoretical research on the relation between settler colonialism and carceral power.  The seminar undertakes to address this gap by Indigenous scholars such as Glen Coulthard, Audra Simpson, and Eve Tuck, as well as non-Indigenous critics of settler colonialism such as Robert Nichols, Sherene Razack, and Patrick Wolfe, alongside prison scholars and activists such as Angela Davis, Dylan Rodríguez, and Foucault.

Cultural Studies MA and PhD students will have enrollment priority; non-CUST students are welcome to request permission from Lisa Guenther to enroll in the course.

Practicum Courses

CUST 894 Directed Community-Based Practicum

This course is intended to support a student's MA or PhD research through organizational and social experience gained from involvement with relevant off-campus institutions, organizations, and community groups. A CS faculty member will oversee each placement in collaboration with a member of the relevant organization or group.  Please note that practicum courses must be arranged well in advance: do not wait until September.

CUST 895 Agnes Etherington Practicum
Alicia Boutilier (Chief Curator/Curator of Canadian Historical Art, Agnes Etherington Art Centre)
This applied research internship in a professional art museum cultivates understanding of the capacity and disciplinary protocols surrounding research and public presentation of critical cultures within an institutional framework. The focus of the course is a defined research project developed in consultation with the supervising curator and contributing to the Art Centre’s exhibition program or collection development. Practicum students work on-site at the Art Centre 10 hours per week, with additional research hours required. For information on the curatorial direction of our contemporary art program, please refer to the gallery website. Graduate students with relevant education and/or experience in visual and media art or art history in the Cultural Studies Programs at a Masters or Doctoral level are eligible to apply. Those interested should submit a letter of intent describing their goals and areas of interest, a CV and a transcript of their academic record. Admission will be based on interviews, and is contingent on identification of a research project aligned with student research interests and evolving gallery needs. Applications should be submitted well in advance of the desired semester, usually at the beginning of the previous semester to allow for planning. Practica may take place in the fall, winter or spring/summer semester.​  Please note that practicum courses must be arranged well in advance: do not wait until September.

Directed Studies Courses

Under the supervision of an individual faculty member, students may conduct intensive reading in a research area not offered in core or elective courses. Readings are to be arranged in consultation with the faculty supervisor, and accompanied by meetings during the term to discuss the readings and submission of written assignments. (This course will be offered when faculty resources are available.)

CUST 990 Directed Studies I
​CUST 991 Directed Studies II
CUST 890 Directed Studies I
CUST 891 Directed Studies II