Graduate Courses

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This is a core course for graduate students in Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies which combines professional development, a series of guest speakers, and the possibility for students if they so choose to undertake an internship related to their area of study. Professional development workshops will include sections of grant writing, conference presentation, strategies for the dissemination of their works, production and research ethics, and curriculum development. The course will run on a bi-weekly basis over the course of the academic year, alternating between professional development workshops and visiting speakers in screen cultures and curatorial studies. With the guidance of a supervisor, students will develop their own media practice, curatorial project, practice-based research, or research work, with the goal of realizing their project, and develop a timeline appropriate for the completion of a thesis in a timely manner.

This a core course for graduate students in Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies which unpacks and explores key theories and philosophies relevant to screen cultures and curatorial studies. SCCS 812 is meant to provide students with a survey of influential historical and contemporary theoretical texts and concepts. In part, we will explore why critical and theoretical approaches are required in this program and many others, working through debates around theory itself. The primary structure of the course will provide theoretical maps of intellectual thought and practice interpreting dense theoretical works, while also engaging how these ideas have been institutionalized and to what effects. As such, we will hold our class in tension. The course will engage generously with an openness to what the concepts and texts might do and have offered as well as confront the afterlives of theory and criticism, which often include omissions, erasures, and modes of subordination. Concepts covered include difference, race, post/de/coloniality, capitalism, feminisms, queerness, experience, knowing, power, affect, aesthetics, and technology. 

This is a core course for graduate students in Screen Cultures and Curatorial Studies which will provide a sampling of the various roles that a carefully designed methodology can play in production, criticism, and curatorial practices, with a view to expanding the possibilities in students’ research and research-creation projects.  The goal is to assist the student in developing innovative but rigorous approaches in their research. We will develop responses to some fundamental questions regarding method. While familiar and clearly defined methodologies have indisputably proven their worth, are there other approaches which might contribute to research results?  Is it always best practice to have a single, clearly defined methodology?  Is it ever appropriate to entertain several different, and perhaps even competing methodologies in a single project? Can too much attention to controlling methodologies restrict research outcomes? 

This course will explore emerging and to some extent experimental methodological approaches: the merging and hybridization of academic and artistic methods (research-creation); how changing views on the role and status of the author can effect method; how the careful use of constraints can paradoxically liberate research results;  the relationship between the manifesto, and manifesto-like articulations, effect artistic and critical production, etc.

Curating End Times is an option course which immerses students in interdisciplinary ideas about the significance of crafting narratives about the impending apocalypse, and curating accounts of world-ending cataclysms. Examining theories of New Materialism, Indigenous Futurism, Eco-Feminism, Afro-futurism, Transhumanism, Singularitarianism, and Longtermism, among other philosophies, this course not only questions technological and scientific ‘progress’, but also puts into question real-world preservation initiatives such as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (which safeguards the planet's botanical diversity), and Arch Mission Foundation (whose goal is to create multiple redundant repositories of human knowledge around the Solar System). The seminar also explores the cultural phenomenon of ‘doomsday preppers’ (individuals who actively ready themselves for global upheavals), and the role of climate activists (individuals who use their bodies often as human shields against planetary destruction). Curating End Times asks students to reimagine current, mainstream ‘end times’ narratives, and contemplate the profound ways through which humanity has historically envisioned and chronicled its potential downfall.

This is an option course with specialised faculty focus, which may change from year to year. Topics may include: new forms of authorship; Indigenous media; exhibition and performance; critical curatorial studies; diasporic cinemas; interactivity and media.

This option course is designed for students with active creative practices.  The course will facilitate structured peer feedback opportunities for students as they complete a self-directed project in the medium of their choice. Each student will be expected to take a single project from concept to completion during the semester.  The project should be new at the start of the course, and should build on the student’s existing body of work.  While students will be self-directed in the technical production of their projects, they will be accountable to the class for an introduction to their creative practice and background, a clear presentation of their production plan, well-prepared in-progress updates, a polished final presentation, and high-quality final documentation.  Traditional studio-critique models will be consciously interrogated; students will be asked to reflect on the purpose and benefits of critique, and strive to develop a common language in order to communicate as creative peers with diverse practices and approaches.

There are no official pre-requisites for this class at this time. However, it is recommended that students have one of the following:

  •  a portfolio of creative work;
  • a CV with evidence of creative practice;
  • a transcript with at least one course in any area of creative practice (writing, filmmaking, studio art, drama, music, digital media, dance, etc).

If none of those are available, students who wish to take this course are advised to attend an extra-curricular workshop in media production basics before taking the class. 

This micro course offers specialized in-depth instruction associated with the newly established SCCS Summer Institute. The summer institute will run for one week in August on a yearly basis. Each year it will focus on a different topic, led by a faculty member's research interest. Students taking the course will attend the summer institute and receive instruction by the lead faculty member prior to, and after, the institute's duration. Depending on the yearly topic, the course may offer intensely specific training in methods, theoretical engagement, or a specific historical perspective. (1.0 credit units)

This option course addresses the histories, theories and issues of curatorial practice as a tool of cultural agency and considers evolving paradigms of “the curatorial.” Through critical analysis and engagement with readings and defined case studies, the class will investigate the forces and frameworks that shape the creation and presentation of exhibitions, programs and screenings, ranging across such topics as display formats, material and digital forms of narrative building, local and global circuits of reception, audience-making, resources/markets, festivals, institutional types and collections. Addressing both conceptual frameworks and the political economy of curatorial practice, students will consider the roles of belief systems/values, policy, politics, funding agencies and philanthropists as these impact cultural expression and exchange.

The meaning and usage of the word “curate” has evolved dramatically in recent years, both inside and outside the art world. This course explores the following core questions. What is the role of a curator? How do we best understand curatorial methodologies for the display of objects, experiences and information, and fully exercise their potential in different contexts? And, how do curators negotiate the aesthetic, social, political, physical and economic factors that shape and communicate creative cultural content?
The aim of the seminar is to provide an in-depth understanding of curating today from a range of diverse perspectives. In examining curatorial practices and the material and virtual spaces they activate, students will develop critical visual literacy, as well as the advanced writing, analytical and presentation skills necessary for participation in current discourses and public-facing animation of artistic production. Instructor: Qanita Lilla


This is a production-oriented option course that explores the development of exhibitions, programs, screenings and collections, with emphasis on drawing out and cultivating their relationship to context. Students will develop advanced understanding of curatorial methods, applied standards and innovative experimentation through projects fusing autonomous creative research, articulation and collaboration. The course offers a modular framework to support and enable students to encounter and experience practical strategies for the successful realization of artistic programs in visual and media arts, an approach applicable to both contemporary and historical works.

Taking advantage of the context of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre’s specialist staff, collections, facilities and artistic networks, students will undertake a guided team-driven project to explore and experience curatorial practice through developing an exhibition, screening, festival program or public-facing extra-mural or online artistic project. The course objective is to provide hands-on experience within an institutional context, while engaging in critical issues of curatorial practice under the instruction of a professional curator.

This course considers the ways in which curators develop, manage and engage with artists, audiences, collections, pragmatic mobilization of resources, aesthetic integrity and expressive potentials, while responding to diverse institutional and non-institutional contexts and histories, as well as geo-political and social conditions. What are the drivers that inform and shape the work of curators today? Through what strategies of curatorial practice can the context of presentation be mobilized?

Individual directed reading option course under the guidance of a faculty member in an area of the instructor’s expertise. Fall or Winter. Under supervision by a faculty member, Graduate students may conduct intensive reading, curation, or production in an area not offered in core or elective courses that supports graduate research on applications of screen cultures and curatorial studies. Readings and project are to be arranged in consultation with the sponsoring faculty member and joined by meetings during the term to discuss readings and submissions.

This option course is intended to support a student's PhD research through organizational and social experience gained from involvement with relevant on-campus and off-campus institutions, organizations, and community groups (such as the Agnes Etherington Arts Centre, The Union Gallery, Modem Fuel, The Kingston Canadian Film Festival, Reelout, etc). A SCCS faculty member will oversee each placement in collaboration with a member of the relevant organization or group. PREREQUISITE: At least two SCCS courses, or permission of Graduate Coordinator.

SCCS 899 Master's Thesis or Project (Students are automatically enrolled each term provided they are in good standing)

SCCS 999 Ph.D. Thesis or Project (Students are automatically enrolled each term provided they are in good standing)

SCCS students may also choose Option Courses from Cultural Studies courses if there are spaces available. Relevant courses may also be found in Art History, Gender Studies, English, and International Development Studies.

CUST PhD Option Courses: CUST 806/3.0; CUST 892/3.0; CUST 816/1.0; CUST 800/3.0; CUST 804/3.0; CUST 807/3.0; CUST 893/3.0; CUST 817/1.0; CUST 815/1.0. For detailed descriptions of Cultural Studies courses visit Cultural Studies.

Courses outside SCCS require permission from the instructor, the student's supervisor, and the Graduate Chair of SCCS. A completed ACF (Academic Change Form) must be submitted to