Admission to the School for Advanced Studies in the Arts and Humanities is conditional upon successful application to the School (see Apply) and completion of all first-year requirements. During first year, Students must maintain an average of at least 70% in 3.0 principal courses, including an average of at least 75% in Arts and Humanities 1020E (the first-year foundational course, outlined below), with no mark in these principal courses below 60%, plus 2.0 additional courses with no failures.
Students enrolled in the School will complete the Major in Arts and Humanities, as well as a Major or Honours Specialization from an existing program in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. Beyond Arts and Humanities 1020E, students will take 6.0 courses to complete the Honours Program in Arts and Humanities. Below is the general outline for the Program Major in Arts and Humanities, followed by detailed descriptions for all courses:
2.0 courses: How to Do Research in the Arts and Humanities (AH2210E; full year)
Theory Across the Humanities (AH 2220E; full year)
2.0 courses: AH 3390F/G, AH 3391F/G, AH 3392 F/G, AH 3393 F/G (all half year)
1.0 course: Capstone Seminar (AH 4410E; full year)
1.0 course from: AH 4490F/G; AH 4491F/G; AH 4492F/G; AH 4493 F/G (all half year)
1.0 course is required to fulfill the language requirement for graduation: French 1900E or 1910 or another non-English language course at the 2000 level or above.
Note: Students considering this Major should be advised to take a 1000-level language course in their first year if they do not already have a Grade 12U level non-English language.
Prerequisite: Admission to the School for Advanced Studies in Arts and Humanities
3 hours/week, 1.0 course
This course introduces students to a range of case studies on the theme of cultural change from ancient times to the present. Culture reflects and expresses the aspirations, conflicts, and imagination of human experience. As the world becomes increasingly corporatized, digitized, and globalized, and human experience becomes more complex, diverse, and dispersed, however, so has the role of culture shifted dramatically to reflect these changes. Or has it? This course focuses on the specific issue of modernity, understood as culture’s awareness of its own historical moment. Does “modernity” go back as far as human history? In other words, has culture always been “modern”? Or does modernity begin at a particular point, and, if so, when? With Ancient Greece? Or with the debate between the “ancients” (antiqui) and the “moderns” (moderni) in the 12th century? During the period of the Reformation or as a result of global expansion and exploration in the 14th-16th centuries? With the 18th-century Enlightenment and the French Revolution of 1789? Or more recently with the rise of 19th-century “modernismo” in the Hispanic world or “modernism” in the early 20th century culture?
We will address these questions by examining the changing face of culture through the iconology of its signs – art, books, buildings, digital media, films, plays, videos -- and events -- exhibitions, performances, protests, revolutions, shows, wars. From Democritus to Derrida, Gilgamesh to Gladiator, Lascaux to London, “Signs, Events, Change” addresses the modernity of culture as a process that has been unfolding for centuries, if not millennia.
This full-year seminar is team-taught by Research Fellows in the School. Through a variety of pedagogical approaches – case studies, field trips, lectures, seminars – and assignments – blogs, essays, exhibitions, fieldwork, interviews, public presentations, profiles, reviews, videos – students and faculty will engage in the kinds of interdisciplinary dialogue and debate that will inform students’ education throughout subsequent years in the Program. A central purpose of this diversified approach early on in the Program will be to immerse students, and encourage them to take an active role, in the dynamics of cultural change.
The course has several objectives:
to survey the historical, thematic, and critical issues and terms of the study of culture among select fields in Arts and Humanities at Western: Classics, English, Film, French, Linguistics, Modern Languages and Literatures, Comparative Literature, Philosophy, Visual Arts, Writing, and Women’s Studies
Prerequisite: 75% or higher in AH 1020E
3 lecture hours, 1.0 course
Why is research essential to the study of the Arts and Humanities? This course examines the functions, practices, and modes of communication that inform research among various fields in the Arts and Humanities. Our focus will be to understand how research knowledge is gathered, interpreted, expressed, and disseminated to diverse audiences, from scholarly communities to non-specialist readers both within and beyond the academy. Students will study and be trained in a range of issues and approaches: the critical and comprehensive use of print and online library resources; the suitability, relevance, and effectiveness of diverse methodological approaches; the impact of digital humanities and new media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) on how knowledge is formed and implemented in the public sphere. A crucial context for this examination will be to explore the history of research practices and methodologies before what we now call the Age of Information -- from hieroglyphics, to papyrus documents, to Gutenberg’s press, to the birth of photography, cinema, and eventually the internet -- and thus to learn from the successes and failures of research communication. How has the collection and distribution of research influenced, but at times also manipulated, the reception of information by various audiences?
This course thus exposes students in the School for Advanced Studies in the Arts and Humanities to the breadth of research tools and methods available to them in the various disciplines in the Faculty, as well as resources both print and virtual found on campus through library services and other sources. Students as well as Research Fellows of the School will be encouraged to bring their own research initiatives to this course. This course’s key objective is to train students -- through the applied study of various research tools and an emphasis on honing excellent written, oral, and digital skills -- to integrate a diverse array of methodologies and practices in the name of rigorous, clear, and effective communication of knowledge in our current information age.
Prerequisite: 75% or higher in AH 1020E
3 hours/week, 1.0 course
Why are theory and history essential to the study of the Arts and Humanities, and why do they remain vital to the study of culture in an increasingly complex global situation? This course surveys contemporary theories and historical approaches that inform research in the Arts and Humanities: Classical Studies, English, Film, French, Linguistics, Modern Languages and Literatures, Comparative Literature, Philosophy, Visual Arts, Writing, and Women’s Studies. We will examine how theoretical and historical approaches intersect across fields, as well as how specific fields deploy theory and history to different ends when interpreting texts, objects, and contexts. What differences and similarities govern research in diverse historical situations: classical studies, medieval studies, early modern studies, eighteenth-, nineteenth-, or twentieth-century studies? Can the same theoretical approaches be used from one period to the next? To answer these questions, the course will also explore how debates about the significance of theory and history have shaped knowledge and research both within and across disciplines. Aside from the various disciplines and historical moments listed above, students will be introduced to an array of theoretical schools and approaches that inform study in the Arts and Humanities: Cognitive Studies, Cultural Studies, Feminism, Film Theory, Marxist and post-Marxist Studies, Museum Studies, New Historicism, Philology, Postcolonialism, Poststructuralism, Psychoanalysis, Psycholinguistics, Queer Studies, Structuralism, Theatre Studies, Visual Theory.
To navigate this rich and diverse field, the course is structured as a selective but representative series of class modules. Each module will target a specific area of historical study, or cluster of historical interests, and examine theoretical approaches that inform research in this area. Each module will reflect the teaching and research interests of Fellows teaching in the School. Through both course- and self-directed study, students will be encouraged to transport the historical and theoretical concerns of their home department and degree and to undertake assignments that address how theory and the study of history impact knowledge and events beyond the classroom.
Prerequisite: AH 2210E and AH 2220F/G
3 hours/week; 0.5 course
Building on the theoretical and methodological knowledge and skills acquired in the first and second years of the Program, each of these half courses will focus on the specific research expertise of one of the Research Fellows teaching in the School. Possible topics are listed below. The purpose of each course will be to immerse students in an intensive and engaged research environment in order further to train students in the applied study of the Arts and Humanities. Course curriculum and assignments will be designed to reflect the requirements of the field, topic, and sub-topics particular to each Research Fellow, and will be tailored to encourage the kinds of independent and self-directed study that students will undertake exclusively in the fourth-year capstone seminar and experiential learning courses.
Sample courses include:
The events of 1776 in America, and then again in 1789 in France, mark what we might very call the birth of democracy. This profound shift in world politics ushered in a re-mapping of the geopolitical terrain with which we are still living. Yet how novel, and how democratic, is democracy? Through a variety of literary, philosophical, political, and cultural writings, artefacts, and events, this course will examine what role revolution has played throughout history – from Spartacus’ rebellion against the Romans, to the signing of the Magna Carta, to the Puritan and Glorious Revolutions, to various workers revolutions of the 19th century, to the Russian Revolution, to Occupy Wall Street. Part of the course’s mandate will be to engage students in the politics of both university life and the broader community.
Professor Christine Sprengler
“Paracinema” refers to works that attempt to generate the effects of cinema without using the traditional materials or physical support of film. Art historically, the term has been used to describe sculpture, installation, and video works from the 1960s and 1970s that encourage analysis of “cinema” as an idea or concept by recreating its aesthetic, spectatorial, and technological dimensions through a variety of creative strategies. This course will begin with a brief survey of paracinema’s early 20th-century precedents, followed by a more in-depth exploration of its post-1960s manifestations. It will also consider the extent to which the term facilitates productive engagements with a variety of creative impulses of the 21st century. By looking at a diverse set of examples of paracinema as well as the critical literature on the subject, we will ask how this art form has the capacity to produce knowledge about cinema and imagine its possible future forms.
The paginated book was developed in the first centuries of the Common Era, and it revolutionized writing. Rather than writing in columns on papyrus scrolls, the book allowed for convenient cross-referencing and the ability to find material quickly. In the history of the West, there have been two subsequent revolutions in bookmaking: the shift from the handwritten manuscript codex to the printed book around the beginning of the 16th century, and then the digital revolution 500 years later at the end of the 20th century with the advent of the computer. This course will look at the book as a written text, as a concrete, visual object, as a digital phenomenon, and as a metaphor (e.g. “the book of one’s life”). Everything associated with books and bookmaking will come into play: social factors, visual aesthetics, technological developments, ideologies, market factors, levels of literacy, scripts/bindings/covers/illustrations, and much more.
This seminar will grapple with the remarkable history and protean nature of the concept of nostalgia. We will begin by considering its origins as a medical condition suffered by 17th century Swiss mercenaries, track its permutations through various cultural moments, practices and disciplines from the 18th to the 20th century, and ask what value this now heavily-criticized sentiment has in our 21st century world. Case studies drawn from ancient through to contemporary times and from art, literature, film, television, music, fashion, advertising and consumer culture will help us analyze the political and theoretical debates sparked by nostalgia’s many uses, expressions and meanings.
Professor Marilyn Randall
Plagiarism is as old as literature itself. There has rarely been an era in which authors have not complained about the theft of their intellectual labour, even in times when such concepts had not yet been formulated as we know them. To study the history of accusations of and defenses against plagiarism in Western letters is also to study the changing norms and expectations which govern what is considered acceptable use and exchange of knowledge and information. This history coincides to a large extent with the history of authorship, of originality and imitation, and of the development of copyright and intellectual property laws. Asking “what is plagiarism?” then, is another way of asking “what is literature?” The course will place both questions within reader-oriented and institutional definitions of “literature” which see the literary field – or culture in general – as a scene of struggle for both financial and symbolic power and authority. We will investigate how acts and accusations of plagiarism can be used as weapons to achieve cultural dominance. While the course will present primarily the Continental, French, and Anglo-American literary and critical traditions, students will be expected to explore aspects of the question in their own areas of specialization, and to bring to the discussion insights from other cultural traditions.
Professor Kelly Olson
This course will explore the various social, cultural, economic, sexual, and personal meanings associated with fashion and consumption. Since clothing is a medium for fashioning identities from commodities, it is hardly surprising that social and sexual tensions are woven into its fabrications. In the course we will examine such topics as: the cultural development of fashion; why and how certain dress practices and types of consumption are coded as ‘male,’ or ‘female’ and why; the history of dandy and of the clotheshorse; how clothes encapsulate the relations between the sexes and ideals of gender; how certain types of clothes are prescribed or prescribed because of the values, ideas, and constraints of any one society; what role fashion plays in the construction of identity; how clothing can embody the subcultural self. We will also pay particular attention to the relationship between fashion and class, and readings will include social theory about fashion and consumption (Bourdieu, Barthes, and Veblen).
Professor Mario Longtin
This course will explore, using an experiential learning approach, the culture of French Québec through drama. We will read and perform in English translation dramatic texts from the Québécois repertoire in order challenge our vision of the “Other Canada”, and experience the distinct society by constructing compelling characters, bringing what seems far from us at first much closer. We will visit the works of authors such as Michel Tremblay, Michel-Marc Bouchard, Normand Chaurette, Robert Lepage and Wajdi Mouawad, but also more recent theatrical proposal from Belle province. A performance of the scenes explored in our workshop classes will take place at the end of the term.
Professor Kirsty Robertson
This participatory course (divided into two parts; see “Fourth-Year Courses”) introduces students to museum and curatorial studies through a project that uses mapping as a spatial diagnostic tool. The first part of the course will deal with theory and history. Students will learn about the history of museums, including an overview of curatorial techniques, museum controversies and the changing nature of museums today. Interwoven into this analysis will be an in-depth study of the uses of cartography in contemporary visual culture, focusing on the use of mapping as an interventionist strategy by artists and activists alike.
Professor Mark McDayter
What is a digital text, and how does it differ from other “reading machines,” such as the printed book? Does the digital text transform how we read, and how we write? This course will examine some of the theoretical and practical aspects of digital textuality, considering it within its historical, theoretical, and technological contexts. Classroom learning will involve a mix of traditional and digital learning, while a practicum component will focus upon a collaborative digital text-building project. Readings will range from seminal works in field of History of the Book, to discussions of the potential impacts of computers upon the texts that we read. Students will learn how to encode text to make it machine-readable, and be introduced to some of the fundamental elements of digital interface design.
Professor David Bentley
This course will study the complex and changing relationship between London, Ontario and London, England from the late eighteenth century to the present. It will begin with a general inquiry into the methodologies that the course will draw upon, including the replica and fragment theories of new societies, the metropolitan and periphery theory of cultural diffusion, and the cognitive-linguistic concept of emergent structure. The course will then focus on subtopics related to London, Ontario that will be designed to investigate aspects of the city’s evolving natural and built environments. Such topics will include the monuments in Victoria Park, the Thames River and its bridges, the architecture of London’s Anglican and Catholic cathedrals, the paintings of such artists as Paul Peel and Jack Chambers, and the prose and poetry of Anna Jameson, James Reaney, Don McKay, and others. Attention will also be paid to aspects of the region surrounding London, for example, the Stratford Festival and the Annendale House in Tillsonburg, which was inspired by the Aestheticism of Oscar Wilde. The last portion of the course will focus on comparing and contrasting the aspects of London, Ontario studied as subtopics with their equivalents in London, England, using materials available on websites such as those of the Tate Britain and the Royal Institute of Architects (RIBA), the writings of William Wordsworth, Charles Dickens, T.S. Eliot, and others, and insights and information gathered during a field study in the city itself. The goal of the course will be to come to a greater understanding, not merely of the relationship between the British London and its Canadian namesake, but also of the evolution of Canada from a settler colony to a multicultural nation.
This capstone seminar will centre on a specific theme or hot topic, to be examined from various disciplinary and methodological perspectives in the Arts and Humanities in which students have been trained in the Program. A key component of the seminar, building on students’ local and regional community involvement to this point in the Program, will be travel to a national or international site for the purpose of undertaking intensive fieldwork. The seminar topic will be led by a Visiting Scholar invited to participate in the Program, with the contribution of one or more Research Fellows. Course curriculum will be determined by the Visiting Scholar and/or Research Fellows in dialogue with students, who will be asked to engage with the seminar’s themes in terms of their individual research interests developed throughout the Program. Among a variety of assignments, then, students will be asked to design and execute a major Independent Research Project whose applied study will reflect the results of their national or international fieldwork.
Prerequisites: AH 2210E and AH 2220E
3 hours/week, 1.0 course
These courses will capitalize upon the various applied skills acquired in the Program in order to launch students on their future academic or career trajectories. Each course will thus focus exclusively on some practical element of the professional development of critical and research skills with an eye to preparing students in any number of fields from postgraduate study to jobs in the private and public sectors. Typically students will take up internships in any number of settings or in organizations with which the School collaborates: research team; print or digital editing and publishing; public or human relations; cultural event organization; curatorial, museum, or gallery planning; film or video production, etc.
3 hours/week, 0.5 course
Professor Patrick Mahon
In the present socio-cultural moment, water is increasingly the subject of discussion and contestation in public discourse. Canadians know it as a resource that is ubiquitous within their history and an increasingly desirable international commodity. This course proceeds from Patrick Mahon’s collaborative, international project that mobilizes research and practice in visual art to address the subject of waterregarding its cultural and environmental importance. Linking the historical art practice of picturing nature with the potential of visual representation and literary/analytical texts to offer opportunities for aesthetic and socio-cultural engagement, Immersion Emergencies will provide a forum for analysis, expression and creation. In response to lectures, field trips, design charettes and on-line and library research, students will engage with water variously, through written, auditory and visual means. In addition to individual projects, collaborative and site-specific activities will be encouraged.
Professor Kirsty Robertson
In this participatory course, students will put into action material from “Curating the City, Part I” (see “Third-Year Courses”) using spatial data collected in London to create a series of maps that “re-draw” the city through a variety of often overlooked strata: foodscapes, smellscapes, or financespaces, for example. The collection and assembly of this data will result in a curatorial intervention in London (space to be determined). Students will emerge from the class with an understanding of how knowledge can be accrued and conveyed through visual material and an understanding of how globalization and the passages and circulations of goods, foods and services affect the physical space of a small city.
Professor Mark McDayter
This course will examine the intersections and encounters between two new strains of work in the Humanities: Public Humanities and Digital Humanities. While the latter focuses particularly on the ways in which digital technology can assist students of the arts and humanities in understanding the traditional subjects of their study, it is, like the Public Humanities, very much about engagement with the public sphere, and the communication of humanistic knowledge and perspectives. How can Digital Humanities help enable such public engagement? And how can Public Humanities inform the practices of digital humanists? The course will have three components: a theoretical, classroom-based examination of the theoretical intersections of Public and Digital Humanities, a praxis and technology component in which the students learn to use a multimedia story-building tool, and finally a community service learning component in which the students interact with elementary students to help them tell their own "stories" digitally, by means of a linked and networked "storybook" that is produced collaboratively by both course participants and the elementary school students. Evaluation will be based upon one formal written essay, a short written “Reflection,” participation in the collaborative digital story telling project, and in-class participation. See course website
Professor Gillian Barker
How, in this 21st century, are we to understand our relationship to nature—to the earth, the wild, the non-human? How can our understanding guide the choices that we make, as individuals and as a society? This course combines philosophical reflection with literary and artistic explorations drawn from diverse historical contexts and cultural traditions to investigate our moral, practical and spiritual relationship with the natural world, and the ways in which our personal and collective identities are entangled with the environments we live in. Our investigations will be rooted in our own place here in southwestern Ontario, with field excursions to explore local natural and urban environments (including a canoe trip through the Exceptional Waters reach of the Grand River.) Students will reflect on their own lifetime relationships to the natural world through journals, personal essays and collaborative projects, as well as writing argumentative philosophy papers as a means of probing the conceptual and theoretical questions that arise when we ask about humans’ place in nature and nature’s place in human life.
Professor Eric Desjardins
Although many of us care in some ways about the environment, few of us dare to take action. This course asks students to reflect and act on environmental concerns. Working in collaboration with a partner in southwestern Ontario, such as The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority or the City of London, students will engage in on-site conservation projects, reflect on our responsibility to the environment, argue for different reasons to value nature, learn about different views of sustainability, explore the complexity of promoting biodiversity in an ever changing world, and propose imaginative solutions for a responsible co-existence of human and nature. The course will be facilitated through a combination of class discussions, collaborative applied assignments, short individual reflection papers and longer philosophical essays.