School for Advanced Studies in the Arts & HumanitiesWestern Arts and Humanities

Third Year

Third Year Courses:

Special Topics in Interdisciplinary Studies (AH 3391 F/G to 3394 F/G)

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:

1776/1789: Revolutions and Occupations

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 Book: From Ancient Codex to e-text
Professor Laurence De Looze

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. Nostalgia 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.

Plagiarism 101
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.

Fashion, Consumption, Sexuality
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).

What does Québec want? Understanding Québec Culture through Drama Performance
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.

Curating the City 1
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.

Theories and Approaches to Digital Textuality
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.

Tales of Two Cities: London, Ontario and London, England
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.