First Year



Arts and Humanities 1020E is taught by Research Fellows in the School. In lecture, discussion, and workshop formats, these faculty members will aid you in completing a variety of assignments, which might include traditional academic writing, creative work, and collaborative projects.

Our central purpose in immersing students in interdisciplinary dialogue and debate early on in the Program is to encourage you and enable you to take an active role in the future of the humanities.

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, Literatures and Cultures, Comparative Literature, Philosophy, Visual Arts, Writing, and Women’s Studies to introduce the research approaches, methodologies, and forms of communication employed by these fields
  • to provide a foundational theoretical knowledge and training in language and communication skills to support subsequent studies in the Major in Arts and Humanities to foster collaboration with the broader academic and public communities through experiential learning

Prerequisite: Admission to the School for Advanced Studies in Arts and Humanities 3 hours/week, 1.0 course

Instructors for 2021/2022:

Professor Laurence de Looze (Languages and Cultures; Fall 2021) 

For all of us, an enormous number of factors have led to our being together in the same place at the same time in this course: our personal and cultural histories, chance events, our own and others’ preferences, etc. What is more, what we think and feel as individuals is also the result of long chains of experiences – both our own direct experiences and those of our elders and ancestors and friends. We cannot really know ourselves unless we give thought to how we came to be who and where we are as well as why we have come to be in the same place at the same time. How we think and feel is conditioned by the times in which we live. Had we lived in another place or another time, we would have thought and felt differently. Our thoughts and feelings are not necessarily better or worse than others’ have been.  

The “humanities” puts at the very centre of its thinking the question of human creative activity and what it means to be “human.” Since it is impossible to cover the whole of humanity throughout time, this course will take certain “soundings” that will vary in terms of historical periods, cultures, ethnicities, and attitudes. As we look at literature, art, architecture, history, and music, our interest will be to understand what people said and thought as well as why they did so. We will encounter a diversity of views just as we will find a diversity of thinking among the members of the course. We will range from a 10th-century Japanese woman’s account of her world to Baroque culture in early-modern Europe to modern African-American, Indigenous, and subcontinental writing. Along the way we will also take in historical developments, art and architecture, and music. 

Professor Helen Fielding (Philosophy, and Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies; Winter 2022)  

In this semester we will explore and engage in dialogue between European and Indigenous ways of thinking on what it means to dwell.  There is much at stake in such a dialogue.  The monologue that belongs to colonization is one characterized not only by domination and appropriation, but also by calculation, efficiency, and seeing the world as a storehouse of resources on call for human use. This logic or way of making sense of the world has brought the earth to a point of ecological crisis.  It also separates us from the world we experience, from the relational world that is actually there, the one our bodies open on to.  Artists offer other ways of making sense of the world, ways that engage embodied senses. In this class we will begin a dialogue that I hope you will continue not only through your studies at Western but also beyond. This dialogue will include exploring and questioning how we make sense of the world and others, and how understanding these ways of making sense might be the first step (for some of us) toward making sense otherwise. We will focus on what it means to listen, with particular attention to the particularities of sound and sounding.   

 SASAH First Years: “The 1918-19 Pandemic Project” - Fall 2020
A pandemic does not take place in a vacuum: neither the 1918-1919 one nor the 2020 covid pandemic. As a result, our class chose to investigate the 1918-1919 pandemic in conjunction with other aspects of society: Indigenous peoples, soldiers, women, health-workers, black communities (especially in the USA), anti-maskers, etc. The students did archival research and then produced their results in whatever creative form they wished.
In many instances the parallels with our current situation are self-evident. One of the results of the investigations is an awareness of the interconnectedness of events in our society – a century ago, just as now. Another of the positive aspects of delving into the past is that one discovers that few events, even calamities, ever happen for the very first time. The timeline of humanity is long indeed. Terrible as the 1918-1919 pandemic was, the world passed through it and then continued forward. Surely, we will too.