Women's Studies and Feminist ResearchWestern Arts and Humanities

2014-2015 Courses

WS 9550A Feminist Theory (required course)
Professor Susan Knabe
September - December 2014
Friday 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Location: StvH 1155

This course will analyze feminist theoretical approaches providing students with an understanding of the fundamental questions at stake in each. We will consider epistemological perspectives as well as the intersections of feminist theories with other theoretical approaches such as queer theory and critical race theory. The implications of feminist theory for academic research will be addressed throughout. This course is restricted to WSFR graduate students.

WS 9560B Researching Lived Experience - Feminist Methodologies (required course option)
Professor Katherine McKenna
January - April 2015
Tuesday 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Location: TBA

This course will provide an overview of a variety of feminist research methodologies with a focus on the Social Sciences, both quantitative and qualitative. Guest lecturers from a broad variety of disciplines will demonstrate the different forms and common themes of feminist research. Questions such as the following will be raised: How do factors such as class, gender, race and ethnicity affect research? Should political change be the goal of feminist research or should it be primarily deconstruction and analysis? Are some methodologies more "feminist" than others? Students will be required to complete a major assignment in which they pick a topic of interest and suggest at least three different research methodologies that could be used to investigate that topic.

WS 9565A Feminist Theory and Methods in the Arts and Humanities (required course option)
Professor Tracy Isaacs
September - December 2014
Thursday 1:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: LwH 2205

This course will explore how different feminist theoretical and methodological approaches inform research and practice in the disparate disciplines which comprise the Arts and Humanities. Experts in each field will provide insight into the way these theoretical and methodological approaches have been taken in relation to research or practices in the visual arts, philosophy, literature, cultural studies and theatre and performance. Particular attention will focus on the interdisciplinary nature of feminist contributions to these fields through an exploration of the productive intersections and tensions between and among different theoretical and methodological approaches in the Arts and Humanities, including, but not limited to, performance theory, poststructuralist theory, queer theory and post-colonial theory.

9592A Gender and Development: Engaging with Theory, Practice and Advocacy
Professor Bipasha Baruah
September – December 2014
Monday 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Location: StvH 1155

This course seeks to provide an introduction to ‘gender and development’ as a domain of theory, practice, advocacy and interaction. The course is informed by the needs and interests of future ‘practitioners,’ i.e. students who hope to engage in research, project design and implementation, policy analysis, advocacy and/or networking in the ‘gender and development’ field or a closely related domain. To best serve the needs of such students, a few lectures of the course are devoted to providing students with a historical perspective on the evolution of the theory and practice of gender and development discourse, and rest of the course focuses almost exclusively on key contemporary and emerging gender issues and debates. Students who do not intend to work as gender and development ‘practitioners,’ but who want to acquire an up-to-date understanding of the field are welcome in the course, which is open to all graduate students with an interest in the contemporary theory and practice of gender and development.

WS9596B Sexual Harassment and the Law
Professor Gillian Demeyere
Intersession: May - June 2015
Friday 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Location: LwH 2210

This course will critically examine the evolution of sexual harassment law: from feminist cause to legal cause of action. Focusing on workplace sexual harassment, we will consider competing conceptualizations of the legal wrong, along with the gendered nature of the harm(s) it causes. No prior knowledge of the law is assumed.

WS9586A Queer and Transgender Studies
Professor Wayne Martino
September – December 2014
Tuesday 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Location: LwH 2205

This course examines the work of significant queer and trans theorists/activists. Students will be invited to examine the significance of various queer and trans theoretical perspectives and accounts in light of reflecting on both their own ‘personal’ experiences and representations of gender and sexuality in the popular culture. Attention will be given to the political significance and destabilization of certain sexual, genderqueer and transgender identities, with some focus on the significance of embodiment. Central to the course is engaging with debates about the political efficacy of queer theory and the questions of gender democratization raised by key transsexual theorists and activists. Various tensions are examined, but the overall focus of the course is on encouraging students to generate their own explanations of the queer and trans theories to which they are introduced, and to reflect on both their significance and application in everyday life and in specific clinical and educational settings.

WS 9456B Themes in Post-colonial Sexuality Studies
Professor Tunji Osinubi
January – April 2015 
Wednesday 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Location: LwH 2205

In this seminar, we shall examine the confluence of sexuality studies and postcolonial studies. We shall interrogate the various impulses motivating the amalgamation of postcolonial and sexuality studies. In doing so, we shall pay attention to the articulations of sexuality through colonialism, imperialism, nationalism, globalization, citizenship, diaspora, and human rights discourses.

WS 9597B Political Anatomy of Health
Professor Jessica Polzer
January – April 2015
Thursday 1:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: LwH 2205

This course situates health as a sociopolitical product and examines how health-related discourse/practice informs and transforms relations of power in contemporary societies along intersecting axes of difference. Through active engagement with an interdisciplinary range of feminist and critical health studies scholarship, this course introduces students to theoretical frameworks and constructs that have been prominent in the critical analysis of health and “life itself”, drawing on Foucauldian notions of biopower and recent theoretical engagements with biopolitics, and other relevant critical readings concerning risk, technology, subjectivity, biological citizenship, and biomedicalization. Through course readings and class discussion, particular attention will be paid to applying theoretical constructs to particular health-related case studies to generate questions and catalyze novel lines of interdisciplinary inquiry. Students will be expected to participate in and facilitate weekly seminars that explore key themes presented in readings, and will be provided with the opportunity to develop a critical analysis of a topic of their choice. This course will be of interest to students from a range of disciplinary backgrounds and will be useful for those who seek to gain a theoretically-informed understanding of issues related to health and the management of “life itself” in the 21st century.

WS 9575 Directed Reading Course (Full or Half Course)

The directed reading course is conducted under the supervision of a faculty member, and is taken only by permission of the Chair of Graduate Studies. Normally, only PhD students are permitted to take a directed reading course, and Master's students will only be allowed to do so under exceptional circumstances.

WS 9599 Independent Research Project (Full Course)
September 2014 - August 2015

The Independent Research Project is only available to MA students. See the IRP Guidelines here.

WS 9585 Scholarly Practicum (Full or Half Course)

The Scholarly Practicum course is designed to provide students with an opportunity to receive academic credit for experiential learning. It could involve a community placement, an internship or an applied project. Students must have their practicum approved by submitting a written proposal describing the activity and the benefit of it to the student's current program of study and future goals to the graduate chair at least two months (longer if ethics approval is required) before the its commencement. Within one month after the completion of the practicum, a report must be submitted to the graduate chair. The course will be graded on a pass/fail basis. It is normally open only to doctoral students.

Courses Offered in Other Departments 2014-2015

Note:  Enrollment in these courses is dependent on availability.

CLASSICS 9354A/B Women in Antiquity: Artefact, Text, Image
Professor Kelly Olson

In this course we will examine women and women’s lives in Greek and Roman antiquity starting from a body of literary and artistic evidence. Marriage and childbearing, women and the law, women’s occupations, women in domestic life, and women in history will be explored from a variety of perspectives. In addition, there will be heavy emphasis placed on women's artifacts, artistic and literary portrayals of women, and female spaces in antiquity, coupled with readings in modern gender and feminist theory.

ENGLISH 2091F: Alice Munro and Other Local Geniuses
Professor Manina Jones
January - April 2015 

This course uses the work of Alice Munro as a starting point and touchstone for an exploration of the value of the local imagination in literature since the 1970s, considering Munro and others who have found inspiration in London, Ontario and the surrounding area for their fiction, poetry and drama. The class will meet on campus and in a variety of local off-campus locations on field trip days, and will incorporate guest speakers on a variety of topics, cultivating connections with local cultural communities and institutions. This course includes a community engaged learning component. 3 lecture hours, 0.5 course.

ENGLISH 9108 Indigenous Critical Theory: Key Concepts and Debates
Professor Pauline Wakeham

Full Year Course

In her groundbreaking work, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples, Maori scholar Linda Tuhiwai Smith considers the historical forces and power asymmetries that have created a hegemonic intellectual “text world in which the centre of […] knowledge is either in Britain, the United States, or Western Europe” (Smith 35) and, moreover, where theory is naturalized as the invention and provenance of the West. Ironically, at the core of much Western thought, Indigeneity constitutes the sometimes repressed and sometimes overt catalyst for theorization—the figure of radical alterity, the bearer of “the gift,” the carrier of knowledge to be colonized for the West’s own self-reinvention. This graduate seminar is premised upon the urgent need to do more than re-trace the spectres of Indigeneity in Western thought or even examine the West’s unacknowledged debt to Indigenous intellectual culture. Instead, the course will challenge the limits of academic theory’s traditional “text world” by engaging with the transdisciplinary field of contemporary Indigenous thought, a field in which Indigenous peoples are the agents, instead of the objects, of theory. In so doing, the course will lay a critical foundation for understanding key concepts and debates in the field of Indigenous studies. In this context, the course will grapple with the following questions: How might we engage with Indigenous theory beyond paradigms of “writing back” or “theorizing back” against Empire? What is the relation between theory and practice? How might theory be mobilized to better address Indigenous rights and social justice? How do a range of Indigenous cultural practices constitute forms of theorizing and how might we read them for their theoretical innovations? In exploring these and other questions, the course will consider how both thinking Indigeneity and Indigenous thinking enable important critical reappraisals of questions of identity, subjectivity, temporality, sovereignty, citizenship, and power. While the emphasis will be on Indigenous thought and cultural production in Canada and the United States, the course will also consider broader global concerns and contexts. 

ENGLISH 9087B Regulating the Edwardian Body
Professor Alison Lee
January to April 2015

The aim of this course is to examine discourses of eugenics and degeneration in the context of Edwardian literature, science and politics. Michel Foucault calls eugenics one of the “two great innovations in the technology of sex in the second half of the nineteenth century” (HS, 118). The administration of sex and its fertility to which Foucault refers, however, reached a crisis point at the beginning of the 20th Century. Economic challenges to British supremacy, a humiliating showing by Britain in the Boer War and a declining birthrate, at least among the upper classes, led many Britons to fear that the Empire was becoming less than robust, and that its decline could be mapped onto the bodies of the populace. Eugenics, the ‘science of improving stock’ (Galton) appeared to offer a solution to what was seen as a national deterioration in health, wealth and power. As Karl Pearson writes: “without high average soundness of body and soundness of mind, a nation can neither be built up nor an empire preserved. Permanence and dominance in the world passes to and from nations even with their rise and fall in mental and bodily fitness” (1909). Surprisingly, eugenics in this period appealed to a broad spectrum of political opinion, and was invoked not only by conservatives, but also by sex radicals and social reformers. The atrocities of WWII and the latter half of the 20th Century have understandably impoverished our perception of eugenics but, in the Edwardian period, eugenics was a site of political contestation for both radicals and conservatives. In both its ‘positive’ (the encouragement of ‘fit’ procreation) and ‘negative’ (the discouragement of ‘unfit’ procreation) aspects, eugenics took a central role in debates on issues such as maternity, birth control, poverty, women’s suffrage, sexology, class, disease and race. Indeed, it is hard to overstate the extent to which eugenics permeated Edwardian public discourse. Edwardian eugenics, then, becomes an exemplary site that raises questions about biopolitics in the period, as well as questions about why it was such an attractive theory to fiction writers and theorists who were also socialist, feminist or queer. Writers we will consider include: Michel Foucault, Charles Darwin, Francis Galton, Karl Pearson, Havelock Ellis, Edith Ellis, Marie Carmichael Stopes, Margaret Sanger, Olive Schreiner, Christabel Pankhurst, Joseph Conrad, Cecily Hamilton, Vita Sackville-West, Elinor Glyn and Grant Allen.

ENGLISH 9XXXA Testimony, Youth and Human Rights
Professor Julia Emberley
Fall Half Course.

In this course students will examine testimonial literatures written by and for young people in relation to Human Rights discourses. Students will examine primary international documents on Human Rights, key theoretical texts on the subject of human rights, the field of “Human Rights literatures” and a selection of testimonial texts that challenge, intervene and expand upon contemporary Human Rights discourses.

FRENCH 9506B Penser le désir 'queer' du dix-neuvième siècle au présent
Professor Chris Roulston
January to April 2015

Ce cours analysera comment le désir 'queer' féminin se pense dans la littérature française du dix-neuvième siècle aux années 1970. Au cours du dix-neuvième siècle, ce désir sert de limite conceptuelle qui permet la mise en question de l'ordre hétérosexuel bourgeois. Chez Balzac, Gautier, Baudelaire et Belot, le désir queer entre femmes marque une révolte contre les normes bourgeoises--normes sociales et culturelles autant que sexuelles--sans pour autant les déstabiliser. A la fin du dix-neuvième siècle, avec l'avènement de la psychanalyse et de la sexologie, la notion de perversité sexuelle se concrétise en forme d'identité pathologique. Bien que contrôlée par le discours médical, cette identité permettra néanmoins une prise de parole par les auteurs femmes autour du désir queer féminin. Chez Colette, Mahyère et Wittig, nous pourrons tracer un nouvel enjeu politique qui repensera l'esthétique de la décadence. Ce cours posera la question du rapport entre ces deux manifestations du désir queer entre femmes; y 'a-t-il continuation ou rupture? En quoi le désir queer nous permet-il de repenser le rapport entre l'esthétique et la politique? La lecture des romans sera accompagnée de textes sur la théorie queer française et anglophone. 

HISTORY 9274A - Oh Gendered Canada: Gender in Canadian History
Professor Monda Halpern
September - December 2014

This course will explore the ways in which gender—largely, the social construction of masculinity and femininity—has played a role in Canadian history, and will examine some of the major historiographical debates that have surrounded this complex topic. These debates often also address the related issues of race, class, and sexuality. This course will challenge students to employ gender as an integral tool of historical analysis, and to reconsider conventional narratives in Canadian history.

HIS 9XXXB History of Women in the Western World
Professor Katherine McKenna
January - April 2015
Monday 3:30 - 6:30 pm
Location: TBA

This course is not only the story of how women have lived over time in different contexts and from different perspectives in the history of the western world. Rather, it is as much about how historians have written about the female gender, and about the theoretical debates that have informed their writings. The broad expanse of history covered in this course allows for only some select 'flashpoints' to be examined. These will allow us to focus on key issues both in the historical debate and in the history of women in the western world. This will provide an overview or framework for understanding the complexities of changes in women's roles in the western world over time.

POLITICAL SCIENCE 9758 A/B Social Diversity, Gender, and the Law
Professor Caroline Dick

From religious minorities and Aboriginal peoples to feminists and gays and lesbians, Canadian social groups contend that group-differentiated rights and group-sensitive legal and constitutional interpretations are a necessary condition of equality. While the Canadian state has responded with group-specific provisions in the Charter and Constitution, as well an official policy of multiculturalism, social groups continue to press for legal concessions and the expansion of their rights. This course will examine the relationship between Canadian social groups and the law to assess how social groups employ the legal system in pursuit of equality and how they challenge laws that fail to attend to social group differences. Additionally, this course will examine how the differences that cut across social groups complicate the legal accommodation of ‘group’ differences.

POLITICAL SCIENCE 9755B Gender and the Challenges of Transnational Politics
Professor Veronica Schild
January - April 2014

This course explores the challenge posed by feminist and critical theory to the study of transnational politics. It proceeds through cross-cultural and historical comparisons to discuss the centrality of gender to three processes: work and migration; citizenship and human rights; and indigenous mobilizations. Transnationalism is a broad ranging concept that emphasizes the flow of capital, people, ideas, and objects across the borders of nation-states in contexts where states shape but do not contain these relations and flows. Transnationalism, and its associated transnational political processes, is not a new phenomenon. It is, however, one which we have until recently been ill equipped to study because of the nationalist and gender bias of our methodological approaches. Methodological nationalism assumes national borders to be the natural unit of study for political phenomena. It also assumes that particular nations provide the constant units of observation through all historical transformations. Gender bias assumes the conspicuous absence of women and their particular (racialized and classed) experiences from transnational political processes. And these biases have hampered scholars in their ability to move beyond dominant nationalist and gendered paradigms.

SOCIOLOGY 4420/9166 Race, Class, Colonialism
Professor Anton Allahar

Full year course In most analyses of social inequality the concept of class has traditionally been assigned a pivotal role. That concept, however, is ambiguous, and sociologists do not have any clear consensus regarding its most appropriate use. As a consequence, Marxists, Weberians, functionalists and all manner of other sociological thinkers have employed it very selectively in constructing their particular treatments of inequality. Recently the debate over class has begun to be overshadowed by the renewed popularity of another very ill-defined term: race. For while biologists, historians, anthropologists and others have been fighting over the precise numbers and definitions of “races,” the world has been witnessing a wide variety of struggles aimed at securing the self- determination of different peoples, sometimes referred to as “races.” Thus some now claim that the class struggle left off where the “race” struggle began, while others argue that the “race” struggle is contained within the larger class struggle, and still others hold that class inequality is merely one dimension of a more fundamental structure of racial inequality. But, as was said, “race” is no less contentious a term than is class. And to bedevil further the situation, another concept might be added to the already complex picture --ethnic group--, which includes culture, and at times even national origin. How do these central, though ill-defined, concepts impact on sociological analyses of power and inequality dating back to the colonial era? This said, what then is colonialism? This is the subject matter of the present seminar. Using the period of colonial expansion into the New World as our point of departure, and focussing on the institutions and legacies of slavery and indentureship, we will explore the multi-dimensional features of power struggles along lines of class, “race,” ethnicity, culture, and even nation. Whetherspeaking historically or contemporaneously, the following questions will guide most of our deliberations: is “race” an epiphenomenon, while class is real? Or is class subsumed by, and hence merely a special instance of “race” and ethnicity? [“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class/race/gender struggle!”]

PLEASE NOTE: In consultation with the graduate chair, students may get special permission to take a course not listed on the WSFR website.