Women's Studies and Feminist ResearchWestern Arts and Humanities

2015-2016 Courses

Summer 2016

WS 9596F Gender and the Law
Offered in Intersession 2016 (3 weeks)

Instructor: Gillian Demeyere
Class Times: Thursdays 1:00 - 4:00pm
Location:  Room P&AB 36

This course will offer students the opportunity to pursue research in an area of their choice concerning law and gender. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, sex discrimination, sexual harassment, rape and sexual assault, abortion, marriage, divorce, child custody, pornography and prostitution, as well as feminist legal theory more generally. Students will begin work on a research paper at the outset of the course and will be expected to share outlines and drafts of their work in progress over the course of the three weeks. Students will also be expected to complete readings and provide comments on the outlines and drafts of others in the class.

Fall/Winter 2015-2016

WS 9550A Feminist Theory (required course)
Professor Susan Knabe (WSFR and FIMS)
Thursdays 1:30 - 4:30pm
Location: Lawson Hall 2205

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 9565A Feminist Theory and Methods in the Arts and Humanities (required course option)
Professor Donna Pennee (Department of English)
Thursdays 9:30 - 12:30pm
Location: Lawson Hall 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.

WS 9586A Queer and Transgender Studies
Professor Wayne Martino (Faculty of Education)
Tuesdays 1:30 - 4:30pm
Location:  Lawson Hall 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.

9592A Gender and Development: Engaging with Theory, Practice and Advocacy
Professor Bipasha Baruah (Canada Research Chair in Global Women's Issues)
Mondays 10:30 - 1:30pm
Location: SSC 3227

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.

Winter 2016 

WS 9457B Indigenous Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor Pauline Wakeham (Dept. of English)
Thursdays 9:30 - 12:30pm
Location:  Lawson Hall 2205

This course provides a critical engagement with key concepts and debates in the burgeoning field of Indigenous gender and sexuality studies. Over the past four decades, Indigenous political resurgence has become both energized and complicated by a recognition of social issues within Indigenous communities “that cut across the boundaries of nation, language, and culture”—issues often shaped by differences of gender and sexuality (Huhndorf and Suzack 1). The establishment of the Native Women’s Association of Canada in 1974 and the adoption of the term “two spirit” at the Third International Gathering of American Indian and First Nations Gays and Lesbians in Winnipeg in 1990 attest to Indigenous peoples’ increasing efforts to counteract colonization at the levels of both the macropolitical structures of statecraft, law, and policy and the microprocesses of embodied and intimate daily life. Rather than understanding colonization as a two-pronged attack on ostensibly separate public and private domains, this course will analyze how settler colonialism has mobilized compulsory heteroconjugality to control not only Indigenous identities and “family formation[s]” but also Indigenous “collective decision-making, resource distribution, and land tenure” (Rifkin 8). In this way, Indigenous modes of governance have been re-cast as “extralegal cultural difference” reducible to anthropological categories of kinship filiation rather than “competing kinds of legality or governance” (Rifkin 12).

As Indigenous political mobilization informed by gender and sexual difference has increased, it has been accompanied by the growth of rich intellectual and artistic work that theorizes colonization’s complex effects upon gendered, sexualized, and racialized bodies. At the same time, this scholarship and cultural production has also sought to re-claim the heterogeneity of alternative Indigenous understandings of gender and sexuality as well as of family and community. This course will read such artistic and intellectual work in dialogue in order to engage with the following questions: How do Indigenous intellectuals and artists re-imagine the body, erotics, intimacy, the family, and kinship? Which of these terms are commensurate with Indigenous ways of knowing and which may be colonial impositions? In what ways might Indigenous scholars and artists re-claim culturally-specific understandings of gender and sexuality without lapsing into idealized versions of pre-contact authenticity? While the majority of the texts and contexts studied in this course will be drawn from work produced on Turtle Island (an Indigenous name for the North American continent), students are welcome to draw connections across other geopolitical locations.

WS 9560B Researching Lived Experience - Feminist Methodologies (required course option)
Professor Erica Lawson (WSFR)
Mondays 10:30 - 1:30pm
Location:  Lawson Hall 2205

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 9589B Queer Theory in the 21st Century  - NEW!
Professor Wendy Pearson
Tuesdays 1:30 - 4:30pm
Location: Lawson Hall 2205

This course will look at the ways in which Queer Theory has been taken up in the 21st century. We will examine the increasing attention to intersectionality and issues of race, in particular, but also of class, (dis)abililty, etc.; the emergence of phenomenology and of issues of space and time within queer theory; the critique of iconicity (through both Lee Edelman and Lauren Berlant) and further critiques of normatization; the move to engage with controversial issues that may or may not directly involve questions of sexuality and gender, and so on. Throughout the course, we will focus on the issue of how queer theory is being used today and how and why it is changing

WS9596B Sexual Harassment and the Law (Intersession 2016)
Professor Gillian Demeyere
Thursdays 1:30 - 4:30pm
Location: TBA

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.

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. 

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 2015 - 2016

Note:  Enrollment in these courses is dependent on availability.
PLEASE NOTE: In consultation with the graduate chair, students may get special permission to take a course not listed on the WSFR website.


Anthropology 9217A Topics in Anthropology and Embodiment: Contagion, Plague & Public Health
Professor Regna Darnell
Mondays, 2:30-5:30pm

This course will examine the reciprocal implication of individual bodies and society, moving between theory (e.g. Foucault, Camus, Stallybrass and White, Bakhtin, Judith Butler, Ruth Benedict), ethnography (the critical role of cross-cultural research in evolving public understandings of health and community), and potential applications of anthropological perspectives in changing standards of public health. Issues of marginalization and social inequality play out in both policy and practice through social and cultural determinants of health (e.g., historical trauma and PTSD). The emphasis will differ considerably depending on the interests of students.

Anthropology 9214B Memory/History and Reconstructions of Identities
Professor Randa Farah
Wednesdays, 9:30-12:30pm

The course examines the reproduction of the past, whether professional historical productions or popular memory, as entwined to present givens and interests. It similarly assumes that identity constructions inevitably invoke the past. The course includes readings on how memory is reproduced in the context of migration/diaspora, the political aspect of memory, and the struggle for and against power.
• This course can be taken for credit towards the MER Collaborative program.

Anthropology 9223B Anthropology of Migration
Professor Sherrie Larkin
Tuesdays, 9:30-12:30pm

This course will use ethnographic and historical accounts to examine some of the theoretical attempts to describe, explain and predict human migration. Specific issues, such as racism, ethnicity, transnationalism, globalization, legal/illegal status, identity and border politics will be included. Although I will provide basic reading lists for these issues, students will play a leading role in the selection of additional topics and reading materials that meet their interests.
• This course can be taken for credit towards the MER Collaborative program.

Anthropology 9900B Special Topics in Anthropology: Biocultural Anthropology
Professor Alexis Dolphin
Thursdays, 9:30-12:30pm

The holistic approach to understanding human kind has long been lauded as one of the most unique and powerful aspects of Americanist, four-field Anthropology. Seeing beyond entrenched dichotomies of self/other, science/art, body/mind, individual/society, nature/culture, is at the fundamental heart of the anthropological enterprise, and provides anthropologists with a distinctive ability to engage, understand, and act alongside those with whom we work. Yet, many would argue that, with pressures to specialize, and the drawing and re-drawing of epistemological and methodological boundaries, it is difficult to actually “do” biocultural anthropology. With this course we will explore various ways by which anthropologists have successfully carried out important biocultural work on a multitude of cultural/biological issues. We will begin with a review of biocultural concepts and histories, with an eye to imagining how they might be expanded and applied to topics of interest to students in the class. Such topics could include: biotechnology and reproduction, epigenetics, personalized and/or racialized medicine, modification of the human life cycle, cosmetic surgery, the ‘stress’ concept and human adaptation, mind-body holism, emotion, emerging diseases, animal-human relationships, body commodification, embodiment, disability, obesity, mental health, sexuality, and pain/suffering, among many possible others.
• This course is open to students in all fields of anthropology

English and Writing Studies

ENGLISH 9124A Ugly Feelings, Bad Behaviour: Notable American Women
Professor Steven Bruhm
Day and time: TBA

American women’s fiction since the 1950s is most often read as an analysis of gender, sexuality, race, and class, and women’s responses to these concerns.  Such reading practices usually assume a coherent set of diagnoses and possible political strategies for redress.  But there is another thread of women’s writing in America, one whose take on moral clarity and political agency is at best opaque. Flannery O’Connor, Shirley Jackson, Lorrie Moore, Mary Gaitskill, and Lionel Shriver: all of these women present us with a palette of “negative affects” that gesture to social conditions in the contemporary US but that refuse the redemptive or reparative impulses of feminist intervention. We will read these women alongside contemporary affect theorists to consider such insalubrious emotions as schadenfreude, irritation, cruel optimism (after Berlant), zaniness (after Ngai), cynicism, and misanthropy.  Be prepared, then, to commune with some very mean people.

Possible Texts:

Flannery O’Connor: A Good Man is Hard to Find and Everything That Rises Must Converge
Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Lorrie Moore: Anagrams and Like Life
Mary Gaitskill, Bad Behavior and Because They Wanted To
Lionel Shriver: We Need To Talk About Kevin

ENGLISH 9125B Literature, Youth, and Human Rights
Professor Julia Emberley 
Day and time: TBA

In this course students will exa mine literatures written by and about young people in relation to Human Rights discourses. Students will examine primary documents on Human Rights, key theoretical texts on the subject of human rights, the field of “Human Rights literatures” and a selection of texts that challenge, intervene and expand upon contemporary Human Rights discourses. We will examine issues related to Indigenous youth, gender and sexuality, decolonization, the meaning of being “human,” and consider key terms such as “freedom” and “equality.”


History 9718B - Race and Gender on Imperial Frontiers
Instructor: L. Shire
Day and time: Mondays 9:30-11:30am
Location: Lawson 2270C

In this course we will read and discuss recent literature on the history of settler colonialism in North America alongside comparative studies of other settler societies around the globe. In the past few decades, scholars have begun to use “settler colonialism” to describe societies in which outsiders (white Europeans in most cases) invaded a place in order to settle there permanently, and used political, legal, cultural, and economic structures to transform it into their space, turning themselves into its “natives.” Unlike other kinds of imperial regimes, large numbers of women from the invading culture helped to colonize settler colonies, but they were otherwise very similar to other imperial ventures, and to varying degrees most combined the appropriation of indigenous land with resource extraction and forced labor. New gender norms and racial hierarchies arose from white settler colonial methods of taking land and extracting labor. These new relations of power and privilege had very different consequences for white settlers, displaced Indigenous people, and imported laborers. Due to time constraints, this course will focus mainly on the experiences and interactions of Indigenous peoples and invading settlers, with less time (though not importance) given to the forced migrants and enslaved people that European empires and settlers exploited.

Health Sciences

HS9602A Qualitative Research Methods in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Professor: Debra Rudman
Day and time: TBA

This course provides a comprehensive introduction to qualitative research, as situated from various paradigms, and its current and potential applications in health and rehabilitation sciences. The philosophical assumptions that inform qualitative research will be examined from various paradigmatic positions (e.g., post-positivist, interpretivist, constructionism, critical), as will the assumptions underlying various qualitative schools of inquiry or methodologies (e.g., grounded theory, phenomenology, ethnography, action research, narrative). Key considerations in the critical appraisal and design of qualitative studies within several schools of inquiry relevant to health and rehabilitation sciences will be addressed.

Students will gain knowledge and understanding of the importance of locating their research, a range of data collection and analyses approaches used in qualitative research, and the process of proposal development. Students will have opportunities to engage in critical analysis of qualitative research and discuss ethical issues related to the design and conduct of qualitative research. Throughout the course, there is a focus on understanding current approaches to qualitative research as used in health and rehabilitation sciences, as well as issues being debated and new directions being proposed.

Media Studies

MS 9601A - PhD Interdisciplinary Foundations of Media Theory
Professor: TBA
Days and times: TBA

This required seminar approaches theory as an act; part agency, part structure. It prepares participants to theoretically inform and ground research into media industries, cultures and technologies. Seminar participants are introduced to different approaches to and critiques of theorizing along with the media and cultural theories that offer ways of understanding the hows and whys of media as a system of mediations, meanings, practices, and political economies. The works to be studied come from, critical theory, new media theories, various traditions of cultural studies, feminist studies, semiotics and post/colonial, structural and modern studies.

Expanded Description: This course is not intended to be a comprehensive inquiry into the history of theories applicable to media studies. Yet we will be covering some foundational articles and books from traditions with relevance to not only this course but also to interdisciplinary cognate approaches and to the core comprehensive reading list. The approach to the course will be on the constraints and affordances of making theory at different times and different milieus. We will look for the inter-referentiality of various theorists, look at their venues of publishing, look at their intellectual background and their social environment.

You are expected to be an active participant in this course, especially since it is a course designed to foster your theoretical interests and fill in your interdisciplinary theories and research gaps.It is a dialogically intended class, requiring active and engaged discussion.There is also a focus on how theory informs scholarly research design that is both contingent and creative.It is genuinely a course intended to assist you in progressing through the coursework and the process for grounding your dissertation. The discussion with colleagues from different backgrounds will ensure you encounter the interdisciplinary nature of many current graduate program and Media Studies in general.


PHIL 9XXXB: Feminist Critiques of Science
Professor Kathleen Okruhlik
Thursdays 2:30 - 5:30pm

Area of study: Science/Moral, Political and Legal

For many years feminist critiques of science were largely ignored by mainstream philosophy of science. Recently, that situation has begun to change as even such staid organizations as the PSA have begun to take seriously the values question in science.In this course, we shall begin by examining some of the classic case studies developed during the 1980s to illustrate the many ways that androcentric values permeate experimental practice and theory formation in some sciences. By the end of term, we will also have examined much more recent case studies, including examples from contemporary neuroscience.

In conjunction with the case studies, we shall survey attempts by feminist scientists and philosophers to figure out what these case studies tell us about science. Does the gender of the knower make a difference? Is science just politics by other means? Is value-laden science always bad science? Could more rigorous adherence to scientific method be counted on to eliminate gender bias? Or would it be better to acknowledge the impossibility of gender-neutral science and insist instead on the epistemic superiority of a feminist standpoint? Alternatively, should we simply abandon altogether the idea of objective knowledge and recognize sexist and feminist theories as alternative narratives, different versions, neither of which can claim epistemic superiority? These questions and others will be discussed with an eye to understanding the relationship between feminist critiques of science and mainstream philosophy of science.

Phil 9XXXA Gender and Race
Professor Carolyn McLeod
Day and time: TBA
Location: TBA

This course deals with various types of philosophical questions about gender and race. One example is the metaphysical question of what gender and race are. Are they natural or socially constructed? Are they the kind of thing that individuals can change? In particular, can people change their race, as we assume they can change their gender? If we accept that gender and race are socially constructed, then we can ask the political question of whether a just world would have gender and race in it. We will explore this last question, along with others in moral and political philosophy about the wrongs of sexism and racism and reparations for these wrongs. Further questions we will pose include those in moral psychology about the nature of gender and racial identities and the psychological effects of racism and sexism, and those in applied ethics about selecting offspring or children for adoption based on sex, gender, or race. Our goals will be to analyze each of these questions carefully and to consider how answers to them may differ depending on whether we are talking about gender or race. 

Political Science

POLITICAL SCIENCE 9758A Social Diversity, Gender, and the Law
Professor Caroline Dick
Day and time: TBA

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.


SOCIOLOGY 4420/9166 Race, Class, Colonialism
Professor Anton Allahar
Day and Time: TBA

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!]