Current Special Topics Courses

Click the '+' to see the course description and other details. For a complete list of all our current graduate course offerings or to register in any graduate course, search for GSJ courses in BearTracks!


Spring Term 2021 (1750)

GSJ 598: A2 Queer Theory

While some might say that with the dawn of a new millennium, the era of queer theory had passed, work in queer studies is without a doubt as vibrant as ever. Queer theory has had a major influence on the academy and continues to be integrated and transformed in today’s academic culture. One of the goals of this course will be to consider the relation between the past and present of “queer studies,” but the main focus of the course is on very recent work in queer studies (much of it published after 2000). As a group, we will engage with some of the main threads of contemporary queer theory--queer of color critique, trans studies, disability studies, Indigenous studies--to think through some of the key issues, questions, and debates in this wing of gender studies. As this course is not a survey of the full trajectory of queer theory, we will not read the “classics” of queer theory (e.g. Butler, Foucault) per se, but much of the recent critical work that employs these thinkers as jumping-off points in order to (re)consider those classics and think about how they have recently been reworked and reread by various thinkers. 

Throughout the course, students will learn about and discuss theoretical readings and develop an understanding of how normative ideas around identities and bodies have impacted the construction of social hierarchies and shaped an unequal distribution of power. Students will learn to critically engage with various topics pertinent to the field of queer studies both in interactions with others as well as in their own intellectual engagement and utilize the debates and impulses of scholarship in contemporary queer theory to discuss the role that subjectivity, intimacy, and affect play in thinking critically about intersecting concepts such as gender, sexuality, race, class, nationality, Indigeneity, and disability. These critical skills and new knowledge bases will be developed and homed in regular engagement with the readings through synchronous and asynchronous discussions, short written responses or blog posts, and a collaborative community service learning (CSL) project. At the end of the course, therefore, students will have gained considerable insight into a variety of topics within the field of queer studies. 

Based on the co-taught nature of the course, students from one institution will be paired with a fellow classmate from the other institution to foster cross-cultural exchange and a truly transatlantic experience through project-based work. This form of engagement and exchange is particularly valuable for all participants and instructors for the purpose of enhancing the project of internationalization at the respective home institutions. With this aim in mind, all students will be exposed to a variety of approaches and ideas that will expand their understanding of how to engage with academic scholarship and activism beyond one’s own academic training and framework.

Instructor: PFLEGER, Simone
Days & Time:
 T, R, 10:00 - 12:50 
Units:
 *3.00
Note: TBA

498/598: Indigenous Genders and Sexualities

This course will explore diverse Indigenous genders and sexualities from Indigenous feminist and Indigenous ways of knowing and being, including critical examination of colonial constructions of gender and sexuality. We will survey the effects colonization, from colonial history and politics to the contemporary experiences surrounding issues, resistance and resurgence of diverse Indigenous gender and sexuality identities. Students will engage in a variety of learning activities, from lectures, guest speakers, readings, class discussions, to creative practices and reflections. 

Instructor: WHISKEYJACK, Lana
Days & Time:
 M, W, 10:00 - 13:10 
Units:
 *3.00


Summer Term 2021 (1760)

498/598: Building Intersect Feminist Archives

This is an all hands-on deck, intensive course in which students will collaborate with each other and a community organization to create an online information archive. In this process we will explore the capabilities and limitations of standardized information practices and develop an alternative digital archive inspired by intersectional feminist principles. Both existing and innovative information tools and techniques will be studied and evaluated. Topics such as open data, information inequality, collections as data, vernacular ontologies, data sovereignty and serendipitous discovery will be interrogated. No prior technical expertise is required for this course.

As many of us are now working remotely (although not perhaps as remotely as me – in Melbourne) we can especially understand the value of libraries, archives, and museums that share their collections online as digital resources. However, as consumers of these collections, many of us take for granted what happens “under the hood”, blissfully unaware of the conceptual underpinnings that structure these collections, the human labour and decision-making that go into their construction, and the intellectual property or authorship issues that need to be resolved before they are made available. In this course, by collaborating together and with a community organisation to build an online collection you will be better able to appreciate and critically evaluate these resources. 

Instructor: VERHOEVEN, Deb
Days & Time:
 Online
Units:
 *3.00
Note: Taught over 6 weeks, from July 12 - August 18


Fall Term 2021 (1770)

GSJ 598: Gender Social Justice - Indigenous Arts-Based Research and Practice

This course is an exploration of the relationship between Indigenous knowledge, art, research, and the self. Arts-based research exists as a creative, critical, and community practice of social inquiry. Using the circle process, seminars, and creative thinking, students will develop critical thinking skills, interpret visual narratives, and build capacity for aesthetic approaches to research. Focusing on Indigenous ways knowing and being within creative processes and practices, students will evolve new insights and understandings of community engagement, arts-based inquiry, and creative practices.

Instructor: WHISKEYJACK, Lana
Days & Time: T, 09:00 - 11:50
Units:
 *3.00

*Cross-listed with MACE 597: Topics in Community Engagement.

WGS 498/GSJ 599: Special Topics - Feminism at the End of the World

How do global warming, biodiversity loss, the pollution and plastification of the world’s bodies of water (including human bodies, which are mostly water), and various technofixes that are being deployed to respond to the above, impact the ways feminist theorists think about bodies, the relationship between biology and social construction, science and gender, human-animal relations, capitalist realism, and environmental racism, sexism, ableism and settler colonialism? What can feminists learn about survival, flourishing, political resistance, eroticism, wonder, and the ethics of living on a shared planet by attending to water, marine animals, mollusks, worms, dirt, fungi, and moss? In this advanced course in feminist theory, we will explore these and other questions through close readings of works by feminist philosophers and theorists. Some of the areas of feminist theory to which students will be exposed in this course are feminist phenomenology, feminist new materialisms, critical race feminisms, Indigenous feminisms, and queer feminisms, as each of these has been taken up in response to a world in crisis. This course will be taught in conjunction with GSJ 599: Special Topics in Feminist Theory.

Instructor: TAYLOR, Chloe
Days & Time: R, 11:00 - 13:50
Units:
 *3.00


Winter Term 2022 (1780)


WGS 470/GSJ 570: Sexualities - Queer Feminisms

In this course we will first consider the ways that queer theory has emerged from and diverged from feminist theory, including lesbian feminist theory, or how queer theorists have challenged feminist theory and developed uniquely queer feminisms. In the middle part of the semester we will study queer feminist explorations of intersex and trans issues, the project of queering spaces, queer female masculinities and femininities, crip queer feminisms (or the intersection of disability with sexuality and gender), and queer affect theory. 

Instructor: NIXON, Randelle
Days & Time: F, 11:00 - 13:50
Units:
 *3.00

WGS 498/GSJ 598: Special Topics - Cultural Memory and Social Justice

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (Santanya, 1905) is a commonly invoked axiom. It that what we collectively remember (or forget) matters for our present and future. Traditionally, cultural memory --for example: war memorials, national days of remembrance, the names of public buildings – aimed at building national pride and identity. More recently, social justice movements have turned to memory activism to counter dominant forgetting practices to bring into public consciousness the violence and suffering experienced by minoritized groups (think: the AIDS quilt, December 6 celebrations, or the toppling of confederate and colonial monuments). This course will introduce students to central terms of the new field of memory studies to think deeply about the relationship between social justice and cultural memory. Working with specific examples (including but not limited to: the Holocaust, slavery, Apartheid, residential schools, as well as gender-based violence, heterosexism, ableism, and environmental degradation) we will ask: Can cultural memory lead to greater accountability, repair, and reparations for past injustices -- and, in the future, to reconciliation?

Instructor: LUHMANN, Susanne
Days & Time: M, 17:00 - 20:00
Units:
 *3.00

GSJ 598: Special Topics - Gender Social Justice - Feminist Approach to Digital Information

Data, famously, just wants to be free. But it can just as accurately be said that data just wants to tango. Digital data in particular, is social at heart. Its binary form enables it to socialise easily with other digital data. Machine reading technologies mean that data can communicate directly with other data, bypassing human mediation. This social capability has given rise to data techniques that favour comparison, correlation and conformity and value systems that prioritise precision, simplification and efficiency. This course examines the social life of data from a intersectional feminist perspective and explores how the relational capacity of data might also play a role in social change. Using real world examples, we will work collaboratively with a range of data tools and techniques to understand how data and power are mutually implicated, especially when data is integrated, exchanged and interoperated.  No prior technical expertise is required (but will be developed) in this course.

Instructor: VERHOEVEN, Deb
Days & Time: T, 13:00 - 15:50
Units:
 *3.00

GSJ 598: Special Topics - Gender Social Justice - Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice

Ways in which adherents of world (Eastern and Western), Indigenous, and neo-pagan religious systems have advocated for social justice. Taught in conjunction with WGS 455.

Instructor: LIFSHITZ, Felice
Days & Time: R, 14:00 - 16:50
Units:
 *3.00

GSJ 598: Special Topics - Intersectional Methods and Research

Open to graduate students from all disciplines and faculties.

This course is designed to introduce students to a) foundational texts in intersectional thought and politics, b) key debates on the strengths and weaknesses, perils and possibilities of this analytical framework, and c) exemplary instances of intersectional research and praxis. Assignments will focus on helping students engage and apply the framework to their own research, work, and/or practice.

Students taking this course will come away with a strong foundation in intersectional thought, while confronting the challenge of its application in research and practice. The reading list will take a unique approach to the topic of intersectionality by putting Indigenous theories and methodologies in conversation with intersectional research designs. Both qualitative and quantitative methods will be explored.

The course will not begin with a “what is intersectionality?” week. Rather, the course as a whole is designed to answer this question from multifaceted perspectives, approaches, and genealogies. We will explore intersectionality as theory, as methodology, as activism, and as policy, while also putting it in conversation with Indigenous feminist and queer theories. In this way, this course reflects an “Intersectionality Studies” of sorts as it has been articulated as a field of study itself by some of the thinkers we will be reading this term. 

Instructor: KOLOPENUK, Jessica
Days & Time: T, 13:00 - 15:50
Units:
 *3.00

GSJ 598: Special Topics - Social Inclusion and Digital Technologies
Successive lockdowns and restrictions put in place around the world in response to COVID-19 have not only accelerated the pace of use of information and communications technologies for work, learning, participation in the public sphere, and for leisure, but have highlighted the many inequities inherent in this digital transformation. This digital transformation is unlikely to be reversed.  Global implementation of digital technologies has, in fact, been increasing steadily since the turn of this century. While this transformation of many activities has benefitted sectors such as agriculture, medicine, finance and education, universal access to digital technologies has not been realized. This is true in the developed world as well as in emerging economies.  Once dubbed the Digital Divide, this issue has more recently been framed as a problem of social inclusion.


This course will take an intersectional approach to analyzing the nature of inclusion (and exclusion)  on digital platforms.  Why are the marginalized, multiply-oppressed and disadvantaged around the world not included in the opportunities afforded by technology?  How can we contribute to efforts to efforts to enhance access and social inclusion? Using a blended pedagogical approach, this course will examine scholarly, public and policy documents that address this problem, suggested and actual interventions, and examples of digital resources that are inclusive or exclusive.  Learners will learn about, and use, intersectionality as a tool to design, evaluate and implement inclusive practices in choosing and applying digital technologies in work, learning, and leisure.

Instructor: CAMPBELL, Katy
Days & Time: W, 17:00 - 20:00
Units:
 *3.00