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!


Summer Term 2022 

DH 530/GSJ 598: Building Intersectional 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, 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

Fall Term 2022

WGS 498/GSJ 598/COMM 597: Digital Inclusion

Course description: 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 spere, and for leisure, but have highlighted the many inequities inherent in this digital transformation.

Global implementation of digital technologies has 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, equitable 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.

Using gender as a starting point, 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 enhance access and social inclusion? Using a blended pedagogical approach, we will examine scholarly, public and policy documents and artefacts that both reveal and address this problem, and evaluate examples of digital resources that are inclusive, or exclusive.  Ultimately, we will develop an autoethnography of our own included (or excluded) experiences as cultural actors in a digital world.

Instructor: CAMPBELL, Katy

WGS 498 X01/GSJ 598 X01: On Complicity and Being Implicated: Difficult Questions for Social Justice

Informed by an intersectional-type framework, this course will look at the ways that feminists and other social justice advocates consider their implications in complex histories, structures, and practices of inequality and violence. We will engage a range of texts (theoretical, methodological, political, visual, creative) and contexts to grapple with the question of how to live and work ethically in a world in which we are not outside of multiple and intersecting forms of oppression and inequality, for example, but not limited to, (settler) colonialism, classism, heteronormativity, white supremacy, ableism, the climate catastrophe, etc.. We will grapple with the difficult knowledge that finding ourselves implicated and maybe even complicit in maintaining inequality poses and seek to consider how such knowledge can inform scholarship and activism for social change.

Instructor: LUHMANN, Susanne

Winter Term 2023

WGS 470/GSJ 570 B1: Beyond 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 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. Michel Foucault, Leo Bersani, Judith Butler) 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 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 and explore the status of the field in academia. These critical skills and new knowledge bases will be developed and homed in regular engagement with the readings through synchronous and asynchronous discussions, a collaborative community service learning (CSL) project, and an essay to reflect on the CSL experiences. At the end of the course, therefore, students will have gained considerable insight into a variety of topics within the field of queer studies

Instructor: PFLEGER, Simone

WGS 498/GSJ 598 B1: Critical Whiteness

Instructor: LUHMANN, Susanne

WGS 498/GSJ 598 X50: Feminist Narrative Inquiry

Narrative inquiry is the study of experience.  Narrative inquirers study both the living of storied experiences and the stories we tell about our experiences, accepting that the story is the fundamental unit of human experience. Storytelling is the way that people have always made sense of their experiences; narrative is both the phenomenon and the way of studying it.  The well-known Canadian scholars Clandinin and Connelly (2000), define narrative inquiry as the reconstruction of a person’s experience in relationship both to the other and to a social milieu.  In other words, narratives are always socially situated, constructed in shared understandings.

Feminist narrative inquiry is most concerned with amplifying voices of the marginalized or oppressed, highlighting issues of identity, relationship and power.  Feminist narrative inquiry asks whose questions concern us, and whose interpretations count most.  As researchers, the narratives we study, collect, and co-construct suggest social action.

Using a feminist lens, in this course we will learn about: concepts of epistemology and positionality; the history and practice of feminist narrative inquiry in diverse fields; the methods used to develop and analyze narratives, for example, narrative interviewing; ethical and process-related issues related to narrative inquiry; sacred stories and disruptive narratives; narrative writing; autoethnography, in comparison to narrative.

We will read a variety of narratives and narrative studies, and each participant will conduct a short narrative study. Participants will develop their narratives through individual and shared classroom writing sessions.

Instructor: CAMPBELL, Katy

GSJ 598 B2: Indigenous Arts-Based Research and Practice

This course is an exploration of the relationship between art, research, Indigenous knowledge, and the self, with application across diverse disciplines and forms of Indigenous paradigms and Indigenous creative processes and practices. Students will develop new insights and understandings of arts-based inquiry and practice.

Instructor: WHISKEYJACK, Lana