Ontario College of Art & Design

Course Calendar

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Every semester the Faculty of Liberal Studies offers a variety of Special Topics courses in each discipline and at most levels. These courses allow us to add variety to the curriculum, take advantage of the special expertise of sessional instructors or new faculty, and try out course topics before adding them to the regular curriculum. All of these courses are the equal of regularly listed courses and fulfill the discipline and level requirements for graduation.

Fall 2008

HUMN 3B93: Comparative Religions 
Donald Blais 

This course will introduce the main tenets of seven world faiths: Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The lecture-seminar will focus on both philosophical beliefs and ritual practices from within each of the religious traditions. This will provide a context from which we can begin to examine not only different ‘ways of world making’ but also the complexity of the political present: for example, our study of the beliefs and practices of Islam will enable us to critically analyze the representation of Muslims post 9/11.

Students will be encouraged to question what it means to “study” religion (as compared to practicing religion) and the course will be designed so as to facilitate a comparative study across the different religious traditions. This comparative methodology will involve the study of how the different traditions approach scripture and revelation; the human condition and transcendent reality; gender and the body; image-making and metaphor.

HUMN 3B98: Multicultural Social Ethics
Archie Graham

This course studies key ethical issues in the global context. Taking our approach from multiple ethical theories of American/European, Asian, African, and indigenous societies, we will consider questions such as the following: cultural exploitation, fair trade, social justice, racial discrimination, patenting indigenous knowledge, right to aid, right to food, human rights, justification of war, terrorism & security, gender rights, the ethical status of abortion, legalization of euthanasia, the value of affirmative action, abuse of power, environmental racism, development and displacement, the problem of ethnocentrism & diversity, etc. Students will develop tolerance and respect for other cultures and theoretical perspectives, learn how to think critically about ethical issues, and become informed about global ethical values.

SCTM 2B94: Astronomy: An Exploration of Scales & Structures in our Universe
Robin Kingsburgh

This course will explore the science of Astronomy from the perspective of scale and structure: how, from the microscopic scales of atoms, molecules and light, we have come to understand the macroscopic scales of stars, nebulae, galaxies, and the large scale structure of the Universe. Astronomy is an intensely visual science, with exquisite structures and morphologies revealed by increasingly sophisticated technologies, probing wavelengths the human eye can and cannot see; yet surprisingly the visual contains only a small fraction of the known Universe. Instead, “Dark Matter” and “Dark Energy” make up the bulk of our Universe. We will examine the scientific method of astronomers, and how they have reached such unanticipated results.

VISC 3B95: Contemporary Asian Art
Soyang Park

Contemporary Asian arts are fascinating outcomes of Asia’s modernization and of the intersections of various indigenous and international cultural elements and visual traditions. This course aims to explore aspects of practices and issues in contemporary Asian visual art which have developed through a radical break from, and revision of, traditional art making. This course not only covers a wide range of historical and cultural products from contemporary Asia but also presents issues and methods in Transnational Visual Cultural Studies. The course will look at contemporary arts from different Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, and China (including Hong Kong) as well as Asian exhibitions in Western metropolises such as London, New York, and Los Angeles. This will be combined with the analytical reading of art criticism from regional experts. The sessions will deal with important questions such as contemporaneity, tradition, (multi)modernity, anxiety, and transnationality in Asian art. They will also locate questions of global/local, originality/hybridity, translation/ untranslatability, desire/image/language, memory/history in the context of a body of study.

VISC 3B96: Re-claiming Indigenous Voice and Vision
Tannis Nielsen
This course is designed to investigate how certain theories born from the European Enlightenment have served as justification for imperial domination over the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. Theories such as Thomas Hobbes’s state of nature, the survival of the fittest, manifest destiny, and, later, Modernism’s focus on the notion of universality have affected and defined the lives of Indigenous peoples in Canada and internationally. In the twenty-first century, the legacy of this history continues to create the extreme political realities that Indigenous peoples face today. The title of this course is drawn from a conference and collection of essays edited by Marie Battiste which examines how contemporary Indigenous artists, activists, and scholars are voicing their own political autonomy/Indigenous sovereignty through (re)claiming and (re)telling their own (re)presentational histories.

Anti-requisite: Please note that students who have previously taken VISC 3B42 Critical Issues & Ideas in Contemporary First Nations Art may not take VISC 3B96 for further credit.

VISC 4B92: Vision and Ruins in Post-War Visual Expressions
Ananda Chakrabarty

This course will address the notions of “vision” and “ruin” within the context of post-1945 artistic praxis in order to explore the evasive parameters of visual expression following the shift from the “modern” to what has come to be known as the “postmodern.” “Vision” itself can be re-viewed as a form of vestigial presence, a “ruin” that corresponds to several temporally overlapping “deaths” or “ends” of ideas and ambitions in post-war European and American art. Among other things, we will look at the post-war artistic fascination with memory, origin(s), extinction, archive, and identity (imagined or not) for an investigation of “ruins” in all the complexities of the term. Selected readings from an interdisciplinary spectrum of writings (art history, ethnological perspectives of visual culture, philosophical aesthetics, literary criticism, cultural and post-colonial studies) will constitute a broad theoretical ground for class discussions, which will center on the nomadic plurality of late modern and contemporary art, especially within a global context. 

VISC 4B93: Engaging Suburbia
John Bentley Mays

An experimental inquiry into post-war suburbs in the greater Toronto area and into the current controversy about the nature and value of suburbanization. The goals of the course include the establishment of histories for the post-war formation of cities and city life, and the development of new ways of understanding the phenomena of sprawl and the urban edge. The course will be structured around reading and class discussion, site visits, and presentations by students.

VISC 4B94: The Body and the Machine: Interrogating the Posthuman in Art and Design
Caroline Langill

Since the deus ex machina was used as a means to resolve the plot in Greek tragedy, we have relied on the machine to augment the everyday and improve (?) our quality of life. The “posthuman” has emerged from postmodern discourse to describe our desire to extend beyond the limits of the human body. In this participatory seminar we will interrogate the ways that artists and designers have contributed to the production of the posthuman, examine its history in western and eastern cultures, and critique the processe of its evolution.

Winter 2009

ENGL 3B90: Creative Writing: Contemporary and Experimental Forms
Lillian Allen

Post-modernism has ushered in unprecedented possibilities for new writing forms, including but by no means limited to: image narrative, cross-genre, electronic, experimental, intra-disciplinary works, performance and post-genre writing. Through seminars, workshops, and peer group critiquing, this course will provide students an opportunity to explore the possibilities of contemporary creative writing as they bring their vision and voice to new and emerging literary forms.

HUMN 3B90: Essential Questions in the Humanities: Truth in Cross-Philosophical Perspective
Sol Goldberg

From the time of Plato and Aristotle, the definition of truth went unchallenged in Western philosophy – that is, until the end of the 19th century when “truth” was attacked on several fronts at once. This course will familiarize students with the classical notion of truth as well as with the metaphysical, epistemological, moral, political, and historical grounds on which this notion has recently been challenged by authors within the French, the German, and the Anglo-American philosophical traditions.

HUMN 3B92: Issues in Environmental Ethics
Archie Graham
Is it possible to imagine an ethical approach to environmental issues that addresses the competing needs of the various human and non-human participants to an environmental dispute? With an emphasis on critical reflection, this course invites students to confront the ethical dimensions raised by historical and contemporary Canadian and global environmental debates. Theoretical ethical approaches will be explored as reflected in case studies of key historical environmental “moments” in which obligations to future generations, issues of distributive justice and/or appropriate dispute resolution methods have been challenged. Drawing upon cross-cultural traditions, underlying assumptions of the scientific, economic, aesthetic, religious, feminist, judicial and public policy discourse on the environment will be examined with reference to one basic question: How ought we to structure our lives and beliefs in order to address the environmental problems facing our world today?

SCTM 2B95: Modern Physics
Robin Kingsburgh

The goal of physics is to understand the workings of nature through observation, experimentation, and theory. In this course, we will explore the world of physics through its observations and visualizations of nature, from the realm of the human scale through microscopic and macroscopic scales. The course will examine such topics in modern physics as cosmology, relativity, and quantum mechanics, along with their classical historical contexts. Particular emphasis will be placed on the role of visualization in science, and interrelations between science and art. (Note: As little mathematics as possible will be used; emphasis is on conceptual ideas. No background in science/math is presumed.)

SCTM 2B96: Holography for 3D Visualization
This interdisciplinary course, offered jointly by OCAD and the University of Toronto explores 3D visualization and human perception through the medium of digital holography. Participants will study the most commonly encountered phenomena in optics, such as interference, diffraction and lasers, in a visual manner by producing holographic images. Students will explore the intersection of art and science from historical and critical viewpoints. Scientific theory will be complemented by hands-on studio work. This unique collaboration between arts and science students working in teams, along with teaching staff of very diverse back ground, will result in a rich learning environment.

VISC 3B91: Car Culture
Marie-Josee Therrien

This course examines the multifaceted impact of the car in the 20th century, from its invention to the most recent examples of cars (electric, hybrid, Tata’s people car, etc.). It will use the automobile as the entrée to an understanding of the culture of mobility. It will explore questions of the design and production of cars, taking into account gender and cultural differences; the effect cars have on the natural and built environment as well as the representation and the use of cars in the visual arts. The course will also examine car culture in relation to the far reaching challenge that sustainability represents for the 21st century.

VISC 3B92: Artists’ Autobiographies
Charles Reeve

To the cop who stops me for speeding, I am annoying. Yet my grandmother thinks I’m perfect, my wife finds me oddly fascinating and our cats see me as a moderately reliable food dispenser. This range of opinion suggests that writing an autobiography is tricky, as no standards exist for judging whether, why or to what degree others find me interesting: anecdotes must advance my story without making me sound pleased with myself for being so intriguing. By reflecting on selections from autobiographies of (primarily modern and contemporary) artists (e.g., Cellini, Bashkirtseff, Chicago, Schnabel), we will ponder what succeeds in this genre and consider the constants and variables in the histories outlined by our readings. Students will use these reflections to guide the development of written and spoken autobiographical sketches.

VISC 3B93: "Indians": Post-colonial and Critical Theories of Aboriginal Representations
Gerald McMaster

This course consists of a series of focussed ideas on First Nation visualities, which have appeared at the intersection of Native and non-Native social, cultural, and political realities. With a bit of history and anthropology mixed with politics yet solidly grounded in art, this course will draw on post-colonial and critical theories. As well, the art will be examined through the lens of cultural analysis, theory, and interpretation. Some of the issues raised in class include: museology, mimesis/alterity, veracity, abstraction, hybridity, word/image (ekphrasis), myth, memory, power, and voice.

VISC3B94: Art of Eastern Europe: Modernism to the Present
Bojana Videkanic

This course takes a chronological and thematic approach to introduction and exploration of complex and diverse art of Eastern Europe from Modernism onward. In order to understand the development of various art disciplines and movements in Eastern Europe of this period this course will look at intersections between fine arts/design and visual culture, politics, society and culture of Socialism. The course will also draw from other artistic disciplines such as theater, music, and film. Another goal of the course will be to mount a critique of the Western understanding of art and culture through an investigation of art and art practices of Eastern Europe.

VISC 4B91: Improvisational Music and the Visual Arts in late 20th Century
Ananda Shankar Chakrabarty

From ca. 1930s onward, artists and musicians/composers have had increasingly frequent and varied forms of interactions that exceed the simple and reductive explications of parallelism. From ca. 1950s, such interactions have acquired an accrued intensity and frequency. It is the case that from mid-century onward, time and space have begun to mediate, in different ways, visual and acoustic expressions: time has become a concrete element in visual arts at the same time as space has acquired a critical dimension in musical projects. This course will explore the multiple facets of the tensions and contentions between the two artistic forms in question and will enable students to interrogate the extent to which boundaries between these two expressive forms have acquired a certain porosity, which has turned the disabling limit of a boundary into the enabling condition of a horizon. Nelson Goodman’s propositions of “notationality” (The Language of Art), Gérard Genette’s theoretical considerations (The Work of Art: Immanence and Transcendence) regarding the status of “allographic” (i.e. existing in multiple copies) versus “autographic” (i.e. existing in single example) work, and Jean-Yves Bosseur’s (Musique et Arts Plastiques - Interactions au XXe siècle) discussions of the interactions between music and visual arts will provide the contexts and terms of debate in this course.

VISC 4B95: Art and Design Activism
Kym Pruesse
There is a rich history of artists/designers invested in social change and political activism. Art and Design Activism will look at the practices of artists and designers whose work intersects with issues of social justice. The course will investigate the cultural conditions of activist actions, the goals and effectiveness of visual activism, and the technological environments and tools that have been used to disseminate activist content in historic and contemporary cultures. Broad thematics include: the environment, globalization, war and peace movements, civil rights movements, religious dissent, indigenous rights, nationalism, sexual politics, race and class issues, new communication technologies and

VISC 4B96: Formation and Locations of Modern Korean Society and Culture
Soyang Park

This course examines the formation and development of Modern Korean society and culture as it has undergone a rapid transformation since the end of 19th century. Located in between old and new empires (China and Japan) and later succumbing to the US hegemonic order in East Asia, Korea’s modern history is characterized by its experience of Japanese colonialism, decolonization, the Korean War, territorial division, military authoritarianism, rapid industrialization, the anti-authoritarian minjung (grassroots) dissident movement, and formation of a dynamic post-minjung civil society. The discussion includes the in-depth analysis of the significant issues of the ‘Military Comfort Women’ taken for Japanese army during the Second World War, the Kwangju Massacre, US-Korean relations, South Korea‘s democracy, emigration, the success of the Korean film and cultural industry that has swept through Asia and beyond since 1997 known as the Korean Wave. The course will draw on diverse materials such as art works, poetry, testimonies, memoirs, and intellectual histories in order to show the important roles and locations of culture, arts and ideas in this historical transformation and transnational interactions.

Last Modified:1/24/2012 12:57:04 PM