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Every semester the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences 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 Semester

SCTM 2B91 What is Time? - Robin Kingsburgh

The concept of time has intrigued thinkers from all ages. The impact of measuring and marking time intervals on the development of human culture, and our understanding of the world around us, cannot be understated. The drive to measure and understand time led ancient peoples to a very sophisticated knowledge of the sky; from that knowledge emerged accurate calendars, as well as mathematics itself. We will look at time from ancient to modern contexts: topics include sky calendars, timekeeping devices, and the arrow of time. We will look at how changing concepts of time drove changes in physics, and vice-versa. Newton’s Clockwork Universe was built on laws completely based on the notion of an absolute and external time.

Whereas for Einstein, time was no longer an absolute quantity, and instead depended on one’s frame of reference. We will examine current controversial notions of time, including the idea that time may not be real, but instead is emergent from a timeless configuration of all possible “nows”. This course may include a visit to the Perimeter Institute and/or guest lectures by scientists from the Perimeter Institute. Work for the course includes building a clock, researching current scientific views on time which incorporate ideas from Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, and creating a time-based artwork.

VISA 4B90 Memory and Monuments – Claudette Lauzon

This course will examine monuments and memorials as expressions of collective memory, trauma, and identity. Some of the questions to be addressed will include: How are memories constructed? What are the politics of memorialization? Who decides which events should be commemorated, and how? How do memorials bear witness to history? In addition to addressing relevant theoretical concepts, we will study specific examples from diverse contexts, including the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Washington, Holocaust monuments in Germany and Eastern Europe, memorials to genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda, the World Trade Center Memorial in New York City, and the memorializing of violence against women in Canada and Mexico. Required reading will include texts by theorists (James E. Young, Marita Sturken, Erika Doss, Sharon Rosenberg, etc) and makers (Jochen Gerz, Daniel Liebeskind, Maya Lin, etc) of memorials and monuments.

Winter Semester

ENGL 3B90 Caribbean Literature - Camile Isaacs

Caribbean literature has become, and perhaps always was, an international literature, as much of it was produced by Caribbean writers living outside of their nations of origin. The cultural and literary production of Caribbean literature will be the focus of this course, specifically looking at the period from the 1960s onward, a time when many of these countries were asserting their independence and were no longer viewing themselves as part of the “Commonwealth.” Much of this creative production was thus a marker of various nationalisms, while at the same time being produced in several international metropoles. The push and pull of nation-state and diaspora will be examined in this course, which will also examine the texts within the context of postcolonial theory, considering how history, politics, race, ethnicity, and regionalism affect the creative process.

HUMN 3B92 Extraordinary Bodies – Kenny Fries

This seminar course looks at how "physically different" bodies have been viewed artistically throughout history and in our contemporary culture. We will look at how different models of looking at "otherness" have pervaded our culture and how a newer, social model has finally taken root, as well as how these models affect not only our creative lives but also our social, political and personal lives, as well as the environments in which we live. By exploring different bodies as cultural representations we will be challenged to find ways in which the experience of those deemed "different" can be included in contemporary art, literature, and film.

VISA 3B90 Art in Revolution: European Art 1750-1850 – Ryan Whyte

This course examines European art from the mid-18th century to the mid-19th century. It explores the role of art in the development of modern politics and political discourse in a period of revolution, nationalism, imperialism and propaganda. Against the backdrop of political, scientific, industrial and social revolutions, the course addresses the changing role of the artist, art academies, exhibitions and the art market, the rise of art criticism and modern aesthetics in the work of artists such as Fuseli, Wright of Derby, West, Goya, Greuze, David, Friedrich, Géricault, Delacroix, Daumier, Courbet and many others.

VISA 3B91 Islamic Art and Architecture - Leah Modigliani

This course examines contemporary art and architecture from the Middle East since 1979, the Western art world's rising interest in it, and the methodological problems inherent in such a study. Through an analysis of specific monuments, artists, theoretical writing, curated exhibitions, journal articles, and contemporary visual culture, we will address issues of central concern: the problem of naming "the middle east", centre vs. periphery, war and exile, what constitutes modern and contemporary and who is empowered to make that distinction, "difference" and its relation to capitalist consumption. Because such issues are grounded in post-colonial critiques of master historical narratives, we will also need to evaluate key writings by Edward Said, Homi Bhahba, Dipesh Chakrabarta and others to see if these theories remain effective guides for understanding the western reception of Middle-Eastern art today.

VISA 3B96 Aboriginal Cultural Politics: Gender, Art, and Activism - Julie Nagam

This course is an exploration of Aboriginal artists who are working with themes of gender, politics and contentious issues. The focus will be on artists who see their art making as both critically engaged and as part of their relationship to their communities. This will involve analyzing their work through personal testimonies, reviews and readings in the context of Aboriginal political and social issues. The course will work through theories of dialogical aesthetics, community-based and site-specific art practices and how this does or does not relate to Aboriginal epistemologies. Reflecting on differing stances on gender relations and feminism/theory, the course will examine how Aboriginal artists reject or participate in this dialogue. It will also reflect on the current role art has in our global society. In western or colonial countries such as Canada the function of art has often been confined to a gallery space with visual aesthetics being the primary rational for art production, we will begin to complicate and problematize this stance.

VISA 4B91 The Print Culture of 18th Century Europe – Ryan Whyte

This seminar addresses etching, engraving and associated techniques in 18th-century Europe. In the last great age of printmaking before the emergence of lithography and photography, prints acted as agent of change at all levels of society. The seminar explores satires and caricatures, fashion prints, trade cards, maps, almanacs, encyclopedias, letterhead, printed buttons, games, paper dolls, etc. Relevant issues include the role of prints in: pedagogy and socialization; the visualization of social orders and classes; the shaping of the public sphere; the imaging of the nation, the city, and the country; the relationship between art and commerce.

VISC 3B90 Visual Narratives - Sarah McLean Knapp

Historically much of art was narrative. Despite the seeming overreliance on words since the rise of literacy, images have remained an important tool for communication. Visual narrative is an important subgenre of Visual studies and as such is a concern for contemporary designers and theorists across a range of subjects. This course will explore visual narratives and introduce you to methodologies to analyse and evaluate them. It asks how images, objects, and spaces can ‘tell stories’ with or without words. Narrative perspectives across disciplines and practices will be examined to aid your understanding of culture, and your role within it.

VISM 4B90 Looking and Motion: Mobil Practices & Technology - Paula Gardner

Mobility is a grounding concept in the history of communication and technology. This course uses “mobility” to traverse the history of mobile subjects and technologies from early mass society to the contemporary digital age. The class addresses the political, economic and social norms that articulate mobility as a desirable practice for contemporary, consuming subjects. As well, mobility is examined as key to technological developments and wide ranging, digital technologies and is theorized as a time- and space-based practice that encourages resistance in both discursive and aesthetics practices.



Last Modified:7/27/2012 5:05:30 PM