4000 Level Courses

AP/HUMA 4107 6.00 The Ancient Greek and Roman Novel

This course studies selected ancient Greek and Roman novels in English translation, the social and literary currents which shape their narratives, and their role in the cultural politics of their era.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities & Classical Studies Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4140 6.00 Childhood In Canadian Culture SECTION B: ONLINE

This course analyzes childhood as represented and experienced in Canadian culture through time, across regions, and among cultural groups. There are two primary aspects to the course: first, an exploration of the range of representations of children and childhood in Canadian expressive culture through different moments of history, throughout different regions, and among different cultural groups; and second, the relationship of these cultural constructs to the real-life experience of children at various times in different parts of, or groups within, Canada. The course will also focus on children’s own culture (through their folklore, reminiscences of being a child, and similar documents); on “child agency,” children’s rights, and their limitations; and on contemporary concerns about the role and status of children in Canada. The course utilizes several genres of “texts” (including visual art, fiction, poetry, life-writing, drama, and film) and multidisciplinary approaches (including the studies of literature, film, history, and ethnography).


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Children’s Studies (CCY) Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4141 6.00 Children, Youth And Digital Culture ONLINE


Investigates how children and youth use digital technologies and new media both as "extensions" of individual identities and facilitators of "youth culture." Texting, sexting, tweeting, learning, playing, protesting, creating-how are youth making meaning of the world through digital youth cultures? What are children and youth doing in a digital world and what are the implications of this for everyone?


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Children’s Studies (CCY) Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4142 6.00 Contemporary Children’s Culture


This course proceeds from an understanding of children as agents in and of culture. It argues that children are not mere receivers of culture, but active producers of it as well. Like all distinguishable human groups, children have cultural artifacts with which they identify collectively and by which they are identified by outsiders. These artifacts may be material, oral, behavioural and, increasingly, virtual or digital. Young people manipulate these artifacts in response to a multiplicity of physical and social milieux to fulfill various needs and achieve desired ends. These artifacts comprise childhood culture as well as children’s own culture.

COURSE DIRECTORS: T. Pollack (Section A); G. Jolly (Section B)

RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Children’s Studies (CCY) Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4145 6.00 Fantasy And Children’s Culture

This course explores the fantasy mode in childhood and children’s culture made by and for them, including literature (poetry, picture books, and novels), film (live action and animated), toys, songs, and games (including video games).


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Children’s Studies (CCY) Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4149 3.00 Contemporary Canadian Childhood & Law

This course explores childhood experience and the social construction of childhood in Canadian law. Students will examine the social policies that inform the law, consider how children experience the law through popular culture and direct contact with the legal system, and explore the current state of "children's rights," asking what reforms would empower children, making childhood an autonomous legal category.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities & Children’s Studies (CCY) Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4157 3.00 The Global Circulation of Knowledge

How is scientific knowledge and their associated technologies transformed as they cross cultural boundaries? This course analyzes scientific theories, objects, and technologies in circulation, as they move from their point of origin to locations around the world. It will draw on recent scholarship on the global history of science, science and translation studies, and the impact of colonialism.
Taking a specific scientific theory, such as evolution or relativity, it is possible to track how the ideas, objects, and technologies associated with it were disseminated, communicated, and appropriated around the globe. Following out this process involves the consideration of a number of key factors. First, we analyse the different communities of readers who engaged with the theory in different parts of the world and recover their varied experiences. Second, we examine the state of publishing, other forms of communication, and routes of transportation, which varied from country to country, and how that affected the movement of ideas and objects. Third, we investigate how translation affected the meaning of the scientific theory and the production of objects and technologies. Finally, understanding the global dissemination, communication, and appropriation of a scientific theory and its associated technologies and objects requires careful attention to the scientific, cultural, social, and political contexts in each region. There are many factors to consider when trying to understand how the meaning of scientific theories and its associated objects and technologies are altered as they cross national borders and cultural boundaries.


RESERVED SPACES:  Some spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4160 6.00 Storytelling, Multicentered Worlds and Resistance EVENING COURSE


The world around us is changing rapidly and there are many who suggest that the values, perspectives and behaviours of human beings need also to change in order to meet the challenges posed by this new world. In the face of increasing globalization, some are calling for a rethinking of Western values that focuses more on who we are and how we live with respect to the places in which we live: our locals. This is an interdisciplinary course that examines what some of these changes in values and perspectives might be by drawing upon a wide range of theories and studying a diversity of texts, artifacts and cultural practices to interrogate the ways that humans make meaning of their lives, their values and their communities through stories and storytelling. We will explore the notion that stories emerge from a context of situated embodied knowledges that are grounded in a “local” and that comprise our multicultural and multicentered worlds, and focus on those that challenge some of the current and dominating stories of Western cultures.

The course will use a concept of “the local” that is derived especially from Native and Environmental philosophies, and from the idea of multicentered societies of feminist artist Lucy Lippard in which “the local” is a concept of place which is spatial as well as temporal, personal as well as political, and which encompasses all of the senses and is intimately connected with the histories, memories, and the relationships of all beings that reside there. We will consult a multiplicity of materials and disciplines such as oral traditions, literature, music, performance, art, film, architecture, ceremony/ritual, comics and graphic novels, news media, documentaries, historical documents, myth, folklore, popular culture, feminist studies, cultural studies; religious studies, anthropology, archaeology, and geography, to consider notions of place, notions of relationships, respect, and responsibility among human and other-than-human beings in the stories that we encounter, and to examine how individuals and groups whose stories and “locals” are different might, at particular moments, identify common concerns in their stories and work together over those common concerns to strengthen their communities and/or to make change.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4190 6.00 Faith, Reason and Modern Self-Consciousness in European Thought

This course examines texts in Ancient Greek philosophy, the Bible, and modern European philosophy and literature in order to assess the fruitfulness of viewing modern self-consciousness in terms of the relationship of faith and reason.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4227 3.00 Mind and Matter in Victorian Culture

Through a reading of the contemporary literature on materialism, the mind and the economy, this course examines Victorian debates on science and its application to pressing moral and social problems.

This year, the course explores the Victorian fascination with death and dying, which gives us a focus for thinking about nineteenth century science, religion, gender, social history, legal history, urbanization, the rise of the modern consumer, and popular culture. There are a set of well-known episodes in Victorian science and medicine that involve public and controversial debates about matters of life and death. These include epidemics, animal experimentation and vivisection, and scientific investigations of an afterlife. The wider context for such episodes takes us into interdisciplinary and cultural history. Drawing on fiction, poetry, visual art and journalism, we’ll look at such topics as mourning rituals and momentos, the popularity of death bed fiction and poetry, London and its Victorian cemeteries, and murder sensations like Jack the Ripper.  Students must complete weekly readings in order to participate in seminar discussion, which will be evaluated by a reading log (submitted at the end of the course) and short online quizzes (throughout course). In addition to the work for seminars, students will focus on an individual project centered on a close reading of a single event, such as a murder trial; on a text, such as sermon or a journal article on séances; or an object, such as a particular gravesite or mourning item. This project will be developed in consultation with the instructor. In this project, students will learn how to identify a manageable topic for research, how to use the wealth of online resources for nineteenth century studies, and how to present argument and evidence persuasively. It will be evaluated by an individual meeting, a project proposal (week 7 or 8), and a short paper (7-8 pp) and poster presentation (week 12).


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4230 6.00 Informational Identities: The Self in the Age of Technology

This course examines the effects of technologies of information and communication upon the construction and functioning of a personal identity. The course also examines the cultural, political, psychological and spiritual dimensions of recent changes in the nature of personal identity.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4303 6.00 Envisioning the African Diaspora and Migration in Still and Moving Images ONLINE

This course is about photographs, cinema, and the archival evidence of the African Diaspora in North America, Latin America, and Europe. Self-images provide a means of challenging negative stereotypes and assumptions about black people. We seek to understand how photographs and cinema became media for envisioning freedom, and the attachments we form through our engagement with film archives, as well as to family albums. Accordingly, this course engages experiential learning methods. Students are encouraged to enter the archives and museum spaces, to pour through photographs collected in books and on film. As Tina M. Campt points out in Image Matters: Archive, Photography, and the African Diaspora in Europe, many scholars of visual culture have shown that “photography plays a critical role in articulating black people’s complex relationship to cultural identity and national belonging.” Accordingly, we ask how still photography and moving images capture moments in the life of an individual and community. We begin with the daguerreotype and work our way through contemporary experimental cinema. Although the scholarship on Black Canadian visual culture is not as extensive as that on African American, Brazilian, Black British, or African European visual culture, students are encouraged to use the readings, photographs, and films as a starting point from which to launch their own investigations and original research into the photography and film archives that document the long history of African and African-descended people in Nova Scotia, as well as relatively recent migrations of African and African-descended people from Africa, South America, and the Caribbean to Canada.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4306 3.00 Imagining Slavery and Freedom

This fourth-year seminar combines creative texts—novels, music, and the visual arts—alongside slave narratives, nonfiction and theoretical works in an examination of questions of Transatlantic slavery, the imagination, and the idea of freedom. In Toni Morrison’s landmark novel Beloved, the character Baby Suggs tells the formerly enslaved and putatively free born Black people gathered in the Clearing that, “the only grace they could have was the grace they could imagine. That if they could not see it, they would not have it.” This calling speaks powerfully to the work of imagination in ushering in livable worlds. Beginning with slave narratives by Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs, students will theorize slavery and freedom, thinking through what Saidiya Hartman calls the “afterlife of slavery” and what Rinaldo Walcott refers to as “the long emancipation.” Drawing on other readings and texts from a range of thinkers, writers and artists, students will continue to think about slavery in the Americas, “archives,” sound, image, blackness and imagination. They will make connections between slave law, mass incarceration, carding, the ways that Black life is rendered disposable, and the multiple modes of resistance to the extension of Black unfreedom. The question of imagination is at the core of the reading and thinking in the course. What do the terms imagination and slavery mean, separately and together? How might one imagine new worlds and possible futures? In addressing these questions, students will regularly interact with visiting artists and scholars whose work and research address these themes.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4410 6.00 Narratives of the Family in Modern Korea

This course places the development of novels, tales, folk operas and other narratives focusing on the family within the context of changing cultural patterns in modern Korea.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4416 6.00 Premodern in Modern Japanese Literature & Film

Many works by 20th-century Japanese authors and filmmakers are based on ancient texts like Noh plays, the Tale of Genji and Buddhist fables and folk tales. This course studies those classical antecedents and their modern interpretations within a cultural-historical perspective.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities & East Asian Studies Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4430 6.00 Living Confucianism

No one has had a greater impact on Chinese culture than Confucius. His ideas about self-cultivation, the proper ordering of society, the role of the individual in the social order, the relationship between humanity and the cosmos et cetera not only shaped the underlying fabric of Chinese civilisation, they deeply influenced several neighbouring cultures as well. Though Confucianism has taken many forms over the millennia, it remains central to any meaningful understanding of East Asia and is, therefore, critical for constructive international engagement in the 21st century.
In the first half of the course, we will follow the development of Confucian thought and practice in imperial China and the corresponding relevant periods in Vietnam, Korea and Japan. In the second half of the course, we will analyse the ways that different groups, including East Asian modernizers and non-Asian scholars, have tried to tie Confucianism to emerging national and global issues.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities & East Asian Studies Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4605 6.00 Literary Utopias in Western Civilization

Introduces students to the canon of European utopian fiction in historical context. Emphasis will be on literary utopias and their social, cultural, and philosophical backgrounds.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4607 6.00 Literature of Transgression: From Marquis de Sade to Tamara Faith Berger

What does it mean to label a literary work today as “transgressive”? What merits, or has merited, the name in the past? Works that shock with the psychosexual lives of their characters, that are intentionally controversial, sensationalistic, immoral, obscene, offensive to religious sensibilities; works deemed dangerous that are censored or banned; works that belong to the counterculture and to literary avant-gardes? How has the basis for classing a work as transgressive changed over time? How do the aesthetic, moral, legal, and political aims of its author contribute to a work’s transgressive status? And what are the main functions of such literary acts of transgression? What, if any, power do they exert over the societies producing them and those that later discover them? When does transgression age well, and when badly, becoming “cliché”?

Is transgression a category of literary form, as well as of content? Is it inevitably a message of some sort, reopening questions presumed settled, or is the “message” wholly contained in the act of crossing boundaries, of willful iconoclasm, of giving free reign to desire, of violating taboos, or of breaking the law? Why is “transgressiveness” a term of merit, rather than of censure? Why has academia decided to give transgressive works the time of day? And what can we expect from this pedagogy of transgression? Does not its domestication render transgression powerless or meaningless? Then again, can we not, in this context, speak of a positive relationship between transgression and criticism, just as we speak of a link between it and innovation beyond the mainstream? Is the common sense of transgression not, therefore, overly narrow, locked in the antinomy of perversion and repression, as an affected and glorified alternative to the pursuit for cheap thrills?

The purpose of this seminar is to examine these and related question with reference to a number of modern European classics. Authors to be studied include: the Marquis de Sade (Philosophy in the Bedroom, 1795), Goethe (Faust I, 1808), Dostoevsky (Crime and Punishment, 1866), Lautréamont (The Songs of Maldoror, 1869), Sacher-Masoch (Venus in Furs, 1870), Kafka (The Trial, 1925), Bataille (Story of the Eye, 1928), Vian (I Spit on Your Graves, 1946), Jelinek (Lust, 1989), Littell (The Kindly Ones, 2006), and Tamara Faith Berger (Maidenhead, 2012). We will also read theoretical and critical discussions on the subject of transgressive art and its relative value.


RESERVED SPACES: Some spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4630 3.00 Text and Interpretation

Examines selected issues in the study of textual interpretation including selected interpretive controversies; the roles that the author, audiences and interpreter's perspective play; genre disputes; dating controversies; theories of meaning.


RESERVED SPACES: Some spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4730 6 .00 Topics in Arts and Ideas

This course explores the arts and ideas of frontier theory, physical, metaphysical and symbolic embodied in the crossing of borders of nations, the mind, the imagination and the arts. The frontier ideologies of imperialism, patriarchy, colonialism, capitalism and patriotism will focus on Vietnam war films, architecture, the religious in painting and science fiction.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4770 3.00 Buddhism in Modern Southeast Asia: Community, Conflict and Change

Explores Buddhist responses to the changing conditions of modernity in Southeast Asia. Seeking to understand Buddhism as a living religion, it investigates how Buddhists have drawn on religious narratives, symbols and rituals to respond to social and political challenges from the nineteenth century to the present, including issues of religious reform, colonialism, nationalism and ethnicity.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities & Religious Studies Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4771 3.00 Buddhism as Seen from the West: The Colonial Encounter and the Study of Buddhism

Explores how the colonial encounter shaped the academic study of Buddhism and the image of Buddhism in the West. Reading popular and scholarly accounts of Buddhism written from the early nineteenth century to the present day, the course analyses how the legacy of and response to colonialism have coloured our understanding of Buddhism as a lived religion.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities & Religious Studies Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4803 6.00 Church, Mosque And Synagogue

The Muslim conquest of the Iberian peninsula in 711 inaugurated a complex trireligious society that was to endure nearly eight hundred years (and more than eight centuries on the Muslim lunar calendar). This development has given rise to Spain’s designation as a “land of three religions” and Spain’s reputation as premodern western Europe’s foremost “pluralist” society. It has also made Spain, as compared with other European lands, a hard country for non-Spaniards to understand.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities & Religious Studies and History Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4813 6.00 (Fall) The Arabian Nights: Morality, Sexuality and Strategies of Interpretation BLENDED

MODE OF DELIVERY: BLENDED (30% in class; 70% online)

Students are required to attend all seven (7) in-class sessions which will be held on the following dates: September 9 and 23; October 7 and 21; November 4 and 18; December 2, 2019.   

 CLASS TIME AND LOCATION:  Mon 4–7 pm (in-class sessions), VH 1152

This course examines the history of the reception and interpretation of The Arabian Nights, from its first appearance in Galland’s 1701 translation to its modern editions by Husain Haddawy in 2008. Interdisciplinary in approach, this course exposes students to concepts derived from the contemporary discussions of the problems of originality, authorship, translatability, and the reception of the Arabian Nights.

In the first part of the course (sessions 1-4), students acquire the theoretical and methodological tools necessary for a critical examination of different visual and textual versions of the stories from The Arabian Nights. In the second part of the course (sessions 5-15), students examine individual tales in conjunction with scholarly works that focus on story-telling techniques and narrative strategies of The Arabian Nights. In their analysis of selected stories, students focus on the concepts of morality, sexuality, spatiality, and gender. In the third part of the course (sessions 16-24), students examine different visual and textual renditions of the most popular tales from The Arabian Nights (Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, Sindbad, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves). Students pay special attention to the European reception of these tales and the attempts by European ethnographers, linguists, historians and visual artists to represent their content as non-fictional, historical accounts of Arab society, Oriental sexuality, Islamic religiosity, and so on.

Required books:

  1. The Arabian Nights: Based On The Text Edited By Muhsin Mahdi by Husain Haddawy (New York · London: WW Norton; New Deluxe Edition, 2008.)
  2. Sindbad: And Other Stories From The Arabian Nights by Husain Haddawy (New York · London: WW Norton; De Luxe edition, 2008.)
  3. Irwin, Robert. The Arabian Nights: A Companion (I.B. Tauris Parke Paperbacks; Revised edition, 2012.)

Grade distribution:

  1. Online posting of questions for in-class discussions: 10%
  2. In-class participation: 10%
  3. Online participation in group discussions: 10%
  4. Group Project: 20% (10% for individual contribution; 10% for the group project contribution)
  5. Research Essay: 20% (based on the individual contribution to the group project, 3,000 words)
  6. Research Essay proposal: 5%
  7. Peer review of research essay proposals: 5%
  8. Final Exam 20% (online, exam period)


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities & Religious Studies Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4816 6.00 Women In Islamic Literature

This interdisciplinary course focuses on the representations of women in modern-day literary, scholarly, and visual “texts,” produced by both men and women in Muslim-majority countries and their diasporas in the West. It covers a wide range of geographical regions and treats a variety of literary texts (novels, short stories, poetry), as well as other art forms (painting, photography, film). Thematically, its main goals are two: a/ To explore issues of gender, as reflected in the selected sources, and to discuss the factors which affect the perception of gender roles and the representations of women in a given cultural setting; b/ To acquaint students with authors of international renown, whose works reflect important cultural, ideological, and aesthetic trends in modern Muslim societies and communities.

Students are invited to consider the extent to which religion shapes the creative choices of the authors. Is the dominant mode of women’s representation typified by Islamic values and ideals? Or is there an array of associations and images of women that stem out of different cultural, political, and aesthetic sensibilities? How is the female body, behavior, sexuality, and identity at large constructed in reference to literary, cultural, and societal norms? What is the relationship between text and context? How do historical circumstances, “the spirit of the times”, and the priorities of the moment affect the representation of women, and the issues which authors choose to highlight? In addressing these topics, the course explores--and in part problematizes--the term "Islamic literatures/cultures" when used as a common denominator for a host of creative activities that transcend purely religion-oriented behavior and experience. It also tests the conventional polarities between tradition and modernity, religion and secularism, East and West.

All course materials are read in English/ translation. As part of their course work, students are welcome to introduce other relevant texts and stories, especially oral narratives that they may be familiar with, but which do not exist in English translation.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities & Religious Studies Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4819 3.00 Visions of the End: Early Jewish and Christian Apocalypticism

This course investigates the origins of apocalypticism among ancient Judeans (Jews) and early Jesus adherents (Christians) and the continuing legacies of these visions of the end in social movements and popular culture to the present day.  We will pay special attention to varied reactions among these minorities to politically or culturally dominant powers or ethnic groups, including Greeks, Macedonians, and Romans.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities & Religious Studies Majors and Minors.

AP/HUMA 4906 6.00 Propaganda And Culture

Investigates the employment of the created environment and other expressions of culture for propagandistic purposes, meant to advance privileged ideologies in politics, religion, and social interchange. Discusses examples chosen from different eras and communities, including modern and contemporary applications. Special emphasis will be placed on examining war propaganda across diverse media in the United States from 1898 to the present.


RESERVED SPACES: All spaces reserved for Yr 03 & 04 Humanities and Culture & Expression Majors and Minors.