150A Summer 2020

These are the following courses being offered to students in the Faculty of Arts during terms 1 & 2 of the 2020 summer session. For previous course listings please consult the Course Archives page.


2020S Term 1:

Instructor: Andrew Connolly

Section: 001 (MW 12:00-3:00)

It’s hard to get away from celebrity news. Whether it’s Kanye’s political stunts in the White House, Ariana Grande’s public split with Pete Davidson, Demi Lovato’s struggles with addiction, or Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leaving the royal family and moving to Canada, our lives seem saturated with information about the famous. To read an endless supply of commentary, analysis, and gossip about celebrities, all you need is an internet connection. So why do scholars study celebrities? What do academics do differently?

In this course we will look at articles about celebrities written by academic scholars. They ask questions like: Why do people develop attachments to celebrities? Why do celebrities share so much about their lives? Why do companies hire celebrities to endorse their products? Do celebrities actually have an impact on the way we think and talk about sex, gender, and race? What kind of impact do celebrities have on politics? These questions are framed by the disciplines that the scholars work in, including cultural studies, sociology, economics, gender studies, and media studies. Each of these disciplines has its own methods and conventions. In other words, a particular discipline influences what scholars ask questions about, how they phrase the questions, how they answer the questions, and how they present their findings. As a result, this course will not only introduce you to the academic study of celebrities, it will also introduce you to the various disciplinary approaches to research and writing in the arts and humanities.

Part of this introduction will be training you to participate in scholarly discourse. You will learn how to do scholarly research: how to find the information you are looking for, how to understand it, and how to evaluate it. You will also learn how to write and present your findings in a way that engages with scholars in a particular discipline or disciplines. In addition to instruction in the classroom, you will have multiple written assignments that will give you a chance to experiment with different aspects of academic research and writing, and receive attentive feedback on your work. This training will help prepare you to succeed in your academic career.

Instructor: Kirby Mania

Section: 002 (TTh 12:00-3:00)

This course focuses on scholarly discourse about environmental justice. It will consider perspectives from critical race theory, ecofeminism, social movement theory, sociology, political ecology, and economics. Emerging as a movement in the early 1980s in the United States, environmental justice – now considered a global movement and a matter of global concern – recognizes the “unequal impacts of environmental pollution on different social classes and racial/ethnic groups” (Mohai et al., 2009, p.405). Studies have shown that environmental harms disproportionately affect vulnerable social groups (such as people of colour, indigenous peoples, immigrants, women, minority groups, and low-income communities). Environmental justice (EJ) scholars research and monitor cases of socially-produced environmental injustice and critically evaluate how multi-scalar policy decisions (such as neoliberal reform) continue to affect at-risk communities. EJ scholarship examines the social mobilization potential of communities as a result of the uneven distribution of environmental hazards, and also considers how grassroots activists – in their campaign for greater recognition and participation in decision-making processes – hold governments and corporations accountable in their struggle for environmental justice. We will be tracing a number of scholarly conversations around the globalization of the Environmental Justice Movement (EJM) – looking at literature from the US, Canada, and other parts of the world – whilst discussing terms like environmental racism, environmental inequality, intersectionality, slow violence, degrowth, and environmentalism of the poor.

The course’s discursive approach invites students to engage with scholarly conversations and published research across a range of disciplinary perspectives. The course will entail writing about these research perspectives as well as producing research of your own.

Instructor: Katie Fitzpatrick

Section: 003 (TTh 3:00-6:00)

Today, we often hear that “privacy is dead.” Some blame growing surveillance by governments and by Silicon Valley tech companies, while others blame an increasingly confessional culture, characterized by constant “over-sharing” on social media or on reality television. In this course, we will read scholarly articles from disciplines like law, history, sociology, and psychology in order to gain a wider perspective on contemporary privacy. We will consider, for example, the birth of fingerprinting technology, the use of CCTV cameras in public schools, the privacy rights of poor mothers, and RCMP surveillance of Indigenous groups. In addition to reading and analyzing these articles, students will join the scholarly conversation by producing their own original research on privacy and surveillance.


2020S Term 2:

Instructor: Jennifer Cowe

Section: 004 (TTh 12:00-3:00)

This course will aim to explore how different academic disciplines engage with the concept of nostalgia. Nostalgia is a word, or more usually a feeling, that most people have used or felt; however, very few understand its constant presence in everyday life. We will study nostalgia from its earliest appearance in academia as a form of mental illness in the seventeenth century and follow its growing influence over, and manipulation of, contemporary ideas of national identity, consumerism, class, lifestyle choices and LGBTQ histories. Through the study of academic journal articles from a variety of fields (psychology, history, marketing, politics, media) we will examine the research and writing techniques used by different disciplines to understand such an esoteric concept.

Instructor: Michael Schandorf

Section: 005 (TTh 6:00-9:00)

The idea of competition is so fundamental to Western culture that we often take it for granted as a natural good. Nearly every aspect of our lives involves competition: we compete in school and for jobs, we compete both socially and at work, we compete in games for fun, and when we’re not competing ourselves we spend much of our time enjoying watching others compete. But our obsession with competition has complications. For example, a world divided into winners and losers is an inherently inequitable world: there will always be more “losers” than “winners”. Competition also has interesting relationships with our need for social cohesion. Attempting to disentangle cooperation from competition, in fact, can undermine both: a lack of either can lead to unproductive stasis, and worse, but a complete integration of cooperation and competition can lead to us-versus-them thinking and even war (which American rhetorical scholar Kenneth Burke called “the ultimate disease of cooperation”). This seminar will explore some of the ways that competition has been investigated in recent scholarship, and students will design and produce a research project of their own contributing to that scholarly conversation.