Fall 2017 Topic Courses

CLA390H5: Topics in Greek History & Culture: Roman Asia Minor (B. Chrubasik)

This course explores the Greek World of Roman Asia Minor from the first century BCE to the third century CE. Even though Asia Minor was part of the Roman empire, its cities and villages remained deeply embedded in their Greek way of life. How did one celebrate local festivals, make a living, fight with one’s neighbour, administer public justice and commemorate death while being part of a larger Roman world? These are just a few of the questions that will be addressed in this course through in-depth analyses of ancient documents.

DTS301H5: Topics in Diaspora and Transnational Studies: Transnational Human Rights and Literature (D. Elam)

In this course we will explore landmark cases in international law that concern human migration, diaspora, and human rights, beginning with the 1948 UN Declaration on Human Rights. We will we read literary and aesthetic responses to these laws and their implementation -- including novels, protest art, and political challenges. The key focus will be various cases (and abuses) of human rights, from guest workers in the UAE to Apartheid in South Africa; from multiculturalism and citizenship in Canada to Islamophobia and the US War on Terror.

HIS395H5: Topics in History: History of Quebec and French Canada (B. Gettler)

This course examines the history of French Canada, focusing in particular on the period from the 1830s to the present. It explores questions of culture, political community, language, and geography, looking to these aspects of historical experience to situate Quebec and French Canada with respect to North America’s English-speaking majority as well as to the French-speaking nations of Europe, Africa, and elsewhere in the Americas. Though proficiency in French is not required, students with these skills will be given the opportunity to work with French-language material.

RLG340H5: Topics in Christianity: Christian Art Through the Ages (A. Lehto)

An exploration of a selected theme or historical period in the history of Christian art.

RLG360H5: Topics in South Asian Religions: Sufi & Bhakti Devotional Literatures (S. Bhatt)

The course studies the literature of the Sufi and Bhakti traditions from South Asia, mainly from the north of the South Asian subcontinent. The South Asian region has been very active in producing Sufi and Bhakti saints who have written literature of world class stature. The Sufi thought that has been present for almost thousand years in Indian subcontinent is a unique blend of Islamic tradition that has come with the introduction of Islam and that of the indigenous Hindu tradition. This unique mix has resulted in a literature that calls references from both Hindu and Islamic history and mythology. The Bhakti movement that started in South India in 7 century was a revolt against the Brhamanical hegemony. It sidelined the ritual practices that were monopolised by higher castes and called for love and devotion to a personal god. The students will be required to read Sufi and Bhakti literary pieces in English translation, and analyse and discuss them. Audio-visual inputs will also be used to show the students manifestation of Sufi and Bhakti tradition and literature in the modern day society of South Asia.  

RLG388H5: Special Topics: Facing the Divine - Visual and Material Culture at the Interface of Religion (S. Richardson)

This course will examine some ways that religious cultures  have used and continue to use visual and material products, art and media, as places to express, enact or sometimes contest concepts of the divine. We will look at ways that art is used to establish a human relationship to the sacred, to elevate or perform religious actions, and the often unique anxieties attendant to the visual sense, and to vision of the divine, in religious contexts. 

RLG440H5: Advanced Topics in Christianity: Cristianity and the Cosmos TBA

An exploration of the intersection of cosmology and Christian thought, from the New Testament era to the present day.

RLG450H5: Advanced Topics in Islam: Early Sufi History (L. Silvers)

This seminar will be a survey of major figures and themes from the early piety movement just following the death of Muhammad through the birth of the Sufi movement out of multiple mystical movements in the Islamic empire to the birth of the Sufi orders. We will address these figures and themes through four theoretical lenses: Historical critiques of biographical/Hagiographical literature, theories of Emotion, theories of Gender, and Theology or Metaphysics in historical context. This course will thus provide both historical breadth and specificity in the early period as well as an introduction to methods and theories in the Study of Religion.

RLG460H5: Advanced Topics in South Asian Religions: Modern Fiction (S. Bhatt)

Although there has been instances of prose writing in Hindi/Urdu tradition in pre 19th century literary circles, but the prose writing made a significant appearance only in mid-nineteenth century. During this short period of one and a half century Hindi/Urdu literature has seen different trends in literary writing; Romanticism, Realism, Progressivism, Modernism etc. The writers have taken up social themes of caste based society, patriotism, Hindu-Muslim conflicts, the partition of India, challenges of modern life in the changing world. This course is a broad survey of Hindi/Urdu literature written in the 20th century. A representative collection of the stories written by prominent authors will be taken to introduce the students with the different themes the authors engaged with. All the readings will be in English and no knowledge of Hindi/Urdu is required. The course will also include audio-visual inputs to enrich our learning experience. 

RLG470H5: Advanced Topics in Buddhism: The Visuddhimagga (C. Emmrich)

1500 years ago, on the island of Sri Lanka a Buddhist monk called Buddhaghosa wrote a book in which every chapter is meant to work like a relay chariot that takes the reader further on the road of doing, imagining, and knowing the right thing. In this class we will be riding and flipping those cars, racing along a track called the Visuddhimagga, or “The Path of Purification”, paved to have us come to a screeching halt right in nirvana. We will be reading the book in translation while taking a close look at the Pali original, identifying key terms, discussing the translator’s choices, and you will discover how talking about meditation can be one mind-bending ride.

WGS337H5: Special Topics in Women and Gender Studies: Cultures of Race and Surveillance (N. Charles)

From geopolitics and technoscience, to selfies, prisons, and biosecurity, this course conceptualizes cultures of race and surveillance within critical transnational feminist frameworks and Black studies scholarship.

WGS434H5: Special Topics in Women and Gender Studies: Muslims, Gender and Multiculturalism in Canada (S. Kassam)

This course examines the contemporary narratives regarding Muslims, gender, race and multiculturalism in post 9/11 Canada, and, through the figure of ‘the Muslim,’ probe the nature of the Canadian national imaginary, differential subjectivities, notions of citizenship, multiculturalism and secularism. Through explorations of academic theory and of real-life case studies, students will be encouraged to probe how these discourses shape Canadian narratives on the nation-state, belonging, and the ‘Other.’ Central to these narratives is the figure of ‘the Muslim,’ who, in contemporary times, illuminates the contested terrain over ‘acceptable’ citizenship and the so-called ‘limits’ of multicultural tolerance. This contestation is evident in many contemporary debates, for example, about face veils, headcoverings, so-called ‘honour killings,’ reasonable accommodation, ‘home grown radicalism,’ and security. These debates are often ‘trigger points’ for larger conversations about multiculturalism, secularism, citizenship and belonging – discourses in which the Muslim body is increasingly being used to demarcate boundaries of acceptability.