Fourth Year Courses for 2021-2022
You can find descriptions of all of the fourth-year Cultural Studies courses in the calendar, but some of them are described there in very general terms. Professors may focus on a narrower subset of topics in any given year, like those below. If you have questions about these courses (or any others), please get in touch with the Chair of the Department or the professor teaching the course.
CUST-MDST 4535H: Contemporary Topics in Media Studies
This year's version of Contemporary Topics in Media Studies will focus on YouTube and Twitch. We will consider these video and streaming sites from several perspectives - affective, economic, material, algorithmic, ludic, etc. - though we will privilege the political. YouTube and Twitch are often described as instruments of radicalization: a viewer might stumble across a funny video complaining about the remake of Ghostbusters, but months later find themselves watching streamers rant about the "great replacement" of white people and "western culture." We will problematize this articulation of the "rabbit hole" and consider the other places that it might lead, focusing in particular on BreadTube and radical Twitch streamers. And we won't only watch and critique online video - we'll make it.
CUST 4565H: Psychoanalysis and Cultural Studies
For several generations now, cultural theorists have shed critical light on the complicity between a certain style of positivity and regressive social forces: the productive imperatives of capitalist society, the dynamics of racialization, as well as dominant gender and sexual norms. The hallmarks of today’s dominant ideology are the injunction to “think positive” and the promise that “it gets better.” We are not to dwell on the concerns that prevent us from contributing uncomplainingly to society, and especially to the growth of the economy; nor are we to focus too plainly on the legacies of suffering and injustice that plague us today, losing sight of the prospect of a better future to come. In this course, we will explore the inherent link between subjectivity and the negative – the disjunction, that is, between desire and the social world’s capacity definitively to satisfy it. Exploring literature (Herman Melville’s short story “Bartleby the Scrivener” and Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved), film (Michael Haneke’s Amour), a Canadian Supreme Court decision on ‘mercy killing’ (R. v. Latimer), and examples of recent social discourses (“It gets better” in LGBTQ+ discourse and “toxic positivity” in the wider public sector facing the Covid pandemic), we will explore different modalities of the negative, identifying in particular an indefinite and unexpectedly affirmative brand of negation without object or predicate that keeps open the possibility of transformative social change.