Courses > Course Descriptions
All incoming MA, PhD and advancing MA to PhD students are required to meet the program Workshop requirement. The Workshop will not count as a course which can meet any of the course requirements. In order to meet the Workshop requirement, students must attend a minimum of twelve workshop sessions over the course of their degree program. Of these twelve, a minimum of two must be from the professional orientation sessions. PhD students who advance from the Graduate Program in Sociology at York and who have already completed the MA Workshop requirement, will be expected to attend two of the designated PhD sessions in order to fulfil this requirement at the PhD level.
Sessions will be held weekly. In order to maximize their usefulness and to allow for flexibly coordinating relevant topics with the rhythms of the academic term, the intellectual and professional orientation sessions will be interspersed over the course of the year. It is anticipated that the sessions will be divided into about one-third professional and two-thirds intellectual orientation.
*this course is open only to MAI sociology students
Rather than adopting a conventional chronological structure in the mold of a history of ideas (from classical to contemporary theory), the course is designed thematically around a series of core debates and oppositions that have defined—and continue to define—the field of critical sociological theory. Three central themes organize the course:
a) epistemological (and meta-theoretical) debates, about the nature of theoretical knowledge and the constitution of a field or object of study known as ‘sociological theory’ (literature vs. science, essentialism vs. social constructivism, fact vs. value, etc.);
b) paradigmatic debates, about the various theoretical paradigms, intellectual currents or schools of thought that have formed through relations of conflict and complementarity amongst each other within critical sociology (micro vs. macro, structuralism vs. post-structuralism, economism vs. culturalism, etc.).
c) conceptual debates, about which concepts and notions are best suited to describe, analyze and produce a critique of the various dimensions of the social (structure vs. agency, modernity vs. postmodernity, sex vs. gender, etc.).
While each debate tends to contain more than two positions, dichotomization is convenient for heuristic purposes.
*this course is open only to MAI sociology students
The MA Seminar is a course that targets first year MA students in sociology. It has two objectives: 1. Provide students with theoretical and methodological tools across social sciences disciplines, such as sociology and anthropology; 2. Provide a learning space in which students are invited to develop their own research MA project and focus on the preparation of their MRP or MA thesis. 3. Develop oral and writing skills related to the discipline of Sociology.
Students are expected to develop a good understanding of the research process while actively working on their research proposal/projects.
The course is conceived of as an opportunity to create a dialogue between students’ work and the theory and methods that will be discussed and implemented in class. The course content is oriented towards the discussion of key methods themes.
Please note: Students who will be conducting interviews need to read carefully the Graduate Faculty Ethics requirements.
Readings: Most of the readings will be available to students during the first class. Some of the readings are made available for download from the library.
Weekly journal entries (5-6 assignments, 10%) Students are expected to keep a journal entry of the weekly readings and their research progress. Keeping the journal entries will allow reflection on the readings and to keep the traces of the process. In the processes of writing your proposal, your MRP or your thesis, you need to keep track of the readings and the ideas that ensue from them. All ideas should be recorded. It is suggested that you write on the readings on one hand and on the impacts of the readings on your own research process, on the other. Besides helping you to improve your writing skills and enhance your research experience, these entries will help you to stop and think. It is suggested that you add a stop and think rubric to your journal entries.
2. Research Topic (5%). Students are required to formulate an initial research topic. It is necessary to start to “percolate” ideas early in the term. Narrowing a topic is time-consuming and an iterative process that will require some “mind stretching”. For this reason, you need to write a 1 to 2 page draft that includes the topic you are interested in. The framing of the research topic presupposes that you have started doing some readings in the field, and that you have a general sense of the direction it should take.
3. Research Questions (5%). Framing good research questions is important in the research process. In 1 or 2 pages, formulate your research questions. Reflect on why you are selecting them. Think about the arguments you wish to develop and reflect on them by asking your questions.
4. Annotated bibliography (15%) Choose 7 titles in your general field of research (scholarly articles, books, reports). Provide an overview of each of them. Describe each main thesis, major methods and theoretical orientations. This assignment should not exceed 12 lines for each title (300 words max.).
5. Literature Review (15%). Write four pages on the most relevant issues, concepts, and findings in the literature of your field. What are the main debates? How have the main questions have been dealt with? What are the main directions, arguments that are addressed in this literature and how do you relate them to your own research questions/thesis? What is addressed and what is lacking and how do you wish to contribute to these arguments? In other words, students must reframe and justify the focus of their project.
6. Oral Presentation (10%). This is an important component of a research process. It consists of presenting succinctly and precisely your research project. Students are asked to to prepare all the material prior to the presentation date. Hand outs (and, if needed other relevant material) should be sent to the class one day prior. Other material can be added during the presentation if you feel it necessary.
6. Final Proposal (40%). The MA thesis and the Research Review Paper (RRP) require slightly different proposals. The MA requires that a question be asked and addressed though a research process such a fieldwork or a theorizing process, while the RRP requires that you use an already existing body of literature to address your question. However, all proposals use the same following steps: Address a question, situate that question within the existing literature, explain how it will answered and what will bring to the field, and what will be learned.
The proposal gives you a good understanding of the direction the students are taking and how they are taking it. It helps them to proceed methodically in following the various research steps. However, a proposal is not set in stone; students may make some changes during their research. This is a normal process, which is possible only because students have their research questions already in hand.
Also, the proposal is the best way to approach the supervisory committee and to convince them that the project is interesting. The proposal should show them that the students are able to undertake their research, that their time frame is reasonable and that they are knowledgeable and have a good sense of the literature. Finally, a good and thorough proposal is an opportunity for the committee to start working right away in addressing the strengths and weaknesses of the research project and in helping gain precious time in the completion of the Masters.
NOTE: all the assignments should be handed to me in class in hard copy
1. 5 to 6 Weekly journal entries (10%)
2. Research topic (5%)
3. Research question(s) (5%)
4. Annotated Bibliography (15%)
5. Literature Review (15%)
6. Oral Presentation (10%)
7. Final Proposal (40%)
Complete Outline: TBA
Sociologists employ qualitative methods in order to understand social experiences and their meaning and to examine social interaction as expressed through face-to-face interaction, images, and other practices. This course is designed to prepare students to understand, critically evaluate and employ qualitative research methods in Sociology. The course will start with a critical examination of the value of social research in the public arena, including the use of social research in policy-making and in the courts. The main purpose of this course is to engage actively in interviewing and in observation and to participate in discussions on approaches to qualitative research. We will consider critical analyses of social research methods, including feminist critiques, feminist methodologies, and post-colonial, post-racist research. In our class discussions we will critically consider the value and effectiveness of employing qualitative research approaches, and we will examine the theoretical underpinnings behind advanced methods of collecting, analyzing and presenting qualitative information. The course combines ‘hands on’ experience and different forms of qualitative research strategies and practices with study of the literature, current debates and new directions in the field of qualitative methodology. Class discussions will engage with questions of epistemology, theory, methodological alternatives, analytical strategies as well as practices, techniques or procedures.
Carroll, William K. 2004. Critical Strategies for Social Research. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press.
On-line journal articles and book chapters.
This course introduces a number of qualitative and survey interviewing methods, from focus groups to oral histories to survey questionnaires. The methods are examined critically, in light of epistemological inquiries, methods researchers’ accounts, ethics controversies, insights from disciplines outside sociology, and students’ practical experiences in course exercises. In addition to practising data collection through interviewing, the basics of qualitative and bivariate statistical analysis methods will be covered.
Note: neither formal/informal auditors nor students from outside the York Sociology Program will be accepted.
This course is designed to develop the student’s quantitative literacy and analytical skills to the level that she or he can read critically and, perhaps, write a journal-quality article, thesis or dissertation based on a survey or other quantitative data. It emphasizes the application of statistical techniques to real data, understanding how the models work and that they represent ideas about patterns in data. The statistical ideas are taught using examples from across social science. In all areas of social science a good knowledge of regression is essential for reading modern empirical research.
The first term of the course deals with basic descriptive and inferential statistics, significance tests, measures of association, and covers univariate and bivariate analyses with an introduction to ordinary least squares regression, which is the workhorse of modern data analysis. Examples of its application include research on the “gender gap” in earnings, on the effects of social class and lifestyle on health, on the impact of neighbourhoods on the quality of life, and on the effects of election campaigns on voting. Students will learn how to apply appropriate statistical tests to actual data in response to a social research question.
The second term focuses on the detailed study of regression and extensions of regression models to different types of outcomes, such as: whether or not a person voted; a person’s perceived health status, measured in five ordered categories; how a person voted in an election with three or more parties; and the number of visits to doctor or shopping trips in some period. Teaching begins with logistic regression, showing how the transformation of the probability of an outcome into its “log odds” makes it possible to use ideas from basic regression.
Sexual regulation is found in socio-legal relations, truth regimes, and normalizing discourses. It is pervasive throughout social processes, including those that, on the surface, appear quite removed from sexuality. This course examines how sexual regulation is constituted through state activity, the production of ‘expert’ knowledges, the activities of social movements, and transnational politics. Our theoretical starting point is Michel Foucault’s governmentality approach. This approach enables us to explore the social context in which law is made, enacted, and challenged. It advances our understanding of sexual regulation as something that occurs both within and beyond the state.
Our analysis of sexuality is grounded in the premise that, while sexuality is an autonomous field of study in its own right, its history and constitution cannot be separated from gender organization, racialization, economics and class, state formation, and increasingly, transnational forces and knowledge flows. Our analysis explores how dimensions of gender, race, class and citizenship are mutually constitutive and ongoing social processes, rather than fixed and pre-given aspects of identity and experience
In Winter 2014, Contemporary Topics in Social Theory will focus on Postcolonial Theory. It is often customary to date the formation of the field to Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978). In the intervening three decades, the field has grown exponentially, interrogating every aspect of European colonialism, that spans 500 years and the entire globe --either, directly, by being positioned as colonizer or colonized, or, indirectly, but nonetheless irrevocably, as shaped by the ideologies and institutions that inform colonialism. Despite the term “post”-colonial, scholarship on decolonization does not lend credence to a thesis of the “end of colonialism;” it points, rather, to the palpable and enduring legacies of colonialism, perhaps better described as neocolonialism. Leaving aside the many debates on nomenclature, the scope of the inquiries that can be designated as postcolonial theory now cover an overwhelming array of interdisciplinary concerns, impossible to master in any one course. Moreover, these inquiries increasingly point to the complicity of disciplinary formations in producing epistemological categories that work in the service of colonial formations – both historically and in the current moment. It is primarily this aspect of postcolonial theory that we will investigate this term, focusing on the critique the field offers of theoretical and analytical categories that shape inquiry in the human sciences. Hence, our explorations will be directed towards gaining an understanding of prevailing power/knowledge complexes, particularly through an examination of the relationship between the “theoretical” and the “empirical,” the “abstract” and the “concrete,” the “universal” and the “particular.” In the process, we will also review some fundamental concepts and concerns of postcolonial studies (such as Orientalism, modernity, modernization, developmentalism, foundationalism, essentialism, etc.), engage with some of the epistemological challenges it poses to disciplinary inquiry, and attend to some important debates and disagreements within the field.
This course asks what theory is, what is involved in doing theory and what an in-depth understanding of theory offers feminist scholarship. It does so by examining key moments in the history and development of feminist social and political theory in western European and North American English-language intellectual traditions.
It explores the roots of diverse contemporary analyses of women, sex and gender as they relate to theories of inequality or oppression and struggles for equality or liberation. The course weaves together a number of themes of enquiry: the relationship between social organisations of sex/gender relations and theories of “women;” the development of various feminist analyses from protest by individual women against their “lot” to the emergence of collective movements for social and political change; the links between non-feminist social and political theory and feminist theory; the relationship between theory and action; whether or not there is “feminist methodology” or “feminist theory;” the differences among or links between various oppressions - class, race, national origin, sex/gender, language and sexual identity and orientation in particular.
The main goal is to improve our ability to identify the theories informing the material we read, to increase our understanding of how theory shapes knowledge production, how the socio-political context shapes theory, and to be more explicit about the theories that shape our own work. The course also deals explicitly with issues related to graduate education. It asks what it means in the current period to be an intellectual, and particularly an intellectual woman. How do critical thinking, political engagement and contemplative thought interact in our scholarship? It explores what it means to do theory and encourages students to develop their academic skills, particularly critical reading, writing and doing seminar and conference presentations.
Part 1. Introduction: Issues of Critique
September 11: Introduction
Who are we? What do we bring to the course? What do we want from the course? What do “feminism” and “theory” mean to each of us? Dealing with course administrivia.
September 18: What is Feminist Theory? Check It Out
Pick one contemporary text book used in undergraduate courses and find out what it says about feminist theory. Do a search of the web for discussions on what is feminist theory. Come prepared to report your findings in class.
Read: Beauvoir, Simone de The Second Sex London” Vintage, 2011 pp. 3-17.
Note: We will use this book to explore ways of doing academic reading. Keep notes on your first reading to prepare for class discussions later in the year.
Mann, Susan Archer “Conclusion: Paradigm Shifts in Feminist Thought” Doing Feminist Theory From Modernity to Postmodernity New York: Oxford University Press, 2012 pp. 400-409
September 25: Why feminism? What are the Issues?
Segal, Lynne Why feminism? gender, psychology, politics New York: Columbia, 1999
University Press, 1999 9780745623467 HQ 1154 S348
Oct. 2 Critical Theory and Rethinking Elite White Heterosexual Malestream Thought
Parsons, Talcott “The American Family: Its Relations to Personality and to the Social Structure” in Talcott Parsons and Robert Bales (eds) Family Socialization and Interaction Processes Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press, 1955: 3-33
Lola Young “How Do We Look? Unfixing the Singular Black (Female) Subject” in Paul Gilroy, Lawrence Grossberg and Angela McRobbie (eds) Without Guarantees In Honour of Stuart Hall London: Verso, 2000:416-429
Connell, Raewyn “Transsexual Women and Feminist Thought: Toward
New Understanding and New Politics” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 2012, vol. 37, no. 4
Brah, Avtar “Difference, Diversity, Differentiation” in Kum-Kum Bhavnani (ed) Feminism and ‘Race’ Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001:456-478
October 9: Feminist Theory and the Politics of Decolonising
Mohanty, Chandra Feminism without Borders: decolonizing theory, practising solidarity Durham: Duke University, 2003 “1. Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses” and 9. "Under Western Eyes" Revisited: Feminist Solidarity through Anticapitalist Struggles" pp. 169-251
Sunseri, Lina “Dreaming of a Free, Peaceful, Balanced, Decolonized Nation: Being Again of One Mind” chapter 5 Being Again of One Mind Oneida Women and the Struggle for Decolonization UBC Press: Vancouver, 2011:151-175
Note: Continue reading de Beauvoir, Simone The Second Sex London” Jonathan Cape, 2009/Vintage 2011 (to prepare for class discussions 17 and 24 October, for the public lecture 20 October and for class discussion 6 February 2012). Keep notes on your first reading. Be prepared to discuss pp.21-49
Note: Assignment 1 is due in class 16 October 2012.
October 16: Feminist Theory and Interdisciplinarity
Feminist theory, Women’s Studies and Gender Studies are resolutely interdisciplinary. As a result, there is an on-going debate about the extent to which contemporary feminist theorists share anything in common, whether it is appropriate to talk about feminist theory or theories, and what, if anything, might constitute the defining characteristics of feminist theory. Are there any key authors, concepts, or assumptions that readers of contemporary theory need to know? This class explores this issue, asking whether feminist theory rests on any shared theoretical conceptualizations; if not, what are the implications? If so, what are the consequences?
Sangster, Joan “Introduction Reflections on Thirty Years of Women’s History” in Joan Sangster Essays on Canadian Women’s History Through Feminist Eyes AU Press: Athabasca University, 2011: 1-48
de Beauvoir, Simone The Second Sex Be prepared to discuss pp. 50-62
Assignment 1 due in class this week.
October 23: Feminist Theory, Historical Materialism and Feminist Political Economy
Seccombe, Wally “Labour-Power, Family Forms and the Mode-of-Production Concept” ch. 1 A millennium of Family Change London: Verso, 1992: 9-36
Maroney, Heather Jon and Meg Luxton Feminism and Political Economy Women’s Work, Women’s Struggles Toronto: Methuen, “Editors’ Introduction” 1987: 1-3
Maroney, Heather Jon and Meg Luxton “Gender at Work: Canadian Feminist Political Economy Since 1988” in Wallace Clement (ed) Understanding Canada Building on the New Canadian Political Economy Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press, 1997:85-117
de Beauvoir, Simone The Second Sex. Be prepared to discuss pp.63-69
October 30: Situated Sisterhood and Solidarity? The Challenge in Canada
Descarries, Francine “The Hegemony of the English Language in the Academy: the Damaging Impact of the Socio-cultural and Linguistic Barriers on the Development of Feminist Sociological Knowledge, Theories and Strategies” Current Sociology November, vol. 51, no. 6, 2003:1-13
Massaquoi, Notisha “An Unsettled Feminist Discourse” in Notisha Massaquoi and Njoki Nathani Wane (eds) Theorizing Empowerment Canadian Perspectives on Black Feminist Thought Toronto: Innana Publications, 2007:75-94
de Seve, Micheline “Women’s National and Gendered Identity: The Case of Canada” Journal of Canadian Studies Summer vol. 35, no. 2, 2000:61-79
Luxton, Meg “Feminism as a Class Act: Working-Class Feminism and the Women’s Movement in Canada” Labour/le Travail 48 Fall, 2001:63-88
Part 2: Challenges to Formal Knowledge: From Classical Greece to the European Enlightenment: The Rise of Liberalism, the Emergence of Capitalism and the Politics of Resistance
November 6: Feminist Theorising Before Feminism
Rowbotham, Sheila Women, Resistance and Revolution London: Penguin: 1972 “Introduction” and “chapter 1 Impudent Lasses” pp. 11-35
any of the excerpts of the writings of any three of the writers (except Mary Wollstonecraft) in either of these books:
Ferguson, Moira First Feminists: British Women Writers 1587-1799 Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985
McDonald, Lynn (ed) Women Theorists on Society and Politics Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 1998
November 13: Protest and Revolution in the 17th and 18th Centuries
Wollstonecraft, Mary A Vindication of the Rights of Woman  Norton: New York 1967 (any edition)
Rowbotham, Sheila Women, Resistance and Revolution London: Penguin: 1972
“chapter 2 Utopian Proposals” pp. 36-58
November 20: The Critiques of Capitalism and Utopian Alternatives in the 18th and 19th Centuries
Thompson, William Appeal of one half of the Human Race, Women, against the pretensions of the Other half, Men, to retain them in Political and thence in Civil and Domestic Slavery London: Virago, 1983
Rowbotham, Sheila Women, Resistance and Revolution London: Penguin: 1972 “chapter 3 Dialectical Disturbances” pp. 59-77
November 27: The Contradictions of Liberal Theory
Mill, John Stuart The Subjection of Women (1869) and Mill, Harriet Taylor The Enfranchisement of Women (1851) London: Virago, 1983
(Note: the John Stuart Mill essay is widely available. The Harriet Taylor Mill is not. There are to my knowledge only two editions which include her essay).
Rowbotham, Sheila Women, Resistance and Revolution London: Penguin: 1972
“chapter 4 Dreams and Dilemmas” pp. 78-98
January 8: Marxism and “The Woman Question”
Engels, Frederick The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State New York: International Publishers, 1972
Marx, Karl and Frederick Engels The Communist Manifesto any edition
January 15: Psychoanalysis and Theories of Sec Differences
Sigmund Freud “Female Sexuality” vol. 21 1931: 223-243 and
“Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality” vol. 7 1905:125-245
in Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-Analysis
Note: Do a second reading of Simone de Beauvoir The Second Sex London: Jonathan Cape, 2009/Vintage 2011 over the next month and take notes on this reading without reviewing the notes you took during the first reading.
January 22: Locating Women’s Activism
Rowbotham, Sheila Women, Resistance and Revolution London: Penguin: 1972, chapters 5-8 pp.99-247
January 29: Turn of the 20th Century US Women’s Struggles
Davis, Angela Women, Race and Class New York: Random House, 1981
Part 3. Foundations of Twentieth Century Feminism
February 5: Material Conditions, Social Location, Identity and Subjectivity
Kollontai, Alexandra Sexual Relations and the Class Struggle: Love and the New Morality Bristol: The Falling Wall Press, 1972
Giddings, Paula When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America New York: William Morrow, 1984 chapters 2 and 3
Goldman, Emma "The Traffic in Women" in Alix Kates Shulman The Traffic in Women and Other Essays on Feminism Ojai. California: Times Change Press, 1970
Shulman, Alix Kates "Dancing in the Revolution: Emma Goldman's Feminism" in Penny Weiss and Loretta Kensinger (eds) Feminist Interpretations of Emma Goldman University Park, Pennsylvania: Pensylvania University Press, 2007 pp. 241-253
February 12: Simone de Beauvoir: Analysis in a Period of Reaction
de Beauvoir, Simone The Second Sex London: Jonathan Cape, 2009/Vintage 2011
Note: come to class prepared to discuss the strategies of reading and rereading.
February 19 : Co-Curricular Week – no classes
February 26: Theories of Formal Equality with Men: Liberal Feminism
Friedan, Betty The Feminine Mystique New York: Dell, 1962
Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada Ottawa: Information Canada, 1970
March 5: Theories of Patriarchy and Male Dominance: Radical Feminism
Rowland, Robyn and Renate Klein “Radical Feminism: History, Politics, Action” in Diane Bell and Renate Klein (eds) Radically Speaking: Feminism Reclaimed London: Zed Books, 1996:9-36
Firestone, Shulamith The Dialectic of Sex New York: Morrow, 1970
Millet, Kate Sexual Politics New York: Avon, 1969
Note: March 8 is International Women’s Day. Plan to attend the Toronto Rally and March and come to class next week prepared to discuss the current demands and how they relate to the material we have covered in class.
March 12: Feminism and Psychoanalysis
Benjamin, Jessica The Bonds of Love: psychoanalysis, feminism and the problem of domination. New York: Pantheon Books, 1988
March 19: Theories of Sex/Gender and Class: Marxism/Socialist Feminsm
Rubin, Gayle "The Traffic in Women: Notes on the "Political Economy" of Sex" in Rayna Reiter (ed) Toward an Anthropology of Women New York: Monthly Review, 1975: 157-185
Armstrong, Pat and Hugh Armstrong "Beyond Sexless Class and Classless Sex: Towards a Feminist Marxism" in Caroline Andrew et al (eds) Studies in Political Economy: Developments in Feminism Toronto: Women's Press, 2003 pp. 11-50
Luxton, Meg and June Corman Getting By in Hard Times Gendered Labour at Home and on the Job Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001 "1. A World Turned Upside Down: Working Class Lives in Hamilton, 1980-1996" pp. 3-35
Part 4: Contemporary Issues in Feminist Theory
March 26: Sisterhood and Solidarity: Difference and Diversity
Anthias, Floya and Nira Yuval-Davis "Contextualizing Feminism – Gender, Ethnic and Class Divisions" in Terry Lovell (ed) British Feminist Thought: A Reader Oxford: Blackwell, 1990: 103-118
April 2: Mock Congress (see Assignment 4)
On a weekly basis the course involves four activities: reading and thinking about the assigned material, typically a book or about 5 articles a week; participating in class discussions; preparing the various assignments, and presenting your work in class. Most weeks’ preparation includes reviewing the questions circulated (on the preceding Thursday) by the seminar leader and the critical reading commentaries circulated (the day before class) by students who selected that class as one of their three critical reading assignments.
One of the concerns of the course is academic reading and writing. Students are asked to pay attention to their experiences of reading, writing and theorising as we will discuss these in class on a regular basis.
Assignments and Grading:
Note: Papers handed in on time will be returned with detailed comments. Papers handed in after the deadline will be graded but may not get comments.
Assignment 1: due: 16 October, 2012 worth: 10%
Pick one of the following feminist journals: Atlantis, Resources for Feminist Research, Canadian Woman Studies, Feminist Theory, Feminist Review, Feminist Studies, Signs, Feminist Economics, Differences, Agenda, Feminist Africa, Caribbean Review of Gender Studies, The European Journal of Women’s Studies, Gender and Society, Manushi: A Journal about Women and Society, Women’s Studies International Forum, Asian Journal of Women's Studies, Review of Women’s Studies (Philippines).
Pick one theoretical article published in the past two years. Prepare a report that summarizes the argument of the article by identifying its thesis, its central concepts and the supporting evidence and/or arguments. What assumptions does the argument rest on? What do readers need to know in order to follow, and assess the argument? In particular, what previous writers and concepts does the author assume readers are familiar with? Come to class prepared to discuss your findings and to explain the basis on which you decided the article is “theoretical”.
Hand in the report and a copy of the article.
Assignment 2: Seminar Presentation worth: 15 %
Each student will lead the seminar discussion for one week. On the Sunday preceding the class (at the latest), the presenter will circulate a question or questions which will be the focus of the class discussion. The seminar leader will begin the class discussion by presenting a critique of the readings (not a summary) that includes a discussion of the following questions: what is the main theoretical framework shaping the text(s), what are the key concepts employed? how coherent is the argument? what kinds of analysis does it require? invite or preclude?
Assignment 3: Critical reading assignment
Due: one day before the class worth: 10% each for a total of 30%*
For any three classes (excluding the class for which you are doing a seminar presentation), prepare a critical review that weaves together all the readings for the week to show how the readings contribute to an analysis of the topic. What are the main theses or arguments, to what extent are they similar, in what ways do they differ from, or disagree with each other? what are their central concepts and what supporting evidence and/or arguments are developed? Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments. Show how the readings relate to other material covered in the course. Note: be careful to present a critique, not a summary.
At least one day before the class, send your review by email to everyone in the class. Your paper will be graded and returned in the next class.
*One of the main goals of the course is to help students improve their writing. The three weekly reading assignments will be marked out of ten. This grading system does not allow for significant differentiation so each paper will be given letter grades. If anyone gets less than a B+ once the final grade is calculated, they can choose to have the reading assignments calculated out of 25 (instead of 30) and have the additional 5% added to the final paper. Students who choose this option must indicate their choice on the final paper when they hand it in.
Assignment 4: Class Participation worth: 10%
A substantial portion of the grade is allocated to participation because a lot of learning occurs in class time; in fact, a class develops continuity, a sense of community and a collective consciousness through the experience of meeting together. The participation grade is not based on the number of times a student speaks, but reflects an assessment of their overall preparation, informed contribution to class discussions (i.e. evidence of having done the readings and of having thought about them before class), and responsiveness to the presentations and comments of other students. This grade recognises work that is not specifically graded, and offers a way to appreciate those students who make a special contribution to building the class as a community.
Assignment 5: Final Paper due 30 April 2012 worth: 35%
Based on the material covered in the course:
Pick one major theorist and analyse their theory of gender relations and sex/gender systems.
Pick an issue in feminist theory and do a critical review of the literature relevant to this issue.
This paper should conform to the format of a journal article, that is, about 25 pages (double spaced) or 6-8,000 words.
Note: The last class, 2 April 2013, will involve a Mock Congress. Students will present their work to date on their final paper.
Note: I have not included any suggested readings on this outline. I will be pleased to suggest further readings for any topic if asked.
All readings are on reserve in the Scott Library. A copy of each article and of the Rowbotham and Segal books is available in the Nellie Library and in my office. Most of the books are available in the public library system. There are a number of second hand bookstores near the University of Toronto, especially on Harbord Street west of Spadina. They often have copies of the out of print texts. Students are expected to make sure they obtain all required materials in enough time to allow them to read the material before class. The citations include the ISBN and Scott call numbers.
This course is designed to introduce graduate students to the critical study of gender and sexuality. Using a variety of disciplinary perspectives, we examine theories of gender and sexuality. Special attention will be given to the emergence of queer theory in the late twentieth century. Seminal works by Sigmund Freud, Michel Foucault and Judith Butler will be a central focus. We will also study the emergence of transgender studies, postcolonial and feminist psychoanalytic theories of sex/gender systems, along with emergent writings on childhood sexualities and queer disability studies.
The range and sequence of readings is designed to first orient students to the emergence of sexology in the late nineteenth century and to the writings of Sigmund Freud in particular. We will then read Michel Foucault’s (1978) History of Sexuality: Volume One. This work challenges Freud’s repressive hypothesis as it pertains to human sexuality in eighteenth century Victorian culture. We will then consider how the history of sexuality in the west is, also, a history of empire and colonization and, finally, a history of the modern gendered body. Feminist psychoanalytic theories will also be used to critique foundational ideas about sex and gender in psychoanalysis and in modern histories of sexuality. Using the example of childhood sexuality, and its queer manifestations, we will consider how ideas about childhood sexual innocence have been productive and instrumental to the policing of families, citizens and nations in western, industrialized advanced capitalist nations.
We will then read key works by Judith Butler to orient ourselves to her theory of gender performativity. Special attention will be devoted to her theory of gender melancholia, to her discussion of ‘excitable speech acts,’ and to her conception of the ‘lesbian phallus.’ Following this, we will read transgender theories of the body, gender, identity, and embodiment along with the critiques of gender performativity integral to these works. Special attention will be devoted to the psychoanalytic work of Oren Gozlen and Patricia Gherovici. We will also focus on the case study of intersexuality and the bio-medical politics of naming intersex conditions.
The final section of the course will focus on critical race theory and postcolonial critiques of queer theory in the West. Sexuality figures prominently in the building of empires, in histories of colonization, in globalization, migration, militarism and sex tourism. Focusing on a range of postcolonial writings, we will consider how what Edward Said (1978) calls Orientalism operates in contemporary cultures. We will also focus on the Queer Diaspora and consider how bodies are racialized and sexualized concurrently. We conclude the course with psychoanalytic reflections on the psychic life of race in white, western imperial fantasy-formations. Lee Edelman’s (2004) analytic of white reproductive futurism will also be used to understand the deployment of race, gender and sexuality in heteronormative and imperial projects.
This course examines contemporary research on and theories of the articulations, organizations and relationships of sexual desires, identities, movements and rights within and across national borders. We will also examine how interventions by international agencies, nation-states and advocacy groups been informed by cultural, class, racial and gender politics, and differing notions of citizenship.
The objective of the course is to understand how migration changes society. Divided into three sections, this course centres round the notion that changing patterns of migrant incorporation result in social, political, economic and cultural transformation in a variety of ways. The first section explores the impact of globalization and global inequality on discriminatory migration policies. It reveals the link between restrictive migration policies/practices and incorporation obstacles. The second section examines some transnationalization and diaspora theories and trends looking at the changing meaning of identity, citizenship and diaspora engagement. The third section focuses on the transformative nature of migrant incorporation in areas such as large urban centres, migrant-sending communities and diasporic communities.
Issues of gender, race, class, ability, age, ethnicity and religion are considered in the review of the above processes. The course draws on readings in postcolonial and postmodern theory, sociology, anthropology, and critical theory. It uses studies from Canadian as well as other major migrant receiving countries. Please note that specific topics and readings may be modified in consultation with the course participants.
This course constructs a sociological analysis of the economy by combining developments in the fields of economic sociology, political economy, and global sociology in order to study contemporary global capitalism. The social organization of capitalist markets, the social implications of economic processes, and the sociological bases of economic power are explored through Marxist, world systems, institutionalist, network, feminist, and postcolonial perspectives. Beginning with the assumption that economic relations have a social basis, the course examines a range of sociological perspectives on the interrelationships between ‘the social’ and ‘the economic’, the power relations that characterize capitalism as a social system, and the tensions, contradictions and conflicts that shape the social organization of capitalist economies.
Work, paid and unpaid, is at the center of our lives. Integrating theory, evidence and policy, this course will consider all the labour involved in acquiring what is deemed necessary for survival and desirable by different social classes from different racialized and cultural groups, in different historical and geographical contexts. The primary focus will be current work in Canada, understood within a global and an historical context. The primary theoretical frame will be feminist political economy, but a frame open to contestation and alteration. The evidence will be drawn from a host of qualitative and quantitative sources. Policy will be understood not only in terms of governments but also in terms of employers, unions and households.
In this course, students will be invited to think critically, analytically, and thoughtfully about social policy through the theoretical application of a gender lens. We will primarily focus on the post-war inception of the welfare state and corresponding social policy and programs in Canada and how they have undergone transformations as a result of political, economic, and social forces. Social policy and its restructuring will be analyzed as an outcome of multiple and often competing discourses and tensions surrounding ideas about gender, class, and race/ethnicity that materialize at local and community levels and all levels of government.
The course is organized as follows. We will first be introduced to the study of social policy and the transformation of the Canadian welfare state. Students will be encouraged to ask such questions as: Social policy for whom? Shaped by what notions of entitlement and/or eligibility? At what cost (e.g. monetary, political, and social)? We will then endeavor to gender our critical analysis of social policies and welfare state restructuring in Canada as well as some other Western societies. We will learn a variety of interdisciplinary approaches to do so. Following this, we will pay specific attention to dominant governing discourses on gender and social policy, e.g. gender mainstreaming, and consider their strengths and limitations. In the last half of the course, we will devote our attention to select topics and examples that illustrate an application of a gendered lens. Areas of focus include but are not limited to: globalization; individualism and risk; citizenship; social exclusion/inclusion; paid and unpaid work; race and ethnicity. Finally, we will consider new directions in thinking about gender and critical social policy analysis. While gender will be our main lens of critique, students will also be encouraged to engage in critical analysis sensitive to how policy includes or excludes citizens on the basis of their sexuality, citizenship, class, (dis)ability, and race/ethnicity.
Undertakes a critical study of the ideas of “race” and “ethnicity” and their significance in understanding social phenomena such as racism, whiteness, Orientalism, colonialism, gender, identities, class inequality and social change. For Fall 2013, we will begin with foundational texts by Franz Fanon and Edward Said, and read through subsequent works that examine key questions about ‘race’ and ethnicity that their works raised, including but not limited to: Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall, Richard Dyer, Ann Laura Stoler, bell hooks, Sherene Razack and Rajagopalan Radhakrishnan. Throughout the course, we will reference contemporary cultural productions that demonstrate various historical and contemporary articulations of ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’, from Lorraine O’Grady’s visual art projects to Mindy Kaling’s television sitcom “The Mindy Project.” Students will be required to make lead one seminar, participate in all others, and complete a term paper.
The relationship between public space and political culture remains both critical and contested. On the one hand, public space is a site of collective resistance, collaboration and sociality; on the other, it is a site of surveillance and control. Our conceptions of, and engagement with public space are of course, facilitated and constrained by our conceptions of, and engagement with political culture. This course will investigate these interactions with an emphasis on identifying the conditions for deep social transformation.
We will put the relationship between public space and political culture into historical and geographic context, and play with themes like:
- Public space and the public sphere – deliberation, rationality, inequalities and the body
- Colonial culture, capitalist culture and processes of transformation
- Public space and forms of resistance – prefiguration, subculture, storytelling, art, creative protest
- Power, access, equity and difference
- State power and political culture
- Virtual spaces and bodily resistance
- Media – hegemony and resistance
- Surveillance, control and fear
- Mapping space and mapping culture
- Collective memory, monuments and reclamation
The course readings will involve a mix of empirical and theoretical works. The course itself will attempt to create a vibrant space of reflection and dialogue. It will combine in depth analysis of the readings, fieldwork, and qualitative analysis.
Evaluation elements will include: Participation 20, Presentation 20, Mapping Exercise 15, Show and tell 15, Final paper 30
Readings will include selections from texts like:
Hannah Arendt. The Human Condition.
Walter Benjamin, “The Author as Producer”
Mike Davis, City of Quartz
Guy DeBord, The Society of the Spectacle.
George J. Sefa Dei, “Mapping the Terrain: Towards a New Politics of Resistance.”
Barbara Epstein. “The Politics of Prefigurative Community”
Jane Jacobs, Death & Life of Great American Cities
Jurgen Habermas. Theory of Communicative Action
David Harvey. The Right to the City
Jeff Juris. Networking Futures
Robin D. G. Kelley. Race Rebels
Henri Lefebvre. The Production of Space and ‘The Right to the City’
Setha Low and Neil Smith. 2006. The Politics of Public Space.
Jacques Ranciere. 2001. ‘Ten Theses on Politics’
Christian Scholl 2013. Two Sides of a Barricade: (Dis)order and Summit Protest in Europe
Somers, Margaret R. 1995. “What’s Political or Cultural about Political Culture and the Public Sphere? Toward an Historical Sociology of Concept Formation.” Sociological Theory, 13(2), 113-44.
EP Thompson. The Making of the English Working Class
Raymond Williams. Keywords.
This course offers students an opportunity to critically explore novel trajectories of theoretico-empirical inquiry in the sociology of health, illness and biomedicine. Our focus will be to examine how arcs of investigation are established around key concepts, approaches to problem formation, styles of critique, and strategies for empirical research. We will pay careful attention to how established traditions of inquiry have served as a basis for critical engagement and response by sociologists and related scholars in the formation of emerging areas of inquiry. We will begin by examining the generative capacity of early sociological work on medicalization by Conrad and colleagues. We will explore an important critical response to that work in the form of an emerging body of research on biomedicalization developed by Adele Clarke and colleagues. Other foci of concern for the course may include: work on risk, health and responsibility by Foucauldian scholars and its significance for formulating a critique of health promotion; emerging work in the sociology of public health, including research on the “medico-legal” borderland; research on biological and therapeutic citizenship; and critical work on biotechnology and commodification. The course will be designed to cover a broad range of substantive areas in the sociology of health and illness. Students will be required to give at least one class presentation and to complete written assignments, including a major paper.