CSIS Course Descriptions

CSIS 200

CSIS 200: Critical Engagements in Sexuality Studies

The critical study of sexuality is an exploration of social categories, identities, behaviours, and
knowledges. It is not just about sexual acts but about the ways that knowledge about sexuality
intersects with and influences power relations, normative ways of thinking, knowing, and being,
institutional structures, and other unexpected facets of everyday life. In a cultural moment when
the #MeToo movement is having a significant impact on media, politics, and the cultural zeitgeist,
now is an especially important times for careful, critical, and thoughtful examination of the ways
that sexuality is ingrained into aspects of everyday life, and also how these ways intersect with
gender, race, religion, ethnicity, citizenship, nationality, ability, health, education, and politics.
This course will work to respectfully push and challenge normative assumptions and
preconceptions about these concepts and open up new ways of thinking about sex and sexuality.

Instructor: Sam Stiegler

CSIS 300A: Introduction to Critical Studies in Sexuality

This course examines various critical approaches to the study and pedagogy of sexuality. Using a
variety of theories to contextualize sexuality into critical discourses of ethics, law, methodology, public
policy, cultural citizenship, and with particular attention to decolonizing and diversity knowledges of
marginalized populations, this course traces the contemporary context of sexuality studies. This course
takes up sexuality as an unfixed and contextual set of categories that are constructed through relational
mechanisms. This course will use the framework of sexuality to interrogate how subjectivities of sex,
sexual orientation, identity, desire, relationships, gender, bodies, and materiality itself are generationally,
genealogically, and socially constructed recognitions.

Instructor: Evan Taylor
CSIS 301

CSIS 301: Intro to Trans* Studies

In a field characterized by rich debate and productive intellectual work, scholars and activists have engaged in major interventions to prevailing assumptions, popular and academic understandings of gender identities and gender normativities. But their contributions have had a broader impact that bring an intersectional lens to bear on issues involving, but not restricted to gender alone. As such, in this course we will examine a wide range of diverse trans experiences, practices, meanings, beliefs, and situations in time and space; and we will look at how they articulate with other analytical categories, such as sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, age, art, labour, history, geopolitics, nationality and the media.

We will ask how, and under which circumstances, these trans* realities become visible and/or invisible, recognizable and/or incomprehensible, livable and/or not viable. We will investigate the ways in which an analytical trans* lens allows us to interrogate and challenge certain hegemonic norms while others remain re-inscribed.

Instructor: TBA

CSIS 450B: Topics in Critical Studies in Sexuality

While unabashedly and unavoidably a certain type of survey (how can a single course hope to grapple with a category as large and diverse as most contemporary claims in the name of sexuality seem to promise?) this course nevertheless, makes a rather consistent argument. In other words, the course (as all courses do, whether they claim to or not) has an agenda. And that agenda is not to provide a bird’s eye view to contemporary academic arguments which unfold mostly in the US, but now and then elsewhere in the “western”—here, say—but rather, to enable us to ask and begin to try to answer fairly precisely the following sorts of questions: “what is at stake in sexuality theory? Where have these theories come from? And where are they going? What are some of the resistances posed by socially constituted sexual identities? What are some of the historical and cultural specificities of our contemporary preoccupations with questions of identity or sexuality? What sorts of claims are we, and the texts we read inclined to make about identity and sexuality and why?
By examining a variety of sources, claims, arguments, narratives, and cultural artifacts about gender, sexuality, transformation, race, marginality, passion, politics, culture and history, this course is designed to allow us to attempt to shape an understanding of what animates many of our own activisms, claims to identity, longings, stances, hopes, wishes, idealizations, fixations, loves and hatreds. Along the way we will attempt to discover what is the place of knowledge in contemporary discussions of sexual scholarship and activism. We will examine the role of reading in the construction of sexual identities and interrogate why literature and the arts have so often been at the heart of contemporary debates over sexuality.
Making use of some of the tools of epistemological critique, which have nourished and constituted sexuality studies and queer theory, we will nevertheless not remain bound by strictly theoretical or ‘academic’ concerns. Thus, the claims of immediacy of experience and affect will have a place here. For to ask and to attempt to answer ‘when and where and how, in which places and moments, does someone come to be considered or to be consider him or herself lesbian, gay, queer, pervert, trans-, bi, hetero- ‘ still does not grapple with the fact that nearly every one of us here will have taken on or be taking on some interior, deeply felt, ontological and perhaps even metamorphic relation to some number of these identities. The course is thus sewn together by an interrogation of questions of metamorphosis. It proposes that ‘queer’ or ‘lesbian’ or ‘gay’ or ‘trans-‘ might not function merely as defiantly desiring stances vis-a -vis straight world; such desires may also be animated by wishes, not for ‘identity’ but for the transformation.

Instructor: Dr. Janice Stewart