Course Descriptions

GRSJ 101

GRSJ 101 (001): Introduction to Social Justice - #revolution: feminism and social justice

This course provides an introduction to intersectional feminist scholarship and an examination of social constructions of gender, race, and sexuality and how they are shaped by particular contexts, times, and places. We will explore the ways that intersecting and hierarchical relations of power, privilege, and marginalization are reproduced and how they shape social arrangements and everyday lives. In this course, students will engage critically with major issues, debates, and politics in feminist scholarship and activism through a social justice lens. Course readings and scholarship include gender studies, indigenous feminisms, trans studies, critical race studies, sexuality studies and queer theory, media and literary studies, and theories of the body. As well, we will read a variety of genres including academic scholarship, fiction, blogs, graphic novels, and essays.

This course will focus on the ways that contemporary feminist debates are reproduced and understood in media, popular culture, and social media. For example, what do feminist hashtag campaigns on Twitter contribute to discussions of social justice? How is feminism represented on sites like Tumblr or Instagram? How might we use social media effectively as a tool for social change? In exploring these various means of expression and activism, we will attempt to answer the question: how can we understand social justice in a social media world?

Instructor: Dr. Kim Snowden
GRSJ 102

GRSJ 102: Global Issues in Social Justice

This course introduces students to a variety of global issues through the use of Critical Race Studies, Indigenous feminism, and intersectional feminist theory. Each class will be centered around a specific topic with an emphasis on the following global issues: contemporary forms of settler colonialism within and outside Canada/US as it impacts Indigenous women and their communities; the rise of far right and white supremacist movements in conjunction with patriarchal ideology and crises in masculinity in Europe and North America; imperialism masked as humanitarianism; global poverty and inequality as gendered phenomena; neoliberalism and its devastating effects on both the human and natural ecology of the Global South. The course also aims to acquaint students with some social justice movements of resistance and survival.

Instructor: Litsa Chatzivasileiou
GRSJ 200

GRSJ 200: Gender and Environmental Justice: Ecologies of Social Difference

An interdisciplinary and cross-cultural overview of contemporary environmental issues, as they relate to gender equality and social justice challenges and initiatives that respond to ecological crises. Students will be introduced to feminist, anti-racist, anti-colonial and queer contributions to scholarly, political and popular debates about nature and the environment. Our focus will be on the diversity of ways that nature-society relations, including pressing ecological issues, are linked to processes of gendering, racialization, sexualization, political economy, nationalism and imperialism. For instance, we consider ideas and practices of nature and environment as related to projects of normalization, differentiation and violence; uneven distribution of environmental harms and benefits, socio-political dimensions of struggles for nature, and the politics of diverse environmentalisms. A wide array of local and international case studies will be used to examine these ‘ecologies of social difference’.

Instructor: Dr. Leila Harris
GRSJ 224A (001)

GRSJ 224A (001) : Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice in Literature - Decolonizing Travel

This course will focus on travel literature from marginalized writers within colonial/post-colonial contexts. We will read novels, short stories, theories, and films about travel and locality in Southeast Asia, Oceania, and other spaces.

Instructor: Dr. Chris Patterson
GRSJ 224A (002)

GRSJ 224A (002): Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice in Literature - Feminist Futures: Science Fiction & Fantasy

In the introduction to Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, Walidah Imarisha says that “whenever we try to envision a world without war, without violence, without prisons, without capitalism, we are engaging in speculative fiction. All organizing is science fiction. Organizers and activists dedicate their lives to creating and envisioning another world, or many other worlds.” Likewise, writers of science fiction and fantasy create other worlds; worlds that imagine a future of global transformation, a future free from oppression and marginalization. Like social justice movements, science fiction and fantasy offer us the possibility for change and the promise of revolution.

This course will explore the connections between science fiction, fantasy, and feminist, social justice activism. How can social justice movements benefit from reading science fiction and fantasy from an intersectional feminist perspective? In answering this question, we will look at the characteristics of science fiction and fantasy and define the genres in relation to intersectional feminism. We will also explore the popularity of science fiction and fantasy in film and television by exploring series and films such as Bladerunner, Westworld, Black Panther, and Sense8.

Texts and authors include: Octavia Butler, Eden Robinson, Larissa Lai, Daniel Heath Justice, Kazuo Ishiguro, NK Jemisin, Nnedi Okorafor, Amal El-Mohtar, Tananarive Due, Mia Mingus, selections from Octavia’s Brood, and the recent graphic novel version of Octavia Butler’s Kindred.

Instructor: Dr. Kim Snowden
GRSJ 224B (002)

GRSJ 224B (002): Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice in Literature: Literary Interventions

This course will explore how marginalized writers have sought to intervene in literary discourses and genres in a variety of ways, from self-commodification and satirical queering to direct instigation and refusal. There will be a substantial component of Asian North American texts, as well as texts by Black, Latinx, and Indigenous writers.

Instructor: Dr. Chris Patterson
GRSJ 224C (001)

GRSJ 224C (001) Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice in Literature - Feminist Re/visions: Folk & Fairy Tales

In this year-long course we will examine the history of the fairy tale across cultures, read traditional tales, and consider the representation of gender, sexuality, and race in contemporary fairy tales from an intersectional feminist perspective and with a focus on decolonizing knowledge about storytelling and fairy-tale scholarship. Together we will address the variety and complexities of themes, narratives and cultural issues that are constructed and represented in the genre of fairy tales and explore how fairy tales can effectively be used in a feminist, social justice classroom.

Readings will include a selection of essays and articles from feminist and fairy-tale scholarship, a variety of traditional fairy tales, and fairy-tale retellings from contemporary authors such as Angela Carter, Nalo Hopkinson, Emma Donoghue, Neil Gaiman, Francesca Lia Block, Kim Addonizio, Julia Alvarez, and Midori Snyder. We will also examine some fairy-tale films (including Disney) and fairy-tale television in relation to their literary counterparts.

As well, we will explore the use of fairy motifs in popular culture, film, and television taking vampires as a case study and using examples from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, and various reworkings of Dracula.

Instructor: Dr. Kim Snowden
GRSJ 224C (002)

GRSJ 224C (003) Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice in Literature - Writing and Resistance

In this course, we will consider how literature can both represent a world marked by differences of gender, race, sexuality and class, and enactforms ofjustice by imaginingotherwise. Analyzingpoetry, prose and filmsfrom Canada, the U.S.,and South Africa, we will consider how authors represent colonial histories, and attest to embodied experiences of gender, race, and sexuality. As we will discuss, these categories are both inscribed on bodies, and shape our understanding of politics, culture, and language within state structures. Literaturecan help us understand forms of oppression and subordination, butit canalso allow us to conceive ofother possible futures and ways of knowing. Guided by close reading strategies, we will consider how writing can function asresistance, as memorial, and as powerful form of social protest. Students will be introduced to analytical tools forliterary study, as well as critical contexts and theoriesin Indigenous studies, gender theory, sexuality studies, critical race studies, and postcolonial theory. Our reading of these methods and fields will be guided by an overarching concern with the interaction between artand politics. How do artists and writers convey the politics of subjectivity (marked by gender, race, and sexuality) and propose other ways of imagining our world?

Instructor: Sheila Giffen
GRSJ 230

GRSJ 230: Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Representation in Modern Asia

Representation is highly contested and significant now more than ever in our image-saturated society dominated by social media, celebrity culture and infotainment, particularly as these intersect with gender, class, race, sexuality and power relations. More so, when such intersections occur in a complex and diverse region such as Asia, with its multiple transnational nodes beyond its geographic borders. Connected to GRSJ 235, which deals with “Structures,” this course focuses on “Representation” to explore and explain from interdisciplinary perspectives these representation-related contestations, particularly the complexities of reading “gender”, “race,” “sexualities”, “class” and “power” alongside reading and representing “Asia”, “Asianness” and “transnational” “globalized” Asia, particularly in Turtle Island (aka North America). Learners will explore in interconnected modular topics the historical and contemporary continuities and changes in the everyday representations of and by Asian subjects in the region and transnationally in the context of “whiteness” and other (post) colonial legacies from intersectional and spatial analyses analyses. Topics include (self and others’ ) representational-ideological anxieties and (in)stabilities over (un)enduring Asian stereotypes, caricatures, images and depictions in texts, films and other artistic productions. We will relate these to modernity, consumption, cosmopolitanism, (libidinal) desires, (in)corporeality, families, cultures, religions, sexualities, femininities, masculinities, and diverse abilities of various (diasporic) subjects from housewives, brides, and sex workers to students, immigrants, migrant workers and feminist activists within and outside Asia.

Instructor: Dr. Nora Angeles
GRSJ 235

GRSJ 235 - Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Structures in Modern Asia

Now more than ever in human history we are seeing stronger and growing social and economic inequality, various forms of oppressions, and structural injustice particularly in poor and deeply divided countries and regions in Asia and beyond. Connected to GRSJ 230, which deals with “Representation,” this course focuses on “Structures” to explore and explain from interdisciplinary, intersectional, and spatial perspectives how the representational-ideological connect and intersect with, and are inseparable from material-structural realities. Learners will explore in interconnected modular topics examining the historical and contemporary continuities and changes in Asian capitalism, political economy of development, markets, states, nations, governments, family, institutions, politics, community dynamics, and the natural and built environments. Using interdisciplinary perspectives from humanities, public policy, critical development studies, social sciences and applied fields, we will examine the nexus of social, political and economic structures and intersecting axes of differences and oppressions within contemporary Asia, the complex and diverse regions where diasporic Asian migrants have resettled, and the transnational social spaces beyond Asia’s geographic borders.

Instructor: Dr. Dr. Nora Angeles
GRSJ 300

GRSJ 300: Intersectional Approaches to Thinking Gender

Interdisciplinary exploration of the multiple intersections between gender and (neo)colonialism, racism, poverty, ableism, and heterosexism in a globalized world; historical and cross-cultural aspects, and the social construction of sex and gender, masculinity and femininity.

Instructor: Dr. Lori MacIntosh
GRSJ 301

GRSJ 301: Gender, Race & Indigeneity in Canada

Gender and indigeneity in the documented histories and narrated lives of Indigenous people in Canada.

Instructor: Jules Koostachin

GRSJ 303

GRSJ 303: Gender, Law, and Social Justice

A survey of feminist legal thought and recent developments in feminism and law, with a focus on Canada.

Instructor: Dr. Mark Harris
GRSJ 305

GRSJ 305: Social Justice Issues in Community and International Organizing

Critical examination and practical applications of concepts, theories, methods, and strategies of gender-aware organizing at the community and international levels.

Instructor: Taq Bhantal
GRSJ 306

GRSJ 306: Globalization and Social Justice: Gender, Race, and Sexuality in International Politics

What were the factors that sparked the Occupy Wall Street and Idle No More movements? How have communities and organisations mobilized to protest against discrimination based upon gender, sexuality, race or cultural identity?

This course will examine how the concepts of law and social justice are deployed within the framework of globalization and whether they are effective vehicles to achieve change or, as Douzinas suggests, they have been co-opted as ‘tools of public power and individual desire’ that actually work against marginalized and oppressed communities. Focusing upon the role of social movements we will consider what mechanisms and strategies are deployed to challenge structural and hegemonic oppression from a range of perspectives.

Instructor: Dr. Mark Harris
GRSJ 307

GRSJ 307: Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Popular Culture - Playing Difference in Digital Media

This course will examine how forms of racial, gendered, sexual, and national difference have shifted in our age of digital media, where state and corporate surveillance have become the norm, and forms of difference have emerged through new and creative ways to play. The course will provide special focus on transpacific forms of empire that have emerged in the industry of Information Technology, techno-orientalist media, and video games.

Instructor: Dr. Chris Patterson
GRSJ 310

GRSJ 310: Gender, Race, Social Justice and Health

Interdisciplinary introduction to gender and health issues using selected theoretical frameworks.

Instructor: Jessi Taylor
GRSJ 311

GRSJ 311: African/Black Women in the Americas

An interdisciplinary survey of gender studies and histories of African/Black women in the Americas from the beginning of the slave trade to the present.

GRSJ 315

GRSJ 315: Critical Racial Theories - Transpacific Theories of Race

This course will explore theories of race from the purview of transpacific encounter, focusing on how race has been produced through colonial gazes in Asia, and how race has been manufactured through capitalist commodification of migrant Asian bodies.

Instructor: Dr. Chris Patterson
GRSJ 316 (101)

GRSJ 316 (101): Queer and Trans of Colour Theorizing

This course is concerned with tracing how the production of the queer subject – in popular discourse, community formation, political struggle and academic theorizing – takes place within contemporary and historical conditions of white supremacy, settler colonialism and global capitalism. It is thus interested in queer and trans of colour theorizing as a mode of scholarly inquiry and as a political project. Along with examining the ways that the governance of gender and sexuality is entwined with the imperial, capitalist and nationalist production of racial difference at various political scales, we will also examine the racial and imperial contours of contemporary understandings of the ‘sexual’ writ large, including mainstream and subaltern discourses of love, desire, intimacy, beauty and kinship.

Our three main tasks will be as follows:
- To analyze the scholarly and political foundations of queer and trans of colour theorizing, including its genealogical linkages to women of colour feminisms, its critiques of white normativity in queer politics and theorizing, and its engagement with cisheteronormativity in critical race studies and ethno-racial community organizing
- To examine queer and trans of colour theorizing’s complicated relationship with settler colonialism and settler colonial studies, including the gender and sexual politics of colonialism and imperialism and indigenous thinkers’ contributions to and departures from queer and trans of colour scholarship and politics
- To put queer and trans of colour theorizing in conversation with critical studies of nation, citizenship, diaspora and empire, including asking to what extent the former has engaged questions of mobilities, borders, nationalisms, migrations, transnationalisms and imperialisms in its examination of the nexus of racial, sexual and gender politics

Instructor: Dr. John Paul (JP) Catungal
GRSJ 320

GRSJ 320: Anti-racist Feminist Pedagogies

This course begins with the assumption that all Western forms of knowledge production and pedagogy are Eurocentric and rooted in earlier colonial processes of knowledge extraction from Indigenous cultures. Imperial learning has imposed complete disorder on colonized peoples disconnecting them from their histories, their landscapes, their languages, their social relations and their own ways of thinking, feeling and interacting with the world. This systematic fragmentation can still be seen in the disciplinary carve up of the Indigenous world: bones, mummies and skulls to the museums, art work to private collectors, languages to linguistics, customs to anthropologists, beliefs and behaviors to psychologists. Thus we examine the role of museums, art collections, human zoos, science and disciplines such as anthropology and ethnography in the production of colonial knowledge in early modern European history of education till the present moment. We also explore anti-racist, decolonial ways of researching, teaching and learning that are guided by radical Indigenous methodologies and activist, intersectional grass root anti-oppression work.

Instructor: Litsa Chatzivasileiou
GRSJ 325

GRSJ 325: Anti-Colonial and Feminist Qualitative Methods

This 3-credit third-year course introduces students to data collection techniques, the politics of interpretation, and the formulation of a research proposal using a feminist, anti-racist framework.

Instructor: Dr. Pilar Riano-Alcala
GRSJ 326

GRSJ 326: The Politics of Gender, Families, and Nation-Making

Investigation of historical and contemporary scholarship on the diversity of families, focusing on differences of gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, and social class within and across national borders.

Instructor: Litsa Chatzivasileiou
GRSJ 327

GRSJ 327: Feminist Theories of Representation and Difference

Feminist scholarship emphasizing languages and processes of representation and the construction of difference in cultural discourses and institutions.

Instructor: John Culbert
GRSJ 328

GRSJ 328: Theories of Subjectivity

How feminist scholarship has shaped and reinterpreted accounts of the subject, drawing on such traditions as structuralism, poststructuralism, psychoanalysis, postcolonialism, postmodernism, and Queer Theory.

Instructor: Litsa Chatzivasileiou
GRSJ 401 (202)

GRSJ 401 (202): Gender, Body, and Society - Monstrous bodies/Monstrous texts

This course will address the ways that the body is rendered monstrous through discourses of misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and racism with a focus on representations of monstrous bodies in literature, film, and popular culture. The class will explore how reproduction and reproductive politics are represented in fiction and film, how popular culture represents and reproduces monstrous bodies, and will critically engage with the posthuman monster and its reproduction through technology, media, and popular culture. We will read and analyze a number of novels, short stories, speculative fiction, science fiction, horror, and young adult fiction and watch a number of films and excerpts from television. Scholarly readings and theory includes: feminist theories of monstrosity and abjection, cyborg feminism, afrofuturist feminism, feminist diaspora studies, bare life and states of exception, and queer and feminist disability studies.

Texts and film include: Octavia Butler’s Fledgling, Rebecca Roanhorse’s rail of Lightning, Marjorie Liu Monstress, Alien, Mad Max: Fury Road, Ex-Machina, Ginger Snaps.

Instructor: Dr. Kim Snowden
GRSJ 410 (201)

GRSJ 410 (201): Religious Feminisms

Examines religious feminisms from three Abrahamic traditions. An in-depth study of challenges various doctrinal discourses and practices pose for feminist projects

Instructor: Dr. Ayesha Chaudhry
GRSJ 415 (201)

GRSJ 415 (201): Critical Racial and Anti-Colonial Feminist Approaches

This course takes Black/African movements and struggles for humanity and self-definition as a starting point and template for examining a diversity of Critical Racial and Anticolonial Feminist struggles. Anti-colonialist and critical race theories and practices represent a variety of oppositional discourses to colonialism and its continued state and structural after-effects. That is, we witness and experience racial disparities and disproportionalities in everyday life especially in lives of racialized and indigenous peoples in areas such as education, the carceral system and employment). The current state violence and oppression need critical and intersectional analyses.

With a focus on North America, we shall examine the ways in which Black women have worked to undo the deleterious effects of imperialism and a colonial past in a white supremacist present. This political work for racial justice may take a variety of alternative forms. Thus, the notions of political work, and anticolonial work need to be broadened. As we imagine a more just and compassionate society, we shall examine the ways in which this social justice work varies along the intersectional dimensions such as class, sexuality, nationality, religion, disability, in formal institutions and organizations and grassroots struggles.

Instructor: Dr. Annette Henri
GRSJ 422 (001)

GRSJ 422 (001): Advanced Research Seminar

This seminar interrogates knowledge production in a specific academic institutional setting: the university. Focusing on the university (the here and now!), we will examine ways in which knowledge is organized, represented, contested, used and validated under particular institutional regimes and as part of specific social, political and economic projects/normativities: What are the dominant discourses on knowledge and research circulating through the institution? What are the modes of knowledge production and ways of knowing privileged within the academy? How are violence and injustice manifested in the ways knowledge is organized in academic settings? How has been diversity and social justice mobilized in academic discourses?

Instructor: Dr. Pilar Riano-Alcala
GRSJ 480

GRSJ 480: Thinking / Doing Social Justice: A Practicum

This course is a unique experiential learning opportunity that actively promotes exploration of the connections between anti-colonial and social justice theorizing and activism. Students will draw on the theoretical and experiential knowledge they have acquired in Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice Studies to participate in a range of diverse community organizations and projects working towards socio-political, economic and cultural transformation. Students will also engage with academic scholarship to enhance their understanding of the intersectionality of social relations and the complexities of working towards political and social change. Community-based learning is an opportunity for students to contribute to supporting anti-colonial, anti-racist, feminist, queer and social justice organizations and to develop respectful relationships with activist communities.
Students will be expected to spend a minimum of 30 hours over the term at their community placement or project. The class will include regularly scheduled seminars and workshops to enable collaborative reflection, theoretical discussion and analysis of placement experiences.

Text: Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown

Instructor: Dr. Kim Snowden