Current Course Offerings

Please refer to the main York University website regarding times, dates, etc. for the individual courses

SPTH has 3 fields.

  • History of Social and Political Thought
  • Black Studies and Theories of Race and Racism
  • Economy, Consciousness, Aesthetics and Society

SPTH Courses for Fall/Winter 2020-2021

Please Note: Due to Covid-19, Fall courses will largely be held by zoom, so coming on campus will not be required. As soon as the administration receives information on the Winter 2021 term classes, we will post this information. (The University must await the various governmental bodies that determine if Universities can open during Covid-19)

Below are the course offerings for fall 2020 and Winter 2021. Registration opens on June 30th. Students in SPTH can enroll in SPTH courses through the on-line system for as long as there are spots available, unless otherwise noted. Please sign into your myfile and you can enroll in the SPTH courses while there are spots in the courses you are interested in. Please note: there are limited spots in all courses, so please be sure to enroll in the courses you are interested in early, while you have lots of courses to choose from.

Students should enroll in all the SPTH courses they are interested it, and to work towards completing the course work degree requirements. Please refer to: spth.gradstudies.yorku.ca/degree-requirements/ for the SPTH degree requirements.

If you wish to enroll in courses outside of SPTH, you must submit a permission form for approval, and once there is an SPTH signature, then it goes to the program who owns the course for their approval, and then they will open a spot for you to enroll. If you wish, you can complete the form, and submit it to the program by scanned copy. The form is located on the Faculty of Graduate Studies website under current students, enrollment at: gradstudies.yorku.ca/current-students/student-status/enrolment/

(If you don’t have a scanner, then please let me know, and we will work out something by email).

There are a few things to keep in mind when enrolling in graduate courses at York. One of the most significant differences is that as a graduate student, you pay either full time fees or part time fees, you do not pay “per course”. This is important to note because some students will then enroll in many more courses than they plan to take, attend first class or two, decide which course they are going to take, and then drop the others. This frequently results in other students not being able to initially get into the courses they want. Don’t panic. Enroll in the courses you are interested in, and maybe one additional course – just in case.

If you get a message that “the seats are reserved” please email me as soon as possible with the spth course number, and I will check. In some courses where the course is based in one program, and cross listed to SPTH, the home department set it so a permission has to be issued. If that is the case, I can put up a permission, and IF there are spaces, you would be able to enroll, however if all the SPTH spots are filled, I can’t get you a spot, so it’s important to enroll early and let me know so I can check.

Please note: If there is a * beside the course number then it indicates the course is based in SPTH. If there are two ** beside the course number, then it indicates the course is hosted in another graduate program and cross listed to SPTH, (therefore we will have fewer seats in course that are cross listed to SPTH).

SPTH 6001 * Directed reading courses (3 or 6 credit)
For all directed reading courses, students must submit the completed, signed directed reading form, and it must be reviewed and signed off on by the Graduate Program Director before a spot will be opened up for the student so they may enroll in the course. The Directed reading form is available immediately above or by request to jhawley@yorku.ca.

The student may send the form to the faculty member teaching the course and the faculty member can agree and forward the email in place of a signature as long as all course details are included or attached.

Directed reading courses are only approved once the form has been completed, signed by both the student and the course director and approved by the Graduate Program Director. Incoming students are recommended to forego Directed Reading courses until Winter term.


SPTH 6104.6 * Social & Political Thought: Theories (Core course, for PHD 1 students only)
Term: F/W (2 terms, fall and winter both)
Primary Contact/Course director: Gamal Abdel-Shehid, spt_gpd@yorku.ca
Teaching Format: Remote Teaching

This is the core course for SPTH PhD students. It is a required course, and is not open to any students other than SPTH PhD Year 1 students.

This course will examine some of the major theories, approaches, opportunities, and methods in Social and Political Thought with the aim of exposing students to a wide range of relevant material to their studies and careers. It will achieve the following learning outcomes:

  • Familiarize students with a broad range of historical and contemporary theories within Social and Political Thought (e.g. Marxism, Post-Colonial Theory, Feminism, Continental Philosophy, etc.).
  • Familiarize students with a range of research methods appropriate to research in Social and Political Thought.
  • Familiarize students with a range of approaches to issues within Social and Political Thought, through a range of specialist guest speakers from the GTA.
  • Familiarize students with career and professional options for graduates of SPT.
  • The course will be graded on a pass/fail basis based on attendance and participation.

SPTH 6105.3 * Master’s Practicum: MRP Development
Term: Winter
Course Director: TBA
Teaching Format: TBA

The course is an MRP writing workshop/practicum. It provides students with an opportunity to draft their proposal and their MRP in a collective environment. It also provides them a chance to work closely with their instructor in developing the design, methodology and theoretical approach of the MRP. Third, it gives students a chance for reflexive and dialogical space for students to interact and provide feedback on each other’s projects. The course is compulsory for MA students in their first year and will be taught in Winter term. Reading materials will relate to the issues mentioned above.


SPTH 6028.3 ** Histories and Theories of Nationalism
(Same as: POLS 6000R 3.0)
Term: Fall
Course Director: Gerald Kernerman polsgpd@yorku.ca or geraldk@yorku.ca
Format of Teaching: Remote Teaching

In terms of chronology, the course covers two segments: (a) The long 19th century, 1789-1914; and (b) the short 20th Century, 1917-1989. Conceptually, we move along two axes: the narrative history of the making of modern nations and nation-states; and the theoretical axis of the history, that is to say the clash, of ideas/ Both these axes give rise to problems of periodisation, as well as problems of uneven development and differential temporalities on the global scale, which the course shall seek to address.

In the typical narrative, especially the ones currently the most influential (e.g. Anderson, Gellner, Hobsbawm), we get a certain privileging of the European experience, a somewhat diffusionist notion of the development of historical forms, a culturalist bias, a levelling out of the differential experiences in countries and regions outside Europe, and a certain suppression of the role of (and resistance to) imperialism in the making of non-European nationalisms. Taking as our starting-point the colonial expansion which predates the Napoleonic wars within Europe, the course will attempt to assemble a counter-narrative which takes into account the non-European and European histories simultaneously.

In assembling this counter-narrative (as opposed to Hobsbawm, for example), the course will try to provide a certain global perspective, with chronologies, sequences, differential temporalities across Europe and Asia (Latin America and Africa shall be somewhat secondary to our concerns). Equally, we shall be concerned with typologies and differential forms, as nationalism ranges from the anti-colonial to the fundamentalist, and from the liberal-bourgeois to the fascist; with the problem, in other words, of how analogous ideas and vocabularies can serve very different social and class purposes, and how difficult it is, therefore, to read back history from the articulation of ideas, as so often happens in those culturalist discussions of nationalism which abstract the ideological articulations from the political histories within which those ideas are embedded.

On the axis of the history of ideas, we shall also try to demonstrate how each major shift in the theory corresponds to larger shifts both in political history (e.g., the rise of class politics, the emergence of anti-colonialism and/or minority movements, the current forms of capitalist globalization) as well as in intellectual paradigms, all the way from German Idealism to philosophical postmodernity (from Herder and Fichte to Ben Anderson and the Sabalternists).


SPTH 6043.3 * * Contemporary Topics in Social Theory
(Same as SOCI 6200.3)
Instructor: Philip Walsh walshp@yorku.ca
FALL TERM – TOPIC: The SOCIOLOGY OF KNOWLEDGE
Time: T 11:30-2:30
Teaching Format: Remote

This course explores three areas within the field of the sociology of knowledge from three corresponding perspectives. 1) Knowledge in everyday life: This perspective extends from Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann’s (1969) phenomenological account of knowledge, personhood and social construction. It includes theorizations of the relationship of knowledge to the individual capacities of consciousness, cognition and emotion. 2) Knowledge and risk: This perspective explores the sub-field of the sociology of risk and uncertainty, pioneered by the work of Ulrich Beck and Mary Douglas. It includes theories of risk-perception, as well as the role of risk in prediction and social causation. 3) Knowledge and institutions. This perspective explores how knowledge has been institutionalized, with particular reference to the role of the university as the traditional vehicle for knowledge production and dissemination.


SPTH 6043.3 * * Contemporary Topics in Social Theory
(Same as SOCI 6200.3)
WINTER TERM TOPIC: The Sociology of human Rights and the Critique of Humanitarianism

Instructor: Michael Nijhawan nijhawan@yorku.ca
Time: R 11:30-2:30
Teaching Format: Remote

The course invites students to examine human rights in terms of their conceptual, normative, substantive and practical dimensions. Considering the ubiquitous use of human rights in contemporary public, political and academic discourse across disciplines, it is pertinent to ask what exactly the “sociology of human rights” contributes as a field of study. How does sociology relate to the language and practice of human rights today, considering the skepticism that prevailed in the past regarding the limitations of a rights discourse? On the one hand, we notice a longstanding critique of human rights agendas, being charged for abandoning the broader objective of distributive equality and global social justice, potentially even coopting the neoliberal upsurge of the previous decades. On the other hand, there have been new attempts to decolonize human rights and embed those rights within a discourse on racial justice. What to make of the critique of humanitarianism that was formulated in recent years, suggesting that normative and empiricist approaches to human rights have major shortfalls? The debate here is not only about how to (re)envision a critical, substantive, ethical, political approach to human rights, but also about the limits of the language of the human and humanism. This is arguably a broad and complex debate well beyond the scope of a single course offering. And yet, we shall attempt to situate sociology within this debate, as we discuss what specific contributions social theorists have recently brought forward and what new practices of human rights have emerged.

This is an upper-level theory class in social theory; hence the course strives for comprehensiveness while also covering a range of theoretical approaches to human rights/humanitarianism with reference to key controversies such as social-constructivist vs. materialist approaches, ‘rights discourse’ vs. discourses on normativity and moral motivations, the abstraction of universalism contrasted with the local politicization and translation of ‘human rights’ in historical perspective, the question of individualism attributed to rights-bearers vs. limitations of such approaches etc. Its core section expands sociological horizons to trace alternative genealogies and critiques of human rights (discourses) that perhaps can open new avenues to examine institutional frameworks, political processes and socially produced ideas about personhood, self, and (historical) injury. These include contributions from indigenous and critical race theorists aiming at decolonizing human rights as well as the work of anthropologists, historians, and political scientists conceptualizing cultural difference and human rights. Drawing upon such works, we shall review the potential and limitation of the sociology of human rights respectively, with reference to contemporary events of violence as well as structural violence. Each student will have the opportunity to relate theoretical perspectives to a specific contemporary scenario or historical context of human rights concerns or critiques.

Course Topics Include

  • Citizenship and Human Rights
  • Recognition Theory & Critique
  • Decolonizing Human Rights
  • Race, Racism, and the Human
  • Human Rights & Social Suffering
  • Human Rights & Borders
  • Humanitarian Violence
  • Implications for a Sociology of Human Rights

Course Texts Include

  • Allen, L. 2013. The Rise and Fall of Human Rights: Cynicism and Politics in Occupied Palestine. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
  • Arendt, H. “Perplexities of the Rights of Man” In The Origins of Totalitarianism. New York: Schocken Books, 1951.
  • Balibar, E. 2013. The Politics of Human Rights. Constellations 20(1): 18-26.
  • Benhabib, S., 2013. Moving beyond False Binarisms: On Samuel Moyn's The Last Utopia. Qui Parle: Critical Humanities and Social Sciences 22(1): 81-93.
  • Brown, W. 2004. “The Most We Can Hope For…”: Human Rights and the Politics of Fatalism. South Atlantic Quarterly 103 (2-3): 451-63.
  • Coulthard, G. 2014. “Lessons from Idle-No-More. The Future of Indigenous Activism” in his Red Skin, White Masks. Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, pp. 151-179.
  • De Leon, J. The Land of Open Graves. Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail. University of California Press, 2015.
  • Esmeir, S., 2012. Juridical Humanity: A Colonial History. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Fassin, D. 2013. The Predicament of Humanitarianism. Qui Parle: Critical Humanities and Social Sciences 22(1) : 33-48.
  • Goodale, M. 2006. Ethical Theory as Social Practice. American Anthropologist 108(1): 25-37.
  • Kurasawa, F. 2007. The Work of Global Justice. Human Rights as Practices. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Merry, S.E., 2006. Transnational Human Rights and Local Activism: Mapping the Middle. American Anthropologist 108(1): 38-51.
  • Mignolo, W.D., 2009. Who Speaks for the" Human" in Human Rights? Hispanic Issues On Line 5(1): 7–24.
  • Million, D. 2013. Therapeutic Nations. Healing in an Age of Indigenous Human Rights. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press.
  • Moyn, S., 2010. The Last Utopia. Human Rights in History. Harvard University Press.
  • Somers, M.R. and Roberts, C.N., 2008. Toward a New sociology of Rights: A Genealogy of “Buried Bodies” of Citizenship and Human Rights. Annual Review of Law and Social Science 4: 385-425.
  • Somers, M. S. 2008. Genealogies of Citizenship. Markets, Statelessness, and the Right to Have Rights. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Spivak, G.C., 2012. Righting Wrongs. In Wronging Rights? South Atlantic Quarterly 103(2-3):84-109.
  • Weheliye, A. G. 2014. Habeas Viscus. Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics and Black Feminist Theories of the Human. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
  • Weizman, E., 2011. The Least of all Possible Evils. Humanitarian Violence from Arendt to Gaza. London, UK: Hurst.
  • Wynter, S. 2003. “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, after Man, Its Overrepresentation – An Argument.” CR: The New Centennial Review 3.3: 257–337. Web.

SPTH 6122.6 * * Modern Cultural History
(Same as HIST 5701.6)
Term: F/W (this is a 2 term course)
Course Director: Anne Rubenstein arubenst@yorku.ca
Teaching Format: Remote

This course deals with themes in cultural history form the late nineteenth century to the present. Focusing on the interrelationships among ideas, culture, political, social, and economic change. While drawing on a wide body of readings in North America, British, and European history, it brings particular attention to bear upon the expression, social context, and impact of ideas and culture in the United States and Canada. It views culture not only as forms of artistic expression but as any value of trait which shapes society and, hence, infuses social and political ideas and trends. Weekly readings explore works in such areas as the cultural history of industrialism, imperialism, modernism, primitivism, antimodernist, social reform, social and behavioural science, the quantitative revolution, medicine, gender and sexuality, consumerism and advertising, mass culture, popular culture, and postmodernism.


SPTH 6188.3 * Modernity and the Relationship between the Religious and the Secular: Reading Hegel and Kierkegaard
Term: Fall
Course Director: Brayton Polka
Teaching Format: Remote

The aim of this course is to provide students with an in-depth, hermeneutical experience in reading central texts of Hegel and Kierkegaard, two of the most important thinkers in the European tradition who makes the issue of the relationship of the religious and the secular central to their thought. The issue fundamental to the course is to examine how we are to understand modernity, in the European tradition of thought, in light of the relationship between the religious and the secular. In other words: What is theology (the logos of God)? What is philosophy (the love of wisdom)? What is the secular (given that St. Jerome translated eternity as existing in saecula saeculorum, for the age of ages)?


SPTH 6189.3 * Knowledge’s Other: Perspectives on Ignorance
Term: Winter
Course Director: Sylwia Chrostowska, sylwiac@yorku.ca
Format: TBA

This course explores the different historical and contemporary varieties, senses, and figures of ignorance, and its overlap with other concepts. It will focus on the main ways in which ignorance has been analyzed, thematized, valorized, and employed heuristically, and introduce students to the emerging scholarly field of agnotology. (Same as HUMA 6160.3)


SPTH 6196 * Western Thought of Empire
Term: Winter
Course Director: Nalini Persram, persramn@yorku.ca
Teaching Format: TBA

This course looks at the way empire has figured in the works of dominant 17th, 18th and 19th century ‘Western’ social and political thinkers. It takes as its primary objective the articulation of the contemporary implications of the historical treatment of empire, found in some of the classics of the ‘Western’ intellectual tradition. Investigation of the complexities of those implications, captured in, for example, the way Marx’s emancipatory thought sits alongside his orientalism and how this tension bears upon present day debates about the Other, civilizational in/commensurability, ethnic multiplicity, and global justice, constitute a major part of in-class discussion. The course commences with an examination of some of the debates over empire in contemporary thought as they relate to intellectual and academic developments as well as politics, culture and society. The works of such figures as Kant, Herder, Hegel, Spinoza, Locke, Marx, Mill, Diderot, Burke, Tocqueville among others are then examined, historically contextualizing their reflections and positions on race, civilization, progress and modernity, and imperialism and colonialism, etc., and critically assessing their discursive and ideological features. Other issues brought into play, as tangential but significant aspects of the major themes, are those involving, for example, the canonical formation of European cultural, social and political thought as articulated by Dussel and his argument about the relation between empire and the (European) exclusions (of ‘othered’ European traditions, such as the Spanish) at work in the authorship of modernity. The course ends with consideration of some provocative questions pertaining to contemporary formations of empire, and analysis of the ways in which empire continues, or not, in the 21st century.


SPTH 6200D.03 * * Globalization and the State
Same as POLS 6470.03
Term: Fall
Professor Hannes Lacher hlacher@yorku.ca
Teaching Format: Remote Teaching

Our era of 'free trade' has been accompanied by extensive capital mobility amidst the internationalization of financial markets as well as multinational production. Often going under the term 'globalization', the political and public policy implications of these processes are commonly understood as enormously significant—as indeed they are. The objective of this seminar is to begin to develop a clearer understanding of the relationship between the state and the internationalization of capital in the current era. This undertaking necessarily involves attempting to rethink the theory of the state to the end of developing adequate conceptual tools (i) to explore the actual linkages between states and international capital, including how states and MNCs cooperate through international economic treaties and agencies; and (ii) to investigate the reorganization of state departments and agencies to the end of enhancing their capacities and practices in facilitating international capital mobility and attempting to cope with the contradictions ‑ political as well as economic ‑that arise in the process.

This seminar will take globalization seriously, but will also take the active role of the state in the process no less seriously. We will examine how international treaties (e.g. NAFTA ) have come to operate as means whereby governments cooperate in transforming their respective state structures and policies; and how active governments have been in seeking the extension of these mechanisms to include their states. We will investigate the role that state deregulation of financial markets has played in the process of globalization, and the role that international finance, in turn, has played in defining and disciplining state behaviour. We will want to assess the extent to which globalization has entailed the internationalization of the state and whether this is a result of governmental responses to external forces or rather is a process that takes place within each state via the interiorization of transnational, especially financial, capital. Once we escape the simplistic assumption that this internationalization of the state means individual states are disempowered or by‑passed rather than reorganised, we can open up a rich field of inquiry concerning the restructuring of the state amidst globalization, including both the reordering of the hierarchy among state departments and agencies and the internal reorganization of each of them. This will in turn allow an investigation of the changing roles of these agencies in facilitating international capital mobility and export competitiveness, but also in attempting to manage the contradictions and instabilities that have increasingly emerged.

The main point of this seminar is not to undertake original research. The kind of project we are engaged in here entails reading a portion of the immense body of theoretical, documentary and secondary literature on globalization, not to the end of making anything like an exhaustive compilation, but in order to arrive at a viable reinterpretation, historically grounded and comparatively well‑informed, of the state and the internationalization of capital in our era. The vast literature on globalisation makes this a daunting project, but also an exciting one since this literature furnishes so much our collective knowledge of globalization and is the richest resource for the kind of reinterpretive seminar we are engaged in. Grading will be based on one essay (topic to be agreed in advance) to be submitted at the end of the course, with seminar participation taken into account to enhance (but never diminish) the final grade.


SPTH 6220.3 * * Global Capital
(Same as POLS 6285.3)
Term: Fall
Course Director: Jonathan Nitzan nitzan@yorku.ca
Teaching Format: Remote Teaching

What is capital? Despite centuries of debate, there is no clear answer to this question—and for a good reason. Capital is a polemic term. The way we define it attests our theoretical biases, ideological disposition, view of politics, class consciousness, social position, and more. Is capital the same as machines, or is it merely a financial asset? Is it a material article or a social process? Is it a static substance or a dynamic entity? The form of capital, its existence as monetary wealth, is hardly in doubt. The problem is with the content, the stuff that makes capital grow—and on this issue there is no agreement whatsoever. For example, does capital accumulate because it is productive, or due to the exploitation of workers? Does capital expand from within capitalism, or does it need non-capitalist institutions like the state and other ‘external’ forces? Is accumulation synonymous with economic growth, or can capital expand by damaging production and undermining efficiency? What exactly is being accumulated? Does the value of capital represent utility, abstract labour—or perhaps something totally different, such as power or force? What units should we use to measure its accumulation? Surprisingly, these questions remain unanswered; in fact, with the victory of liberalism, most of them are no longer being asked. But the silence cannot last for long. As crisis and social strife intensify, the questions are bound to resurface. The accumulation of capital is the central process of capitalism, and unless we can clarify what that process means, we’ll remain unable to understand our world, let alone change it. The seminar has two related goals: substantive and pedagogical. The substantive purpose is to tackle the question of capital head on. The course explores a spectrum of liberal and Marxist theories, ideologies and dogmas—as well as a radical alternative to these views. The argument is developed theoretically, historically and empirically. The first part of the seminar provides a critical overview of political economy, examining its historical emergence, triumph and eventual demise. The second part deals with the two ‘materialistic’ schools of capital—the liberal theory of utility and the Marxist theory of labour time—dissecting their structure, strengths and limitations. The third part brings power back in: it analyses the relation between accumulation and sabotage, studies the institutions of the corporation and the state and introduces a new framework—the capitalist mode of power. The final part offers an alternative approach—the theory of capital as power – and illustrates how this approach can shed light on conflict-ridden processes such as corporate merger, stagflation, imperialism and the new wars of the twenty-first century.

Pedagogically, the seminar seeks to prepare students toward conducting their own independent research. Students are introduced to various electronic data sources, instructed in different methods of analysis and tutored in developing their empirical research skills. As the seminar progresses, these skills are used both to assess various theories and to develop the students’ own theoretical/empirical research projects.


SPTH 6223.3 * * Culture and Modernity
(same as Huma 6319.3)
Term: Winter
Course Director: Stephen Bailey bailey@yorku.ca
Teaching Format: TBA

A chief characteristic of the modern era is the heightened sense of the importance of culture. Equally, a self-conscious discourse on modernity as a distinct historical era was of crucial importance to the understanding and practices of culture. The aesthetic movement known as modernism can be understood as a diverse and polemical exploration of the relationship between modernity and perception. At the same time, modernism needs to be understood within the broader social economy of modernization in western societies. Furthermore, modernism is not the only context in which culture and modernity interact. Their relationship can be explored in terms of changing concepts of identity, space and place, and a heterogeneous set of practices associated with culture that are not limited to the arts.

This course draws on critical theory, cultural studies, sociology and social theory, discourse analysis, aesthetics, art history, and political economy to explore the interdependency of modernity and culture in modern western societies. It explores the shaping of modern culture, the effectivity of culture within modernity, the political and aesthetic struggles mounted in the name of culture, the shifting relations between culture and power, and the controversial status of modernism, modernity and culture today.


SPTH 6230.3 * * Contemporary Cinema and Media Theory
(Same as FILM 6230.3)
Term: Winter
Course Director: Janine Marchessault, jmarches@yorku.ca
Teaching Format: TBA

This course draws on critical theory, cultural studies, sociology and social theory, discourse analysis, aesthetics, art history, and political economy to explore the interdependency of modernity and culture in modern western societies. It explores the shaping of modern culture, the effectivity of culture within modernity, the political and aesthetic struggles mounted in the name of culture, the shifting relations between culture and power, and the controversial status of modernism, modernity and culture today.

This course is intended as an in depth study of major theoretical schools and debates within contemporary film theory. The course is divided into three key units, each of which will focus on the historical development, methodological principles and philosophic underpinning of a specific school. This is a required course for all Critical and Historical Studies students.


SPTH 6271.3 * * Political Economy: Major texts
(Same as POLS 6271.3)
Term: Winter
Course Director: Greg Albo albo@yorku.ca
Teaching Format: TBA

This course surveys the history of thought in political economy from Mercantalist thinkers to Keynes and the emergence of neoliberal economics. The course covers key texts by such thinkers as Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Thomas Malthus, Karl Marx, Rudolph Hilerfering, V.I. Lenin, Leon Walras, Alfred Marshall, and J.M. Keynes. Particular attention is paid to issues having to do with methodology, the nature of the economic relations to other areas of social life, theories of value and distribution, conceptions of competition and equilibriation, and theories of value and accumulation.


SPTH 6305.3 * * Advanced Topics in Latin American and Caribbean Politics
(Same as POLS 6566.30)
Term: Fall
Course Director: Simone Bohn sbohn@yorku.ca
Teaching Format: Remote Teaching

This course examines the impact of international economic integration and liberalization policies on Latin America and the Caribbean. The course focuses on the social impact of globalization and the responses that these changes call forth. Thus we consider the range of responses of the state to the challenges of internationalization. In addition we examine civil society organizing, including the rise of new political parties, unions, and grassroots organizations. In particular, we look at international labour migration and the transnationalism that results from the international flow of capital, commodities, individuals and whole communities. These phenomena are examined with respect to case studies of from the region that may differ from year to year.


SPTH 6319.3 * * Cinema and Media Studies: Key Concepts
(Same as FILM 7000.3 and CMCT 7125.3)
Term: Fall
Course Director: Sharon Hayashi, hayashi@yorku.ca
Teaching Format: Remote Teaching

The course will explore key concepts, texts and debates in the field of contemporary cinema and media studies. While maintaining a focus on the intellectual and material histories of cinema studies and media studies as disciplines (and their recent convergence), including epistemological and ontological frameworks, methodological approaches, and institutional and technological supports, the course will emphasize recent developments in cinema and media studies. Three broad areas of study will structure the course: cinema and cultural theory; national and transnational cinema; cinema and technologies of the image.


SPTH 6402.3 * Race, Psyche and Sexuality
Term: Winter
Course Director: Sheila Cavanagh sheila@yorku.ca
Format: TBA

This course will introduce students to the critical study of race, psyche and sexuality in psychoanalytic perspective. The primary theoretical lens will be shaped by psychosocial studies. Psychosocial studies is a field that developed in the United Kingdom (UK) in the early 1990s and is defined by the Association for Psychosocial Studies as predicated on the interrelationship between psychical experience, sexuality and society. In this course, we expand the canonical definition to include a feminist, queer and postcolonial focus on race and racialization. It will appeal to students interested in how psychoanalysis (a) gives rise to racist and colonial thinking and (b) how it can be used to critique and better understand racist social and political formations. The course spans two main fields in Social and Political Thought: “Black Studies and Theories of Race and Racism” and “The History of Social and Political Thought.” What distinguishes psychoanalysis from most other theoretical frameworks is the focus on sexuality. As such, the psychosocial approach adopted in this course underscores the centrality of desire, Eros, hate, aggression, narcissism and otherness in the psychic life of race, racism and racialization. Attention will be devoted to (a) Sigmund Freud’s original writings on psychosexual development, totem and taboo, “primitive” instincts, civilization and so forth, (b) African-American uses, critiques and adaptations of Freudian theory in early to mid-twentieth century Harlem (as analyzed by Jay Garcia (2012) and Badia Sahar Ahad (2010)), (c) postcolonial engagements with psychoanalysis (Said (2003); Bhabha (1994); Lane (1998), etc.), (d) Lacanian-inspired readings of race, desire and psyche including Kalpana Seshadri-Crooks (2000) and Sheldon George (2016); and contemporary writings on race as related to key psychoanalytic concepts including, but not limited to perversion, sexuality, castration, loss, difference, displacement and identification.


SPTH 6606B.3 * Frantz Fanon’s Interlocutors: Past and Present
Term: Winter
Course Director: Pablo Idahosa pidahosa@yorku.ca
Format: TBA

The course uses the work of Frantz Fanon and others to reflect on neo-colonialism and its effects in areas of psychology, the structure of language, sexuality and the persistence of war and violence. We also look at some of Fanon’s influences, his impact on contemporaries and others that have followed Fanon’s writings.


SPTH 6628.3 * * Pedagogy as Psychoanalytic Inquiry
(Same as EDUC 5697 and GWFS 6901)
Term: Winter
Course Director: Lisa Farley lfarley@edu.yorku.ca
Format: TBA

This seminar engages dynamics of teaching and learning as complex psychical events and brings to bear on questions of education the psychoanalytic concepts of Freud’s topology of psychic structure, and the analytic concepts of trauma, transference, identification, and repression. Within these concepts, questions of love, hatred, aggressivity, and ambivalance will be mapped. These analytic concepts question the time of learning, its fault lines, and the relations individuals make with the self through the other. The seminar considers foundational methodological writings in the interdisciplinary field of education and psychoanalysis and some contemporary debates posed by more recent pedagogies on education as symptomatic of crisis.


SPTH 6632.2 * * Thinking Power and Violence: From Nietzsche to Agamben
(Same as POLS 6086.3)
Term: Winter
Course Director: Robert Latham rlatham1@yorku.ca
Teaching Format: TBA

In the twentieth century there have been numerous attempts to think seriously about the meaning of power and violence as fundamental categories of human existence. The objective of `Thinking Power and Violence' is to develop an appreciation of the elusive multidimensionality of violence as a phenomenon.

`Thinking Power and Violence' is concerned with violence in many forms and manifestations: violence at the foundation of human community, conservative violence, divine violence, ecstatic violence, sacrificial violence, redemptive violence, self as violence against self and other, exclusionary violence, the violence of liberal freedom and the commodity, counter-hegemonic violence, the violence of the spectacle, the violence of outsiders and gender violence.


SPTH 6648.3 * * Politics of Aesthetics
(Same as POLS 6087.3 and CMCT 6336.3)
Term: Winter
Course Director: Shannon Bell shanbell@yorku.ca
Teaching Format: TBA

The Politics of Aesthetics develops an aesthetic framework from eight continental philosophers who have an aesthetic theory as part of their philosophy. The philosophers include Hegel, Kant, Heidegger, Lyotard, Badiou, Ranciere, Nancy and Deleuze. These thinkers are selected because their philosophy facilitates artwork surpassing the aesthetic theory.

The course develops and applies assumptions and concepts from the eight philosophers. Hegel’s key assumptions are that art expresses the same content as philosophy; however, it does so in a sensory form; art portrays and allows the human spirit to emerge; and, God is revealed through art. Kant’s infamous distinctions between the beautiful (form) and the sublime (excess of form) recur and trouble postaesthetic theory. Lyotard theoretically reconfigures the landscape of the sublime in modernity and postmodernity

For Heidegger, art is the highest form of techné, that is, of bringing forth, and ‘a distinctive way in which truth comes into being, that is, becomes historical.’ (Heidegger, 1993, 202). ‘What is brought forth is a truth as something new.’ (Ibid) Heidegger positions art as ‘the setting-into-work of truth’ (ibid, 192), the artist as one who is able to ‘bring forth … in Being something that does not yet exist,’ (Heidegger, 1981, 69) and artwork as that which ‘unconceals’ or ‘opens up in its own way the Being of beings.’ (Heidegger, 1993, 165). Artists who do this are artist-philosophers. The artist-philosopher is one who addresses the grounding question of philosophy: ‘What is Being?’ (Heidegger, 1981, 68)

Alain Badiou turns Heidegger’s aesthetics into what he terms ‘inaesthetics’. ‘Inaesthetics’ is a relation of philosophy to art in which art is itself a producer of truths. Art provides what Badiou calls ‘immanent infinity’ - a new manner of thinking the infinite itself in the work of art. Badiou says that ‘a real artistic event is a change in the formula of the world.’ (Badiou, 2007, 4) Badiou’s artistic event has a commonality with Rancière’s ‘aesthetic regime of art’. In the aesthetic regime the artwork is both autonomous and calls into question the distinction between art and other activities. (Rancière, 2004, 23) Rancière sees the contradictory role of the artwork as a singularity and its broader potential of influencing thought, perception, production and action as the dynamic of the aesthetic regime of art.

It is dynamic singularity in terms of the sacred, singular, violent, forbidden that for Nancy makes the image seductive and unrepresentable. It is the singular sovereign experience that Deleuze identifies as the sensation or affect of the artwork. By sensation Deleuze means extension of the resonation of the artwork to the viewer and to the social. It is this resonation of the artwork with the external that produces the art event.


SPTH 6654.3 * Postsecular Thought
Term: Fall
Course Director: Mark Cauchi mcauchi@yorku.ca
Format: Remote Teaching

This course examines the growing field of critical secular studies or postsecular thought. The dominant way that secularity has been conceived since the Enlightenment is as the non-religious, as what remains when religiosity is purged from aspects, or the whole of, individuals, society, culture, and/or politics. This conception tells us negatively what secularity is not rather than positively what it is. As such, the idea of secularity dominant in our secular era is a rather unreflexive and uncritical one. This very insight has emerged because a number of philosophers and social and political theorists in the last decade or so have begun to rethink secularity – its nature, history and politics. Some theorists thus contend that this new thinking of the secular has begun to move beyond the traditional conception and thus is “postsecular.” This course will examine these issues by looking at: new theories of secularity; examine the so-called secularization thesis (as societies modernize, they secularize); how colonization, race and gender are affected by concepts and practices of secularity, and how reconceptions of the latter affect how we should think of the former; and how political secularism (separation of religion and politics) is being reconceived. In these efforts, we will turn to works by a number of the major theorists in these debates, such as Charles Taylor, Saba Mahmood, William Connolly, Talal Asad, Joan Wallach Scott, and Vincent Lloyd, among others.


SPTH 6672.3 * * Issues in Contemporary Theory
(Same as ENGL 6997.3)
Term: Fall
Course Director: Marcus Boon mboon@yorku.ca
Teaching Format: Remote Teaching

All human cultures have involved relationships with psychoactive plant substances (henceforth referred to as "drugs"). In this course, we will explore the connection between drugs and writing in modernity, and the intersections between religious, scientific and cultural thought and practice that go into constructing descriptions of drug experiences in our time. We will read a series of literary works, ranging from nineteenth century texts by Thomas De Quincey and Benjamin Blood, through modernist texts by Virginia Woolf and Walter Benjamin, to more recent works by William Burroughs, Philip K. Dick and Terence McKenna. Some consideration will be given to contemporary popular forms of drug culture including TV series like Weeds, Breaking Bad and The Wire, and popular music such as the work of LA hiphop crew Odd Future. We will examine problems of addiction, political economy, the relation between drugs and the real emerging out of recent theoretical perspectives including actor-network theory (Latour), deconstruction (Derrida, Ronell), speculative realism (Morton, Harman), queer theory (Sedgwick, Edelman) and postcolonial theory (Saldhana, Taussig). Some familiarity with contemporary theory appreciated.

1. Lecture on drugs and contemporary culture.
2. Avital Ronell, Crack Wars; Jacques Derrida, "Rhetoric of Drugs"; Timothy Morton, from The Ecological Thought.
3. Thomas De Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater; Eve Sedgwick, "Epidemics of the Will".
4. Benjamin Blood, The Anesthetic Revelation; William James, comments on anesthesia.
5. Virginia Woolf, "On Being Ill"; Walter Benjamin from On Hashish.
6. William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch; Lee Edelman from No Future.
7. William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, The Yage Letters; Selected chants of Maria Sabina; Michael Taussig from Shamanism, Colonialism and the Wild Man.
8 & 9. Philip K Dick, A Scanner Darkly; Thomas Svolos on addiction
10. Terence McKenna, True Hallucinations
11 Arun Saldhana, Psychedelic White: Goa Trance and the Viscocity of Race.
12 Student presentations.

SPTH 6674.3 * * Diasporas: Transnational Communities and Limits of Citizenship
(Same as POLS 6525.3)
Term: Winter
Course Director: Ethel Tungohan tungohan@yorku.ca
Teaching Format: TBA

This course provides a comparative inquiry about the nature of transnational communal, religious, and political identities at the age of late capitalism. It puts emphasis on critical approaches to diasporas, their variant constructions of homeland and home, and their marked effects on the politics of the post-Westphalian state and international relations. Topics of analysis include trends of international migration vis-à-vis the reformulation of the modern capitalist polity, involvement of diasporas across borders leading to the emergence of new forms of political action, the effects of settled migrant populations in changing the rhetoric of nationalism, belonging, and justice at home as well as in their host countries, dynamics of transnationalism and its various embodiments such as transnational religious and political movements organized and led by diasporas, and, reformulations of the citizenship contract in Western states as a result of the troubled interaction between the society at large and diasporas who, more often than not, constitute ethno-religious and linguistic minorities. Course readings give the students a chance to examine the endemic nature of racism, discrimination and xenophobia in capitalist societies and the modern state, as well as providing openings about how structural and remedial change can be possible.


SPTH 6683.3 * * Topics in Biopolitics: Biopolitics and Necropolitics Today
Term: Winter
Course Director: Lorna Weir lweir@yorku.ca
Teaching Format: TBA

First conceptualized by Foucault during the 1970s, biopolitics has been one of the growth areas in social theory and the human sciences over the last 20 years. Its meaning, however, remains essentially contested in social theory, particularly through the contributions of the Italian biopolitical tradition and its expansive readings of biopolitics. Separately, the work of Achille Mbembe has characterized the Foucauldian literature on biopolitics as a project with small stakes compared with the significance of necropolitics, that is, the place of exposure, wounding and killing of humans in the history of Euro-American colonialism and postcolonialism.

This course compares three differing theorizations of biopolitics (Foucault, Agamben and Negri) in relation to each other and to Mbembe’s counterconcept of necropolitics. Structured to operate in both theoretical and empirical registers, our work will alternate between social theory sessions which build familiarity with some of the most important conceptualizations of biopolitics and empirical sessions which display the distinct research traditions associated with the biopolitical and necropolitical theory of Agamben, Foucault, Mbembe and Negri.

Our work begins with the first theorized formulation of biopolitics in the work of Michel Foucault. We then turn to Achille Mbembe’s concept of necropolitics, seeking to understand his critique and displacement of Foucauldian biopolitics. Our focus then shifts to the contemporary and heterogeneous Italian biopolitical tradition, focusing on Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer and Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s Empire. At issue in our reading of Homo Sacer and Empire is whether or not Agamben and/or Hardt-Negri provide an adequate biopolitical response to the political stakes of Mbembe’s necropolitics.


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