Women & Gender Studies Institute



WGS graduate courses are offered in the Fall/Winter session.  Certain enrolment restrictions apply.  Enrolment priority is given to students registered in graduate programs at the Women and Gender Studies Institute.

Required Course:

WGS5000H F  Feminist Theories, Histories, Movements I
This core course explores interdisciplinary feminist theories, methodologies and epistemologies, with particular attention to transnational feminism, anti- and post-colonialism, global capitalism, critical race theory, nation and state formation, gender and sexuality studies and affect theory.

Enrolment is restricted to students registered in the Master’s, Ph.D. and Collaborative Program in Women and Gender Studies.

Instructor:  Professor Marieme Lo

WGS Electives (not all courses are offered every year):

WGS1004H  History and Biopolitics
This course explores the current and past politics of knowing and governing human and non-human forms of life. It seeks to challenge Michel Foucault’s concept of “biopolitics” – defined as practices that imbue living-being with politics – through engagement with interdisciplinary scholarship that investigates how embodiments and environments are sites in which race, capitalism, colonialism, sexuality, property, dispossession, and technoscience are produced and entangled.

 Not offered in 2017-2018

Instructor:  Professor Michelle Murphy

WGS1005Y: Master’s Research Paper

This course provides students with the opportunity to undertake an individual research project on the topic of their choice under the supervision of a Women and Gender Studies core faculty member. The Master’s Research Paper (MRP) is normally 50-60 pages, double-spaced, exclusive of references. Students are expected to demonstrate a thorough engagement with the conceptual frameworks relevant to their topic, to provide a clear formulation of their own perspective, and to provide substantial references to the relevant scholarly literature. Students are required to submit a two-page proposal to their advisors by January 31, 2015. Students who plan to do research projects which involve human subjects will normally want to submit ethics proposals for review early in the winter session. Advisors will, after reviewing proposals, sit down with students to work out more detailed timetables for research and writing that are appropriate for the individual projects. Please keep in mind, when making your plans, that sometimes faculty are not available during (all or much of) the summer. You may need to thoroughly discuss your project in April/May. Your faculty member at UofT (to be decided upon and approached by you and your faculty advisor, during the winter session). The final mark for the Master’s research paper is decided by both readers, and submitted by your academic advisor. Unless alternative arrangements are made with your advisor and second reader, you should plan to submit your Master’s research paper no later than August 14, 2015.

WGS1006Y  Community Engagement (Practicum)
This course provides students the opportunity to study, engage directly in, and reflect upon the multiple definitions of feminist social change work outside the university classroom. Students can choose from among many organizations in the Greater Toronto Area. Students will develop new understandings of the relationship between academic and activist work, thinking critically about the practice of experiential learning. Students will spend approximately 7-10 hours a week in their organization from September through February and will have scheduled progress meetings with an on-site mentor. They will gain exposure to the breadth of tactics organizations use, and will think about the politics of scale, coalition across groups/movements/borders, intersectionality and diversity, and neoliberalism. Students will learn how to conduct feminist social action research and program evaluation, and will gain practical skills in areas such as writing grant applications, press releases, outreach materials, organizational histories, and participating in community organizing. The final project is a written case study that contends with a central organizational problem or contradiction.

Enrolment is restricted to students registered in the Ph.D, Master’s and Collaborative Program in Women and Gender Studies.

Instructor:  Professor Judith Taylor

WGS1007H F/S  Independent Research and Reading in Women and Gender Studies
Offers students the opportunity to design a reading list, research project and/or writing assignments in their designated area of interest. Students are only permitted to conduct independent research if there is no course being offered in another department that relates to their project. Also, students must find a faculty member willing to supervise their project. Time, location and course requirements are decided in consultation with the course instructor.

Students are required to fill out a “Request for Reading and/or Research Course” form, subject to approval by the WGSI Graduate Coordinator.

Enrolment is restricted to students registered in the Ph.D., Master’s and Collaborative Program in Women and Gender Studies.

WGS1009H F  Gender and Cypberpolitics
This course focuses on theories of feminist cyber-activism and examines the relevance of gender, race, class and sexuality to understanding cyberpolitics.  We question how women transform digital sites into feminist spaces and how online networking serves to complicate, diversify and refedine feminist activities.

Instructor: Professor Victoria Tahmasebi-Birgani

WGS1011H S  Black Feminist Thought
Various discourses, theoretical frameworks and ideological proclamations have been employed to analyze, criticize and interrogate everyday lived experiences of black peoples. This course examines the multiple oppressions and social representations of black women using a black feminist theoretical framework. Part of the course will be devoted to black feminist theory — a theory developed out of black women’s experiences and rooted in their communities. The course will also examine the following issues among others: strands of feminisms with particular emphasis on feminisms as advocated by the visible minorities; the divergences and similarities of black feminisms; and the heterogeneous nature of black women’s experiences. The course will be sociological and historical in nature and will examine the intersections of race, class, gender and homophobia.

Restricted enrolment.  Priority is given to students registered in the Ph.D, Master’s and Collaborative Program in Women and Gender Studies.

Instructor: Professor Njoki Wane

WGS1013H S  Queer and Trans Oral History

For decades, oral history has been a preferred methodology in documenting social movements and the life experiences of marginalized populations. Recently, LGBTQ history, intersectional feminist politics, and queer and trans theory have given rise to new oral history projects and new methods. This seminar will be a workshop in doing LGBTQ oral history, with a focus on queer and trans lives. Students will follow the full life-cycle of the interview and learn how to: develop a theoretically informed research plan; grapple with ethical considerations; write a questionnaire and consent form; find narrators; use audio and visual technology to record interviews; write up fieldnotes; transcribe interviews; analyze and write from the material; and contribute to a digital exhibition using Omeka. Students will have an opportunity to contribute to an existing oral history project or develop their own project. We will read work in oral history theory and practice, including work by Boyd; Abrams; High; Ramirez; Murphy; and others.

Restricted enrolment.  Priority is given to students registered in the Ph.D, Master’s and Collaborative Program in Women and Gender Studies.

Instructor:  Professor Elspeth Brown

WGS1016H F  Migration, Mobility, Displacement in Africa
Why do people move? What are the causes and consequences of migration and displacement in Africa? This course critically examines the multifaceted dimensions of migration, mobility, and displacement through (text, art, film and narratives) with a specific focus on communities and populations displaced by war, environmental destruction and disaster, economic failings, and the quest for economic opportunities or individual freedom. We will: 1) explore canonical and emergent interdisciplinary scholarships and their epistemic claims and debates, key theories and concepts on migration, mobility and displacement; 2) engage in current debates and public discourses on these intersecting themes, analytics, and phenomena; and 3) interrogate the morality of media representation and gaze, discursive practices on the ‘migrant’ and ‘refugee’ subject formation, the ‘catastrophic’ biopolitics and governmentality of migration, the instrumentality and contingencies of political (non) interventions/(in)action, humanitarianism, and the politics of rights, justice, ethics, and solidarity. You will have the opportunity to unpack your own positionality and trajectories to reflect on the differentiated categories and trajectories of migration and mobility and to formulate your own critique and alternative epistemology.

Instructor:          Professor Marieme Lo

WGS1018H F  Queer Studies in Education
This course will examine the ways in which Queer Theory as a pedagogical project reorients. Taking as its starting point that queer theory demands an orientation that is more than sexuality, the course investigates how queer theory and its pedagogical implications produces new modes of thought and new modes of engagement. This course ask such questions as what constitutes queer method; is there a uniquely queer thought; does queer pedagogy require queer bodies; and what are the stakes of a queer educational practice? In this course students will examine the history of Queer Theory and its major interventions. Importantly, students will engage with scholarship that is interdisciplinary and therefore offers a method of queer practice with its numerous implications for educational practices and pedagogies. Finally, this course is concerned with the social and it asks what kinds of different social relations might be possible when queer ideas orient practices.

Restricted enrolment.  Priority is given to students registered in the Ph.D, Master’s and Collaborative Program in Women and Gender Studies.

Instructor:  Professor Rinaldo Walcott

WGS1019H S  Indigenous Land Education and Black Geographies
This course attends to research approaches coming out of two distinct literatures: Indigenous land education or pedagogy, and Black feminist geographies. Texts and assignments will focus on empirical and conceptual research projects which can be informed by critical Indigenous studies and Black studies engaging place and land.

Restricted enrolment.  Priority is given to students registered in the Ph.D, Master’s and Collaborative Program in Women and Gender Studies.

Instructor:  Professor Eve Tuck

WGS1020H S   Gender and Globalization: Transnational Perspectives
This course critically examines current interdisciplinary and feminist scholarship on globalization, its intersections with gender, race and class, neoliberal transformations, power structures, and sexualized and feminized economies. The related socio-spatial reconfigurations, “glocal” convergences, and tensions are explored, with special emphasis placed on feminist counter-narratives, alternative epistemologies and theorizing of globalization, the theoretical and political debates on the meanings and impacts of globalization, and the exploration of radical possibilities of resistance, agency, and change in local and transnational contexts.

Restricted enrolment.  Priority is given to students registered in the Ph.D, Master’s and Collaborative Program in Women and Gender Studies.

Instructor: Professor Marieme Lo

WGS1021H  Black Diasporic Feminisms: Modernity, Freedom, Belonging
This course examines transnational feminist genealogies of the black diaspora, paying careful attention to the contexts and movements that generated key questions, and exploring how these interventions disclose preoccupations with modernity, freedom and citizenship.  Topics include history, trauma and memory, diaspora and indigeneity, racialised embodiment, queer kinship, Afrofuturism, confinement and deportation, and the careful calibration of political communities.

Not offered in 2017-2018

Restricted enrolment.  Priority is given to students registered in the Ph.D, Master’s and Collaborative Program in Women and Gender Studies.

Instructor: Professor Alissa Trotz

WGS1023H F   Studies in Aesthetic Expression and Radical Hope
This course treats aesthetic imagination and and creativity as the processes by which we give value to human experience and make knowledge. Students will study the relationship between aesthetic expression and radical hope/futures. Readings will be drawn from the fields of cultural theory, affect studies, and psychoanalysis. Students will also examine and reflect on expressive texts.

Instructor:  Professor Dina Georgis

WGS1024H S  Racism, Violence and the Law

This course explores the extent of racialized violence, provides a theoretical approach for understanding it, and considers appropriate anti-violence strategies. How should educators respond to the world post 911? Are we in a new age of empire? What is the connection between historical moments of extraordinary racial violence and our everyday world? How do individuals come to participate in, remain indifferent to or approve of violence? This course offers researchers and educators an opportunity to explore these broad questions through examining historical and contemporary examples of racial violence and the law.

Restricted enrolment.  Priority is given to students registered in the Ph.D, Master’s and Collaborative Program in Women and Gender Studies.

Instructor:  Professor V. Sztainbok

WGS1025H S  Indigenous Aesthetics: Hip Hop, Media an Futurities
Explores the complexities of decolonization in relationship to social change.  Engages various articulations of Indigenous lands and lives through film, performance, gesture and other activations.  Examines tensions around issues of appropriation, accountability in narratives and knowledge production.

Instructor:  Professor Karyn Recollet

WGS1026H  Race, Space and Citizenship
How do we come to know who we are and how is this knowledge raced, as well as “embodied, engendered and embedded in a material context of place and space” (Duncan, 1996)?  Drawing on recent scholarship in critical race theory, critical geography, history and cultural studies, the course examines how we learn who we are and how these pedagogies of citizenship (who is to count and who is not) operate in concrete spaces, bodies, nations, cities, institutions. This course is intended for graduate students who wish to consider how their own research might draw upon the concepts associated with the production of racial and gendered subjects in space and time. It is organized as an intensive ten-week seminar (with readings equivalent to thirteen weeks or approximately 100 pages per week) and a mandatory day-long conference during which students present their work.

Not offered in 2017-2018.

Instructor: TBA

WGS1027H F  Women’s Rights in Transnational Perspective
This course addresses the challenges of achieving substantive gender equality under different constitutional and human rights regimes. The first part of the course will examine the effectiveness of several key court decisions in achieving gender equality at the national, regional and international levels. The second part of the course will explore some of the theoretical and methodological challenges that have surfaced in applying gender equality principles. The third part of the course will focus on the opportunities and challenges of achieving particular dimensions of equality, such its redistribution, recognition, participation and transformative dimensions. The course aims to go beyond a formalistic understanding of legal obligations in order to examine the complexities of achieving gender equality in different contexts.

Restricted enrolment.  Priority is given to students registered in the Ph.D, Master’s and Collaborative Program in Women and Gender Studies.

Instructor:  Professor Rebecca Cook

WGS1028H S  Queer of Colour Critique
This course tracks the deployment and emergence of “queer of colour critique” and its interconnections with women of colour feminisms.  We will examine theoretical texts, cultural production and forms of activism by queer scholars of colour who attend to questions of race, class, sexuality and gender as intersecting social practices.

Instructor:  Professor R. Cassandra Lord

WGS Research Seminar

The WGS Research Seminar is a student-focused monthly forum, for the presentation of work-in-progress engaged in interdisciplinary feminist studies and its many intersections.  Like a departmental colloquium, the seminar’s goal is to foster friendly, yet critically engaged, conversation and to feature the excellent emerging scholarship by graduate students and faculty.  The research seminar’s overarching goal is to create opportunities for regular participation in the intellectual life of interdisciplinary feminist studies and research here on campus.

All Ph.D. students and Collaborative Ph.D. students in Women and Gender Studies  are invited to present their dissertation research in the seminar at least once before graduating.

Required Courses offered from 2009-2014:

WGS1000H  Theories, Histories, Feminisms
(This course was discontinued as of the 2014-2015 academic year)
What is the context in which we now study histories and theories of feminism? This course will identify some themes and concepts important to feminisms of the past and evaluate them in light of new historical conditions. It will interrogate the status of feminism and examine its place and value in contemporary thought. What, for instance, can be said in the name of women? How do we understand sexual difference? And under what sign of sex? How do we understand feminism’s relationship to race and class beyond simplified analyses of intersectionality? Why the move to transnational feminism?

WGS1001H  Feminism, Transnationalism and Postcolonialism
(This course was discontinued as of the 2014-2015 academic year)
Over the past fifteen years, feminist studies has been defined by a turn towards transnational and postcolonial perspectives. In this course, we will conduct a genealogy of this turn, reviewing some defining texts and reflecting on their impact. We will examine the political and theoretical milieu in which transnational and postcolonial approaches have gained currency. We will explore the kinds of questions that are facilitated, and also those that are eclipsed, by such approaches.

WGS1002H  Feminist Methodologies and Epistemologies
(This course was discontinued as of the 2014-2015 academic year)
How do we know what we know? What are the underlying epistemological and ideological assumptions we bring to this project of knowing? What are the terms upon which we can claim that project as a particularly transnational feminist one? And what are the set of ethically grounded practices that delineate it? Why are some forms of knowledge and ways of knowing privileged over others? Where do Mystery and uncertainty fit into this project? These are some of the questions that this course takes up for examination. We will seek to understand the processes of transnational feminist knowledge production by paying close attention to the problematics of place, space, time, genealogies, multiple histories, and cross-cutting identities and the various ways these are made to matter in this thing we call knowledge.