Women & Gender Studies Institute



Program requirements for the Ph.D. Program in Women and Gender Studies will change as of the 2014-2015 academic year.

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

New Core Courses as of the 2014-2015 academic year:

Ph.D. students are required to complete both WGS5000H and WGS5001H.

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.  Please contact grad.womenstudies@utoronto.ca for details.

Instructor:  Marieme Lo

WGS5001H S  Feminist Theories, Histories, Movements II
This is an advanced course designed for doctoral students, which 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.  Please contact grad.womenstudies@utoronto.ca for details.

Instructor:  Team Taught

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

WGS1004H S  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.

Instructor:  Professor Michelle Murphy

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.

Instructor:  Professor Judith Taylor

WGS1009H  Digital Networks and Transnational Activism

In the last few decades, online networking has offered women an important venue for reimagining activism and forging transnational feminist networks. The seminar will be a space for a collaborative examination of how activism is represented, experienced and performed among selected online communities of women around the world, including women in diasporic spaces.
Not offered in 2015-2016

Instructor: Professor Victoria Tahmasebi-Birgani

WGS1010H 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.

Instructor: Professor Njoki Wane

WGS1013H F  Restructuring Work and Care: Family, State and Market in Times of Crisis

This course is designed to introduce students to the basic dimensions of the contemporary crises in work and care and how they are related to questions of law and policy.  The course will explore two inter-related issues.  The first is how care work is distributed and compensated along lines of gender, race and citizenship, the vulnerabilities that care work entails, and the way that issues around care intersect with experiences and problems in the labour market.  The second is the transformation of work.  We will examine the legal and social underpinnings of the decline of the ‘standard employment relationship’ and feminization of work; the rise of precarious forms of work; and the interconnections between labour market change, transformations in the state and economy, and growing economic insecurity and inequality.

Instructor:  Professors Kerry Rittich and Professor Jennifer Nedelsky

WGS1014H S: Troubling Militarism: Space, Affect, Economy

In this course we examine the spatial politics and affective economies of militarism. Our approach is feminist, queer, and geographical, and combines questions of geopolitical and geoeconomic inquiry. Rather than approach “militarism” as a coherent set of ideas and practices that must simply be opposed, resisted or reversed somehow, we seek to trouble militarism and its affective mobilization. We will grapple with the violence of militarism, not only in the immediately martial practices that the term typically denotes, but also in the imperial and colonial political geographies out of which the modern use of the term arises, and through its everyday and banal attachments. The ultimate aim is to develop conceptual and theoretical tools to explain militarism, militarization, and militancy through a critical engagement with ideas of race, class, gender, identity, and difference.

Instructor:  Professor Deborah Cowen and Professor Ju Hui Judy Han

WGS1020H  Gender and Globalization: Transnational Perspectives

This course critically examines current interdisciplinary scholarship on globalization and its intersections with gender, power structures, and feminized economies. Related socio-spatial reconfigurations, ‘glocal’ convergences, and tensions are explored, with emphasis on feminist counter-narratives and theorizing of globalization, theoretical debates on the meanings and impacts of globalization, and possibilities of resistance, agency and change.
Not offered in 2015-2016

Instructor: Professor Marieme Lo

WGS1021H F  Black Diasporic Feminisms: Modernity, Freedom, Citizenship
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.

Instructor: Professor Alissa Trotz

WGS1022H F  Queer Archives and LGBTQ History

This course explores the “archival turn” in feminist and queer studies, and explores the role of archives in LGBTQ history, with an emphasis on post-45 US and Canadian historiography.  We will read some interdisciplinary work theorizing archives (such as Foucault, Derrida, Stoler, Munoz, Cvetovich, and Eichhorn).  We will consider how queer and trans artists, activists and community organizations use “the archive” in their cultural interventions.  Finally, we will read recent work in post-45 US and Canadian queer and trans history that draws upon archives to anchor historical claims.  The course is not meant as a comprehensive overview of LGBTQ history in the post-45 period.  Instead, we will ask questions such as: how has the availability of particular archives shaped the production of queer and trans histories?  What is the relationship between the discipline of academic history and homonormativity?  How does one archive the ephemeral, including affect, gesture and glance?  What is the role of sex and porn in the production of LGBTQ history?  Students will be asked to work closely with, or create themselves, a queer archive as their final project, and to develop a piece of writing or media production based on that archive.  The course will provide tours of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives and the University of Toronto’s Sexual Representation Collection (among other GTA resources) as part of the seminar.

Instructor:  Professor Elspeth Brown

WGS1023H F   Studies in Aesthetic Imagination, Creativity 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 Space, Power and Geography: Understanding Spatiality

The course charts new ways of thinking about space and power that are non-Cartesian, non-Hobbesian, and non-representational originating in divisions in Enlightenment thinking 400 years ago. Contemporary manifestations of this shift can be seen in the work of Foucault and Deleuze, Hardt and Negri, Bruno Latour their growing influence in geography manifest in geo-philosophy, non-representational space, emotional geographies, geographies of affect, politics of the multitude, networks and assemblages. The course explores the conceptual developments that give rise to this shift, introducing students to new ways of thinking about the nature of power, the nature of resistance, forms of social organization and mobilization, and the organization of space itself.

Instructor:  Professor Susan Ruddick

WGS1024H   Women and Revolution in the Middle East
This course examines the complex and conflictual relations between women and revolutionary struggles and focuses on a number of theoretical and empirical issues relevant to the Middle East and North Africa context.

Not offered in 2015-2016

Instructor: Professor Shahrzad Mojab

WGS1025H F  Decolonial Indigenous Aesthetics: Performance, Hip Hop, and Indigenous New Media
Engages intersectional analysis of decolonial aesthetics created through Indigenous new media, Indigenous performance, and Indigenous hip hop feminist texts. Fosters the use of critical reflection and embodiment as strategies stemming from Indigenous hip hop feminist critique to explore Indigenous gender production, and racialization practices. Explores pedagogical implications of hip hop feminism in relationship with Indigenous new media to create new world(s) into being.

Instructor:  Professor Karyn Recollet

WGS1026H F  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.

Instructor: Professor Sherene Razack

WGS1027H F  Reproductive Health Law in Transnational Perspective
This course addresses significant developments in the legal regulation of reproduction in transnational perspective.  The course builds primarily on this century’s legal developments including judicial decisions, constitutional amendments, regulatory reforms and informal laws to ask why and how abortion law is changing.  It explores possible responses by analyzing developments in abortion law through four themes: constitutional values and regulatory regimes, procedural justice and liberal access, framing and claiming rights, and narratives and social meaning.  The course will illustrate various dimensions of the transnational enterprise including the transnational influence of religious teachings, social movements and technological innovations on the evolution of reproductive health law.

Instructor:  Professor Rebecca Cook

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.

Core Courses offered from 2009-2010 to 2013-2014:

WGS1000H  Theories, Histories, Feminisms
(This course will be 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 will be 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 will be 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.