Previous CANS Courses

Winter 2019

CANS 301: Canadian Carceral Cultures: Gender, Race, and Nation

Cross-listed with IGSF.

CANS 303: Language rights and language policies in Canada

The course will study the evolution of language policies and language rights in Canada since Confederation. It will look at elements that led to the protections in British North America Act, the language conflicts that occurred in the years that followed Confederation, the gradual growth of elements of official bilingualism in the decades following World War I, the pressures that led to the creation of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, the debates within the Commission, its recommendations, the role of the Commissioner of Official Languages, the language debates in Quebec over Bills 63, 22 culminating in Bill 101, the Charte de la langue française, the language elements in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the jurisprudence that has flowed from the Supreme Court’s interpretation of those rights.

While there will be no formal language prerequisite, students will be expected to be able to read material in French.

CANS 306: Issues in Native Studies

A survey of the present-day achievements, problems, and concerns within Native societies across Canada but with a particular focus on the Cree of eastern James Bay. Questions of political organization and leadership, land claims, education and economic and business development will be examined in their present-day complexity, as well as historical antecedents. Contemporary topics and issues will also be discussed in the historical context. Class discussion and participation, based on readings, is an integral part of this course.

CANS 310: Canadian Cultures: Context and Issues

This interdisciplinary course examines “Canadian cultures” in multiple contexts, using a variety of cultural productions (e.g. NFB films, music videos, citizenship guides, literature, exhibitions) to explore how culture is experienced, contested and negotiated within and between communities, and in relation to different nationalisms. Working with diverse case studies, culture will be framed in historical and political contexts. Knowledge of French is not necessary, though Québécois cultural issues will be addressed. This course is not open to students who have taken CANS 202.

CANS 405: Blackness and the Border: Comparing Contemporary African American and African Canadian Fiction in Terms of Racial Identity

Throughout the twentieth century, the question of whether or not black literary artists had an obligation to depict blackness in particular -- usually positive -- ways frequently became a fault-line that sharply divided both authors and scholars. Especially during the Harlem Renaissance and during the peak of the Black Arts Movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the debates over whether or not black artists should acknowledge what James Baldwin called the “burden of representation" raged intensely. Those debates continue to the present, albeit in different contexts and with somewhat different stakes. The articulation of such concepts as "post-black art," "the post-soul aesthetic," and the "New Black Aesthetic" have all rekindled this long-running debate for a generation of artists who came of age after the Civil Rights Movement. But do these -- and other -- conceptualizations of contemporary literary art help to interpret some of the literary art produced by a comparable generation of black Canadian writers? This course will first lay out some of the parameters in which such a comparison might (or might not) be possible and then dip a toe into the process of actually doing so by looking at several works by both contemporary African American and African Canadian writers within the context of some of these contemporary discourses of black literary representation. READING LIST: André Alexis, Pastoral; Paul Beatty, The Sellout; Esi Edugyan, Washington Black; Percival Everett, Erasure; Nalo Hopkinson, Falling in Love with Hominids; Dany Laferrière, I Am a Japanese Writer; Victor Lavalle, The Changeling; Suzette Mayr, Moon Honey; Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad.

CANS 406: Beyond Fake News: Identity Politics, Media, and the Canadian Federal Election

Two years after Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 American presidential election, scholars are continuing to examine the factors that helped bring him to power, including Russian interference. But in many ways, Trump’s victory was merely symptomatic of some deeper currents in Western society, and Canada is no exception. These include the rise of identity politics, the decline of faith in democracy, the fight over free speech, and the general pollution of the media environment at a time when “mainstream media” is in terminal decline. This course will examine these phenomena and how they might affect the 2019 Canadian Federal Election.

CANS 413: Living in Montreal: History of Ethnicity from the 19th Century to Contemporary

Cross-listed with QCST 440. In light of the 2008 Bouchard-Taylor Commission report, public deliberations about reasonable accommodation, and the debates of the 2012 Québec election campaign on secularization and identity, this seminar focuses on ethnicity in Montréal from the nineteenth century to contemporary society. The course takes into account both the city’s multiethnic character and the methodologies that scholars have developed to study ethnicity. A historical approach provides an opportunity to examine and to understand the past and present challenges to and opportunities for rapprochement between all Montrealers and the rest of Québec. Therefore, we will examine how various groups formed different communities, interacted with one another, earned their living, and responded to diverse political regimes. In deconstructing the changing discourses around nationalism, we will also explore who was considered Quebecois(e) and who was categorized as the “Other”. This interdisciplinary seminar has been designed to provide students with a variety of learning opportunities. They will be introduced to key publications of historians, geographers, anthropologists, sociologists, and political scientists, to scholars who do cutting-edge research on aspects of ethnicity in Montréal, and to community leaders and workers who deal directly with the city’s various cultural communities. Students will visit the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, the archives of the Canadian Jewish Congress, go on a guided walking tour, and watch documentary and feature-length films. IMPORTANT NOTE: Lectures will be in English; however, students must be able to read French.

Fall 2018


CANS 200: Introduction to the Study of Canada

This course is an introduction to the ideas and methods that scholars have applied to and derived from the study of Canada. It has been designed to familiarize you with some of the foremost issues, which have shaped and continue to influence contemporary life in Canada. You will be introduced to the anthropology, history, geography, and sociology of Canada as well as its politics, literature, and culture. CANS 200 will examine how Canadians have lived together: how they have interacted with one another; earned a living; and, responded to various political regimes. Thus, Aboriginal Peoples, the Canadian nation, the Québec nation, and the communities of men, women, and children of different class, ethnic, linguistic, and national backgrounds, and who inhabited all of Canada, are central. The course will also consider long-standing and shifting deliberations about identity, citizenship, and representations of what constituted exemplary Canadians and French-Canadians/Quebecois.

CANS 301: Quebec elections, present and past

Elections are a pivotal moment in a democracy. They represent the most important act of public participation in the choice of a government, and reflect the public mood. In Quebec, elections have marked key transitions for the society, ushering in the Quiet Revolution in 1960, and the debates over social democracy and sovereignty-association in 1976. The 2018 election will be the first in almost half a century in which Quebec independence has not been a central issue. Will this be what political scientists call an election of realignment? What role will populism play? How will questions of national identity play out in this election? What role will social media play? How significant will the debates be? And how does this election compare with previous Quebec elections?

This course will begin with a close examination of the October 1 election, and an analysis of the results. This would be followed by the study of previous important Quebec elections. Guests will be invited to share their analyses of Quebec elections, present and past.

While there is no specific course or language prerequisite, students will be expected to be sufficiently competent in French to be able to follow the campaigns closely, follow the French media coverage of the election, and read the academic literature on previous Quebec elections. Papers can be submitted in either English or French.

The first part of the course — until October 1 — would involve direct observation of the election campaign at the riding level, either as a participant or as a close observer. In addition, students will be expected to watch and analyze the television debates, the media coverage, the policy issues, the campaign advertising and social media.

Following analysis of the 2018 election, there will be detailed study of previous key Quebec elections. A first assignment will be a campaign diary; a second will be an essay on some aspect of the election, and a third will be an analysis of a previous election of the student’s choice.

CANS 401: The Caribbean Island of Montreal

The 1960s and 1970s was a crucial period in the history of Caribbean migrants in Canada. Of all the cities of Canada, Montreal was arguably the most important site of Caribbean migration. Montreal attracted migrants from both the Anglophone Caribbean (Jamaica, St. Vincent, Barbados, Trinidad, Guyana) and the Francophone Caribbean (Haiti, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Guyana, etc.). These remarkable women and men transformed Montreal into a veritable Caribbean island in which both local and exile politics played a central role in humanizing the existence of people of African descent in the city while, by drawing on the various international networks of communication, playing a significant role in transforming the political landscape of the Caribbean region. Drawing on recent research on Caribbean exiles, this course will examine the politics and sociology of the Caribbean diaspora on the “Caribbean island of Montreal” and how, in struggling to humanize their existence, Caribbean migrants impacted the city, province, and country while at times playing a crucial role in politics in the Caribbean.

CANS 404: British North America 1760-1867

This course surveys the social-cultural, political, and economic development of British North American colonies. In 2012 the theme will be "violence.” What provoked state or social violence in British North America? Can we see a purported shift (e.g. Tocqueville, Foucault) from physical to moral violence? Course content will consist of weekly lectures and discussions of readings. Students will write a research essay on a topic of their choosing.

CANS 405: Sport and Society: Baseball in Canadian Culture

Rather than merely “bread and circuses” for the masses or meaningless diversions, sports are instead integral to society. They have the capacity to “capture cultural distinctiveness—to embody, refract, and sometimes reframe or refashion a society’s fundamental patterns.” Athletics provide a revealing window through which to examine nationalism, class relations, race and gender, health, education, and the body. As everyone knows, in Canada hockey is king. Millions of Canadians play hockey in one form or another and millions more follow the game passionately. Even so, baseball has a strong claim on Canadian identity, as well. Baseball has a history in Canada nearly two centuries old. It was Canada’s most popular sport at least through the 1920s, and remains widely played and followed to this day. Canadians have excelled in their own leagues, and been stars in the Major Leagues—such as Tip O’Neill and Ferguson Jenkins in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and Larry Walker, Eric Gagne, Joey Votto, Jason Bay and Justin Morneau in the twenty-first century. Canadian men’s and women’s teams have performed well in the Olympics, World Cups, and World Baseball Classic. Minor and independent league teams have played in more than 75 Canadian cities, including current teams in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Quebec City, Ottawa, and Trois-Rivieres. Thanks to Baseball Canada, more young people are playing the game at higher levels. And the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame continues to grow. Rather than being a step-child, Canadians can embrace baseball as its own, as a native son. And perhaps also as a native daughter. Baseball integrates Canadians who might be relatively shut out of hockey, including women and minorities (such as blacks and Japanese). Besides playing and watching the game, baseball figures notably in other aspects of Canadian culture: in its art, music and literature. In this seminar, we’ll examine baseball’s history in Canada, its role in hockey’s shadow, and yet its impact in shaping Canadian culture. We’ll explore Canada’s relation to U.S. baseball, Canadians in the big leagues, and the emergence of Canadian major league cities. We’ll focus especially on the history and economics of baseball in Montreal and Quebec, and the rise, fall, and possible restoration of the Expos to MLB.

CANS 501: Copyright, Censorship, and Canadian Publishing

The creative freedom that writers exercise is limited, in practice, by the evolving structures and practices that society imposes on books. In this course we will explore some of the material factors that have shaped the production of literature in Canada from the nineteenth century to the present. How are individual manuscripts turned into the public objects that we call books – what equipment, techniques, customs, financial arrangements, social connections, and ideals are involved? To what extent have authors been able to own the texts that they write, managing editions and deriving income from Canadian or worldwide sales, and how has this ownership changed? What checks and filters does a literary text pass through on its way to the public, and how do they act to endorse or suppress it? Through these and similar questions, we will discover the history of the book and the sociology of literature in Canada. Topics will include: the publishing of Susanna Moodie’s Roughing It in the Bush (1852) by John Lovell of Montreal and Richard Bentley of London; the Confederation Poets and the literary exodus to New York in the 1890s; radio, chapbooks, and the Japanese-Canadian internment in Dorothy Livesay’s Call My People Home (1950); the censorship of Margaret Laurence’s The Diviners (1974); and the 2018 controversy around Robert Lepage’s “SLAV.” Students will research a topic in Canadian book history in a seminar environment, presenting their work orally and in written form, and responding to their classmates as peers and collaborators.

Winter 2018

Fall 2017

Back to top