Culture and Society Program


Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Culture and Society

Fall 2010

Instructor: CGK Atkins

Monday 13:00-15:50


Calendar Description:

A foundational exploration of a variety of approaches to studying culture and society including those rooted in traditional disciplines and those that have arisen in a more interdisciplinary climate.

Note: this is one of the required courses in the graduate Culture and Society Program (CUSP).

Specific Course Description:

This course examines a variety of approaches to studying culture and society.  It will provide an overview of theories of culture studies and, of interdisciplinarity as an emerging methodology and approach to scholarly investigation.  It will also provide an overview of the manner in which culture creates meaning for human communities.  We will examine questions such as:  How does culture reflect, influence, and embody structures of power?  What are the political dimensions of identity and culture?  How do identity and culture interact?  What does interdisciplinarity mean?  What is the difference between multidisciplinarity and interdisciplinarity?  In sum, this course considers the interdisciplinary field of culture studies, as it attempts to understand the relationship between identity, culture and power.  We’ll be reading founding theoretical texts, current scholarship, and works that attempt to translate theory into action.  We will engage with a variety of sources and materials in order to examine multiple, intersecting structures of power and identity; including (but not exclusively): class, nation, gender, ability, creed, ethnicity and race.  We will focus on Canadian contributions to Interdisciplinary theory and research and to Culture Studies as well.

Course Objectives:

To expand students’ understanding of contemporary approaches to the study of culture and society and to make students familiar with key theorists and researchers writing and working in interdisciplinary research and who focus on culture studies.  In particular, the course will encourage students to be aware of Canadian contributions to work in these areas.  Overall, students should read and think critically, formulate probing research questions and make connections between various ideas, discourses, behaviours and practices as well as research endeavors.  They should be prepared to present their thoughts effectively and articulately in both written prose and in oral presentations.

Required Texts:

Blackboard readings.

Cognitive Disability and its Challenge to Moral Philosophy.  Edited by Eva Feder Kittay and Licia Carlson,  MA: Wiley- Blackwell, 2010.

Kenji Yoshino.  Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights

Non-Required but Highly Recommended Tools

1. Books on disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to cultural studies. Examples include: Glenn Jordan and Chris Weedon, Cultural Politics: Class, Gender, Race and the Postmodern World (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995); Lawrence Grossberg, Cary Nelson, and Paula Treichler (eds.), Cultural Studies (New York:

Routledge, 1992); Ann Gray and Jim McGuigan, Studying Culture: An Introductory Reader (London: Arnold, 1993); Toby Miller, ed., A Companion to Cultural Studies (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001); Matt Hills, How To Do Things With Cultural Theory (London: Hodder, 2005); John R. Baldwin, Sandra L. Faulkner, Michael L.

Hecht, and Sheryl L. Lindsley, Redefining Culture: Perspectives Across the Disciplines (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2006); Will Brooker, Cultural Studies (Oxford: Bookpoint, 1998); Jeff Lewis, Cultural Studies: The Basics (London: Sage Publications, 2002); Steven Conner, Theory and Cultural Value (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992); and John Hartley, A Short History of Cultural Studies (London: Sage, 2003).

2.  Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journals that discuss pertinent research on culture and society, such as: Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies; International Journal of Cultural Studies; Cultural Studies ß> Critical Methodologies; History of Intellectual Culture; Feminist Studies; Critical Quarterly, Canadian Journal of Law and Society; Media, Culture and Society; Critical Studies in Mass Communication and; Cultural Values.

3. Books on critical thinking and informal logic. Examples include: T. Edward Damer, Attacking Fault Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-Free Arguments, fourth edition (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2001); Vincent Ryan Ruggiero, Beyond Feelings: A Guide to Critical Thinking, seventh edition (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004); Brooke Noel Moore and Richard Parker, Critical Thinking, seventh edition (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004).

4. Formatting manuals available in the bookstore.  Chicago, MLA, or APA are acceptable. Consistent and accurate formatting style is fundamental to the writing components of this course.  Personally, I use the Chicago Manual of Style.  Funk and Wagnalls Canadian College Dictionary. Toronto: Fitzhenry and Whiteside; Oxford English Dictionary (latest editions).

5. Chapman, Robert L., ed. The Original Roget’s International Thesaurus. New York: Harper Collins (latest edition).

7. Canadian Studies Research Guide and Subject Guide  This resource offers an expansive interdisciplinary database on myriad topics and research sources related to culture and society in Canada.

Assignments and Evaluation:

Class participation and seminar leadership/presentations: 20%

Each student is expected to participate actively in class.  S/he should arrive in class with 2-3 pre-prepared questions or thoughts regarding the course materials.  Attendance and engaged discussion are key aspects of this course.  All participants should feel welcomed and respected by everyone else in the seminar.  Disagreements and arguments are a part of scholarly inquiry but should be carried out in a respectful and considerate manner.

4 Reflective journals: 40%

DUE:  27 Sept; 18 Oct; 1 Nov; 15 Nov 2010

In terms of format, each journal entry will be 5-7 pages and be partitioned into in two parts: (i) a reflective response to the assigned readings.  It should thus be composed prior to class and; (ii) reflections on the readings and seminar after engaging in class discussions. Overall, the journaling exercise is strongly analytical and they should be referenced to other materials you’ve encountered in the course, as well as to materials from other courses.  Summaries of articles are not acceptable.  Students should adequately explain sources and/or authors, which are not being directly studied in this class.

1 research paper: Topic & outline (approved by instructor): 5% DUE: 22 Nov 2010

Final paper – 35% DUE 13 Dec 2010

Each student will write a 25-30 page paper, which draws on the course material (and may draw also upon his/her 4 journals from the term).  The student’s topic MUST receive approval from the instructor.  (This will be done either in person or via email.)  A paper, which is handed in without pre-approval of the instructor, will not be marked and will receive a failing grade.  As such, the student must submit a paper outline to the instructor prior to commencing his or her writing of the essay.

All assignments must be completed in order to receive a passing final mark.

Writing Skills Statement

Thinking and Writing Skills

Students are required to concentrate on their thinking and writing skills while engaging in the contextual and academic analysis of the ideas and foundations of culture and society.  The instructor may be consulted on questions relating to writing, presentation, critical thinking, and argumentation skills.

Resources for improving writing and presentation skills are also available at the Effective Writing Centre.  If you wish help with your writing at any stage, including drafts, you are invited to contact the Writing Centre, 220-7255.


Using any source whatsoever without clearly documenting it is a serious academic offense. Consequences include failure on the assignment, failure in the course, and possibly suspension or expulsion from the university.

You must document not only direct quotations but also paraphrases and ideas where they appear in your text.  A reference list at the end is insufficient by itself. Readers must be able to tell exactly where your words and ideas end and other people’s words and ideas begin. This includes assignments submitted in nontraditional formats such as Web pages or visual media, and material taken from such sources.

Please consult your instructor or the Writing Centre (SS110) if you have any questions regarding how to document sources.

Students with Disabilities

If you are a student with a disability who may require academic accommodation, it is your responsibility to register with the Disability Resource Centre (220-8237) and discuss your needs with your instructor no later than fourteen (14) days after the start of the course.

“SAFEWALK” Program — 220-5333

Campus Security will escort individuals day or night — call 220-5333 for assistance.  Use any campus phone, emergency phone or the yellow phone located at most parking lot booths.


Whenever you perform research with human participants (i.e., surveys, interviews, observation) as part of your university studies, you are responsible for following university research ethics guidelines. Your instructor must review and approve of your research plans and supervise your research. For more information about your research ethics responsibilities, see the U of C Research Ethics “Information for Applicants,” sections 3.0 to 9.0, inclusive:

Schedule of Readings and Discussion

WEEK 1 – 13 Sept 2010 –             Introduction to the Course – reviewing of course outline and assignments

WEEK 2 – 20 Sept 2010 Foundational Readings in Culture

Baudrillard, Jean.  “The Precession of Simulcra.”  In Simulcra and Simulation.  Trans. Sheila Faria Glaser.  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994; pp. 1-42.

Baudrillard, Jean.  “The Implosion of Meaning in the Media.”  In Simulcra and Simulation.  Trans. Sheila Faria Glaser.  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994; pp. 79-86.

Baudrillard, Jean.  “Simulcra and Science Fiction.”  In Simulcra and Simulation.  Trans. Sheila Faria Glaser.  Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994; pp. 121-127.

Foucault, Michel.  “Two Lectures.”  In Power and Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-77. Ed. Colin Gordon. Trans. Colin Gordon et al. New York: Pantheon Books, 1980; pp. 78-108.

Williams, Raymond.  “The Uses of Cultural Theory.”  New Left Review. I July-August 1986, pp. 19-31.

Williams, Raymond.  “When Was Modernism?”  New Left Review. May-June 1989; pp. 49-52.

WEEK 3 – 27 Sept 2010 –         Foundational Readings in Culture


Adorno, Theodor. “The Schema of Mass Culture.” And “Culture Industry Reconsidered.”  In The Culture Industry. London: Routledge, 1991; pp. 61-106.

Bourdieu, Pierre. “The Historical Genesis of Pure Aesthetics.”  The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 46, Analytic Aesthetics (1987), pp. 201-210 Stable URL:

Eagleton, Terry.  “The Politics of Amnesia.” In After Theory. London, Pantheon Books, 2004; pp. 1-22.

Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson.  Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980; pp. 3-24.

Optional readings:

Walsh, D.  “Doing Ethnography.”  In Researching Society and Culture.  Ed. C. Seale.  London: Sage, 1998, pp. 217-32.

WEEK 4 – 4 October 2010 Readings in Interdisciplinarity

Liscombe, Rhodir Windsor.  “Practising Interdisciplinary Studies.” In Practising Interdisciplinarity. Edited by Peter Weingart and Nico Stehr. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000; pp. 134-153.

Strathern, Marilyn.  “Accountabilty Across Disciplines.”  In Commons and Borderlands: Working Papers on Interdisicplinarity, Accountability and the Flow of Knowledge. Sean Kingston Publishing, Oxon, England , 2004; pp. 68-86.

Turner, Stephen.  “What are Disciplines?  And how is Interdisciplinarity Different?” In Practising Interdisciplinarity. Edited by Peter Weingart and Nico Stehr. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000; pp. 46—65.

Weingart, Peter.  “Interdisciplinarity: The Paradoxical Discourse.”  In Practising Interdisciplinarity. Edited by Peter Weingart and Nico Stehr. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000; pp. 25-41.

WEEK 5 – 11 October 2010 –  THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY

WEEK 6 – 18 October 2010 – Readings in Interdisciplinarity, Qualitative Research and Autoethnography


Adams, Tony E.. “A Review of Narrative Ethics.”  Qualitative Inquiry.  Vol. 14, No. 2. March 2008; pp. 175-94.

Bell, Derrick.  “The Power of Narrative.”  Legal Studies Forum, Vol 23, 1999; pp. 315-348.

Ellis, C. et al.. “Talking and Thinking about Qualitative Research.”  Qualitative Inquiry. Vol. 14, No. 2, March 2008; pp. 254-84.

Moran, Joe.  “Interdisicplinarity Today.” In Interdisicplinarity.  New York: Routledge, 2002; pp. 165-181.

Ilesanmi, Oluwatoyin Olatundun.  “What is Cross-Cultural Research?”  in International Journal of Psychological Studies. Vol. 1, No. 2., December 2009; pp. 82-96.

Optional Readings:

Jenkins, Mercilee M..  “Ethnographic Writing Is as Good as Ten Mothers.” Qualitative Inquiry 2010 16; pp. 83-89.

WEEK 7 – 25 October 2010Gender and Culture Identity

Erin Calhoun Davis, “Situating “Fluidity”: (Trans)Gender Identification and the Regulation of Gender Diversity,” GLQ 15:1, 2009; pp. 97-130.

Katrina Roen, “Either/Or and Both/Neither: Discursive Tensions in Transgender Politics,” Signs Vol.27 No.2 (Winter 2002); pp. 501-522.

Bordo, Susan.  “Feminism, Postmodernism and Gender Skepticism.” In Feminism/Posmodernism. Edited by Linda Nicholson et al.; pp. 133-156.

Butler, Judith.  “Gender Trouble, Feminist Theory and Psychoanalytical Discourse.” In Feminism/Posmodernism. Edited by Linda Nicholson et al..  Routledge: New York, 1990; pp. 324-340.

WEEK 8 – 1 November 2010 Race, Cultural and Ethnic Identities


Bell, Derrick.  “The Last Black Hero.” Harvard Blackletter Journal ; Vol. 8, 1991, pp. 275-289.

Crenshaw, Kimberle.  “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color.”  43 Stan. L. Rev. 1241 1990-1991; pp. 1249-1299.

hooks, bell.  “From Bone Black; Memoires of Girlhood.”  Critical Quarterly Volume 39, Issue 3, pages 80–83, October 1997.  ONLINE

Said, Edward.  “Orientalism.”  In The Edward Said Reader. Edited by Moustafa Bayoumi and Andrew Rubin.  New York: Vintage Books, 2000; pp. 63 -113.

Optional readings:

Walter Benn Michaels, “Race into Culture: A Critical Genealogy of Cultural Identity.” Critical Inquiry 18 (Summer 1992); pp. 655- 685.

Devoss, Da’nielle Nicole and Patrick Russell Lebeau. “Reading and Composing Indians: Invented Indian Identity through Visual Literacy.”  The Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 43, No. 1, 2010; pp. 45-77.

Macklem, Patrick.  “Normative Dimensions of an Aboriginal Right of Self-Government” (1995) 21 Queen’s Law Journal 173-219

McCall, Leslie.  “The Complexity of Intersectionality” SIGNS: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 30(31), 2005; pp. 771–802.

McCarthy, Thomas.  “Coming to Terms with Our Past: On the Morality and Politics of Reparations for Slavery.”  Political Theory, Vol.3 2 No. 6, December 2004; pp. 750-772

WEEK 9 – 8 November 2010Multiculturalism (in Canada)

Appiah, K. Anthony.  “Identity, Authenticity, Survival: Multicultural Societies and Social Reproduction.”  In Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994; pp. 149-64.

Charles, Taylor.  “Multiculturalism and the Politics of Recognition.”  In Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994; pp. 25-74.

Jung, Courtney.  “Stepping Behind the Claims of Culture: Constructing Identities, Constituting Politics.”  In The Moral Force of Indigenous Politics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008; pp. 34-74.

Kymlicka, Will.  “The Politics of Multiculturalism.”  In Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights, London: Clarendon Press, 1992; pp.10-33.

WEEK 10 – 15 November 2010Culture and Race in Canada


Francis, Daniel.  “Red Coats and Red Skins.”  The Imaginary Indian: The Image of the Indian in Canadian Culture.  Vancouver, BC: Arsenal Pulp Press, 1992; pp. 61-82.

Ng, Roxanna.   “Sexism, Racism and Canadian Nationalism.”  In Race, Class, Gender: Bonds and Barriers. Ed.  Jesse Vorst, et al..  Toronto: Garamond Press, 1991; pp. 12-20

Himani Bannerjee, “The Paradox of Diversity: the construction of a multicultural Canada and “Women of Colour,” Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol. 23, No. 5, 2000; pp. 537–560.

Sherene Razack, “Policing the Borders of Nation: The Imperial Gaze in Gender Persecution Cases,” in Looking White People in the Eye, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998; pp. 88-129.

Optional Readings:

Dickason, Olive Patricia.  “The Many Faces of Canada’s History as it Relates to Aboriginal People.”  In Walking a Tightrope: Aboriginal People and Their Representations.  Ed. Ute Lischke and David T. McNab.  Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2005, pp. 117-148.

Rutherford, Paul.  “Made in America: The Problem of Mass Culture in Canada.”  In Cultural Subjects: A Popular Culture Reader.  Ed. Gedalof, Allen J. et al.. Canada: Nelson, 2004; pp. 103-114.

WEEK 11 – 22 November 2010Disability and Mainstream Culture

Hacking, Ian. “How We Have Been Learning to Talk About Autism: A Role for Stories.” In Cognitive Disability and its Challenge to Moral Philosophy.  Edited by Eva Feder Kittay and Licia Carlson,  MA: Wiley- Blackwell, 2010; pp. 261-278.

Johnson, Harriet McBride.  “Unspeakable Conversations.”  New York Times Magazine.  16 Feb 2003.

Kittay, Eva.  “The Personal is Philosophical is Political: A Philosopher and Mother of a Cognitively Disabled Persons Sends Notes From the Battlefield.”  In Cognitive Disability and its Challenge to Moral Philosophy.  Edited by Eva Feder Kittay and Licia Carlson,  MA: Wiley- Blackwell, 2010; pp. 393-413.

McRuer, Robert.  “Compulsory Able-Bodiedness and Queer/Disabled Existence.”  In Crip Theory: Signs of Queerness and Disability, New York: NYU Press, 2006; pp. 1-32.

Singer, Peter.  “Speciesism and Moral Status.” In Cognitive Disability and its Challenge to Moral Philosophy.  Edited by Eva Feder Kittay and Licia Carlson,  MA: Wiley- Blackwell, 2010; pp. 331-344.

WEEK 12 – 29 November 2010 –  An Example of Autoethnography

Kenji Yoshino.  Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights.

WEEK 13 – 6 December 2010 –  WORK on research papers – no class.