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ENGLISH 1CS3 Studying Culture:Critical Int

Academic Year: Fall 2015

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Amber Dean


Office: Chester New Hall 214

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23725

Office Hours: Every Tuesday from 10am-12pm unless otherwise noted; also by appointment

Course Objectives:

This course will introduce students to concepts and methods in the interdisciplinary field of Cultural Studies. Our aim is both to gain an understanding of Cultural Studies as a conceptual framework or field of study, and to employ its tools in the analysis of a broad range of examples of culture, ranging from social justice activism to cultural institutions to identities, everyday practices, and popular culture. Cultural Studies as a field is committed to making visible its politics, and practitioners of Cultural Studies are frequently concerned with how the theories that inform our work might translate into practices that further the aims of significant social movements of our times, including feminist, anti-capitalist, organized labour, anti-racist, anti-colonial, anti-poverty, anti-globalization, prison abolitionist, and queer and trans* struggles, to name but a few. We will also focus on the relations between culture, power, and the formation of identities, with the goal of developing skills at decoding and critically analyzing representations of human differences categorized by gender, race, class and sexuality, among other forms. A major focus in the course is on developing students’ ability to employ theories and concepts to think critically about their own engagements with diverse cultural practices, as consumers, as cultural producers, as activists and as critical thinkers. Significant attention and time will also be devoted to cultivating strong writing skills, an indispensible tool for cultural production, cultural analysis, and activist engagement.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Required Texts:

Available at the Campus Store (Gilmour Hall, B-101):

  1. CSCT 1CS3 Custom Courseware

    Available in Avenue to Learn:

  2. First Year English and Cultural Studies Handbook

    This handbook, prepared by the Department of English and Cultural Studies, contains crucial information on essay writing, documentation, and plagiarism. It is available free of charge for you to download in Avenue to Learn.

    Recommended Texts:

    Available at the Campus Store (Gilmour Hall, B-101):

  3. A Writer’s Handbook, Third Edition (Broadview Press) *e-edition also available for $9.95 via the publisher’s website:

  4. The SAGE Dictionary of Cultural Studies

Method of Assessment:

Course Assignments and Evaluation Scheme:


Weekly Reading Response Pages

10%  (1% each, due every week in tutorials starting Sept 22)


Written Assignment #1

15%  (500 words, due in tutorial Oct 5 – Oct 9)


Written Assignment #2

30%  (1000 words, due in tutorial Nov 9 – Nov 13)


Tutorial participation

10%  (Based on attendance and quality of participation)


Final exam

35%  (Multiple choice and an essay question, scheduled by Registrar’s office during the exam period)


IMPORTANT: For each of the above assignments please consult the detailed handout available in Avenue to Learn for instructions (Enter our course in Avenue, click on “Content,” then scroll down and look under the header “Assignment Details”).



Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Assignments handed in late will be docked one grade-point a day (incl. Saturdays and Sundays). If an assignment is worth a B+, but was handed in a day late, it will be given a B; two days, a B-; three days, a C+; and so on up to seven days. For other policies regarding submission of written work, consult the First Year English and Cultural Studies Handbook in Avenue. Late Weekly Reading Response Pages will not be accepted without documentation of illness or academic accommodations, and then only until the end of the student’s next tutorial.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:



At certain points in the course it may make good sense to modify the schedule outlined below.

The instructor reserves the right to modify elements of the course and will notify students accordingly.[1]


Note: The assigned readings are to be completed prior to the first lecture of the week. Please bring a copy of the readings with you to all lectures and tutorials for discussion purposes.


All assigned readings can be found in the CSCT 1CS3 Courseware (required custom courseware package available at the Campus Store), unless otherwise noted.


Sept 8

Sept 9


Studying Culture: Course Overview


Unit I


Cultural Studies: What is it? How is it done?

Sept 15

Sept 16

Introduction to Cultural Studies

Assigned Reading:

  1. Ang, Ien. “Who Needs Cultural Research?” In Cultural Studies: From Theory to Action. Pepi Leistyna, Ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005: 477-483.
  2. Williams, Raymond. “Culture is Ordinary.” In The Everyday Life Reader. Ben Highmore, Ed. New York: Routledge, 2002: 91-100.


KEY CONCEPTS:  culture, cultural studies, everyday life, working class


Sept 22

Sept 23

Ideology, Hegemony, Neoliberalism

Assigned Reading:

  1. Steger, Manfred B. and Ravi K. Roy, “What’s ‘neo’ about liberalism?” In Neoliberalism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010: 1-20.
  2. McNally, David. “Social Protest in the Age of Austerity.” In Whose Streets: The Toronto G20 and the Challenges of Summit Protest. Tom Malleson and David Wachsmuth, Eds. Toronto: Between the Lines Press, 2011: 201-212.
  3. Davis, Angela. “Introduction: Prison Reform or Prison Abolition?” In Are Prisons Obsolete? New York: Seven Stories Press, 2003: 9-21.


Film Viewing: An Examined Life [Clips]


KEY CONCEPTS: ideology, hegemony, neoliberalism, austerity, panopticon, prison abolition


* Begin submitting Reading Response Pages in tutorials Sept 22





Sept 29

Sept 30

The Work of Representation

Assigned Reading:

  1. Hall, Stuart. “The Work of Representation.” In Representation, Second Edition, Stuart Hall, Jessica Evans and Sean Nixon, Eds. London, UK: The Open University/SAGE, 2013: 1-59.


KEY CONCEPTS: representation, codes, sign, signifier, signified, myth, denotation, connotation, discourse, power/knowledge



Oct 6

Oct 7

Critical Pedagogy / Resisting the Corporate, Neoliberal University

Assigned Reading:

  1. Friere, Paulo. “Chapter Two: The ‘Banking’ Concept of Education as an Instrument of Oppression.” In Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder, 1970: 57-74.
  2. Roar Collective. “Toronto Strikes Back Against Neoliberal University,” ROAR Magazine, March 20, 2015.
  3. “Gallery of Voices and Images from the Maple Spring,” Topia: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies 28: 219-244.


KEY CONCEPTS: critical pedagogy, ‘banking’ concept of education, commercialization, corporatization, neoliberal university, student debt


* Assignment #1 Due in Tutorials Oct 5-9



Oct 13

Oct 14


Fall Break – No Lectures or Tutorials (Oct 12-17)






Oct 20

Oct 21

Globalizing Culture / Globalizing Media

Assigned Reading:

  1. Szeman, Imre and Susie O’Brien, “Globalization and Popular Culture.” In Popular Culture: A User’s Guide. 2nd Edition. Toronto: Nelson, 2010: 321-351.
  2. McLean, James S. “When Head Office Was Upstairs: How Corporate Concentration Changed a Television Newsroom,” Canadian Journal of Communication 30 (2005): 325-342.


Film Viewing: Control Room [Clips]


KEY CONCEPTS: globalization, Western imperialism, media concentration, media convergence



Unit II

Identities, Bodies, Nations, Communities


Oct 27

Oct 28


Feminism: Gendered Identities, Difference, and Cultural Production

Assigned Reading:

  1. Karaian, Lara and Allyson Mitchell, “Third-Wave Feminisms.” In Feminist Issues: Race, Class, and Sexuality. 5th Edition. Nancy Mandell, ed. Toronto: Pearson Canada, 2010: 63-86.
  2. Lorde, Audre. “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle The Master’s House.” In Sister Outsider. Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press, 1984: 110-113.


KEY CONCEPTS: feminism, third-wave, gender, sex, identity, difference, essentialism, social construction


Nov 3

Nov 4


Challenging Sexual and Gendered Normativity(?): Queer and Trans Struggles

Assigned Reading:

  1. Jennex, Craig. “NO MORE SHIT! Complicated Collectivity, Past and Present.” GUTS: Canadian Feminist Magazine, Winter 2014/15.
  2. Puar, Jasbir. “In the Wake of It Gets Better,” The Guardian, November 16, 2010.
  3. Coyote, Ivan E. “No Bikini.” In Boys Like Her: Transfictions. Vancouver: Press Gang, 1998: 21-24.


KEY CONCEPTS: sexuality, queer, (homo)normativity, trans*


Nov 10

Nov 11


Ideological Formations of Race: Black Lives Matter

Assigned Reading:

  1. Omi, Michael and Howard Winant, “Racial Formations.” In The Social Construction of Difference and Inequality: Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality. Tracy Ore, Ed. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 2011: 13-22.
  2. Walcott, Rinaldo. “Ferguson: Not So Far Away,” The Broadbent Blog, Aug 26, 2014.
  3. Cole, Desmond. “The Skin I’m In,” Toronto Life, May 2015.


Film Viewing: Race: The Power of an Illusion [Clips]


KEY CONCEPTS: race, racialization, racial subjection, racism, racial profiling


* Assignment #2 Due in Tutorials Nov 9-13


Nov 17

Nov 18


(Re)Producing National Identities

Assigned Reading:

  1. Jafri, Beenash. “National Identity, Transnational Whiteness, and the Canadian Citizenship Guide,” Critical Race and Whiteness Studies 8, 2012: 1-15.
  2. King, Thomas. “A Coyote Columbus Story.” In One Good Story, That One. Toronto: HarperCollins, 1993: 121-127.


KEY CONCEPTS: identity, nationalism, multiculturalism, whiteness, Indigeneity


Nov 24

Nov 25

Colonial Violence / Decolonizing Struggles

  1. Adese, Jennifer. “Colluding with the Enemy? Nationalism and Depictions of ‘Aboriginality’ in Canadian Olympic Moments,” American Indian Quarterly 36(4), 2012: 479-502.
  2. The Kino-nda-niimi Collective. The Winter We Danced: Voices from the Past, the Future, and the Idle No More Movement. Winnipeg: ARP Books, 2014. [Excerpts]


Film Viewing: Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance [Clips]


KEY CONCEPTS: colonization, decolonization, Idle No More


Dec 1

Dec 2

Gentrification: Colliding Notions of Class, Culture and Creativity

Assigned Reading:

  1. Florida, Richard. “The Rise of the Creative Class.” Washington Monthly, May 2002.
  2. Antwi, Phanuel and Amber Dean. ““Unfixing Imaginings of the City: Art, Gentrification and Cultures of Surveillance.” Affinities: A Journal of Radical Theory, Culture and Action, 4(2): What is the Radical Imagination?, a special issue co-edited by Max Haiven and Alex Khasnabish, 2010: 17-27.


KEY CONCEPTS: gentrification, creative class, service class, “gay index,” frontier mythology


Dec 8

Last Class, Review




[1] The instructor and university reserve the right to modify elements of the course during the term.  The university may change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances.  If either type of modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes.  It is the responsibility of the student to check their McMaster email and Avenue course websites weekly during the term and to note any changes.

Other Course Information:

Avenue to Learn:

In this course we will be using ‘Avenue to Learn’ (the online learning management system at McMaster). Students should be aware that when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.

vflnfaWe will use ‘Avenue to Learn’ to distribute additional information about course assignments and expectations, including handouts and assignment guides, so you should make a point of accessing it frequently (at least twice per week) in order to keep up-to-date with our course. Any announcements about changes to assigned readings, office hours, or class cancellations will also be made through ‘Avenue to Learn.’ Students who are unfamiliar with the ‘Avenue to Learn’ system should familiarize themselves with the system as soon as possible; if you have any questions please seek immediate assistance by seeing your TA during office hours, or review the online tips and help available by visiting the McMaster ‘Avenue to Learn’ webpage.

How to Access Avenue to Learn:

Step One:  Make Sure You Are in the Avenue Database

- If you are officially registered in the course (and have paid your fees), you will be automatically enrolled in the Avenue database. Go to Step Two.

- If you are not registered in the course or have not paid your fees, you will not be able to access the course on Avenue and you must remedy that situation. Then, wait until the Avenue database is updated. These updates are supposed to occur daily overnight, but there may be some delays at the beginning of the year. Also, if you register in the course during the first or second week of classes, wait two days; if you still can’t access the course in Avenue please contact your instructor.


Step Two:  Login to Avenue

- Go to the website:

- Log in. Your user ID is your MAC ID -- eg: if your email id is:; then your User ID is: janed. Your Avenue password is the same as your MAC ID password.
-If you do not have a MAC ID or you haven’t activated yours yet, you will need to do so. To do this, go to and follow the online instructions.


Step Three: Choose CSCT 1CS3 under “My Courses”

- From your personalized course listings, click on CSCT 1CS3 under 2015 Fall (T1).  You are now inside the Avenue site for our course!


Do I need new software?

All you need to access Avenue is an internet browser.  It is possible, though unlikely, that you will have to update your browser or change some of your “pop up” settings.  If you have any problems viewing the site, go to the Avenue login page and click on "Browser Check”


What if something doesn't work?

The Avenue program is very user friendly.  For example, the questions listed on the login page will guide you through most problems at the login stage.  If you get an error message when you are working through the program, read the message carefully.  It will tell you what to do. 


eSupport for Avenue

You can access eSupport from the main Avenue site. Go to the login page; click “Support” on the lefthand frame, then click on the “eSupport” hyperlink. Click “I am a student,” and you will have access to quick help, video tutorials, manual references, and more


Important Notes and Terms of Enrollment:

It is essential that you access and carefully read the document “Important Notes and Terms of Enrollment” in Avenue to Learn as soon as you begin this course. Continuation in this course will be deemed agreement to adhere to the terms of enrollment outlined in this document. If you have any questions or concerns about these terms please speak to your instructor immediately.