Intensive courses - Spring 2023

26 Oct 2022

AJL18096, AJL28068, SAKS015
Major Issues in Canadian Society
Prof. Richard Nimijean

Monday 24 April to Friday 28 April

10.00 - 11.40 and 14.00 - 15.40

Course description:

This course examines contemporary debates in Canada as a way for students to deepen their understanding of the country. We examine four pressing issues that the country is debating that also reveal insights into the nature of the country and its national identity.

Issues explored:

  • Reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and Canada. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission proposed 94 calls to action to address the legacy of residential schools and promote reconciliation, and the Trudeau government promised to implement them. However, many have not been implemented. The Yellowhead Institute stated, “With each passing year, Canada opts to perform reconciliation in an effort to shape a benevolent reputation rather than enact the substantial and structural changes that would rectify ongoing harms and change the course of our collective relationship.” Can Canada achieve reconciliation with Indigenous peoples?
  • The politics of memory. Many Canadians have called for the renaming of schools and government buildings, as they were named after people whose values, beliefs and actions are out of step with contemporary Canada. This includes institutions named after Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. Others argue that this is applying modern values to the past, and thus renaming should be resisted or only selectively done. Which approach is best?
  • Energy, the environment, and climate change. Justin Trudeau promised in 2015 to improve poor Canada’s environmental record and do more in the fight against climate change. However, he has also been an ardent advocate of oil and gas production, which critics claim are polluting and undermine his government’s goal of promoting a greener and cleaner economy. Can Canada be a committed soldier in the fight against climate change while also being a major oil and gas producer?
  • The rise of populism. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that there is much more socioeconomic inequality and racial and ethnic discrimination than is often presumed. The truckers’ protest across Canada in the winter of 2022 raised questions about Canadian values and the spread of far-right and white supremacist ideology. What does this say about Canada and how it is seen across the world?

Class format:

  • Readings will be made available to students before the course begins. Students are expected to read the readings before our class meetings.

AJL17091, AJL27098
North American Documentary Photography: A Brief Sruvey of Social and Political Commentary
Paul Von Blum

Thursday (March 30) - 10.00 - 11.40 and 14.00 - 15.40
Friday (March 31) - 10.00 - 11.40 and 14.00 - 15.40 and 16.00 - 17.30
Monday (April 3) - 10.00 - 11.40 and 14.00 - 15.40 and 16.00 - 17.30
Tuesday (April 4) - 10.00 - 11.40 and 14.00 - 15.40

General Description and Objectives

For well over a century and a half, socially conscious documentary artists and photojournalists in North America have used their work to provide powerful social and political commentary. This mini course will survey some of the major highlights of this vibrant tradition in North America. It will look at several major developments that have made durable contributions to 20th and 21st century art and cultural history generally and to socially conscious art specifically. The three areas are Mexican documentary photography of the early to mid-20th century, U.S. social and political photography from the Works Progress Administration during the New Deal in the 1930s and beyond, and African American photography from that era to the present. A few other works will be shown and discussed, including earlier photos from the Civil War and photos from the Vietnam war, among others. The major objective is to expose students to the existence of this extensive and impressive tradition (read more).


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