Third Year

Third Year Courses:

Special Topics in Interdisciplinary Studies (AH 3390 F/G to 3393 F/G)

Prerequisite: AH 2220E, AH 2220F/G and AH 2230F/G 3 hours/week; 0.5 course

Building on the theoretical and methodological knowledge and skills acquired in the first and second years of the Program, each of these half courses will focus on the specific research expertise of one of the Research Fellows teaching in the School. Possible topics are listed below. The purpose of each course will be to immerse students in an intensive and engaged research environment in order further to train students in the applied study of the Arts and Humanities. Course curriculum and assignments will be designed to reflect the requirements of the field, topic, and sub-topics particular to each Research Fellow, and will be tailored to encourage the kinds of independent and self-directed study that students will undertake exclusively in the fourth-year capstone seminar and experiential learning courses.


In Year Three you are required to take four 0.5 courses (2.0 total) for your Arts and Humanities major. Of these course offered through SASAH, you’re expected to take at least two of them, preferably three. You’re welcome to take an upper-level (Year Three or Four) course in your field of choice to fulfill the remaining 1 or 2 Year Three SASAH courses. Usually students will take these courses in fields covered by their second Major, usually within the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. We’ve done this on purpose as we don’t want to restrict your course choices in Year Three at a time when we want to encourage you to develop your own research interests.

The courses offered in Year Three in SASAH are always cross-listed with the Research Fellow’s home department. However, this does not mean you need to fulfill that department’s prerequisite to take this course. In all cases we ask the department to waive this restriction. These courses are designed to reach an interdisciplinary audience – i.e. you.

Finally, we’ve structured the Year Three courses this way so as to get students out and integrated into learning experiences across campus, in other departments, etc. Also, usually 6-7 students head abroad each Year Three, which means the SASAH cohort is smaller for that year.

Courses for 2018-2019

AH 3390G: Rwanda: Culture, Society and Reconstruction [cross-listed with French 3140B]
Professor Henri Boyi / Department of French Studies

This is an interdisciplinary Experiential Learning Course on Rwanda, based in the Department of French Studies. It provides students with an opportunity to learn about Rwandan society, and about themselves by engaging in an international social and cultural setting. The readings for the course will focus on issues related to Community Service Learning and the history and culture of Rwanda. The course will offer an in-depth look at a number of contemporary social issues that are common in the African Great Lakes region. Guest lecturers (Dr. Nanda Dimitrov, Prof. Alain Goldschlager, Prof. Amanda Grzyb, Prof. Jeff Tennant, Stephanie Hayne, Lise Laporte, and former participants, among others) will be invited to speak to the class. Five weeks of active and interactive community service in Rwanda will be required for the completion of the course.

Our main community partner in Rwanda is The College of Medicine and Health Sciences (former KHI), located in the capital city of Kigali. We will mainly work with three community partners : Centre Marembo, Les Enfants de Dieu, and Caritas. As we go so far to serve and learn in these community centres where we have developed extremely solid relationships and excellent work habits for the last six years, we also commit to the integrity and integrality of our team as ambassadors of Western University and Canada.

AH 3391F: Philosophy of Food [cross-listed with Phil 3010F]
Professor Benjamin Hill / Department of Philosophy

Nothing we do day-in, day-out is as value-laden as eating. We have greater moral impact on others, on our community, and on our world through our relationship with food than with anything else, except perhaps for familial and intimate relationships. Yet those values contained within or implicated by our food are almost always hidden from us, and almost always, it seems, by design. We ourselves are, moreover, almost always complicit in those values being hidden from us. This course is meant to challenge the hiddenness of food values and to challenge ourselves for our roles in their hiddenness. It is going to make you uncomfortable. It is supposed to be make you feel uncomfortable (hence the term “challenge” above) because the story about the food system, its values, and our responsibility for it is not a cheery story. This course is meant to be an intensely immersive experience exploring and challenging both the food values of our society as well as your own individual food values. The aim is to develop your abilities to think critically and philosophically about your food choices, about the connections between your food choices and our food system, and about ultimately yourselves and your own values. Issues dealt with in the course may include human rights, food justice, the treatment of animals, the environment, moral and political dimensions of genetically modified food, hunger and obligation to the poor, the role of food in gender, personal and ethnic identity, the role of food in shaping our community, and the role food plays in living the good life. The course is an “active learning” course, which aims to do this through philosophical discussions and investigative assignments.

AH 3392G: Bad Girls [cross-listed with WS 3153G]
Professor Jacqeline Potvin / Department of Women's Studies and Feminist Research

This course will examine our recurring fascination with the figure of the “bad girl” in various forms of popular cultural production. The course will explore the various ways that “bad girls” have been produced within cultural production and interrogate the often complex and ambiguous relationships we have with these images and tropes. The first part of the course will concentrate on the theoretical work which informs the relationship between popular culture and dissident sexuality, while the second part of the course will look more closely at how specific types of sexual dissidence, particularly related to adolescent and young adult female bodies, is created,
controlled and contested in popular culture.

AH 3393F: Toronto: Culture and Performance [cross-listed with English 3581F, TS 3581F]
Professor Kim Solga / Department of English and Writing Studies

How does the theatre that appears on Toronto’s stages reflect, extend, challenge and question the City of Toronto’s global-city aspirations? This is just one of a host of questions we’ll be asking in this exciting new course, as we travel to Toronto regularly to see live theatre of all kinds, talk with actors, directors, and reviewers, and explore the city’s contemporary theatre ecology through readings drawn from performance studies as well as urban studies. Students can expect to make at least four class trips into the city to see live performance, and to read a handful of scripts from the city’s most recent theatre seasons alongside some contextual materials.


AH 3393G: Forms of Narrative [cross-listed with VAH 3395G]
Professor Nino Ricci / Department of English and Writing Studies

This workshop course will allow students to explore a range of narrative strategies in their storytelling, from the traditional short story to such genres as metafiction, microfiction, podcasts, graphic novels, and fan fiction. Students will be encouraged to consider how narrative informs a wide variety of other fields, from history and the social sciences to law, medicine, business and the natural sciences, and to draw on their own educational backgrounds and interests in exploring new directions for their creative work. Readings will include a selection of stories in various genres culled from a variety of sources. Grading will be based on the submission of at least two pieces of creative work as well as on class participation and on written critiques of fellow students’ work.



Courses for 2017-2018

AH3390F: Pre-Raphaelite Literature and Art: From Romanticism to Modernism [cross-listed with English3369F]
Professor David Bentley / Department of Visual Arts

Using as a focal point and lens the poetry, painting, and short fiction of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, this seminar will study the works and aesthetics of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (1848-53), its associates, and its successors.  After situating the Pre-Raphaelites in the political, religious, and aesthetic contexts of the Victorian period and examining some of their principal paintings, the seminar will focus on Rossetti’s depiction of different female types: the Virgin Mary in such works as “Ave,” the prostitute or “fallen woman” in such works as “Jenny,” and the femme fatale in such works as Lilith. In addition to providing seminar members with a broad, detailed, and enriching understanding of Pre-Raphaelitism, the seminar will examine Rossetti’s later poetry and painting in the aesthetic and symbolist modes and chart the impact of Pre-Raphaelite art, literature, and ideas not only on William Morris, Walter Pater, Oscar Wilde, and other Victorians, but also on such major Modernists as W.B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, and T.S. Eliot.

Course Syllabus

AH3390G: Lessons by Design [cross-listed with VAH3390G]
Professor John Hatch / Department of Visual Arts

Design guides us through our life effortlessly when it is done well, or aggravates us to no end when poorly wrought (unless the goal of a particular design is to frustrate -- such as the square toilet paper roll). Design is invisible for the most part, seamless, when crafted for use; seductive when done for effect, when it wants to draw our attention. It helps us to think and function, taking over some of our tasks and concerns so that we can focus our thoughts and actions elsewhere. This course is an introduction to design, using a wide range of examples such as maps, the periodic table, chairs, flags, invented languages like Esperanto, the mechanical sounds on digital devices, door handles, public spaces, currencies, cities, movie credits, search engines, etc., all aimed at helping us arrive at a checklist of some of the most important lessons of design. We’ll also discuss the critical social and cultural implications of design, as any good design is essentially a tool for manipulating our everyday lives, for controlling our activities and sometimes how we think.

Course Syllabus

AH 3391F: Classics and Pop Culture [cross-listed with CS 3800F]
Professor Kyle Gervais / Department of Classical Studies

In this course we’ll look at how Western pop culture in the 20th and 21st centuries has explored, adapted, and appropriated topics and themes from ancient Greece and Rome. Media considered in class and assignments may include: films, TV, novels, comic books, music, online media, or anything falling within a broad definition of “pop-culture”. Tentative topics for 2017 include: Hercules from comics to film to videogame, narratives of Roman decline and renewal in speculative fiction, and Classics in the age of Donald J. Trump.

Course Syllabus

AH3392G: Table Work [cross-listed with TS 3208G]
Professor Joanna Devereux / Department of English

Students will close-read parts in plays in order to analyze a script’s vocal patterning, experiment with the pacing of a scene in terms of breath, silences, and “beats”, shape interpretations of character, tone, and motivation, and debate what constitutes textual “clues” to performance.

Course Syllabus

AH 3393F: The Ethics of Science [cross-listed with Phil 3993F]
Professor Gillian Barker / Department of Philosophy

It has often been thought that ethics and science inhabit separate realms and have little to say to one another. This course challenges that assumption by exploring the many ways in which ethical thought both informs and is informed by science. We begin by investigating the nature of both ethical and scientific reasoning. We then apply this understanding in examining a range of questions about ethics that arise in the pursuit and application of scientific knowledge. Particular issues to be addressed include the ethics of using animals and embryos in medical research; the implications of human evolutionary science and brain science for our understanding of ethics; what ecological science can teach us about our ethical relationship to natural ecosystems and other species; ethical issues that emerge as we apply new technologies in procreation and in food production; and the place of science in a democratic society. We apply the understanding we gain in real-world projects with community partners.

Course Syllabus

For their Year Three requirements SASAH students can also qualify to apply for a limited number of spaces in Special Topics courses offered outside of the School. Present and past courses include:

Classical Studies 4580F/G: Vindolanda Field School:
The Vindolanda Field School is an intense and very rewarding five-week study abroad experience for Western students in any discipline. A primary goal of the field school is for students to gain an appreciation for combining historical and archaeological material to further our understanding of past cultures, especially those effected by conquest and imperialism in the Roman provinces. The focus of the archaeological component is at the site of Vindolanda, an important Roman military fort along Hadrian’s Wall, and includes daily participation in all aspects of the project: excavation, survey of buildings and landscape, finds processing (ceramic and bone washing, environmental sampling), and data recording (stratigraphic context sheets, photography, section/plan drawing, etc.). An in-depth understanding of the archaeology at Vindolanda will be supplemented with trips to other sites and visits to active excavations around the north of Britain. The historical component focuses on the history of the Roman period in Britain with particular emphasis on the northern frontier and the role of soldiers and civilians within the province. The historical aspect of the course is achieved through evening lectures, field trips, on-site discussions and student presentations.

Vindolanda Program Information

Vindolanda Archaeological Site Information

French 3140B: Rwanda: Culture, Society and Reconstruction:

This is an interdisciplinary Experiential Learning Course on Rwanda, based in the Department of French Studies. It provides students with an opportunity to learn about Rwandan society, and aboutthemselves by engaging in an international social and cultural setting. The readings for the course will focus on issues related to Community Service Learning and the history and culture of Rwanda. The course will offer an in-depth look at a number of contemporary social issues that are common in the African Great Lakes region. Guest lecturers (Dr. Nanda Dimitrov, Prof. Alain Goldschlager, Prof. Amanda Grzyb, Prof. Jeff Tennant, Stephanie Hayne, Lise Laporte, and former participants, among others) will be invited to speak to the class. Five weeks of active and interactive community service in Rwanda will be required for the completion of the course. Our main community partner in Rwanda is The College of Medicine and Health Sciences (former KHI), located in the capital city of Kigali. We will mainly work with three community partners: Centre Marembo, Les Enfants de Dieu, and Caritas.

As we go so far to serve and learn in these community centres where we have developed extremely solid relationships and excellent work habits for the last six years, we also commit to the integrity and integrality of our team as ambassadors of Western University and Canada.

A Season in Kigali - this video is a reflection of the experiential learning trip taken by Western students in May 2014. SASAH students Nicholas Pincombe and Rachel Goldstein were amongst the group of students that traveled with Prof. Henri Boyi and lived in Rwanda for five weeks. During their stay, the students were immersed in a number of community projects and initiatives while also learning about the culture and history of the country.

Theatre Studies 3900G: Destination Theatre
Students will have the opportunity to develop their drama education more deeply through the experience of theatre abroad, in London, England. Attendance at live performances will be complemented with daily lectures, workshops and seminars hosted by artists and scholars from the University of London, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. In addition, students will experience tours of theatres, archives, and do a theatre-themed walking tour of central London.

Destination Theatre Program Information

Possible future courses include:

1776/1789: Revolutions and Occupations
Professor Joel Faflak

The events of 1776 in America, and then again in 1789 in France, mark what we might very call the birth of democracy. This profound shift in world politics ushered in a re-mapping of the geopolitical terrain with which we are still living. Yet how novel, and how democratic, is democracy? Through a variety of literary, philosophical, political, and cultural writings, artefacts, and events, this course will examine what role revolution has played throughout history – from Spartacus’ rebellion against the Romans, to the signing of the Magna Carta, to the Puritan and Glorious Revolutions, to various workers revolutions of the 19th century, to the Russian Revolution, to Occupy Wall Street. Part of the course’s mandate will be to engage students in the politics of both university life and the broader community.

Professor Christine Sprengler

“Paracinema” refers to works that attempt to generate the effects of cinema without using the traditional materials or physical support of film. Art historically, the term has been used to describe sculpture, installation, and video works from the 1960s and 1970s that encourage analysis of “cinema” as an idea or concept by recreating its aesthetic, spectatorial, and technological dimensions through a variety of creative strategies. This course will begin with a brief survey of paracinema’s early 20th-century precedents, followed by a more in-depth exploration of its post-1960s manifestations. It will also consider the extent to which the term facilitates productive engagements with a variety of creative impulses of the 21st century. By looking at a diverse set of examples of paracinema as well as the critical literature on the subject, we will ask how this art form has the capacity to produce knowledge about cinema and imagine its possible future forms.

The Book: From Ancient Codex to e-text
Professor Laurence De Looze

The paginated book was developed in the first centuries of the Common Era, and it revolutionized writing. Rather than writing in columns on papyrus scrolls, the book allowed for convenient cross-referencing and the ability to find material quickly. In the history of the West, there have been two subsequent revolutions in bookmaking: the shift from the handwritten manuscript codex to the printed book around the beginning of the 16th century, and then the digital revolution 500 years later at the end of the 20th century with the advent of the computer. This course will look at the book as a written text, as a concrete, visual object, as a digital phenomenon, and as a metaphor (e.g. “the book of one’s life”). Everything associated with books and bookmaking will come into play: social factors, visual aesthetics, technological developments, ideologies, market factors, levels of literacy, scripts/bindings/covers/illustrations, and much more. Nostalgia This seminar will grapple with the remarkable history and protean nature of the concept of nostalgia. We will begin by considering its origins as a medical condition suffered by 17th century Swiss mercenaries, track its permutations through various cultural moments, practices and disciplines from the 18th to the 20th century, and ask what value this now heavily-criticized sentiment has in our 21st century world. Case studies drawn from ancient through to contemporary times and from art, literature, film, television, music, fashion, advertising and consumer culture will help us analyze the political and theoretical debates sparked by nostalgia’s many uses, expressions and meanings.

Plagiarism 101
Professor Marilyn Randall

Plagiarism is as old as literature itself. There has rarely been an era in which authors have not complained about the theft of their intellectual labour, even in times when such concepts had not yet been formulated as we know them. To study the history of accusations of and defenses against plagiarism in Western letters is also to study the changing norms and expectations which govern what is considered acceptable use and exchange of knowledge and information. This history coincides to a large extent with the history of authorship, of originality and imitation, and of the development of copyright and intellectual property laws. Asking “what is plagiarism?” then, is another way of asking “what is literature?” The course will place both questions within reader-oriented and institutional definitions of “literature” which see the literary field – or culture in general – as a scene of struggle for both financial and symbolic power and authority. We will investigate how acts and accusations of plagiarism can be used as weapons to achieve cultural dominance. While the course will present primarily the Continental, French, and Anglo-American literary and critical traditions, students will be expected to explore aspects of the question in their own areas of specialization, and to bring to the discussion insights from other cultural traditions.

Fashion, Consumption, Sexuality
Professor Kelly Olson

This course will explore the various social, cultural, economic, sexual, and personal meanings associated with fashion and consumption. Since clothing is a medium for fashioning identities from commodities, it is hardly surprising that social and sexual tensions are woven into its fabrications. In the course we will examine such topics as: the cultural development of fashion; why and how certain dress practices and types of consumption are coded as ‘male,’ or ‘female’ and why; the history of dandy and of the clotheshorse; how clothes encapsulate the relations between the sexes and ideals of gender; how certain types of clothes are prescribed or prescribed because of the values, ideas, and constraints of any one society; what role fashion plays in the construction of identity; how clothing can embody the subcultural self. We will also pay particular attention to the relationship between fashion and class, and readings will include social theory about fashion and consumption (Bourdieu, Barthes, and Veblen).

What does Québec want? Understanding Québec Culture through Drama Performance
Professor Mario Longtin

This course will explore, using an experiential learning approach, the culture of French Québec through drama. We will read and perform in English translation dramatic texts from the Québécois repertoire in order challenge our vision of the “Other Canada”, and experience the distinct society by constructing compelling characters, bringing what seems far from us at first much closer. We will visit the works of authors such as Michel Tremblay, Michel-Marc Bouchard, Normand Chaurette, Robert Lepage and Wajdi Mouawad, but also more recent theatrical proposal from Belle province. A performance of the scenes explored in our workshop classes will take place at the end of the term.

Curating the City 1
Professor Kirsty Robertson

This participatory course (divided into two parts; see “Fourth-Year Courses”) introduces students to museum and curatorial studies through a project that uses mapping as a spatial diagnostic tool. The first part of the course will deal with theory and history. Students will learn about the history of museums, including an overview of curatorial techniques, museum controversies and the changing nature of museums today. Interwoven into this analysis will be an in-depth study of the uses of cartography in contemporary visual culture, focusing on the use of mapping as an interventionist strategy by artists and activists alike.

Theories and Approaches to Digital Textuality
Professor Mark McDayter

What is a digital text, and how does it differ from other “reading machines,” such as the printed book? Does the digital text transform how we read, and how we write? This course will examine some of the theoretical and practical aspects of digital textuality, considering it within its historical, theoretical, and technological contexts. Classroom learning will involve a mix of traditional and digital learning, while a practicum component will focus upon a collaborative digital text-building project. Readings will range from seminal works in field of History of the Book, to discussions of the potential impacts of computers upon the texts that we read. Students will learn how to encode text to make it machine-readable, and be introduced to some of the fundamental elements of digital interface design.

Tales of Two Cities: London, Ontario and London, England
Professor David Bentley

This course will study the complex and changing relationship between London, Ontario and London, England from the late eighteenth century to the present. It will begin with a general inquiry into the methodologies that the course will draw upon, including the replica and fragment theories of new societies, the metropolitan and periphery theory of cultural diffusion, and the cognitive-linguistic concept of emergent structure. The course will then focus on subtopics related to London, Ontario that will be designed to investigate aspects of the city’s evolving natural and built environments. Such topics will include the monuments in Victoria Park, the Thames River and its bridges, the architecture of London’s Anglican and Catholic cathedrals, the paintings of such artists as Paul Peel and Jack Chambers, and the prose and poetry of Anna Jameson, James Reaney, Don McKay, and others. Attention will also be paid to aspects of the region surrounding London, for example, the Stratford Festival and the Annendale House in Tillsonburg, which was inspired by the Aestheticism of Oscar Wilde. The last portion of the course will focus on comparing and contrasting the aspects of London, Ontario studied as subtopics with their equivalents in London, England, using materials available on websites such as those of the Tate Britain and the Royal Institute of Architects (RIBA), the writings of William Wordsworth, Charles Dickens, T.S. Eliot, and others, and insights and information gathered during a field study in the city itself. The goal of the course will be to come to a greater understanding, not merely of the relationship between the British London and its Canadian namesake, but also of the evolution of Canada from a settler colony to a multicultural nation.Immersion Emergencies and Possible Worlds:

Immersion Emergencies and Possible Worlds: Engaging Water as Culture and Resource through Humanities Practice
Professor Patrick Mahon

In the present socio-cultural moment, water is increasingly the subject of discussion and contestation in public discourse. Canadians know it as a resource that is ubiquitous within their history and an increasingly desirable international commodity. This course proceeds from Patrick Mahon’s collaborative, international project that mobilizes research and practice in visual art to address the subject of waterregarding its cultural and environmental importance. Linking the historical art practice of picturing nature with the potential of visual representation and literary/analytical texts to offer opportunities for aesthetic and socio-cultural engagement, Immersion Emergencies will provide a forum for analysis, expression and creation. In response to lectures, field trips, design charettes and on-line and library research, students will engage with water variously, through written, auditory and visual means. In addition to individual projects, collaborative and site-specific activities will be encouraged.

Curating the City II
Professor Kirsty Robertson

In this participatory course, students will put into action material from “Curating the City, Part I” (see “Third-Year Courses”) using spatial data collected in London to create a series of maps that “re-draw” the city through a variety of often overlooked strata: foodscapes, smellscapes, or financespaces, for example. The collection and assembly of this data will result in a curatorial intervention in London (space to be determined). Students will emerge from the class with an understanding of how knowledge can be accrued and conveyed through visual material and an understanding of how globalization and the passages and circulations of goods, foods and services affect the physical space of a small city.

Digital on the Street: The Digital Public Humanities in Theory and Practice
Professor Mark McDayter

This course will examine the intersections and encounters between two new strains of work in the Humanities: Public Humanities and Digital Humanities. While the latter focuses particularly on the ways in which digital technology can assist students of the arts and humanities in understanding the traditional subjects of their study, it is, like the Public Humanities, very much about engagement with the public sphere, and the communication of humanistic knowledge and perspectives. How can Digital Humanities help enable such public engagement? And how can Public Humanities inform the practices of digital humanists? The course will have three components: a theoretical, classroom-based examination of the theoretical intersections of Public and Digital Humanities, a praxis and technology component in which the students learn to use a multimedia story-building tool, and finally a community service learning component in which the students interact with elementary students to help them tell their own "stories" digitally, by means of a linked and networked "storybook" that is produced collaboratively by both course participants and the elementary school students. Evaluation will be based upon one formal written essay, a short written “Reflection,” participation in the collaborative digital story telling project, and in-class participation. See course website

The Spirit of the Place: Wildness, Nature and Humanity
Professor Gillian Barker

How, in this 21st century, are we to understand our relationship to nature—to the earth, the wild, the non-human? How can our understanding guide the choices that we make, as individuals and as a society? This course combines philosophical reflection with literary and artistic explorations drawn from diverse historical contexts and cultural traditions to investigate our moral, practical and spiritual relationship with the natural world, and the ways in which our personal and collective identities are entangled with the environments we live in. Our investigations will be rooted in our own place here in southwestern Ontario, with field excursions to explore local natural and urban environments (including a canoe trip through the Exceptional Waters reach of the Grand River.) Students will reflect on their own lifetime relationships to the natural world through journals, personal essays and collaborative projects, as well as writing argumentative philosophy papers as a means of probing the conceptual and theoretical questions that arise when we ask about humans’ place in nature and nature’s place in human life.

Environmental Philosophy in the Community
Professor Eric Desjardins

Although many of us care in some ways about the environment, few of us dare to take action. This course asks students to reflect and act on environmental concerns. Working in collaboration with a partner in southwestern Ontario, such as The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority or the City of London, students will engage in on-site conservation projects, reflect on our responsibility to the environment, argue for different reasons to value nature, learn about different views of sustainability, explore the complexity of promoting biodiversity in an ever changing world, and propose imaginative solutions for a responsible co-existence of human and nature. The course will be facilitated through a combination of class discussions, collaborative applied assignments, short individual reflection papers and longer philosophical essays.