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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Arts
May 29, 2015
Canadian Excellence

Undergraduate Special Topics: Titles & Descriptions (2014-2015)

CS400, CS401, CS402, CS403

Click for Class Schedules.

All courses listed below have prerequisites, please check the Undergraduate Calendar.

TBA sections will run with listed times/days, but the topics or descriptions are unknown.  We will try to post the titles and topics as soon as possible.  Regardless, the department will not allow registration over-limit, nor allow transfer to full sections, once topics are posted.

Please note that students are allowed registration in one section of CS400 only until July 25.  Beginning on July 26, register for remaining open sections as you wish.

Year 4 students also need to register for one of CS401, CS402, CS403; please register for what you need only, so that other students are able to register and fulfil their graduation requirements.


CS400a  - Transnationalism, Migration & Mobility
This course will focus on the fascinating confluence of transnational practices, cultural forms and identities that come out of a range of mobilities and migrations around the globe. Course themes include transnational media and music, migration and international communication technologies, and mobility and transnational identity.

CS400b - Materialties and Imaginaries of Informational Capitalism
This seminar explores contemporary theories and empirical studies of information based capitalist social formations.  Our concerns will be with the how such social formations at materially constituted as articulations of technologies of production, coordination, and collaboration, and animated by cultural imaginaries of social being and belong.  We will examine several specific topics where the materialities  and imaginaries of informational capitalism converge: the informational politics of finance capital immaterial labour and social media; network sociality and the so-called “creative city”; and the counter-capitalist practices of hackers and peer production.

CS400d - Political Economy of Art and Architecture
Art and architecture are usually perceived as purely cultural activities with little connection to economic, political, or social issues.  This course will challenge this apolitical construction of cultural production through a discussion of critical art history, spatial politics, the role of museums as social/political/cultural institutions, post-colonial theory, globalization, and cultural resistance.  Course requirements include a group field project focussing on a specific museum, artist, architect, cultural group, or architectural development. 

CS400i  - Music in Society
In this seminar, we examine a range of research on music in society. Topics will include music's social and evolutionary origins, the cognitive aspects of musical experience, music's communicative power, politics and music, and the uses people have for music in everyday life. We will pay special attention to certain genres of popular music including heavy metal and jazz. Course pedagogy is pursued through lectures, class seminar discussion, weekly written exercises, and writing assignments. All of these pedagogical elements are oriented toward the explanation of the key ideas and issues in the course and toward the student's successful completion of the assessment components.

CS400j - Creative Industries & the City
Why do creative movements, from film to music to publishing to software development, almost always cluster geographically? Why are major media industries so closely linked to major global cities? How do a city's shape and global connections interact with local specificities to foster creative production? How does urban space shape creative industries from film to music to software development? This class is an exploration of the relationship between creative industries and the hubs in which they are based - most often a major globally connected city. While the main focus of the class is on the relationship between contemporary media industries and the cities to which they are linked, we'll also look at the role of cities in the creative industries of the future: will internet-based and other virtual forms of collaboration replace the importance of the city and agglomeration in creative networks?

CS400k  - Privacy Matters
This course introduces fundamental issues related to information privacy and security by discussing communicative behaviour, cyber-crime, and legal responses. The course describes the need for and design of Freedom of Information (FOI) and Privacy laws, policies, and regulations. "Privacy Matters" will also consider Privacy on Campus and the circumstances and contexts under which Personal Health information is disclosed. We will discuss the degrees to which surveillance can be necessary and tolerated in society. We will conduct classes by considering specific events and situations and the legislation that applies to them.

CS400m - Cultural Industries in Canada
Canada's cultural industries encompass book, periodical, newspaper and online publishing; radio and television broadcasting; film, television and video production; telecommunications; video game production; the music industry and various work under the umbrella of "new media."  These industries represent a major sector of the Canadian economy and exert profound influence on many aspects of Canadian life and on cultures around the world.  This course examines these cultural industries in Canada.

CS400n - From Discourse to Event
This course explores two key forms of theory and method in the humanities and social sciences: discourse analysis, and event theory. These two paradigms for thinking about how human lives, groups, structures and institutions form, develop and change are at the root of many sites of exploration in the multi- and interdisciplinary field of Communication Studies. How do identities, cultures and subcultures form and shift over time? How do the things we say about topics such as sexuality, gender, race, class, ability, countries, or international relations affect the politics of those things in fundamental ways? How to seemingly unrelated things (such as bodies, texts, material objects, and language) come together in new and surprising ways that go on to forge new ways of being in the world? Touching on thinkers from Foucault to Whitehead, from Austin to Massumi, and taking on both classic and contemporary texts, this class will explore topics such as discourse analysis, articulation, assemblages, event theory, myth, performativity, the complex and the singular; and address issues ranging across the domains of political engagement from the mainstream and normative, to the fringe and activist—all in the name of understanding how words affect us, and how things in the world take on form.

CS400p - Feminist Print & Periodical History
This seminar will examine and discuss feminist print and periodical history. The seminar addresses the variety of theories and methods used to examine feminist print and periodical history; the development of networks of advertisers, audiences, and readers; and the print periodical as a potential outlet for individuals and groups to raise awareness about a range of issues.   

CS400q - Visual Communication and Sport
This course will address the intersection of visual communication technologies and sport. As produced by photography, film, television and other visual technologies, images have played a central role in the development of modern sport. They are used as pedagogical and juridical tools, as forms of entertainment, as commodities, and as aesthetic objects. In these and other capacities, images are not simply documentary objects; rather, they are constitutive elements of sport. This course will combine historical research with theoretical perspectives from communication and media studies, visual culture studies and the sociology of sport to critically evaluate the intersection of visual communication and sport in contemporary culture.

CS400t - Risk Communication
We live in a world  we have come to understand as increasingly “risky,” from the food and water we consume, the viruses and bacteria we encounter, the technologies on which we increasingly depend, and to the global political scene that seems more and more volatile. In the words of Ulrich Beck (1992), we live in what might best be characterized as an emerging “Risk Society.” Whole industries are concerned with the production of knowledges about the risks we confront, while others, primarily the news media, have the task of communicating information concerning risk to the so-called “general public.” In this senior seminar, we will explore the production and dissemination of “knowledges” about risk in what has come to be known as “risk communication.” We will look to the ways that individuals and their behaviours come to be problematized in the production of knowledges around risk as well as the social, political, and cultural implications of such problematization. We will address questions regarding the ways that “information” about risk both feeds out of and informs social and cultural norms, and how we as individuals negotiate and assess risk in our daily lives. Working through case studies that may range from BSE or Mad Cow Disease and HIV/AIDS, the threat of the atomic bomb and the Cold War, the “War on Terrorism,” and to genetically modified foods and the Walkerton water crisis, we will address not only the ways that “information” is produced and communicated but also the strategies we use to respond to or resist information about the risks we face on individual, community, and global levels.

CS400z - Mass Media & Popular Culture: the 1960s
An exploration of the culture of the turbulent ’60s. The course will focus on the role of media, both in chronicling events that defined the decade and in giving voice to those movements, political and artistic, which challenged the status quo. Topics will include the Cold War, civil rights and anti-war protests, the emergence of new forms of popular music, and the films, television programs, and literature that characterized the 1960s and its emergent youth culture.

CS401m - Moral Panic & Risk Society
In his text Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creation of the Mods and the Rockers, Stanley Cohen carves out a definition of moral panic that looks to the ways in which alarm is constructed around social conditions, events or people, alarm that is sanctioned by experts of various brands owing to the perception of a threat to societal values and interests. Primarily concerned with social anxieties about youth cultures, Cohen’s classic articulation of moral panic has been expanded, revised and retheorized in order to address a broader range of social issues. Some, like Toby Miller, have attempted to bring moral panic theory into conversation with Ulrich Beck’s notion of “risk society,” arguing that the discourse of moral panic, in its structures and articulations, now overlaps with other anxieties around economic, nuclear, chemical, environmental, biological, and medical issues. Others have argued that moral panic theory needs to critically address strategies and consequences of fear-mongering by media, politicians, and experts of all types around a broad array of seemingly infinitely substitutable social anxieties in what might be called the “culture of fear.” This course combines theoretical exploration of the concepts of moral panic and risk society with the study of historical and contemporary case studies related to both “youth at risk” and the production of anxiety around environmental, economic, and medical risk issues.

CS401r - Horror Culture 
In this course, we study the phenomena of horror in art and culture—that is, representations that are designed to produce the emotion of horror. (We do not consider real-life horror, such as that which we experience at a horrifying event). We will examine horror as a cultural phenomenon in various media including literature, film, visual culture, television, and music. We will study the philosophy of horror, which is the ‘conceptual analysis’ of horror, entwined with the theory of horror, ‘i.e., very general empirical conjectures about recurring patterns in the genre’ (Carroll). Students will gain an understanding of the nature of horror and the cultural sociology of the artifacts of horror through philosophical and theoretical reflection. The first book we study is the required text, The Philosophy of Horror, or, Paradoxes of the Heart, by Noël Carroll, New York: Routledge (1990). We then explore recent academic journal articles and texts on horror on a variety of subjects and with different foci.

CS402w - Fashioning the Self
This course explores fashion as a fundamental part of modern visual culture and therefore as a social institution. Of interest is not only the role of fashion in terms of self-presentation but how it has been historically tied to the emergence of the modern individual. Thus rather than a story of the rise of couture, this course instead critically examines the role of fashion today by looking to its origins in the 16th century crisis in the ‘hierarchy of appearances’. 

CS402x - Sound & Vision
While most mass media we study includes both audio and visual elements, they are not often explored in tandem. This course examines the relationship of the aural and the visual in the experience of all different sorts of audiovisual media. This includes the visual elements of popular music as well as the aural elements of popular film and TV content.

CS402y - Global Television Studies
Most television is made primary for the domestic market of the producing country. Shows that are successful in their home country, however, can take on an afterlife of their own, traveling on international circuits in the form of canned or subtitled content, scripted or unscripted formats (e.g. the many iterations of Big Brother worldwide). This course explores the dynamics of this circulation, including regional vs long distance trade, the travel of producers and marketing materials along with shows, and the interaction between the local and global.

CS403p - Studies in Global Convergence
Do the (assumed) positive influences of new media devices allow different countries and peoples to express themselves in a unique and powerful way? This course challenges those assumptions by considering the rejection of U.S.-dominated media, the mutual embracing/exchange/fusion of others’ cultures, and the control of information by recently mediatized countries and peoples, for example in the Middle East.

CS403u - Mediating Diaspora: Transnational Media, Global Flows & Hybridity
The purpose of this course is to explore the ways that transnational media flows interact with the hybrid identities, communities, cultures and spaces of diasporic groups. It will also unpack how the “media of diaspora,” considered broadly, affect the transnational media landscape. Together these two major focuses will lead us to reconsider just what we consider “media,” and how mediation operates in the complexity of an increasingly globalized and networked world.

CS403x - Global Cities, Global Flows
The pathways and networks that connect those entities often imagined and represented as “global” or “world” cities are constituted by movement (of people, currency, cultural transmissions). This course explores circuits of migration, economic and cultural flows, and the diasporization of city space in order to map connections between “global cities” and the narratives they spawn.