Teaching

Courses

SUMMER 2013: Theoretical Approaches to Cultural Policy

This course of reading provides graduate students with an introduction to theoretical concepts and approaches to the policy dimensions of culture. Theoretical approaches that have shaped critical scholarly discourse on cultural policy are studied, drawn from disciplines of social science and the humanities. The course of reading will examine the origins, development and paradigmatic shifts within cultural policy studies and its relationship to cultural studies. Key theoretical perspectives on cultural policy and on the study of policy will be presented, particularly the tension between conceptual and applied perspectives. We consider how policy perspectives contribute to the analysis of culture—whether the arts, ways of life or cultural heritage, as well as visions of ‘community’ and citizenship—and how the management of culture operates as a form of power under conditions of neoliberalism and how globalization has transformed the way we understand cultural policy and provoked its ‘transnationalisation.’

FALL 2010: Theoretical Approaches to Cultural Policy

This course of reading provides graduate students with an introduction to theoretical concepts and approaches to the policy dimensions of culture. Theoretical approaches that have shaped critical scholarly discourse on cultural policy are studied, drawn from disciplines of social science and the humanities. The course of reading will examine the origins, development and paradigmatic shifts within cultural policy studies and its relationship to cultural studies. Key theoretical perspectives on culture, on cultural policy and on the study of policy will be presented, particularly the tension between the conceptual and the practical. We consider how policy perspectives contribute to the analysis of culture — whether the arts, ways of life, media, cultural heritage, as well as visions of ‘community’ and citizenship — and how the management of culture operates as a form of power. Exploring the rationales offered for cultural policy initiatives at the local, national and international level, in relationship to forces of neoliberalism and globalization. Students are encouraged to consider alternative theoretical perspectives on cultural policy that address issues such as development, cultural recognition, democratic practices, social critique.

SUMMER 2010: Owning Culture – Intellectual Property as Cultural Politics

The course explores the ways in which law shapes popular culture, with emphasis upon the intellectual property regimes of copyright, publicity rights, and trademark, with final reference to some new forms of intellectual property that are still matters of political negotiation. Copyright will serve as our primary area of extended study but materials are provided for doing a similar study in trademark. We consider how law creates rights to control meaning and effect forms of censorship, while provoking particular forms of resistance and the emergence of alternative community norms. We work with the constructivist assumption that law is a socially productive force and so begin the course by addressing particular themes, such as the subject positions that law constructs, affords and invites, as well as the politics it engenders.

SUMMER 2008: [Trans] National Identities and their Publics

The course will explore changing relationships between communications technologies and national identities paying attention to challenges that Canada faces along with other multicultural states under conditions of neoliberalism, globalization, and the intensification of migration and cultural flows. We consider key concepts such as the nation, national territory, the mediation of personal and social identity, publics and public spheres, globalization, cosmopolitanism, transnationalism, and diaspora. The course readings employ and elaborate theories derived from Benedict Anderson, Benjamin, Butler, Calhoun, Gramsci, Habermas, Jameson, David Morley, and Michael Shapiro.

The course will consider the perceived importance of culture and communications in Canada and India (as settler and postcolonial societies) under conditions where mass media communications assumed dominance. We will then consider the extent to which processes of globalisation and new information communications technologies are posing new challenges to national identity while transnational processes create new opportunities for alternative forms of nation-building, new publics, and new forms of global civil society. Do emerging social movements enabled by digital technologies strengthen or undermine “the nation” or demand that we conceptualise it differently? Debates about the possibilities of a “transnational public sphere” are now interdisciplinary. Moreover, a cultural studies of transnationalism explores the ways in which commodities and commodity-chains have become new communicative means for exploring national ‘goods’ and transnational imaginaries.

WINTER 2008: Perspectives in Communication and Culture

After consultations with students, it was decided to make this course an opportunity to read key texts, to cover canonical concepts by way of refreshing students for their comprehensives, and to introduce concepts not generally covered in the existing graduate curriculum. The course is NOT meant to cover material already covered in the MA core and foundations courses and students are expected to have taken those courses before this if they don’t have a background that has introduced them to this material. Although the MA core courses may differ between instructors, I would suggest that students look at the table of contents of Meenakshi Gigi Durham and Doug Kelner, Media and Cultural Studies: Key Works (Revised Edition, Blackwell, 2006) and re/read any of those essays that they haven’t otherwise read as a way of getting up to speed. Colin Mooers is using this book as the core text in his Cultural Studies course this semester. Any student who has NOT got a background in communication or cultural studies should have been encouraged to take the MA core course (s) as a prerequisite to this course.

The field of communication and cultural studies is too large to be ‘covered’ in a single course; for this reason, topics of potential interest to doctoral students have been identified as possible ‘modules’ in the later part of the course and will be selected according to student preference (using blind ballot) between the first and second week and the necessary books then ordered.  Please be prepared to choose your top five choices for modules (listing them by number of preference and by topic) on the first day of class. I will post the results to the listserve.

WINTER 2008: The Politics Of Intellectual Property, Human Rights And Development

The expansion of intellectual property rights (IPRs) has become a major area of international controversy and global resistance as these properties come into conflict with broader public interests and, arguably, often violate human rights. The course explores the new regimes of trade that are expanding the privatization of more and more areas of human life, and the drive to develop new IPRs to recognize more areas of human effort in the context of the emergence of informational capitalism and neoliberal environmentalism.

The World Intellectual Property Organization has recognized that the intellectual property system must “reach out to new beneficiaries.” Some environmentalists have suggested that IPRs should be used to further goals of biodiversity preservation and sustainable development. The intellectual property framework, some argue, is sufficiently flexible to accommodate a range of “traditional” forms of production, handicraft, medicine, and folklore. Others decry this movement as an insidious form of creeping commodification. A vibrant public domain, they argue, is necessary for democracy, competition, and development. A global commons, others suggest, is absolutely necessary for human development.

The worldwide indigenist movement has proclaimed the rights of indigenous peoples to control their own cultural heritage in an international draft declaration (that has arguably achieved the status of international customary law) while the more general human rights framework affirms collective rights to the maintenance of cultural identity. The capacity of IPRs to protect these rights, however, is widely doubted. As a consequence, new indigenous research protocols and new forms of secrecy have evolved. New protocols and new professional ethics with respect to research are emerging. Even in more developed countries there is a growing movement to find means of “protecting” cultural diversity from the predations of market forces and trade agreements as a means of ensuring a culturally pluralist public sphere. From an American perspective, however, these efforts appear to be mere forms of trade protectionism and violations of free speech rights to boot.

The course will explore these issues as new forms of political struggle. The course will provide students with a background in understanding the legal regimes and international social and political networks that create the context for new fields of cultural politics in an era of informational capital. We will consider four regimes– human rights, indigenous rights, environmental rights related to biolological diversity, and trade related intellectual property rights — as relevant contexts.

Readings for the course are interdisciplinary (legal studies, anthropology, area studies, development theory, environmental studies as well as communications) because of the nature of the fields in which these political issues have emerged.

Following an introduction to the major forms of intellectual property, we will consider how intellectual property establishes fields of ownership and why these forms of ownership are so controversial. Intellectual properties create monopolies over public goods, effect price differentials, and have distributional consequences for the availability of important technologies (from medicines to seeds). These tendencies are exacerbated with the rise of information capital in the “new economy” and force us to reconsider the public interest in access to knowledge and technology, the meanings of the “progress” interest that underlies these rights, its relation to “development” and the relation of intellectual property protections to human rights commitments. Specific issues of controversy in international law and policy are then explored.

WINTER 2007: Perspectives in Communication and Culture

After consultations with students, it was decided to make this course an opportunity to read key texts, to cover canonical concepts by way of refreshing students for their comprehensives, and to introduce concepts not generally covered in the existing graduate curriculum. The course is NOT meant to cover material already covered in the MA core and foundations courses and students are expected to have taken those courses before this if they don’t have a background that has introduced them to this material. Although the MA core courses may differ between instructors, I would suggest that students look at the table of contents of Meenakshi Gigi Durham and Doug Kelner, Media and Cultural Studies: Key Works (Revised Edition, Blackwell, 2006) and re/read any of those essays that they haven’t otherwise read as a way of getting up to speed.

The field of communication and cultural studies is too large to be ‘covered’ in a single course; for this reason, topics of potential interest to doctoral students have been identified as possible ‘modules’ in the later part of the course and will be selected according to student preference (using blind ballot) between the first and second week and the necessary books then ordered. Please be prepared to choose your top five choices for modules (listing them by number of preference and by topic) on the first day of class. I will post the results to the listserve.

SUMMER 2006: THE POLITICS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEVELOPMENT

The expansion of intellectual property rights (IPRs) has become a major area of international controversy and global resistance as these properties come into conflict with broader public interests and, arguably, often violate human rights. The course explores the new regimes of trade that are expanding the privatization of more and more areas of human life, and the drive to develop new IPRs to recognize more areas of human effort in the context of the emergence of informational capitalism and neoliberal environmentalism.

The World Intellectual Property Organization has recognized that the intellectual property system must “reach out to new beneficiaries.” Some environmentalists have suggested that IPRs should be used to further goals of biodiversity preservation and sustainable development. The intellectual property framework, some argue, is sufficiently flexible to accommodate a range of “traditional” forms of production, handicraft, medicine, and folklore. Others decry this movement as an insidious form of creeping commodification. A vibrant public domain, they argue, is necessary for democracy, competition, and development. A global commons, others suggest, is absolutely necessary for human development.

The worldwide indigenist movement has proclaimed the rights of indigenous peoples to control their own cultural heritage in an international draft declaration (that has arguably achieved the status of international customary law) while the more general human rights framework affirms collective rights to the maintenance of cultural identity. The capacity of IPRs to protect these rights, however, is widely doubted. As a consequence, new indigenous research protocols and new forms of secrecy have evolved. New protocols and new professional ethics with respect to research are emerging. Even in more developed countries there is a growing movement to find means of “protecting” cultural diversity from the predations of market forces and trade agreements as a means of ensuring a culturally pluralist public sphere. From an American perspective, however, these efforts appear to be mere forms of trade protectionism and violations of free speech rights to boot.

The course will explore these issues as new forms of political struggle. The course will provide students with a background in understanding the legal regimes and international social and political networks that create the context for new fields of cultural politics in an era of informational capital. We will consider four regimes– human rights, indigenous rights, environmental rights related to biolological diversity, and trade related intellectual property rights — as relevant contexts.

Readings for the course are interdisciplinary (legal studies, anthropology, area studies, development theory, environmental studies as well as communications) because of the nature of the fields in which these political issues have emerged.

Following an introduction to the major forms of intellectual property, we will consider how intellectual property establishes fields of ownership and why these forms of ownership are so controversial. Intellectual properties create monopolies over public goods, effect price differentials, and have distributional consequences for the availability of important technologies (from medicines to seeds). These tendencies are exacerbated with the rise of information capital in the “new economy” and force us to reconsider the public interest in access to knowledge and technology, the meanings of the “progress” interest that underlies these rights, its relation to “development” and the relation of intellectual property protections to human rights commitments. Specific issues of controversy in international law and policy are then explored.

Student Section

WINTER 2006: [Trans] National Identities, New Media/tions and the Place of the Public

The course will explore changing relationships between communications technologies and national identities with a particular emphasis on Canada (although the concepts we develop and the cultural challenges that Canada faces are shared in other multicultural states under conditions of neoliberalism, globalization, and the intensification of migrancy and cultural flows) We consider key concepts such as the nation, national territory, the mediation of personal and social identity, publics and public spheres, globalization, cosmopolitanism, transnationalism, and diaspora. The historical objectives of Canadian cultural policy will be addressed and Canada’s cultural self-understanding as a society made up of relationships between founding nations, committed to multiculturalism and negotiating relationships with First Nations peoples will be critically examined. The course considers the dominant tropes in the Canadian national imaginary as these are represented in diverse media as well as critical reconsiderations of these from postcolonial perspectives.

The course will consider the perceived importance of culture and communications in Canadian society under conditions where mass media communications assumed dominance. We will then consider the extent to which processes of globalisation and new information communications technologies are posing new challenges to the cultural industries and to national identity while transnational processes create new opportunities for alternative forms of nation-building, new publics, and new forms of global civil society. Do emerging social movements enabled by digital technologies strengthen or undermine “the nation” or demand that we conceptualise it differently?

An important part of the performance of the course thematics will be the evolving communication and interaction between the classes at York/Ryerson and Northeastern.  As the term progresses, the classes will creatively engage the core theoretical and analytical issues of the course, and create their own digitally mediated transnational identities, through use of weblogs.

WINTER 2006: Perspectives in Communication and Culture

After consultations with students, it was decided to make this course an opportunity to read key texts, to cover canonical concepts by way of refreshing students for their comprehensives, and to introduce concepts not generally covered in the existing graduate curriculum. The course is NOT meant to cover material already covered in the MA core and foundations courses and students are expected to have taken those courses before this if they don’t have a background that has introduced them to this material. Although the MA core courses may differ between instructors, I would suggest that students look at the table of contents of Meenakshi Gigi Durham and Doug Kelner, Media and Cultural Studies: Key Works (Revised Edition, Blackwell, 2006) and re/read any of those essays that they haven’t otherwise read as a way of getting up to speed.

The field of communication and cultural studies is too large to be ‘covered’ in a single course; for this reason, topics of potential interest to doctoral students have been identified as possible ‘modules’ in the later part of the course and will be selected according to student preference (using blind ballot) between the first and second week and the necessary books then ordered. Please be prepared to choose your top five choices for modules (listing them by number of preference and by topic) on the first day of class. I will post the results to the listserve.

WINTER 2005: The Politics of Intellectual Property, Human Rights and Development

The expansion of intellectual property rights (IPRs) has become a major area of international controversy and global resistance as these properties come into conflict with broader public interests and, arguably, often violate human rights. The course explores the new regimes of trade that are expanding the privatization of more and more areas of human life, and the drive to develop new IPRs to recognize more areas of human effort in the context of the emergence of informational capitalism and neoliberal environmentalism.

The World Intellectual Property Organization has recognized that the intellectual property system must “reach out to new beneficiaries.” Some environmentalists have suggested that IPRs should be used to further goals of biodiversity preservation and sustainable development. The intellectual property framework, some argue, is sufficiently flexible to accommodate a range of “traditional” forms of production, handicraft, medicine, and folklore. Others decry this movement as an insidious form of creeping commodification. A vibrant public domain, they argue, is necessary for democracy, competition, and development. A global commons, others suggest, is absolutely necessary for human development.

The worldwide indigenist movement has proclaimed the rights of indigenous peoples to control their own cultural heritage in an international draft declaration (that has arguably achieved the status of international customary law) while the more general human rights framework affirms collective rights to the maintenance of cultural identity. The capacity of IPRs to protect these rights, however, is widely doubted. As a consequence, new indigenous research protocols and new forms of secrecy have evolved. New protocols and new professional ethics with respect to research are emerging. Even in more developed countries there is a growing movement to find means of “protecting” cultural diversity from the predations of market forces and trade agreements as a means of ensuring a culturally pluralist public sphere. From an American perspective, however, these efforts appear to be mere forms of trade protectionism and violations of free speech rights to boot.

The course will explore these issues as new forms of political struggle. The course will provide students with a background in understanding the legal regimes and international social and political networks that create the context for new fields of cultural politics in an era of informational capital. We will consider four regimes– human rights, indigenous rights, environmental rights related to biolological diversity, and trade related intellectual property rights — as relevant contexts.

Readings for the course are interdisciplinary (legal studies, anthropology, area studies, development theory, environmental studies as well as communications) because of the nature of the fields in which these political issues have emerged.

Following an introduction to the major forms of intellectual property, we will consider how intellectual property establishes fields of ownership and why these forms of ownership are so controversial. Intellectual properties create monopolies over public goods, effect price differentials, and have distributional consequences for the availability of important technologies (from medicines to seeds). These tendencies are exacerbated with the rise of information capital in the “new economy” and force us to reconsider the public interest in access to knowledge and technology, the meanings of the “progress” interest that underlies these rights, its relation to “development” and the relation of intellectual property protections to human rights commitments. Specific issues of controversy in international law and policy are then explored.

SUMMER 2017: The Politics of Intellectual Property: Human Rights and Development