Intersession 2017:  Shadbolt Seminar -
Travel Study in Your Own Hometown:  Arts, Criticism, and the City

Summer 2017  |  Tues & Wed, May 1 to June 8  |  Dr. Sasha Colby
A Shadbolt /GLS Intersession course

Course Description:

What role do the arts play in a city like Vancouver?   How to we observe/critique different art forms – theatre, dance, craft, visual art etc. - and what are the most productive ways to engage?  What conditions contribute to the flourishment of the arts in a city?   In a political and historical moment in part defined by polarization, can the arts and criticism contribute to creating new types of dialogue?  What is the relationship between our academic preoccupations and the ideas and forms produced by the art world?       

In this condensed intersession offering in May/June of 2017, we will attend a series of Vancouver arts events, explore various forms of historical and contemporary criticism and engage in a broadly based “cultural conversation” with artists, critics, and other cultural actors. Drawing on the GLS Shadbolt Community Scholars and other experts from SFU and beyond, we will explore the city’s arts scene, build the skills to understand and discuss different art forms, and experiment with various kinds of critical engagement.  Students should come away from the course with an enhanced appreciation for the arts and an ability to speak cogently both about the arts and the role of critical discourse.

Historical perspectives:

  • Arnold, “The Function of Criticism at the Present Tim,”
  • Pater, “Introduction” and “Conclusion” The Renaissance"
  • Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal  (The Flowers of Evil) and “The Painter of Modern Life”
  • Walter Benjamin, “On Some Motifs in Baudelaire” and “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”
  • William Morris, “Art Under Plutocracy”
  • Sontag, “Against Interpretation”

Contemporary Texts:

  • Peter Dickinson, “Vancouverism and Its Cultural Amenities” and “Choreographies of Place: Dancing the Vancouver sublime from dawn to dusk”
  • Toni Morrison, “No Place for Self Pity, No room for Fear”
  • Annie Dillard, “Seeing”
  • Newspaper criticism by Susan Mertens
  • Excerpt, Max Wyman, The Defiant Imagination: Why Culture Matters
  • Excerpt, Charllotte Kwon and Tim McLaughlin, Textiles of the Banjara
  • Michael Yahgulanaas, Red: A Haida Manga
  • Small, Christopher.  Musicking: The meanings of performing and listening   


  • 3 short reviews: 30%
  • Final Project: 70%  --- extended critical analysis; or, if you prefer, you can investigate the idea of creative criticism, a considered creative response with statement of intent.


Pre-Seminar Prep

Saturday, April 29th, 1:30 p.m. for 2:00 show:  The Annex, 823 Seymour St.
Long Division
 - a play by Peter Dickinson
International Dance Day: free events across the city

Week 1:

Tuesday, May 2nd
Room 1600

  • Peter Dickinson:  On Long Division and Vancouver as an arts city
  • Dickinson, “Vancouverism and its Cultural Amenities”
  • Community Blog Tutorial: How to Post your Reviews

Historical Views:

Wednesday, May 3rd
Room 1600

Week 2

Tuesday, May 9th
Goldcorp Stage, BMO Theatre Centre, 162 West 1st

  • Pre-show talk with Dorothy Dittrich  (GLS alumna)
  • 7:30 p.m. The Piano Teacher  -  a play by Dorothy Dittrich

Wednesday, May 10th
Room 1600:
Open Lecture:  

  • Jerry Wasserman: “Vancouver Theatre and Theatre Criticism, Then and Now.”
  • Wasserman, Jerry. “Portrait of a Little Theatre: UBC Players’ Club, 1916-1925.” (Google “Wasserman Portrait of a Little Theatre”)
  • Archived Reviews:

Recommended Reading:

  • Todd, Robert B. “The Organization of Professional Theatre in Vancouver, 1886-1914.” BC Studies 44 (Dec. 1979): 3-20
  • Hoffman, James. “Shedding the Colonial Past: Rethinking British Columbia Theatre.” BC Studies 137 (Spring 2003): 5-45.
  • Sydney Risk and the Everyman Theatre.” BC Studies 76 (Winter 1987-88): 33-57. Sutherland, Richard. “The Gallimaufry and the Roots of Alternative Theatre in Vancouver.” Theatre Research in Canada 16.1-2 (1995): 40-58.
Week 3

Monday, May 15th
Open talks and performance: Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre, Goldcorp (SFU Woodwards)

  • 6:00 – 7:15:  Michael Yahgulanaas:  On ‘Red’ A Haida Manga – reading and discussion
  • 7:30 – 9:00: Andrew Czink: Contemporary piano concert
  • Yahgulanaas, Red: A Haida Mang
  • Excerpt, Levell, The Seriousness of Play: The Art of Michael Yahgulanaas
  • Excerpt, Small, Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening

Wednesday, May 17th
Room 1600, 6:30pm

***Open Panel: “Criticism and Dialogue”  - title to be confirmed
Max Wyman, Susan Mertens,  Larry Green and Linda Lando                                                         

  • Criticism writing workshop with Susan Mertens and Max Wyman
  • Mertens, Criticism in the Vancouver Sun
  • Excerpt,Wyman, The Defiant Imagination                                                                                    
Week 4

Tuesday, May 23rd
5:30 p.m. dinner on Granville Island to discuss readings, arts and crafts, course to date

Thursday, May 25th
6:30 p.m. meet in GLS Library Suite 2400

  • Peter Dickinson on dance
  • Dickinson, “Choreographies of Place: Dancing the Vancouver sublime from dawn to dusk”
  • 7: 15 p.m. Bus to Scotiabank Dance Centre
  • 8pm performance of Dialogue by Wen Wei Dance                                                                                                   

Saturday, May 27th
11:30 a.m.  Audain Art Museum, Whistler

  • Private Tour with Darrin Martins, Chief Curator or Suzanne Greening, Executive Director
Week 5                                                                                                                                                          

Tuesday, May 30th 
The Langmann Gallery,  2117 Granville St.  

  • 6:30: Private tour of the Langmann Gallery with student group
  • 7:30 Open Public Talk: Fine arts, old masters and the Vancouver Gallery":  A Conversation among Uno and Jeanette Langmann and Yosef Wosk                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Wednesday, May 31st
Room 1600 Open lecture

Week 6

Tuesday, June 6th
Open Film Talks & Q&As
Terasen Cinema, Room 1800

  • 6:00 – 7:00 pm: Melanie Friesen:   “Art: Do what you know – Martin Scorsese and Goodfellas
  • 7:15 – 8:15  Helen Leung, “Fifty Ways to Leave a Film Festival”    

Wednesday, June 7th 
Open Event

  • 6:00 – 7:00: Critical-Creative Book launches:   Catriona Strang, Reveries ; Sasha Colby, Staging Modernist Lives: H.D., Mina Loy, Nancy Cunard, Three Plays and Criticism
  • 7:15 pm : Curated evening of GLS Artists
Week 7

Tuesday, June 27th – Tentative

  • Suggested date to present final projects to the group.