Spring 2019 - CA 389 E100

Selected Topics in the Fine and Performing Arts II (3)

Dialogues in Art and Politics

Class Number: 8257

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 5:30 PM – 8:20 PM
    GCA 2205, GOLDCORP

  • Prerequisites:

    30 units of CA (or FPA) courses. May be of particular interest to students in other departments.



A specific topic in fine and performing arts which is not otherwise covered in depth in regular courses and which is not appropriately placed within a single arts discipline. The work will be practical, theoretical, or a combination of the two, depending on the particular topic in a given term.


This course looks at the relationship between art, politics and social change in its various entanglements. The course will explore interdisciplinary art projects and interventions, theoretical writings, case studies and on-the-ground grassroots activist projects. Additionally, it will include dialogues with guest speakers that are working on these topics in their own disciplines. Particular attention will be paid to new questions that are arising in social justice and artistic work and how they relate to interdisciplinary artistic processes from the artist, community and institutional perspectives. How do we read the current political moment, and how might artistic interventions contribute to their understanding and amplification?


By the end of the course, students will:

• Have a greater appreciation of the range of discussions around social, political and aesthetic questions that are currently in circulation and how to situate their own art practice and research in relation to them, as well as institutional approaches to these questions as well.

• Understand the complicated ways in which aesthetic and social questions are entangled, complement and are, at times, antagonistic with one another.


  • Attendance and Participation 20%
  • Bi-Weekly Write-up 30%
  • Final Research Paper and Presentation 50%


Attendance and Participation

This is an upper level seminar course that relies heavily on student participation and class discussions to generate ideas about the subject matter. This portion of the grade will be a composite of all participation in the class and includes contribution to class discussion 

Bi-Weekly Write--Up

You will be asked for a bi-weekly reflection paper (between 250 and 500 words) on some aspect of readings, discussion, guest speakers and questions related to the course content. These will be assigned bi-weekly. 

Final Research Paper and Presentation

This is the most substantive portion of the class and much of the work you do through the coming weeks should lead up to this assignment. Hence, be particularly mindful of this project early by consciously and actively exploring possible research topics from the outset. I will be available to assist you during office hours or by appointment. 

In the last meetings of the course, we will have a mini-conference where each student will be expected to give a short presentation of their research papers to the class.



Simpson, Leanne. Dancing on our Turtle's Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg re-creation, resurgence, and a new emergence. Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2011. 
ISBN: 9781894037501

Agamben, Giorgio. State of Exception. Chigago: University of Chicago Press, 2005. 
ISBN: 9780226009254

Butler, Judith. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. New York City: Verso Books, 2006. 
ISBN: 9781844675449

Thompson, Nato. Seeing Power: Art and Activism in the Age of Cultural Production. New York City: Melville House Publishing, 2015. 
ISBN: 9781612190440

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html