Spring 2021 - HUM 321W D100

The Humanities and Critical Thinking (4)

Class Number: 8195

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 4:30 PM – 7:00 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



A study of the counter-traditions within western civilization. Compares and contrasts diverse traditions within western culture that critique its central value systems. It will focus on the attempts of great artists and thinkers to break with tradition, and the subsequent creation of new ideas and forms of experience and expression. Writing/Breadth-Humanities.


The Affective Politics of Hate

In the current political climate, the display of unbridled emotions in speech or action with regard to politics, identity, and freedom seems not only to have taken centre stage but also to have become the dominant mode of representing the present. Amongst displays of fear, pain, and anxiety it is hate that is perhaps the most visible and identifiable phenomenon. But from where does hate come? Why does it become particularly visible when questions of politics, identity, and freedom are at stake? Is hate truly legible in transparent ways? Does it belong to the field of affect or political maneuvering? How is hate implicated in entwined histories of violence, oppression, and power? Most importantly, can hate be mobilized against itself?

In this course we will discuss these questions by examining the effects of different social discourses that have either originated or have become unwilling vectors of social hate. Much of our discussions will revolve on questions of race/racialization/racism (even in texts in which race might not be apparent), which have sparked in the last decades fierce debates as well as violent action, but also fierce resistance and the creation of new collectivities of struggle (e.g., #blacklivesmatter or Idle No More).

Taking the cue from Angela Davis’s Freedom is a Constant Struggle : Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement, we will consider the historical and mutually constitutive relation of violence, global capital, and the political order (starting with the system of slavery) in the formation of stratified societies where the threat of economic disposability lurks large, and in which hate becomes both display of social disaggregation and weapon of social control. But we will also pay close attention to the way in which individuals are implicated in such strategies even when they are seemingly distanced or disconnected from strategies of disaggregation. Our analysis, therefore, will focus simultaneously on the singularity of individuals, social groups, and collectivities attempting to produce change.

Reading material will comprise novels, critical thought, and theory.

TEACHING MODE: Synchronous lecture – recorded.

This seminar requires a weekly two-hour and a half contact “in class” for lecture and discussion. The remaining hours will be used by students for self-study and assignments on Canvas. The reduced contact hours are meant to lessen the impact of ‘Zoom fatigue’. We will also have breaks for coffee or just to rest eyes and ears. We will all work to build a vibrant online community to make the best of the current circumstances.


At the end of the course, students will be able to demonstrate their proficiency in the following activities:

  1. Read and analyze Humanities Texts creatively and to academic standards by using an interdisciplinary approach.
  2. Gain an understanding of the affective politics and performativity of emotions.
  3. Gain an understanding of the historical development of contemporary phenomena of hate in relation to other affects such as fear, pain, anxiety, and love.
  4. Gain an understanding of the entwinement of race with the nexus of violence, global capital, and political order.
  5. Develop research skills to be connected to projects for public education.


  • Attendance & participation (includes Canvas posts) 20%
  • Education project 10%
  • Case Study 15%
  • Film Review 10%
  • Midterm 20%
  • Term Paper 25%



  1. James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain. Vintage, 2013 [1953]
    ISBN-13 : 978-0345806543
  2. Angela Davis’s Freedom is a Constant Struggle : Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement. Haymarket, 2015
    ISBN : 9781608465651
  3. David Chariandy, Brother.  McClelland & Stewart 2017
    ISBN : 9780771022906
  4. Desmond Cole, The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power. Doubleday, 2020
    ISBN-13 : 978-0385686341
  5. Helen Humphreys, Wild Dogs. HarperCollins, 2004
    ISBN : 9780002005128

Selected readings on Canvas or available electronically: Roy Miki (Redress: Inside the Japanese Canadian Call for Justice); Frederick Douglass; Dionne Brand; Rinaldo Walcott; Glen Coulthard; Frank Wilderson; Franz Fanon; Herbert Marcuse.


  1. A documentary by filmmaker Ava DuVernay: 13th
  2. American History X, directed by Tony Kaye (1998)

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


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).