Spring 2023 - CA 414 D100

Advanced Topic in the History of Art, Performance and Cinema (3)

Contemporary Art & Ecology

Class Number: 7944

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    GCA 4390, GOLDCORP

  • Prerequisites:

    CA (or FPA) 117 (or 167), 186, 210W (or 210) and 45 units.



An in-depth investigation of a selected topic in the history of art, performance and cinema. This course can be repeated four times for credit if the topic is different.


Topic for Spring 2023 : Contemporary Art and Ecology

In recent decades, the field of Environmental Humanities has emerged in recognition of the impossibility of relying on any one system or culture of knowledge to address complex environmental issues, such as climate breakdown. Integrating ecological inquiry from the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and arts, the field has also insisted not only on the dismantling of all nature/culture divides but also on the dismantling of hierarchies between Western, Eastern, and Indigenous ways of knowing and relating. Taking this kind of intervention as its starting point, we will explore how art, philosophy, and decolonizing methodologies might help us to connect more intimately and imaginatively to the present. In our meetings, we will explore together the aspects of life that, in Isabel Stengers’ words, “have been anaesthetized, massacred, and dishonoured in the name of a progress that is reduced today to the imperative of economic growth.” In doing so, the seminar seeks to redirect our attention to ideas, things, and experiences that might inspire radical hope, creative solutions, and collective action.

Course topics include: productive alternatives to apocalyptic thinking; cultivating deep listening; Indigenous and anthropological methods for “knowing from the inside”; studying the earth’s material witnessing; and building new worlds through an Indigenous understanding of deep time. Students will be asked to keep a journal of notes and questions; to engage with the intimate and astonishing nature of multisensory study; and to complete an essay or trans-medial project (that may involve writing, video, soundscape, etc.) that relates to one or more of the issues addressed in the course.


  • Five journal exercises 25%
  • Seminar reading summary and discussion facilitation 10%
  • Essay/project proposal and schedule of work 15%
  • Final essay/project presentations and final submission 50%


*Note: This seminar is a combined graduate/undergraduate course.



Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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