Humanities (HUMN) 417

Theoretical Issues in Cultural Studies and the Humanities (Revision 1)

HUMN 417

Permanently closed, effective April 30, 2018.

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: One of the following AU courses: CLST 201, CLST 325, HUMN 309, HUMN 310, HUMN 320, HUMN 321, HUMN 360, HUMN 420, HUMN 421, HUMN 423, or six senior-level credits in Humanities and/or Cultural Studies from another Canadian university.

Precluded Course: HUMN 417 is a cross-listed course—a course listed under two different disciplines—with CLST 417. HUMN 417 may not be taken for credit by students who have obtained credit for CLST 417.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Humanities Home Page

HUMN 417 is not available for challenge.


This course is designed to develop the student’s understanding of and appreciation for the role of critical theory, and the theoretical issues that it poses, in relation to cultural studies and the humanities. Students will not only acquire a familiarity with the various schools of critical theory and how they have impacted various academic disciplines but also develop their own skills in critical thinking as they work their way through the questions that theoretical issues present. This course illustrates that theory has not only had an effect on all areas of academic learning but also has ‘trickled down’ to impact all aspects of modern life and popular culture. The key objective, other than those mentioned above, is to show students how theory is relevant to their lives, thoughts, experiences, and interpretations of the world around them. The study of theory is a valuable undertaking in its own right, but it will also be a definite source of help in making sense of the approaches encountered in other courses, and is especially invaluable for those students who are considering graduate study.


Part I: Introduction

  • Unit 1: Why Consider Theoretical Issues?
  • Unit 2: Dogma, Enlightenment, and Ideology

Part II: Some Major Schools of Modern Critical Thought

  • Unit 3: Marxism and Feminist Theory
  • Unit 4: Modernism and Postmodernism
  • Unit 5: Structuralism and Post-Structuralism
  • Unit 6: Linguistics and Deconstruction Theory

Part III: Authority

  • Unit 7: Objectivity and Subjectivity, Reader Response Criticism, Reading
  • Unit 8: Knowledge, Power and Agency, and Causation

Part IV: Society and the Individual

  • Unit 9: The Frankfurt School and Neo-Marxism
  • Unit 10: Gender/Queer/Race/Class
  • Unit 11: Multiculturalism and Media Culture

Part V: History

  • Unit 12: The History and Ideology of the Study of History
  • Unit 13: Historical Criticism, New Criticism, and New Historicism
  • Unit 14: Post-Colonial Criticism: Sources and Discourses


To receive credit for this course, the student must achieve a course composite grade of at least “D” (50 percent) and a grade of at least “D” percent on the final examination. The weighting of the course assignments is as follows:

Assignment 1: Short Essay Assignment 2: Long Essay Telephone presentation and
online postings
Final Exam Total
20% 30% 20% 30% 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials

Offline Material

Evans, Richard J. In Defense of History. New York: Norton, 2000.

Nealon, Jeffrey and Susan Searls Giroux. The Theory Toolbox: Critical Concepts for the New Humanities. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003.

Muriel, directed by Alain Resnais (1963). Koch Lorber Films, 2007. (DVD of film)

Bartók, Béla. A Portrait: His Works, His Life. Naxos, 2007. (Music CD)

Shostakovich, Dmitry. A Portrait: His Works, His Life. Naxos, 2006. (Music CD)

Study Guide. Athabasca: Athabasca University, 2010.

Online Material

Course Manual
Student Manual
Discussion Forum
Self-Test Questions
Digital Reading Room

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, November 5, 2010.