Master of Arts Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) 665

Cultural Studies: Reflections, Democratic Possibilities, and Futures (Revision 1)

MAIS 665
**Note: Students in Group Study courses are advised that this syllabus may vary in key details in each instance of the course. Always refer to the Moodle site for the most up-to-date details on texts, assignment structure, and grading.**


MAIS 665: Cultural Studies: Reflections, Democratic Possibilities, and Futures begins by outlining some of the developing questions, intellectual positions, and analyses that have emerged in response to neoliberalism, globalization, and other means of domination. This course includes debates about national identity, multiculturalism and citizenship, diaspora, postcolonial criticism, environmental justice, new media’s influence on social organization, activism, ethics, the study of culture in relation to sexuality, gender, and race, cultural memory, biopolitics, and the aftermath of September 11, 2001 (9/11). In addition, the course offers a variety of everyday examples and case studies to enhance students’ understanding of the dynamism of identities and cultures resulting from the reorganization of societies and nations, and the complexities associated with global integration. The focus on the flexibility of identity and its connection with difference is linked to Stuart Hall’s notion of identity as “in process”—as created within, not outside of representation.

Key goals of the course include the following:

  • recognition of the enduring investment of cultural studies in subordinated groups;
  • development of an understanding of the relationship between power and knowledge production; and
  • cultivating an appreciation for cultural studies’ commitment to exploring new territory and promoting new dialogues in an effort to contribute to social change.

This interdisciplinary course is attentive to the internationalization of cultural studies and the limits and possibilities of applying established practices and ways of thinking in different contexts. Consequently, the course materials draw from a variety of locations and scholarly traditions in the social sciences and humanities, seeking to examine some of the enduring and pressing challenges of the social world in pursuit of its improvement.

Course Objectives

After completing this course, students should be able to

  • identify and analyze the current developments, issues, debates, and changing conditions in the field of cultural studies.
  • appreciate the need for flexibility, necessitating a theoretical and methodological “tool box.”
  • recognize how the field of cultural studies is itself a contested site.
  • articulate that cultural studies is a dynamic intellectual project that studies cultural politics in an effort to effect social change.
  • appreciate cultural studies' enduring investment in marginalized groups.
  • develop the ability to critically evaluate when claims to universal knowledge may actually be positioned, thereby compromising or undermining the claims to universality.
  • apprehend cultural studies’ commitment to explore new territory and promote new dialogues in an effort to contribute to social change.
  • comprehend the challenges facing efforts to decolonize the field of cultural studies.
  • understand that cultural studies is a truly global movement.

Student Evaluation

To receive credit for this course, students must participate in the online activities, successfully complete the assignments, and achieve a final mark of at least 60 per cent. Students should be familiar with the Master of Arts—Interdisciplinary Studies grading system. Please note that it is students' responsibility to maintain their program status. Any student who receives a grade of "F" in one course, or a grade of "C" in more than one course, may be required to withdraw from the program.

The following table summarizes the evaluation activities and the credit weights associated with them.

Course Activity Weighting
Online Participation 25%
Assignment 1: Critical Reflection 15%
Assignment 2: Media Analysis 20%
Assignment 3: Term Paper Outline 10%
Assignment 4: Term Paper 30%
Total 100%

Course Materials

All of the materials for this course are online.

Athabasca University Online Materials

Course Home Page: You will find Course Information (including the Assignment File and other pertinent information) at the top of the course home page. You will also find your Study Guide presented unit by unit online. You will find your assignments and links to submit your work to your professor on the course home page.

Athabasca University Library: Students are encouraged to browse the Library's Web site to review the Library collection of journal databases, electronic journals, and digital reference tools:

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, January 6, 2014.