Media @ McGill

Course Offerings



Reconfigurations of the Public Sphere in Contemporary Art II (winter, 2016)


Instructor: Media@McGill Director, Christine Ross


Art History, undergraduate course


Reconfigurations of the Public Sphere in Contemporary Art (fall, 2015)

Instructor: Media@McGill Director, Christine Ross


Art History, graduate course

The general objective of these two seminars is to investigate contemporary art’s renewed engagement with the public sphere. It revisits Jürgen Habermas’s notion of the public sphere—as “a realm of our social life” where public opinion (a critical form of publicity) takes shape through critical deliberations between individuals who meet to discuss matters of common interest. It explores that notion as an analytical tool to assess the influence of aisthesis in contemporary reformulations of critical publicity.

The seminars are an occasion to reflect on some of these emerging models of the reconfigured public sphere and on the role of aisthesis (αἴσθησις: the faculty of perception by the senses and the intellect) in this emergence. It asks: how are public spheres rethought aesthetically (in terms of forms, media, materialities and sensibilities) in contemporary art?; and how do artistic public spheres succeed in permeating political public spheres?

Women's Studies Current Topics 2: Queer Theory (fall, 2015)

Instructor:Media@McGill Post-doctoral fellow, Dr. Cait McKinney

Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies, undergraduate course

Consideration of contemporary issues in Women's Studies. Topic and approach will vary from year to year.




Sound, Vision, Action: The Course (fall, 2014)

Instructor: Media@McGill Interim Director, Prof. Jonathan Sterne

Communication Studies, graduate course

Built around the November 2014 Media@McGill symposium, Sound, Vision, Action, this course stages an encounter between the burgeoning fields of sound studies and visual culture. The course will combine the intellectual substance of the conference with a basic education in multimodal methods from the digital humanities. We will engage work by the scholars and artists who will present at the conference. We will explore the modalities of constructing and presenting knowledge about sound and vision in humanities, and consider the political stakes in producing such knowledge. The goal is not a grand synthesis, but rather to treat the three fields (sound studies, visual culture, digital humanities) as distinct intellectual endeavors that can cross-­pollinate in productive ways. Students will have special access to the conference, interview conference presenters, and opportunities to contribute to the event and post-event documents, such as a durable website and multimodal academic publications.

Philosophy & Technics of the Hand: Digits & Digitalia (fall, 2014)

Instructor: Media@McGill Post-doctoral Fellow, Dr. Kyle Stine


Cross-listed (Art History and Communication Studies), undergraduate course

This course offers an entry into the complex history and theory of the hand in art, technology, and design. Of special interest will be contemporary digital technologies; however, our readings and screenings will seek to contextualize these technologies by gaining a deeper understanding of the past. Digital technologies are technologies of the digit—technologies of the number and of the finger that once represented it. To understand this aspect of the digital—the digital in its materiality—we have to understand how new media have mobilized the hand in revolutionary ways. The piano keyboard, for instance, opened broad new possibilities for finger placement and hand movement in the creation of music. The typewriter keyboard opened similar avenues for the rapid transcription of texts. The touchscreen on current tablets and mobile phones has inaugurated a new field of human-machine interaction that has only begun to be tapped into. Perhaps the theremin, which allows for orchestration without physical contact between thereminist and instrument, points toward future, touchless technologies between hand and computer, as was the stuff of science fiction in Minority Report (2002).


Performance Theory Intensive (winter, 2014)

Instructor: Media@McGill Visiting Scholar, Prof. Peggy Phelan


Art History, graduate course

This is an intensive seminar on performance theory. We will read key texts in the field together and all students will have an opportunity to select one key essay in their own field of interest and present that essay in a twenty-minute talk or creative piece. (These should be low tech presentations.) The schedule is as follows, but please keep in mind that all classes, except for the first one, will have one additional reading. Also be aware that for reasons that will be made clear in the seminar itself, we are reading “canonical” texts in this field. I expect and encourage you to select works and to respond to this material from alternative points of departure.

Medical Performance in Visual Culture and Contemporary Art (winter, 2014)

Instructor: Media@McGill Academic Associate, Dr. Tamar Tembeck


Art History, undergraduate course

The seminar examines the place of performance and performativity in contemporary cultural practices (visual culture, as well as visual and performing/performance arts) that are tied to the field of medicine. Drawing on research from the disciplines of art history, cultural studies, communication and media studies, disability studies, performance studies, architecture, design, and the medical humanities, we will attend to both the social performances that are intrinsic to the notion of “medical performance” (e.g., the “sick role,” stigma, the hyper-visibility/invisibility of ailing bodies, etc.), and to the aesthetic, political and ethical dimensions of these practices. Medical performance will be approached through case studies addressing: pain and/as performance; visual culture and public health; disability and performance; pathographies in the visual and performing arts; surgical performances; participatory medicine; and the performativity of art and design in healthcare spaces. Through the course of the semester, we will collaboratively develop a working definition of what constitutes “medical performance” across the diverse case studies examined.


Urban Culture & Everyday Life: "Online Cooperation in Daily Life" (fall, 2013)

Instructor: Media@McGill Post-doctoral Fellow, Dr. Alessandro Delfanti


Communication Studies, undergraduate course

The seminar will present crucial case studies of online cooperative and distributed production. We will analyze how online cooperation changes and affects the way information and knowledge are produced, circulated and appropriated. The course will introduce students to basic notions of social theory related to online cooperation and participatory cultures. The bulk of this seminar will examine case studies that belong to different fields of information and knowledge production, such as cinema, science, software or fashion.