Contact a Humanities Office or Academic unit.
Find your course outlines.

2020-2021 Gender Studies Core Courses & Electives

Click here to view our courses in the Graduate Calendar (note not every course is offered every year)


*Three Compulsory Core Courses*

GENDRST 700 – Current Debates in Feminist and Gender Theory (3 units)

GENDRST 700 – Winter 2021 – Syllabus will posted when finalized

Term: 2 (January to April 2021)
Class Schedule: TBD
Location: TBD
Instructor: Dr. Allauren Forbes

An investigation of current feminist and gender theorizing at the intersection of gender with race, sexuality, ability, and other categories of social difference. This course offers sustained attention to the intellectual skills of reading feminist and gender theory. It also considers implications of applying theory to feminist and related forms of activism. Specific topics will vary depending on the instructor’s area of expertise.

GENDRST 701 A/B – Doing Research in Feminist and Gender Studies (3 units, Term 1 & 2 every other week)

Note that for 2020-21, this course will be every week in Term 1 only. Students must manually enroll in both GENDRST 701A and 701B for Fall 2020.

GENDRST 701 A/B – Fall 2020 – Syllabus will posted when finalized

Term: 1 (September to December 2020)
Class Schedule: Thursday 11:30am-2:30pm
Location: TBD
Instructor: Dr. Christine Quail

This seminar introduces students to faculty researchers from across the McMaster campus to consider exciting new scholarship that engages feminist and gender studies from a range of disciplinary perspectives. As part of the course requirements, students will attend Gender Studies and Feminist Research Symposium events. Readings, assignments, and discussion will consider topics relating to research ethics, epistemologies and methodologies, including questions of theoretical framing and socio-political praxis. Coursework will include assignments designed to help students prepare effective proposals for independent research.

GENDRST 707 A/B – Knowledge in Action (6 units)

(previously 702 – 3 units & 710 – 3 units, now combined)

GENDRST 707 A/B – Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 – Syllabus will posted when finalized

Term: 3 (September 2020 to April 2021)
Class Schedule: Monday 2:00pm-5:00pm
Location: TBD
Instructor: Dr. Melinda Gough

This seminar takes up local community outreach and participatory action research within the framework of Gender and Feminist Studies. Readings will theorize experiential education as well as the ethics of advocacy and activism. Students will complete an experiential learning project involving a community organization with a mandate linked to one or more of the program’s four thematic research clusters and with which the Gender Studies and Feminist Research program has ongoing experiential education arrangements.

 GSFR Electives

The following electives are offered through GSFR. Please email for a seat in these courses.

If you are interested in taking an elective not offered through GSFR, please refer to the “List of Approved Electives from Outside Departments” list.


GENDRST 6QA3 – Queerness in the Archives: Lesbian and Gay Writing, Art and Activism in Canada (3 units) Term: 1

Please note this course is only available to MA students (not PhD students)

GENDRST 6QA3 – Fall 2020 – Syllabus will posted when finalized

Term: 1 (September – December 2020)
Class Schedule: Thursday 9:30am-11:20am
Location: Virtual Classroom
Instructor: Dr. Amber Dean

This course examines lesbian and gay writing, art and activism in Canada during the period 1969 to 1989. The course will include a trip to the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives in Toronto, and students will be trained in archival research methods (note: unfortunately the trip will not be possible in 2020-21 due to COVID-19 restrictions).

In 1969, then Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau famously proclaimed his view that “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation” as sweeping changes to the Criminal Code of Canada effectively decriminalized “homosexuality.” Taking this year as our starting point we will explore the next two decades of queer life in Canada, a time of intensive lesbian and gay cultural production and activism. We will focus on fiction, journalism, theatre, film, visual and media art, and documentation of activism such as responses to decriminalization in 1969, to the Toronto bathhouse raids of 1981, to state
censorship of lesbian and gay materials deemed “obscene,” and early organizing in response to AIDS. In the early 1990s, lesbian and gay activism in Canada increasingly begins to focus on achieving equal rights and state protection from discrimination; while these issues were also pursued, discussed and debated in the two decades prior, we will consider whether and how the art, activism and writing from 1969-1989 anticipates, invites, defends against, or worries about this shift in focus toward greater inclusion of lesbians and gays and away from an emphasis on gay and lesbian identity and culture as
different from (and existing in tension with) so-called mainstream or “heteronormative” culture and values. The 1990s also saw the rise of queer theory as a field and the productive questioning of the categories of “gay” and “lesbian” in the interests of securing an understanding of “queer” as antinormative and subjectless. We will explore what might be read as “queer” about the writing, activism and art of lesbians and gays before the emergence of queer theory as a field, challenging ourselves to reconsider dominant stories about the origins and rise of both LGBTQ rights claims and queer

GENDRST 703 – Topics in Gender Studies & Feminist Research (3 units) Term: 2

Term: 2 (January – April 2021)
Class Schedule: TBD
Location: TBD
Instructor: Dr. Grace Kehler

GENDRST 703 – Winter 2021 – Syllabus will posted when finalized

Topic: Creating and Embodying Theory

This course focuses on a range of creative texts (such as film, painting, short stories, novels, and autobiography), looking to their prompts to engage with the pressing everyday issues of ongoingness and revitalization in the face of violence, loneliness, loss, disability, and racial and sexual/gender discrimination. All of the primary texts will be accompanied by theoretical ones, but the impetus is to explore how the creative invites particular theoretical and embodied engagement. Possible textual pairings are as follows:

  • the diary, paintings, and sketches of Frida Kahlo (Mexican); the documentary The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo; and critical writing by Carlos Fuentes (Introduction to Kahlo’s Diary) and excerpts from either Tobin Siebers’ Disability Aesthetics (2010) or Eli Clare’s Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure (2017)
  • The Road Forward (2017), a musical-documentary by Marie Clements (Canadian Métis), and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s “Nishnaabeg Brilliance as Radical Resurgence Theory.” As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance. University of Minnesota Press, 2017, pp 11-37.
  • Casey Plett’s transgender novel Little Fish (2018) along with excerpts from Gayle Salamon’s Assuming a Body: Transgender and Rhetorics of Materiality (2010)
  • Stories from Shani Mootoo’s (Trinidadian-Canadian) Out on Main Street (1993) and excerpts from Thiefing Sugar: Eroticism between Women in Caribbean Literature by Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley (2010)
  • Honeyland (2019), a documentary set in North Macedonia, along with Franklin Ginn and Kelsey Green’s “The Smell of Selfless Love: Sharing Vulnerability with Bees in Alternative Apiculture.” Environmental Humanities, vol. 4, 2014, pp. 149-170.


GENDRST 705 – Disability, Subjectivity, and Visual Representation (3 units)

*NOT OFFERED 2020-21*

This interdisciplinary course brings together critical disability studies with feminist studies, queer studies, Indigenous studies, and critical race studies to think about how embodiment is inseparably corporeal, cultural, social, and political. We engage with theories about how society is organized through embodied norms, how all bodies are affected by these norms, and how critical disability thought and practice produce understandings of embodied differences. The course includes a focus on the politics of representation concerning embodiments: visual media provide a theoretical and philosophical ground for examining the politics of bodies, interrogating viewing and reception practices, and generating social justice possibilities. Topics/issues that shape our discussions include: madness and sanism; fat politics; illness; monstrosity; the politics of breast cancer; queerness and disability; systemic able-bodiedness in universities; racialization, class and the consequences of war; Indigenous interventions; and the effects of bio-power in classifying and controlling “anomalous” bodies.

GENDRST 706 / From There to Here: Refugee Women in the World and in Our Community (3 units)

*NOT OFFERED 2020-21*

In this seminar, we shall look at the evolution of the refugee status of women in the world and in Canada and at the politics of definition, at various refugee- causing situations and their specific impact on women, at the process of asylum- seeking and granting. But equally importantly, we shall discuss forms of resilience and coping strategies refugee women generate (ie: art, humour, activism). We shall also examine how to ethically conduct research and activism with/for refugee women. Finally, in the light of our knowledge, we shall examine the situation of refugee women in our community, services available, and how we could responsibly contribute as women and as academics to alleviate the situation of refugee women and prevent its occurring.

Other Required Courses:

The below listed courses are also required, and they are no-fee courses.

These courses need to be added to your student record at the time of registration (whether you are full-time or part-time), the same way you would add any other course. When you search for classes, look under the “S” tab and choose School of Graduate Studies. Then you will select 101 and 201.

Registration in subsequent terms and graduation will be delayed if these courses are not completed.These no-fee courses need to be completed as soon as possible.

SGS 101 – Academic Research Integrity and Ethics

This course will introduce incoming graduate students to the standards of academic integrity expected at McMaster. It will provide examples of acceptable and unacceptable practices and will clarify the responsibility and expectations of graduate students with respect to academic integrity. Students will be exposed to the Academic Integrity Policy of McMaster and best practices will be described that will minimize the likelihood of incorrectly attributed work from appearing in their assignments and research records. Students may not graduate or register for subsequent years in a graduate program at McMaster unless they have received a passing grade in SGS #101.

SGS 201 – Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act

All graduate students are required to complete appropriate training required to complete their research and studies (health and safety training, ethics training, biosafety training, etc.), as determined by their home Department or Program. All graduate students also are required to complete training on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), which can be completed on-line []. Having an understanding of how we can identify and reduce attitudinal, structural, information, technological, and systemic barriers to persons with disabilities is core to McMaster University’s commitment to supporting an inclusive community in which all persons are treated with dignity and equality, and completion of AODA training is critical as McMaster’s graduates move forward in their varied, chosen professions. Students may not graduate or register for subsequent years in their program until they have completed their required training.