New seminar this fall: Pandemic theory, culture, and event
Athabasca University graduate students can take an exciting Master of Arts – Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) this fall term—MAIS 752: Pandemic Theory, Culture, and Event, taught by Mickey Vallee, Tier II Canada Research Chair in Community, Identity and Digital Media.
As the SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, started to spread across the planet, the scientific and medical communities exploded with speculative and provisional research on the virus.
Peer-reviewed journals announced more relaxed acceptance rates, editorials praised the publication of all provisional knowledge, and researchers around the world were encouraged to submit their research, no matter its state.
Something similar happened in the social sciences and humanities, with some of the world’s most reputed thinkers suddenly turning their attention to the issues arising from COVID-19: self-isolation, public health imperatives, international tourism, animal exploitation, data rights, boredom, labour and unemployment, resources, long-term care facilities, community protection, civil liberties, and so on. As these writings emerged, one thing became clear: the social sciences and humanities were facing an unprecedented shift in how we think about our collective, public, and global lives together.
This course introduces graduate learners to the COVID-19 pandemic as a cultural, scientific, and philosophical event. To do so, we will turn our attention to the above-mentioned provisional responses by some of the world’s most prominent contemporary thinkers.
We will also use the COVID-19 pandemic in order to understand how events of global uncertainty change the fundamental epistemological and ontological orientations that have informed social and cultural theory over the past couple of decades. One goal of the course will be thus to evaluate how the interdisciplinary social sciences and humanities responded to the pandemic over its first few months, with readings assigned from a swath of online sources. Another goal will be to gain an appreciation for how theorizing and theorizations are collective events, and how events are theoretical constructs that change the very fundamental ways that we work together as members of local and global communities.
By the end of the course, students will be able to:
- describe the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic as it was reflected in provisional interdisciplinary literature,
- articulate the main arguments accompanying the pandemic that reflect global cultural and economic shifts and new realities of public health imperatives,
- analyze critical theories of global events and how their occurrences might change the direction of interdisciplinary scholarship, and
- define and pursue individual interests in pandemic theory and culture, generally speaking.
Online registrations will open for program students on June 14 and for non-program students on July 1. This MAIS 752 offering will apply towards Cultural Studies, Global Change, or as an Elective. Contact the MAIS office for further assistance firstname.lastname@example.org.