HIST 2304A: Social and Cultural History of Canada
Fall 2022-Winter 2023

Instructor: Professor James Opp

Introduction: This course addresses a wide range of issues in Canadian Social and Cultural History by examining three distinct but overlapping spheres of “social” life: Home, Work, and Play. Dividing the course into thematic sections allows for a deeper investigation of gender, class, race, sexuality, and the spaces where they interact. It is impossible to cover every aspect of Canada’s social history, but we will selectively explore how the textures of everyday life have changed between the beginning of the nineteenth century and the end of the twentieth.

History 2304 also introduces students to the methodological and conceptual issues involved in doing social-cultural history. In this vein, we will discuss many of the problems and issues facing social and cultural historians and how they have sought to overcome these over time (especially since the 1990s).

Class Format: We meet once / week, in-person, in a three-hour block.  The normal distribution of time will be split between lectures (mostly) and informal in-class discussions, workshops, and break-out groups based on the examination of historical documents, images, and films.  As this course only meets once a week, a strong emphasis will be placed on both attendance and participation in discussions.

Aims and Goals: The content of this course allows students to put their contemporary social and cultural lives into a broader context, and to appreciate the deep power relationships that have historically formed them. The course also provides a mentored learning experience of how to plan and manage a significant research project. Finally, there is a unique focus in the course in learning how to give historical, deconstructive “readings” of a wide range of visual culture – advertising, photography, film, comics, and other media.

Assessment: Each section of the course will culminate with a written exam. The written assignments are laddered by design to reflect the course themes and also build specific research and communication skills. The final paper will require researching and using primary source documents. Because this course is divided into “thirds” over an eight-month period, no exam will be held in the December exam period.

Text:  James Opp and John C. Walsh, eds., Home, Work, and Play: Situating Canadian Social History 3rd ed. (Oxford University Press, 2015).  Please note the third edition is 65% different from the second edition and 95% different from the first edition.  It is therefore critical to have the correct version! It will be ordered for sale at Haven Books (at the intersection of Sunnyside Ave. and Seneca St., two blocks from campus) but it is also available at all major online booksellers.

Questions? Please email james.opp@carleton.ca