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MFA courses

Student guide over three years

MFA program at a glance

Year 1 (27 credits), Resident

Fall term Winter term Summer term
Studio I - 610
(6 credits)
Studio II - 611
(6 credits)
DISP 615
Directed Studio Practice
(3 credits)
2 Theory Seminars*
(6 credits)
2 Theory Seminars*
(6 credits)

*a total of 4 theory seminars (12 credits) should be completed in the first year.

Year 2 (21 credits), Resident

Fall term Winter term Summer term
Studio III - 612
(6 credits)
Studio IV - 613
(6 credits)
1 or 2 Theory Seminars*
(3 or 6 credits)
1 or 2 Theory Seminars*
(3 or 6 credits)

*one seminar may be substituted by a 3-credit Internship or Independent Study

Year 3 (12 credits), Non-Resident

PROJ 691
Studio Project
(9 credits)

PROJ 692
Exhibition or Film Project
(3 credits)

Studio Credits: 27, Academic Seminar credits: 21, Graduation Studio Project Credits: 12

Recent ASEM Topics

A few things are taken as givens in this seminar: writing is a material practice; there is no such thing as bad writing; writing and collaboration are fertile and imaginative actions. By considering experimental approaches to group and solo writing, installation and in-class workshops, we will explore the granular and grist of how language aligns with studio practice across digital and analogue platforms and in live and archived capacities. Some areas of inquiry will include positionality of the author and auto-ethnographies as bridging community, land and site specificity in relation to language, tonal and linguistic translation, writing as gesture, spatial and material dimensions of wor(l)ds, relationships between artist-writer and viewer-reader. In addition to conceptual approaches to word play, we will look at vessels and circuits of language from mail art, love letters, recipes, scripts, neon lights, banners, vinyl and invoices.

This section of Writing/Critical Methods and Practices focuses on professional practices in relation to professional and critical writing. The course will cover both methodology and practice. Following a schedule of assigned readings on contemporary artist’s writing, workshops and guest discussions, we will explore methods adopted by artists in their professional, critical and personal writing. In discussions about these readings, we will ask the following questions: what is the relationship between written and visual language? How do we describe our artistic process, which may be intuitive, or subconscious in terms that are generous, and, to a certain degree, specific? How do we frame that experience as research creation? Practically speaking, this course will include research and formal writing projects such as artist’s statements, grant, residency, and exhibition applications, and writing for applications for faculty positions.

As producers and consumers of culture, artists occupy an often contested position within global neoliberal economics in the year 2022; making art is defined alternately as work, labour, learning, and leisure. But how do artists themselves make sense of the contradictory roles that they play within capitalist societies? Some attempt to detach the realm of art making from the capitalist mode of production; however, artists are deeply implicated in the profitability of the globalized cultural industry. In what ways do artists reinforce, accumulate, and reproduce capital – in its myriad forms – with their aspirations and ultimately their actions?

This seminar will engage with a broadly interdisciplinary selection of texts in order to unpack ideas of political economy, gendered labour, racial capitalism, luxury economy, the myth of the Artist, and more. Students will be asked to respond from the position of art practitioners via group discussions, writing exercises, and studio-based explorations. The goal of this interdisciplinary seminar is to provide students with an opportunity to develop an understanding of their positional relationship to the current socio-political and economic systems that they work within.

This seminar is a writing-intensive class for students who are prepared to develop a substantial piece of writing in relation to artistic practice. It is ideal for students who wish to write their thesis statement, an extended artist statement, artist talk, catalogue text, or critical/creative essay.

During the first five weeks of the course, we will come together to do writing exercises, discuss practical research and writing strategies, and talk about a diverse set of readings designed to stimulate thinking and build community in the classroom. For the remainder of the course, the emphasis will be on the production and review of individual writing projects. In each class, students will workshop the writing-in-progress of two of their colleagues – in a workshop, the writer listens in silence while readers discuss, in an in-depth, guided way, their experiences of the writer’s work. 

Following the workshops, writers will have an opportunity to further develop and refine their works before submitting them for a grade.  Students enrolled in the seminar can expect to emerge from it with a thoroughly revised draft of their project or a finished work.

During the past ten years aesthetics has received renewed attention in the visual arts having languished or been studiously avoided for decades owing to what were considered as adverse canonical affiliations. This seminar looks at the renewed interest with respect to making, experiencing and valuing contemporary art. Topics include: a) the emphasis on affect studies, b) the links between aesthetic experience and cultural identity c) Manovich’s notion of digital aesthetics, d) the search for new concepts, evident for example, in Sianne Ngai’s work “Aesthetic Categories” and Richard Shusterman’s “somaesthetics” and e) the possible rehabilitation of traditional aesthetic theories that are medium specific or propose a unified approach to matters of intent, emotion and practice.

Screens proliferate in contemporary life. Beyond the cinema, we find screens in the streets, in our homes, cars, offices, hospitals, shopping malls and museums, on our dashboards and computers, televisions, tablets, cellphones and watches. Surface, interface, portal, test, protector and interceptor: screens mediate between the self and the world to turn individual beings into social subjects. In this seminar we will conduct theoretical and historical readings and study film, video, inter-, new and media installation works that consider the changing of screen rituals over time and the various ways in which different screen experiences shape individual and collective consciousness. We will explore the different discourses framing the history of moving image arts in the museum, the various modalities of screen practices and their effects, the ways in which screen life permeates the built environment and the affects of screen practice on temporal experience.

The course begins with a series of seminars led by the instructor meant to establish a theoretical, historical and conceptual ground for subsequent, student-led sessions presenting research projects that bridge student interests with the issues addressed in the course.

Conceived to function as both research seminar and artistic/conceptual think tank white /(h)wīt/ is a graduate seminar that derives its thematic, historical, and conceptual focus from the broadest definitions of the word “white” (adjective, verb, noun).

Students will engage with a wide array of contemporary art works, critical writings and lectures that look closely a short, yet complex word that concurrently describes: a non-colour, positivity, goodness, spiritual purity, illumination, superiority, (default) racial identity, cleanliness, social order, objectivity, simplicity, and/or invisibility.

Texts by Nell Irving Painter, Maurice Berger, Gabby Moser, Darby English, Claudia Rankine, Sara Ahmed and art works/performances by artists William Kentridge, Adrian Piper, Abdul Abdullah, Vanessa Beecroft, Anna Deavere Smith, Young Jean Lee, and Jeremy O. Harris will prompt students to consider the origins and intentions of these associations as they relate to social relations, artmaking and meaning, power and change.

This seminar is structured around a double question: where are sounds? where do they go?  Addressed both theoretically and practically, the question allows for the treatment of two main lines that are crucial to understanding and analyzing any sound phenomenon: space and time.

This seminar is intended for students interested in going deeper into the notion of listening. Hearing, listening, being tuned into are three expressions that refer to different attitudes towards the sonic. Each and every one of us listens differently at each moment of our life. Each space, each experience has its specificity in terms of acoustics. These differences will be raised and discussed in class, since the course will be developed through texts, listening sessions of sound pieces, and exhibition(s) visits or meeting(s) with an artist.

The emphasis will be on the reading of texts known for having developed their thoughts in writing or on workshops related to the notion of listening. To these will be added a few texts by the by theorists (philosophers, acousticians), authors describing particular sound phenomena and curators who have addressed the subject in an exhibition. Discussions will alternate with listening sessions so as to create a balance between reading, listening and discussing.

The whole seminar rests upon conversation and counts on exchange, transmitting and circulating ideas, mutual receptivity and thus on listening in a manner both pragmatic and absolute.


The Archive and Difficult Knowledge will present a thought provoking roster of media artists/theorists from Indigenous, racialized, differently abled, feminist and LGBT communities who use research and art to make social change by forging alternate discourses and visual/virtual worlds. Over the course of the semester we will engage with exhibitions, films, videos and critical theory that address issues of colonialism, power, oppression, representation, inclusivity and grassroots activism. The course will consider the historical development of the archive, recent critiques of its use and significance, questions of materiality and what differentiates the archive from its digital corollary, the database. We will look at current applications of archiving systems and technologies in relation to significant local institutions as well as consider how artists engage with both storehouses of physical and virtual information. 

For more detailed information, or for a complete list of courses in all semesters, please visit the Concordia Class Schedule.

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