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Jason Lieblang Course Syllabi for Winter 2023-2024

Feel free to check out recent syllabi for courses I’ll be teaching this upcoming year (September 2023-April 2024) below. Please just ignore any COVID stuff, obviously. I’ll definitely also make a few content changes over the rest of the summer, but you’ll get a good idea of course texts and assessment practices from these.

Note that GMST 335 used to be called GERM 304, hence that file name here.

GERM 304 2023 Syllabus Revised 25 Feb 2023

CENS 202 Lieblang SYLLABUS Winter 2 2021

CENS 308 Syllabus W1 2022-2023

You may also want to see what students say about my courses on ratemyprof.

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On Virtual Realities and Leaving History Behind

When I visited Tanzania a few summers ago, I was struck by how homogenous the art being sold was. At every market stall and adorning the walls of ‘art galleries’, you saw the same kind of wood-carved animals, paintings of tribespeople and baobab trees, and colourfully printed cloths. I recall thinking that the artists who mass-produced these paintings were clearly talented, and the realisation that they would always produce the same picture because of tourist demands saddened me somewhat. Only after we spoke about native art and the limitations that artists have in evolving was I able to put my thoughts into words. Not only does consumerism dictate the supply of art coming from a certain group, but it also causes outsiders to  view said group in a particular and unchanging way. This self-perpetuating cycle means that groups such as the first nations communities of Canada remain stuck in the past, where evolving would inadvertently lead to economic disadvantage.

In Riding the Trail of Tears, the TREPP represents a synthesis between past and present: the history of the Cherokee people is combined with a futuristic virtual reality program. Although this synthesis is severely misguided in the case of the novel and ends badly, the importance of using art and new media as a way of processing the past and traumatic experiences therein remains. After our lecture on Hausman, I coincidentally stumbled upon an article in i-d magazine about Afrofuturism, a movement that had been unknown to me before that point. According to this article, Afrofuturism “is multicultural, transhistorical, and concerns itself with the past, present, and future effects of the African and black diaspora”. It is “about imagining different spaces of creative thought that don’t put your identity in a box”. Works of ‘afrofuturist’ art include “virtual-reality renderings of futuristic African metroplexes” and “replacing figures in classical works … with people of color”. What this movement highlights is the need to transcend history and allow misrepresented groups to evolve their art and culture.




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The Jesus Story Poorly Reimagined by a Non Artistic Art Major


I lost the original, so this terrible photo of it, which I sent to my Mum on a whim, will have to do!


Also, cheers for a fun year everybody!!

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The Arts One Life.

Hey everyone,

I definitely didn’t get a chance to get to know everyone the way I wish I had this year, but I just wanted to say thank you to all the friends I’ve made because of Arts One. From being overwhelmed and crying after our very first seminar to now, things have most definitely changed for the better. I’ve learned so much about myself as well as all of you that I’ll always be grateful for. I gotta say, I’m pretty proud of all of us for completing 12 essays and reading (well kind of reading) 23 books this year! Just 2 more essays (revision + portfolio) to go and our final! Without the support Arts One has given me, I wouldn’t have realized my potential as a student…because I was ready drop out since the end of September. A big thank you to Jason for supporting all of us as individuals as well as a class.

When lecture finished early on the 3rd, some of us went around enjoying that sunshine we so deserved after all these gloomy days Vancouver has given us. After taking a ton of pictures that looked like we were part of the cast of FRIENDS, I made a little video collaboration. Just as the song in the intro goes “I’ll be there for you”, I really would like to keep in touch with you all and just know I’ll be there!

Thanks for all the great memories, LETS SUDY TOGETHER SOON GUYS

Rianna L.


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The Role of Names in City Of Glass

In City of Glass, Paul Auster depicts a detective story that is really a mission for finding truth. The narrator we later realize is an actual character that problematizes the novel for readers. It problematizes the reliability for the narrator, as there are many blurred moments that prove the narrator to be very subjective. It plays around with the characters and lead confusion between the identity of the criminal and the detective. We see that the narrator is someone who does not know, but is searching. Coming to the conclusion later that what he is searching for isn’t to solve the crime of Peter Stillman, but to come to the realization that there will always be something missing. One could say that, the unreliability of characters and the narrative is just a way for the readers to see that not everything is trust worthy and ultimately questionable. With role of names becomes essentially important in this novel as we see that names may have less importance, as they seem to be. One’s identity cannot be dictated by his/her name. As a prime example of this being Peter Stillman’s uncertainty with his name as his name is also his fathers name. All is lost, when one realizes that identity can be constructed and disassembled quite easily with the change of just a name.

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Graphic Novel & Adult Swim…A Validation of Both

The graphic novel offers a combination of prose and images that are able to further communicate ideas of depth. This medium allows authors to both show and tell, and advantage over the classic novels. Where novels demand pages of description, graphic novels are able to provide an immediate landscape. These authors are also able to employ the manipulation of font, sizing and positioning of panels and the illustrations that go inside each panel. All of these aspects help to tell the story. When used in a memoir format, the author is able to use these aspects of comics to further communicate and enhance the feelings and/or situations that are being depicted.

Is this an argument for the validation of adult cartoons/animated shows? Our media landscape today enables us to be even more creative and inclusive of the facets of our society. Consumers have become the creators, enabling us to truly create what we want to see. Animated cartoons have been around since the early 20th century, a traditional cornerstone of most childhoods. Shows such as the Simpsons, Family Guy and programs under the Adult Swim umbrella. These shows tap into the satirical, dark humour that was missing, able to discuss and parody more adult and controversial content, such as political agendas, the stereotypical American landscape and race.

These shows provide a platform to spread awareness on (albeit at a low level) some fairly important current events and issues. Because these shows are taken less seriously, they are able to be subversive, surprising their audience with their content. This can be applied to the use of graphic novels as the medium us undermined, allowing for authors to engage with darker topics. The visual aspect of the graphic novel makes heavier subject matter more accessible and at times maybe even more poignant. This argument can also be made for adult cartoons as everything is customizable, allowing the creator to fully have autonomy over every aspect of the story he is trying to portray. The importance of this media should not be written off as the potential has yet to be fully tapped into. In the meantime, let’s all ruminate over the fact that the Simpsons predicted Donald Trump’s presidential win. #conspiracyornah

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An original comic by Jade Greer

I consider Fun Home one of my favorite texts we have read in Arts One, so I thought it would be fun try and make my own comic. To provide some background information on the story I’m about to illustrate:

It was a typically Monday morning, around 11 am. The sun was shining and I was putting the final touches on my Arts One essay. I looked outside to see a group of squirrels hanging out. They looked so cute and happy, just playing around the garbage cans. All of the sudden, a garbage truck pulls up and three squirrels jump and run as fast as they can. I figured everything was all good, until… I saw a little bushy tail sticking out of the garbage truck. Before I knew it, the truck picked up the garbage and took the squirrel with it. Then it drove away.

This story was a hard one to retell, as it has taken a real toll on my life. RIP Trashy the squirrel.

Here’s my comic and I hope it does the story justice.



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The Effect of Time on my Psyche

Our discussion on Thursday is what inspired this blog post. It’s kind of a personal, memoir type piece that I couldn’t get out of my head once it was in, because I have had a very personal experience pertaining to time and how it messed with me for a very long time (and still kind of continues to, but not to the level it used to). Writing about it felt weirdly relieving. It’s kind of long, be warned.


I wasn’t very young when my parents divorced. Ten years old, it was just old enough for my dad leaving to impact me profoundly, especially after a childhood of anxiety and constantly being terrified that the people in my life would leave me. One of my greatest fears came to life the night he decided he couldn’t live with us anymore.

Time became important to me, an essential part of my life.

After he moved out, somehow my brain started to think that it was only a matter of time before my mom left too. That couldn’t happen.

My dad moved to a house literally about a four minute drive from my house, which is not far by any means. I was happy for this, and I willingly visited him every Saturday with my brother for our court mandated visits. From 9am to 5pm, it was routine. I would wake up at 8, get ready and my mom would drop the two of us off just on time.

“See you guys at five!” My mom would tell us, give us a kiss and once she made sure we were safely inside, she would drive off.

The day itself would go by easily, filled with domestic activities or fun trips. The only catch in my mind was we had to be back home by 4:30 so that if mom was early we wouldn’t keep her waiting. If she wasn’t, which she never was, it would be okay because then I could spend the next half an hour eagerly awaiting her arrival, trying to ignore the doubts in my head.

What if she never comes back? 

Nonsense. You’re being ridiculous. She said she would be back at five, so she will be.


Only fifteen minutes left, I double checked my bag and made sure I had everything. I double checked my brother’s bag and made sure he had everything.


I start to imagine what we’re going to do for the night. Will mom take us to get some DVDs so we can have a movie night? Will she have groceries filled with snacks? Did she make our favorite vegetable soup for dinner? Did she go on any fun adventures today?


Five minutes left! My heart rate always picked up at this point, a mix of anxiety and excitement to see her face and go home. At this point I was fully ready to leave, standing on the landing just outside my dad’s second floor apartment, staring out at the street and waiting for her car to appear.

I know my dad was always behind me, watching me with concern as he knew the likelihood of her coming exactly at 5:00 like I expected was low, and preparing himself for the outcome.


Sure enough, she didn’t show up. The thoughts immediately intruded.


Oh god, where was she? Alright, it’s fine. You’re fine. She’s going to come.


Calm down.


Almost a minute, she’s still not here. Where is she? Why am I being like this, it’s not like she’s going to come right at-


At this point I was picking up the shitty $99TTD cell phone that my mom got me to use solely for calls to her. Dialing the extremely familiar number, waiting for her to pick up. The 50/50 chance of her either picking up or not had my heart pounding.

Most of the time she wouldn’t answer.

The logical, and usually accurate explanation for this would be because she was driving, or her phone was on silent. Sometimes she was just ignoring me, knowing my tendencies to freak out unnecessarily.

The weight of the time passing every minute past 5:00, had my chest hurting and my heart beating at speeds I was sure were unhealthy.

“A waiting pot never boils,” My dad told that to me once, and I had to ask him what he meant, “It means that when you wait for something to happen, it will feel as though it’s taking much longer.”

The explanation didn’t help me at all, but for some reason I always thought of it. Was I messing up cosmically by waiting for her? Were my incessant calls, voice mails and text messages pushing her away from me? Was the universe out to hurt me by making her show up late, or even not at all? Did the universe want to spite me by making me wait longer?


Where is she?!

At this point usually the tears would start as I paced the floor of my dad’s living room, waiting for her to call back. The worst scenarios ran through my head, awful images that I would see sometimes in my dreams. Car crashes. A plane flying away, with her in it. Any possible ‘wrong place wrong time’ scenario. My dad would tell me things, I would never really hear what he was saying in my frenzy. I wouldn’t let him try to hug me, I didn’t want to be consoled, I wanted my mom. She might be gone.


I’ve stopped moving, the only thing I’m capable of doing at this point is curling up on the floor with the phone in my hand trying to regulate my breathing after feeling like I was about to pass out.

My dad is still trying to help me, my brother just looks confused as he stands there, not understanding the potential implications of what her being twenty minutes late might mean.


My phone rings, I shoot up and frantically press the green button to answer.

“Mom?” I asked shakily. I hear her sigh on the other end.

“I’m outside, honey,” She tells me, and I instantly feel dumb for ever thinking she would leave. My reddened cheeks get slightly redder with the embarrassment, but it’s all overshadowed by the relief I feel knowing she’s right outside.

This happened for months, almost everywhere I went, effectively ruining my 6th grade social life and making it so that it was almost impossible for me to leave my mom’s side if she wasn’t back right when she said she would be. Time was all the mattered, because when she was away from me doing whatever she had to do, time seemed to be the only thing I could count on. I didn’t realize how dependent I was on it until therapy, and even after I’m still painfully aware of it most of the time.

Time affecting the psyche brought back a lot of memories, not particularly good ones, but I’m being honest when I say that writing this actually helped. And hey, now I can look back on that time knowing that I’m now in university, thousands of miles away from my mom in Egypt, and I’m pretty fine.

Interesting, how time was my worst enemy, best friend, and now after all this time, I’ve gotten much better.

Does that make sense?

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this one won’t be easy to read. sorry.

It seems far more difficult than one first realizes to create incredibly long sentences, while maintaining any logic or understanding, or, indeed, to make an argument. This blog, written by Archie, read by others, will attempt to develop the skill, without undermining the value of the actual argument, which is inherently confused, due to the nature of the argument, which is, that you can make long sentences without losing meaning. That is, I will be trying to push myself, to the best of my ability, to increase the length and complexity of my grammatical structures, without limiting the actual point within the text, which is inherently difficult, but perhaps it will require me to adopt some of Sebald’s other techniques. Namely, the use of the frame narrative, which certainly allows him to have long sentences without contradicting himself, and also allows him to flow forward without losing meaning, or the pace. So, I will try to engage in separate levels of narration, introducing a frame narrative, using… let’s say, my parents, as paradigm cases through which I can attempt to justify my claims. My mother once began a story, on a Tuesday afternoon in the midst of February, where, in Perth, the temperature almost always reaches above 30 degrees, and thus, as my mother knows all too well, one often finds themselves far too hot, even within a house deliberately designed to cool down, without the use of too much energy in air conditioners or fans. The story was complicated, and begins when she met my father in the 1990s in London, as she engaged in a journey of discovery and escape, from both her home and her home country, from which she left some years prior, and found herself in the country of the Queen, her majesty, the majestic, Elizabeth. Matthew, she said, was a bikie, a literal bike courier, who met her on Australia day, which is on February 25th, and spoke, during the first few hours of their conversation, in an American accent, which, as she reminds me, was something of a turn off, given her residual resentment dictated by her Canadian identity, which, of course, she tells me, precludes any positivity toward those south of the border. Matt, she explains, was funny, but boisterous, and had a beard and a sense of frivolity, which I notice even to this day, after he had changed significantly, having become a father, which, she claims, was incredibly endearing, but also slightly worrying. As they caught the same train, he was questioned by her with ferocity, being tested to see how well he would fare as a partner in life, which, she reflects, was a little bit of a funny thing to do, which of course I agree with, as does my father, although, she rightly points out, this did not raise too much of an issue for Matthew, who, at the time, was able to point to not only a degree from a university, which, my mother tells me, was necessary for any boyfriend of hers, but also to a propensity for musical ability, which I know is his most wonderful quality, amongst other things, of course, and thus, he was able to pass the first tests she set for him. My father, mother explains, jumped up at the very last minute, as she exited the train, and lept off onto the platform after her, presumably offering to walk her home, hoping, I can imagine, that she did not say no, which, inevitably, would have caused some issues, given the train doors, my mother notes, had closed rapidly behind him. Ok- that story, which of course eventually leads to my own existence, not, it must be said, on that night, which, my parents agree, would have been something of a mistake, not, it must also be said, because having me would have been an error, but that because they had only just met, it mightn’t be clever to introduce a child to the world, as the future of their relationship was, it seems clear, was not known. Holy shit, this is so difficult, but I think maybe I got there in the end, I think, but with less beauty, clarity, or cleverness as Sebald himself, who, Jason argues, is one of the greatest post-war German authors who ever lived, which, Jade said, was simply inaccurate, as Elizabeth related to me on Tuesday last, as she, that is, Jade, read in an article written by myself, in a magazine that Alex threw at her feet, on Wednesday, which, as we know, cannot be, given the logical necessity of Jade’s and Alex’ movements on those aforementioned days, which leaves us, my mother tells me, with a situation in which, it seems clear, where I have completely failed in my first efforts, which was, I wrote, was to maintain my argument while consistently increasing sentence length and complexity.

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An explorative rebuttal to the argument made in the Haussmann seminar about rape vs. killing in virtual reality

The seminar discussion for Riding the Trail of Tears evoked some tension in the group when we began debating whether the actions one performs in a cyberspace relate to the actions one would do in real life. Kids are killing characters in video games all the time, and apparently “studies show” that these kids are not the people who become killers later in life. So what does it mean when a tourist in the Trail of Tears ride attempts to rape a person? People argued that it isn’t necessarily ‘bad’ if somebody tries to rape a character in a virtual game because it isn’t actually harming anyone. It is considered contradictory that it is horrible to rape in a videogame but completely fine to kill. I disagree with that fact but it took me a long time to come up with why. These are the reasons I generated:


  1. There is something personal about rape; it inflicted by one individual onto another, and cannot be done without thought
  2. Rape is more common; we hear stories all the time about rape on college campuses, people being harassed on the street, etc, it’s an issue that is close to us
  3. There is no single method of rape, it can happen on many different levels and in many different ways
  4. It involves emotion and can scar a person for life
  5. It is dangerous to normalize that sort of behavior to people because it is more likely to happen than killing somebody


Therefore, I strongly believe that it is worse to rape a character in cyberspace than it is to kill.

To further develop this argument, I will consider this idea in a virtual game I am familiar with, Sims 3. This is a game where you design your own characters and are in charge of their fate. Your Sim’s life involves a career, relationships, and hobbies. I was obsessed with this game when I was younger because I was able to do whatever I wanted without affecting anyone else in real life. I used to take all of my Sims, put them in a pool and watch them drown. Now I know that sounds entirely f*cked, but I guess there was something fun about being able to break the rules in a virtual space without having any consequences. Does that mean I would drown people in real life while I sit back and watch? Definitely not. So why is it that I think rape would be different? Well, first of all, the very idea of rape being an option on a game for kids is indescribably cringeworthy. Yet, for some reason, killing is not. Well, this brings back my arguments above about why rape is worse than killing in a video game. If young people were introduced to the idea of sexual harassment through virtual reality, I do believe it would become more common in real life. Now I do not have any statistical evidence to back this up, but I think I am justified to argue that rape culture presented in movies and tv shows and pornography does normalize the behavior. We are made aware of the fact that people kill other people through the medium of media from a young age, but we always understood that killing is the worst thing you can do. Rape, on the other hand, does not end physically end the other person’s life, thus the effects are hidden and can be looked past. It is something that a person could do, and they wouldn’t necessarily have to face direct consequences if the person chose not to report. An important fact to note is that for cold murder, the victim is never at fault. Let’s say a person goes out on a Friday night to a party and is all of the sudden shot. Next picture that exact scenario, except the person going to the party is raped instead of killed. The first questions to be asked of the person who was raped would be: “What were you wearing? Were you drunk? Were you asking for it?” The problem is that nobody would ever ask those questions for the person who was shot. The murderer would be convicted without question. So why is it for rape that the victim is questioned? Now, this goes into millions of things that are wrong with rape culture and the way it is handled… which ultimately goes to show why rape is worse in virtual reality. As a kid watching movies with my parents, they would cover my eyes whenever a sex scene came on; however, my parents would most likely not cover my eyes if a person was being killed. Rape is emotional and personal, and the idea of it being exploited and made common in a virtual reality when it is something that truly harms people every day is what causes my discomfort.

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