Master of Liberal Arts
8011. Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies
This course introduces students to interdisciplinary graduate studies and to cultural analysis by looking at the kinds of questions that can best be answered through an interdisciplinary approach and with various available methodologies. Taking American culture as its primary focus, students read texts in areas such as Visual Culture, American Studies, Women's Studies, and the Arts and Society.
This course explores the foundations of modern thought by examining the essential elements of the intellectual and literary traditions of world cultures, from ancient times to the Enlightenment. Representative readings will be drawn from literature, philosophy, and psychology, from Western traditions (e.g., Greeks, Hebrews, and Romans) as well as non-Western. Sample topics include: The Old Testament world view; the classical ideal of the hero; the Platonic ideal; the medieval religious synthesis; the Renaissance and statecraft; Cartesian method; the morality of the Enlightenment; the beginnings of alienation.
This course examines the foundations of contemporary thought, moving from the Romantic and Victorian world views to Modernism and Postmodernism. Students explore the new paradigms which have come about from breakthroughs in science and social thought, and from the traumatic events of the twentieth century. Readings are drawn from literature, history, science, and philosophy.
This course looks at the foundations and traditions of American thought and culture, from the Protestant foundation to America's place in global culture and cyberculture. An effort is made to connect intellectual traditions with historical events, including the American Revolution, the rise of feminism and abolitionism in the nineteenth century, and the emerging industrial and technological world of the twentieth century. American traditions are placed in the contexts of European thought and the broader model of globalization.
This course explores the relationship between the arts and American culture, with an emphasis on how music, literature, and visual arts have reflected social, political, and intellectual concerns. The levels of art, from high to middlebrow to popular, will also be considered, with attention to the cross influences from one to the other, and the question of audience.
This course examines topics relating to popular culture, media, and advertising, with an emphasis on how cultural representations reflect social and political interests. The approach embraces various competing disciplines (e.g., literature, anthropology, philosophy) at the intersection of aesthetics and politics.
8130. Topics in Visual Culture (3 s.h.)
An exploration of photography, film, television, and other visual media, in terms of the ways they interpret the world. Some of the issues considered will be: What are the elements of the visual? How are race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality represented in the media? How do visual media interact with one another?
8140. Topics in Performance Studies (3
Performance Studies encompasses dance, theater, and mixed media theatrical presentations, from street theater to happenings to public ritual. The course targets specific topics ranging from historical studies to the contemporary.
The changing constructions of gender are the subject of this course which will explore such topics as representations of masculinity; feminist theory and the academy; the sexual revolution; society and homosexuality.
This course explores a wide range of environmental issues and the various factors that define those issues, encompassing physical, economic, political, demographic, and ethical considerations. Possible topics include groundwater contamination, suburban sprawl, river basin management, environmental justice, and the greening of abandoned urban spaces. It may also include an examination of the cultural meaning of the environment and its representation in art and literature.
This course may focus on a number of diverse topics depending on the instructor: e.g., the Greek foundations of modern thought; the religious texts that provide an important underpinning for Western Civilization; the Enlightenment commitment to reason, science, and the essential goodness and individuality of man; Romanticism and its emphasis on feelings and the imagination; great thinkers of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty first centuries.
Our educational system tends to neglect the visual world, despite our growing dependence on pictorial and visual information. Using methods from anthropology, psychology, communications theory, and art history, this course will explore nonverbal communication, the built environment, photography, film, and television as culturally conditioned symbolic systems.
8190. Topics in Modernism (3 s.h.)
Modernism was not a single movement but a multiplicity of cultural changes involving issues of perception, identity, memory, culture, and the nature of modernity itself. This course explores the terrain of culture and the arts (e.g., film, art, literature, Cubism, Expressionism, Surrealism) within the context of historical and technological change.
8210. Studies in Political Culture (3 s.h.)
Public policy has often emerged out of a combination of legal struggle, political negotiation, private wealth, and public interest groups. This course focuses on American political culture, including such topics as civil rights, the conservative right vs. the left, government by plutocracy, national health care, the rights of the poor, and the fate of the middle class.
Topics in Urban Studies (3 s.h.)
This course explores the way cities have been formed and continue to be formed in relation to parks and neighborhoods, suburbs, and regions. The emphasis is on the way urban culture is shaped through the design of space, architectural form, and through urban planning.
8230. Topics in International Studies (3 s.h.)
After World War II, with the independence of formerly colonial nations, a new world of independent nation states evolved, torn between the pressures of ethnic culture, global communications, and international economies. This course explores issues of cultural identity and cultural conflict, as they surface in literature and film, in global tourism, in efforts at global cooperation and global competition.
The impact of science and technology on culture has been pervasive and can be measured in terms of social life and habits, the environment, the arts, and politics. Emphasizing the last hundred years, this course examines some of the more significant changes in science and technology, from the automobile to computers, and explores the ways the individual and society have been redefined.
9082. MLA Independent Study
Students who wish to enroll for Independent Study must submit a proposal written under the direction of a faculty member who will supervise the student's work. This proposal must be submitted the semester before the Independent Study is to take place. The proposal should describe the project, indicate a) works to be read, b) frequency of student-instructor meetings, c) student writing to be produced, and d) means of student evaluation.