Master of Liberal Arts Program
811 Anderson Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19122
Jayne K. Drake
Director, MLA Program
Assistant Director, MLA Program
MLA courses are usually offered in small seminar settings (7 to 12 students) which provide opportunities for lively engagement and exchange of ideas among the students and the professor. As with most graduate courses, students may be expected to give oral presentations and to submit written assignments, often including a substantial end-of-term paper.
Most MLA courses are usually offered during the evening at Temple University’s Center City campus at 1515 Market Street, very close to City Hall. A typical course meets once a week, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. Some online or "blended" courses, with variable meeting times, may also be offered.
In addition, a number of other graduate courses in the College of Liberal Arts and across the University are offered on Main Campus, typically during the day or early evening. The MLA program also offers "cross-listed" courses with other academic departments.
Registering for courses:
For general information regarding registration, please go to: http://www.temple.edu/registrar/students/registration/info.asp
NON-DEGREE SEEKING students interested in registering for MLA courses need to first contact the Office of Continuing Studies (see especially "Graduate Students" section).
NEWLY ADMITTED DEGREE SEEKING will be registered by the MLA program during the first semester of enrollment (to include, barring any complications, MLA 8011 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies).
After the first semester of enrollment, all CONTINUING DEGREE SEEKING students should be able to register on their own via Self-Service Banner in TUportal.
General questions or concerns? Contact Dr. Michael Szekely, Assistant Director/Advisor, at firstname.lastname@example.org
MLA 8110: Topics in the Arts and American Culture: Giants of Fiction
In this course, we will read and analyze the shorter fiction works (80-100 pp. “novellas) of several of the great international fiction writers of the 20th century. Most students will be familiar with many of these names: Kafka, Hemingway, Faulkner, James, Tolstoy, Fitzgerald and others, but have not yet studied them. Others may have studied them in other courses, but would like to gain a deeper understanding of them. And some students will not be familiar with them, but do realize that a real level of cultural sophistication can be achieved by exposure to and understanding of the techniques and worldviews of the great masters of any art form—in this case, fiction.
Bobby Kimbel, a frequent award winner for her outstanding teaching, is also a scholar of note, having published several works of critical commentary on both fiction (mainly the short story) and the works of Eugene O’Neill. She has led many discussions at national meetings in the areas of her special interests and has given a number of public lectures. She has recently returned to Temple (where she received her Ph.D.) after many years as a tenured professor at Penn State, where she was the recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award across all disciplines on the campus. She is a popular instructor with both undergraduates and returning students, all of whom remark about her communication skills and her passion for the subjects she teaches.
MLA 8120 Topics in Cultural Studies: Humor
ARRANGED-Blended Online course with on-campus activities
Tentative schedule for classroom meetings: 1/29, 2/26, 3/26, 4/30 (all Wednesdays, 6-8:30pm)
This course will take seriously (no, really) the notion and impact of humor (including satire) as commentary and critique, from the boiled babes of Swift’s A Modest Proposal to Chaplin’s The Great Dictator to the show-stopping inquisition of Mel Brooks’ History of the World, from Lenny Bruce to George Carlin, from Richard Pryor to Margaret Cho, from The Daily Show to The Chappelle Show.
Is humor an art? Consider style, method, approach. At any rate, similar to certain general questions we might ask of art, what is the connection between humor and society? Can a society be, in a sense, “measured,” or analyzed with reference to its (range of, and sense of!) humor? Can humor go too far? And if so, how, why, and/or when would that be the case?
Is humor simultaneously a more potent and “lighter” medium through which to address our culture and its discontents? Or does it provide a convenient kind of escapism to laugh off (literally) our problems as a society?
Seriously funny exploration of said topic will be embarked upon in true interdisciplinary, multi-medium fashion vis-à-vis texts, recordings, film and video, etc.
Michael Szekely (Ph.D., Temple University; Philosophy). Dr. Szekely's primary research and teaching interests are in Cultural and Critical Theory, Aesthetics (especially the philosophy of music), and Contemporary Continental Philosophy, with more particular interests in French poststructuralism (especially Gilles Deleuze and Roland Barthes) and the Frankfurt School (especially Walter Benjamin). He has published articles in such journals as Jazz Perspectives, Social Semiotics, Textual Practice, Rhizomes, Contemporary Aesthetics, Popular Music and Society, and the Oxford Handbook on Music Education Philosophy, and is currently writing a book on Barthes and music. Dr. Szekely is also a practicing musician and composer, with particular interests in collective improvisation and popular music.
MLA 8150: Topics in Gender Studies: Secularism: Jewish and Muslim Women
In its three-hundred-year history as a Western concept, secularism is often defined as the opposite of religion. Religious women have alternately found western secularism to be a source of liberation (as it grants them greater civil rights) and a source of oppression (as it putatively shrinks the religious sphere). In creating feminisms through Jewish and Muslim experience, feminisms that are both secular and religious, these religious women have complicated the meanings of secularism. They have also challenged the notion that feminism is necessarily secular. This course looks at examples of Jewish and Muslim women's lives and feminist thought in the US, Europe, and the Middle East. The course will compare and contrast the feminism of these two groups of religious women, in order to more fully understand the role of concepts like secularism, feminism, and religion.
Dr. Laura S. Levitt is a Professor of Religion, Jewish Studies and Gender at Temple University. She has served as the Director of the Women's Studies Program from 2009-2001 and coordinated the Greater Philadelphia Women's Studies Consortium (GPWSC) from 2006-2010. Levitt was one of the founders of the Jewish Studies Program at Temple and, for many years, served as its director. She received an A.B. ('82) in Religious Studies from Brown University, an M.A. ('86) in Jewish Studies from Hebrew Union College-JIR, and a Ph.D. in Religion and a Women's Studies Certificate ('93) from Emory University.
Levitt is the author ofAmerican Jewish Loss after the Holocaust(2007) andJews and Feminism: the Ambivalent Search for Home(1997). She is co-editor with Miriam Peskowitz ofJudaism since Gender(1997); and with Shelley Hornstein and Laurence Silberstein an editor ofImpossible Images: Contemporary Art after the Holocaust(2003). With Rebecca Alpert she co-edited "Jewish Feminist and Our Fathers," a special issue ofBridges14.1(Spring 2009) and she is the editor of "Changing Focus: Family Photography and American Jewish Identity,"The Scholar & Feminist Online, 1.3 (Winter 2003).
Levitt is currently at work on a new project about Criminal Archives, the materials in police storage rooms and their relationship to issues of justice and collected memories. Herproject, tentatively titledEvidence as Archive, is a highly interdisciplinary work that builds on her prior work in feminist theory and Holocaust studies in order to take more seriously criminal evidence held in police storage as a repository of memory.It uses this evidence to rematerialize the stuff of archives even as it uses the vast body of recent scholarship on archives and memory, to make more visible the power of these otherwise invisible police collections and those who maintain them.
MLA 8180: Ways of Seeing: Identity
Throughout the ages, art and popular culture have given us the means to examine and investigate the nature of identity and civilization. Today, identity is changing and readjusting to modern life and all that it embraces. In the 1950's, the sociologist Erving Gofmann utilized dramatic performance as a model for identity. In this course, we will also use theater as a means to explore identity. In addition,Facebook and other online venues have raised questions about "true" identities. Are the virtual realities just a new place to try on differing personas? People have struggled with their identities and a great portion of the arts including film, theater, and literature have addressed many questions about the issue. For instance, the film XXY deals with the question of sexual identity. As science progresses, we learn more about permutations and gender becomes a more complex issue. Since Obama's election, many say we live in a post racial society. What does this really mean?
The internet has given us instant communication and an entirely new media. How has this impacted identity? Is it more fluid? Has crowdsourcing and cyberbullying had an effect on how people look at themselves? Or is this just a magnification of an age-old problem?
In the course, we will attempt to look at the differing factors that go into identity and in addition, consider what our new tools have provided.
Gayle Rosenwald Smith (J.D., University of Miami). Ms Smith’s teaching interests in the MLA program include cultural studies, theater, film, literature, and the arts. She also teaches English and Public Speaking at the Community College of Philadelphia. In addition to being a Philadelphia Barrymore judge and a practicing attorney, Ms Smith is the published author of two non-fiction books, What Every Woman Should Know About Divorce and Custody (Perigee 2007) and Divorce and Money: Everything You Need to Know (Perigee 2004), essays, and op-ed pieces on such subjects as Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett, C.S. Lewis and Joy Gresham, and Braque and Picasso, which have appeared in such periodicals as The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Magazine, Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on television stations and radio shows (including the local NPR show “Voices in the Family” with Dan Gottlieb) around the nation in promotion of her books. Ms Smith has always been passionate about and enjoys teaching.
MLA 8220: Topics in Urban Studies: Philadelphia Neighborhoods: History and Issues
In this course, students will be introduced to the development of the city of Philadelphia as seen from a neighborhood perspective. From Colonial times to the present, neighborhood and community are the primary means by which the city's residents experienced growth and change in Philadelphia. Using primary and secondary sources as well as the rich legacy of the region's sites, collections and museums, students will develop a deep sense of the city's many neighborhoods.
Kenneth Finkel is Distinguished Lecturer in Temple University’s American Studies and Master of Liberal Arts Programs. He has held various positions in Philadelphia’s cultural community: Curator of Prints and Photographs at the Library Company of Philadelphia, Program Officer at the William Penn Foundation, and, most recently, Executive Director of Arts & Culture Service at WHYY.Finkel's publications include seven books and catalogues on 19th-century photography, graphics, and architecture with a focus on Philadelphia as a center of innovation. In addition to his first book, Nineteenth-Century Photography in Philadelphia, his other published work includes the early 19th century sketchbooks of Joshua Rowley Watson and the Pennsylvania Railroad photographs of William H. Rau. Finkel revived the almanac in editions of the Philadelphia Almanac and Citizens’ Manual for 1994 and 1995. He has also served on the Board of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts.
MLA 9082 Independent Study
See "Independent Study" on this website for more information about this option.
MLA 9995 Master’s Project
Reserved for qualifying paper/thesis research; consult with the MLA Advisor.
MLA 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. Topics include, for example: cultural representations of gender and sexualities, and of race and "whiteness"; the social construction of space and place; technology and its construction of identity; boundaries of culture and consumption (high, low, middlebrow); museums and cultural memory.
MLA 8110 Topics in the Arts and American Culture
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.
MLA 8120 Topics in Cultural Studies
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.
MLA 8130 Topics in Visual Culture
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?
MLA 8140 Topics in Performance Studies
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.
MLA 8150 Topics in Gender Studies
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.
MLA 8160 Topics in Environmental Studies
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.
MLA 8171 Intellectual Heritage, MLA
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.
MLA 8180 Ways of Seeing
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.
MLA 8190 Modernism
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.
MLA 8210 Topics in Political Culture
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.
MLA 8220 Topics in Urban Studies
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.
MLA 8230 Topics in International Studies
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.
MLA 8250 Topics in Science, Technology, and Culture
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.
MLA 9082 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.
MLA 9995 Master's Project
Reserved for qualifying paper research; consult with the MLA Advisor.
"The greatest value of the MLA program is the opportunity it grants you to explore. The core curriculum will provide a soft introduction to the rigors of graduate study, allow you time and space to try on different methodological clothing, and ultimately allow you to discuss complex material in a way only the classroom setting can provide. This investment in intellectual diversity is an asset..."
Patrick Grossi, former MLA student (current Ph.D. candidate in History)