Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

Graduate Courses

2016-17 Evening and Summer Graduate Courses

MALS photo

The following courses will be offered through the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program for the 2016-17 academic year. They have been approved by the graduate studies committee and await final approval from the Reed faculty. All MALS courses must enroll a minimum of five students to be offered. Most enroll between five and ten students and all are capped at 15 students. The MALS degree paper, MALS 670, is a one-unit, one-semester course, and may be written any term. (Courses and times are subject to change.)

Fall 2016

ART 508
Renaissance Space

"Whoever holds the piazza is master of the city," writes the Florentine chronicler Giovanni Cavalcanti. The master of the city was no neutered subject. Cavalcanti's remarks demonstrate how urban geographies were in fact gendered in the early modern period. Whereas men occupied the piazza and its public architecture, women were ensconced within the folds of the private interior. This course will explore the representations of space in visual and textual culture to reveal how the spatial relations of the Renaissance city articulated the power and social controls delineating the contours of community. Included in our discussion will be the art of Botticelli and Titian; the architecture of prostitutes, patricians, and monastics; and contemporary treatises by Alberti and Filarete. Conference.
Half course for one semester
Dana Katz, Joshua C. Taylor Associate Professor of Art History and Humanities
Tuesdays, 7:00–8:30 p.m.

The Psychoanalytic Tradition

The aim of this class is to explore how the psychoanalytic tradition inaugurated changes in what we mean when we call ourselves human beings. To this end, the course stages several, cumulative encounters between the psychoanalytic tradition and you.   Roughly speaking, the first half of the course provides an overview of Freud’s thought, especially as it evolved in the context of clinical practice. Here, the main aim will be to consider how influential ideas about the unconscious, love and sexuality, dreams, fantasy, and the organization of the psyche developed in response to the peculiar kind of suffering Freud called neurosis. The second half of the course asks what is to be learned by situating psychoanalytic thought in its scientific, cultural, and social contexts, and by following its international dispersion in the work of those who extended (and revised) Freud’s ideas in ways he did not foresee. Conference.
Half course for one semester
Ben Lazier, Associate Professor of History and Humanities
Wednesdays, 5:40–7:10 p.m.

LBST 534
The Politics of Genre

In this course, we will read a variety of works from different genres in literature, political theory, history, and philosophy in order to ascertain how the form that texts take is a reflection (and perhaps sometimes a critique) of the political landscape in which they appear. Our primary focus will be works that were written in the medieval, early modern and Enlightenment periods. We will be paying close attention to how form constructs particular social models, proposes different models of the subject, excludes the representation of some social actors, and makes room for political critique. We will be pairing sets of texts together to see how these texts respond to one another through slight changes in genre. By way of works that span several centuries and countries, we will be able to see clearly how changes in genre reflect the changing political and social preoccupations of different cultures. Conference.
Half course for one semester

Ann Delehanty, Professor of French and Humanities
Wednesdays, 7:30–9 p.m.

Spring 2017

The Novels of Vladamir Nobokov: a Study
This course offers a detailed, chronological study of the prose of Russo-American writer Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), including several short stories, autobiography, and novels. The works originally written in Russian have been translated by the author in collaboration with his son Dmitri. The course will analyze the narrative forms, with a focus on the models of the meta-narrative, the biography, and detective fiction; close attention will be given to stylization, pattern, and tropes; and we will discuss the core philosophical, theological, and aesthetic problems addressed in the novels. Required reading will include: Mary, The Eye, Despair, Invitation to a Beheading, The Gift, Lolita, Speak Memory, and Pale Fire and contextual and theoretical supplementary materials. Conference.
Half course for one semester

Lena Lencek. Professor of Russian and Humanities
Tuesdays, 6:00–7:30 p.m.

Music 560
Music and the Black Freedom Struggle

The civil rights movement in the United States, demanding full citizenship for African Americans, is most commonly associated with the momentous sociopolitical developments of the 1950s and 1960s. Increasingly, scholars have situated this “classical” period of the movement within a broader historical arc encompassing an ongoing “black freedom struggle” that dates to Reconstruction. Over the course of this century of struggle and resistance, music has continuously been a terrain on which U.S. citizens conceptualized, articulated, and negotiated the terms of an equitable society. Through close study of primary and secondary historical texts and musical repertory that will include the spiritual, jazz, and concert music, this course will explore ways in which ideas about musical sound and musical performance, from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of World War II, articulated the stakes of the black freedom struggle and the meanings of freedom. Conference.
Half course for one semester
Mark Burford, Associate Professor of Music
Wednesdays, 7:00–8:30 p.m.

LBST 564
The Modern Middle East: History, Culture, Politics

The Middle East has been the focus of increased scrutiny over the past few decades in light of U.S. economic and political interests, and yet the region's internal cultural complexity is poorly understood and often overlooked. This course provides an overview of the region's political culture and cultural politics, and seeks to historically unpack a set of taken-for-granted lenses through which the region is often presented:  fundamentalism, sectarianism, tribalism, oil, patriarchy, and conflict. The course contextualizes area-specific cultural features like honor/shame, religious piety, and poetic practices within broader, comparative issues of colonialism, nationalism, state formation, urbanism, oppositional social movements, and globalization. Historical and ethnographic readings specifically focus on individual countries representing the diversity of the region (Egypt, Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, the Persian Gulf), but are organized to trace processes of historical change and political contestation. Conference.
Half course for one semester
Paul Silverstein, Professor of Anthropology
Thursdays, 5:40–7:10 p.m.

Summer 2017

LBST 525
Hindu Religious Traditions

We will use the general rubric of “religious studies” in this course to examine the complex theology, literary landscape, and social manifestations of the various traditions heuristically lumped together as “Hinduism.”  Students will explore several modes of analysis: extensive readings from primary texts with close reading practices; the employment of (perhaps) new tools, such as ethnography; considering the work of the scholar in accessing and analyzing religious traditions (both evident in historical materials and in the contemporary social landscape); and, promoting good and careful writing. Two core texts will form the backbone (Gavin Flood, An Introduction to Hinduism, and Wendy Doniger, The Hindus) and provide rich and complementary material to address historical, theological, and “the work of the religion scholar”–type questions. Each meeting will focus on a chapter from each text, paired with salient primary source material that will be used as a focus for conference. The primary sources are typically textual, from the Vedas and Upanisads to the Ramayana and the Bhagavad Gita. But we will also incorporate visual images, puja practices, Hindu temple architecture, contemporary pilgrimage accounts, and dance as “primary sources.”  Conference.
Full course for one semester

Kristin Scheible, Professor of Religion and Humanities
Mondays-Thursdays, 2 hours/day, June 26 through August 3

Theatre 540
Race in American Theatre

What do we mean when we use the term “race,” and how can performance give us a unique lens through which to understand this social system? In this course, we will explore the role contemporary American theatre has played in the construction, preservation, and interrogation of identity categories. We will analyze plays that employ performance as a venue for political activism, for cultivation of intra-ethnic pride, and for explorations of social issues too sensitive to be addressed in other contexts. Drawing upon readings from the theatre and other humanities and social sciences disciplines, we will work to understand how dramatic texts help to foster intra- and cross-cultural understanding, and also how a familiarity with the politics of representation and various other concerns of identity-based cultural groups can inform performance practices. We will examine works from a variety of cultural traditions in an effort to understand how seemingly common institutions or value systems (family, gender, class dynamics) must always be viewed through specific historical and cultural lenses. This course provides students with a more nuanced understanding of what race is and how it functions in America, through the lens of performance. Conference.
Half course for one semester

Catherine Ming T'ien Duffly, Assistant Professor of Theatre
Tuesdays, 6:00–9:00 p.m., June 20 through August 1