Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

Graduate Seminars

2013-14 Evening and Summer Graduate Courses


The following courses are scheduled tentatively through the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program for the 2013-14 academic year. All MALS courses must enroll a minimum of five students to be offered. Most enroll between six and twelve 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.

Fall 2013

Modern Turkish Literature: East West Trajectories

This course examines the contested notion of “Turkish identity” in the literary imagination and social theory. Having begun with the mid nineteenth-century Ottoman era, Turkey’s modernization reached its transformative moment with the foundation of the Republic in 1923.  With the import of Western political and social structures as well as cultural values, Turkey’s turn to the West was officially declared. The abrupt break with the Ottoman culture and the formation of a westward-oriented civic identity occasioned numerous literary reflections. Beginning with Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar’s 1949 novel, A Mind at Peace, we will explore negotiations of cultural identity in representative novels and short stories. The diverse thematic and formal traits of the selected works illustrate how the authors complicate reductive binarisms, such as tradition/ modernity or East/West.  Readings include Sait Faik’s short stories, reminiscences about the local minorities of Istanbul in the 1940s, Bilge Karasu’s experimental novels Death in Troy and The Garden of Departed Cats, Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk’s rethinking of the East West path in his historical fiction My Name is Red, and his Snow, which depicts the recent rise of the Islamist movement. We will conclude with Elif Shafak’s The Bastard of Istanbul, which conjures up the tragic past of Turkish Armenians through a focus on remembering and forgetting. The course incorporates readings drawn from new directions in social and cultural theory on Turkish modernization. Leading scholars we will consider include Kasaba, Keyder, Özdogan, Göle, Kandiyoti, and Saktanber. Conference.
Half course for one semester.
Ulker Gokberk, Professor of German and Humanities
Tuesdays, 6:00–7:30 p.m.

Race and the Immigrant Experience

Using the lens of critical race studies, this course explores the major ways in which historians and social scientists and critics have approached the immigrant experience. Readings are taken from anthropology, sociology, history, and cultural studies. Comparing the immigrant contexts of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, and Australia, the course considers both the politico-economic effects of and ideological contests over immigration. The course focuses on issues of identity formation, and particularly on the ways in which immigrants are incorporated into and/or excluded from processes of nation formation and the national imagination. In this respect, the course uses the immigrant experience to explore broader issues surrounding racial boundaries of contemporary citizenship and contemporary debates over multiculturalism in immigrant societies. Conference.
Half course for one semester.
Paul Silverstein, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Wednesdays, 5:30–7 p.m.

Gender, Form, and Identity in Contemporary Dance

What is the relationship between choreographic form and the content of a dance work? How does the structure of a dance, and what we know about the process(es) behind it, influence our understanding and reception of it? This course examines choreographic form and composition, gender and identity politics, the use of digital technology, and corporeality in late 20th-century and early 21st-century contemporary dance through discussions of the work of choreographers William Forsythe, Meredith Monk, Bill T. Jones, Merce Cunningham, Trisha Brown, Pina Bausch, Ohad Naharin, Lloyd Newson/DV8 Physical Theater, and Lin Hwai-Min/Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan. Many of these choreographers work interdisciplinarily, and apply theoretical constructs from other visual or performing arts or philosophical disciplines to their choreography. Our discussions will contextualize both choreography and related modes of thought within the broader context of the time period. Coursework will include reading, writing, watching videos of the works, and using web-based tools for investigation. No previous dance experience is necessary. Conference.
Half course for one semester.
Hannah Kosstrin, Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance

Wednesdays, 7:30–9 p.m.

Spring 2014

Horror and the Sublime in Russian Culture
This course will examine a range of meanings and functions of the concept of “horror” and of the aesthetic category of the sublime in selected Russian works (literary and visual). We proceed from the premise that these categories enter Russian discourse as a consequence and symptom of westernization and, as elements of “high” culture, are constitutive of a secular morality, i.e. a set of rules that form the background of individual activity by defining what is and is not acceptable. We will read key Western philosophical treatments of these categories, and consider their adoption in Russia to map and remap the realms of the unacceptable and the acceptable in Russian reality, framing the former as the “horrible” (tyranny; slavery; war); and the latter as the “sublime” (nature; art; Eros). Primary texts include relevant works of Western theory; the Russian writers Radishchev, Karamzin, Gogol, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Babel, Shalamov; and representative works of Western and Russian art. Readings are in English translation. Conference.

Half course for one semester.
Lena Lencek, Professor of Russian and Humanities
Wednesdays, 5:30—7:00 p.m.

The Literature of Love

The course will explore how literature not merely reflects but actively promotes shifting trends in the theory and practice of love.  With the rise of the Romantic love ideal around 1800, literary love stories became a privileged medium to formulate ideas about individual uniqueness and negotiate clashes between individual and society. At the same time, Romantic love tests the limits of literary representation and presents authors with a new question: Can love be written about at all?  How can we communicate feelings that in their intensity and specificity seem to elude verbalization?  In the first half of the course, we will read a number of (primarily German) Romantic poems, plays, and prose texts that confront this question.  In the second half of the course, we will examine the creation of a new semantics of love in literary modernism. Throughout the course, we will be reading philosophical and socio-political analyses alongside the literary texts. Literary readings include Lessing, Goethe, Kleist, Schlegel, Keller, Lasker-Schüler, Benn, Schnitzler, Mann, Keun, Brecht. Theoretical readings include Plato, Schopenhauer, Freud, Foucault, Luhmann, and others. Conference.
Half course for one semester.
Katja Garloff, Associate Professor of German and Humanities
Wednesdays, 7:30–9 p.m.

The Biological Legacy of Lewis and Clark

An examination of the natural history of the Lewis and Clark expedition with an emphasis on the new species of plants and animals and their communities that were first described on the expedition. The scientific discoveries will be placed into a modern context by using these species to illustrate underlying biological principles such as community structure and ecological interactions. Consideration will be given to changes that have occurred since 1800 as well as changes that might be expected in the future. Additional attention will be devoted to the historical intrigue that relates to Jefferson and the intelligentsia in Philadelphia both before and after the expedition. Two field trips (one day in length each) will be taken to nearby sites such as Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge to see wintering/migrating birds on the Columbia River and various sites in the Columbia River Gorge that demonstrate the diversity of plant communities that Lewis and Clark encountered. Conference.
Half course for one semester.
David Dalton, Professor of Biology
Thursdays, 5:30–7 p.m.

Summer 2014

Women in the Ancient World

This course examines the female experience in ancient Greece and Rome from 3500 BCE to 300 CE. We will begin by briefly considering main themes in women’s history and the applicability of gender as a category of historical analysis to the study of the ancient world. We then will turn to a close analysis of the available literary, documentary, and archaeological evidence that illuminates ancient attitudes toward women, women’s daily lives, the female lifecycle, and the various practical and symbolic roles that women played in both Greece and Rome. Topics include the portrayal of women in ancient myth, literature, and art; the political, legal, economic, and social status of women; women’s roles in state and private religious activities; women in the family and household organization; women’s education and female literacy; philosophical treatments of gender; scientific knowledge and folklore concerning gender and sexuality; and, the function of gender in ancient ideologies. The course follows these topics chronologically through the two cultures, with special emphasis given to the coincidences and conflicts between literary images of women and the realities of their everyday experience recoverable through documentary and archaeological evidence. Readings will include the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Herodotus’ Histories, Euripides’ Medea, Aristophanes’ Thesmophoriazusae, Aristotle’s Politics, the Hippocratic corpus, Livy’s The Early History of Rome, Catullus’ amatory poetry, Cicero’s In Defense of Marcus Caelius Rufus, and Tacitus’ Annals, along with a number of modern scholarly articles. Conference.
Full course for one semester.
Ellen Millender, Professor of Classics & Humanities
TBA, Mondays-Thursdays, 2 hours/day for 6 weeks, starting in June

"The Mirror Up to Nature": Reading Theatre History

Shakespeare writes that theatre is a “mirror up to nature”. Bertolt Brecht writes, “theatre is not a mirror held up to society, but a hammer with which to shape it.” In the field of theatre history, both of these assertions are true. This course is an investigation into the study and practice of theatre history, and how theatre reflects—and shapes—what happens beyond the stage. Through a deep reading of plays alongside primary documents, notably manifestos and theoretical essays, we will examine several key moments in theatre history including Ancient Greece, Medieval Europe, Neoclassical France, Naturalism in Scandinavia, and several key moments in the twentieth-century. This course offers a deep investigation into how today’s dominant styles of theatre came to be. This study of theatre history provides a window into political, social, cultural, religious, and art histories, as well as an investigation into the many roles that go into making theatre: from playwright to performer to dramaturg to designer. This course researches and questions the act of making theatre throughout history, and helps unpack how and why we make theatre the way we do today. Through theatre history we become better theatre practitioners scholars, and artists. Through theatre, we will learn more about our world as it was, it is, and may be. The workload for this course will focus on several short writing assignments, with the possibility for creative projects in theatre practice. Conference.
Half course for one semester.
Kate Bredeson, Assistant Professor of Theatre
TBA, meets for 3 hours weekly for 7 weeks, starting in June