MALS Course Descriptions

Literature 523 - Church and State in Early Modern Spanish Culture

Half course for one semester. This course examines the relationship between politics and culture in 16th- and 17th-century Spain. More specifically, the organizing theme is the convergence of absolutist monarchical power and religious authority, as formulated or contested in various cultural productions: poems, religious and secular plays, novellas, conduct manuals, pictorial emblems, and paintings. The course will analyze the construction of and resistance to a theocratic imperial order from different theoretical perspectives. Conference. Offered fall 2008.

Liberal Studies 587 - Plagues and Their Meanings: Epidemic Disease in Medieval and Renaissance Europe

Half course for one semester. This course examines epidemic diseases in Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, beginning with the Black Death of 1348. Through learned medical treatises, literature, artworks, and other materials, the course will examine the variety of ways that people understood and coped with disease, as well as the effects of epidemics on the European population, politics, economy, and religion during this period of enormous change. Conference. Offered fall 2008.

Liberal Studies 559 - Ancient Slavery and Modern Ideology

Half course for one semester. This course explores and compares the nature of slavery in both Archaic and Classical Greek society, and Republican and Imperial Roman society. Through close examination of the literature, art, and archaeological remains from these periods, we explore the processes that led to the exploitation of slave labor in both societies, how slavery functioned within the ancient economy and in ancient political systems, whether it had any racial basis, and how it was judged socially, morally, legally, and philosophically. Conference. Offered spring 2009.

Liberal Studies 522 - Ancient Epics: The Epic of Gilgamesh, the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid

Full course for one semester. This course explores and compares four ancient epics in their literary and historical contexts, and will address the following questions: What is epic poetry? What are its major characteristics, and what is the major literary and cultural work it does? How are epics of different cultures similar and different? What is the relationship of epic to oral and written cultures? What is the relationship of epic to writing? What are the major themes of these four epics? How do the conceptions of the hero, fate, the gods, and the nature of human existence differ in these epics? Conference. Offered summer 2009.

History 565 - Animals: An Intellectual and Cultural History

Half course for one semester. This class traces the history of the relation between human and animal, principally as it has emerged in Western thought and culture. We will proceed from ancient arguments about animality and the soul, to the reception of these arguments in medieval philosophy and theology, to the status of animals in early-modern and enlightenment philosophy, science, and jurisprudence (“animal trials”), to the birth of modern approaches to animal rights, and finally to some recent attempts to use the human/animal divide to reconsider the history of Western ethics and politics. Conference. Offered fall 2008.

History 508 - The First World War

Half course for one semester. This course uses the First World War to examine how 20th-century Western societies have experienced modern war: the interrelationships between armed forces and their states and societies, and the nature of civil-military relations, economy and technology, values and ideologies, etc. The course approaches the war from a variety of perspectives: the new kind of warfare in the trenches; the new economic challenges on the newly conceived “homefront”; how European culture contributed to the wartime atmosphere, and in turn the war’s effect on European culture. Conference. Offered spring 2009.

English 538 - Cinema and the Senses

Half course for one semester. Cine-synaesthesia addresses the ways in which cinema evokes the senses of touch, taste, smell, time, movement, and propioception (our sense of our bodies in space), in addition to hearing and sight. The aim of this course is to think about an ecology of the human senses in and through cinema, elaborating on concepts of synaesthesia, ornamentation, and epic memory as they operate in films from different cultural and historical contexts. In addition to film scholarship, we will investigate the topic through such disciplines as neurophysiology, philosophy, painting, and music. Conference. Offered summer 2009.

Creative Writing 545 - Craft Studio: American Culture

Half course for one semester. In this course we will focus on utilizing traditional writing tools such as metaphor and symbolism to create worldly, contextual, and poignant creative nonfiction. We will focus our attention on the following topics: race and ethnicity, current events, and war. Students will read books of poetry, excerpts from memoirs, literary criticism, and essays related to our topics. Our primary focus will be to understand how successful cultural writing is constructed and then, frankly, to imitate. Conference. Offered spring 2009.

MALS 670 - Degree Paper

Full course for one semester.

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