Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

 2018-19 Evening and Summer Graduate Courses

MALS photo

The following courses will be offered through the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program for the 2018-19 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 thesis, MALS 670, is a one-unit, one-semester course, and may be written any term. (Courses and times are subject to change.)

Fall 2018


August Wilson's Twentieth Century Cycle
Between 1982 and 2005, African American playwright August Wilson wrote ten plays, one for each decade of the twentieth century, in which he offered an alternative view of American history as seen through the perspective of black characters. Those formally marginalized now took center stage, and the cycle celebrates their struggles to establish community and maintain a sense of history. We will read the entire cycle chronologically by decade depicted starting with Gem of the Ocean (1900s) (2003) and concluding with Radio Golf (1990s) (2005). Thus, this is a course in both African American history and literature. Conference.

Half course for one semester
Pancho Savery, Professor of English and Humanities
Tuesdays, 5:40–7:10 p.m.


The Immigrant as Protagonist
The immigrant, a highly contested figure in today’s global arena, has played a pivotal role in shaping the modern experience. The course explores this paradigmatic figure of displacement, as represented through artistic imagination. We will examine how the immigrant as protagonist and its variants—the emigrant, the exile, the refugee, the displaced, the outsider, and the expatriate—function as an aesthetic and critical ground for negotiating the boundaries of cultural encounters. While the readings primarily focus on German-language texts in translation from the twentieth century to the present, we also will employ a world-literature approach by drawing on selected works from other national and cultural contexts. Genres to be considered include fiction, memoir, essay, and film. Diverse representations of the immigrant are informed by a rich array of themes and techniques: the immigrant as victim or hero; exile as catastrophe or a new state of freedom; voluntary and forced displacement; the immigrant and urban space; multicultural societies; and the immigrant at the intersection of local, national, and global identities are among the topics to be examined. Along with these thematic inquiries, we will discuss linguistic and stylistic experiments that shape the writings on or by immigrants. Displacement often necessitates the shift from one language and audience to another, opening up narratives with multiple dimensions. The figure of the immigrant thus serves as an impetus for generating new aesthetic and critical ventures. Literary readings include works by Franz Kafka, Walter Benjamin, Vladimir Nabokov, W. G. Sebald, Barbara Honigmann, Herta Müller, Orhan Pamuk, and Zafer Şenocak. Essays by Edward Said, Theodor Adorno, Salman Rushdie, and others constitute the theoretical framework. We will screen and discuss Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974) and Maria Schrader’s Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe (2016). Conference.

Half course for one semester
Ülker Gökberk, Professor of German and Humanities, Emerita
Wednesdays, 5:40–7:10 p.m.


Race, Labor and the Immigrant Experience
Using the lens of critical race studies and labor history, this course explores the major ways in which historians, social scientists and critics have approached the immigrant experience. Readings are taken from anthropology, sociology, history, and cultural studies. Comparing the immigrant contexts of North America, Europe, 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 through their racialized, laboring bodies. In this respect, the course uses the immigrant experience to explore broader issues surrounding class and racial boundaries of contemporary citizenship and contemporary debates over multiculturalism in immigrant societies. Conference.

Half course for one semester
Paul Silverstein, Professor of Anthropology
Wednesdays, 7:30–9 p.m.

Spring 2019


Russian Culture under Putin: Submission and Resistance
This course examines main cultural developments in Russia over the last two decades—the developments that took place in a conservative social climate and under the pressure of increasingly repressive government policies. We will discuss heterogeneous materials: works of literature (both fiction and non-fiction), film, poetry, performance art, journalist and scholarly writings, TV and Internet texts. As we explore both Russian “high culture” and “mass culture,” we will pay special attention to both the techniques of submission and the strategies of resistance, as adopted by the Russian creative class. Among the topics which we will address are historical memory and its manipulations; new nationalism; corruption and its impact on society; economic inequality and cultural divisions; and Russian versions of artistic and political postmodernism. Conference.

Half course for one semester
Evgenii Bershtein, Professor of Russian
Wednesdays, 5:40–7:10 p.m.


The Power of American Things: United States and its Stuff in the 20th Century World
This course investigates the nature of American power in the 20th century by focusing on the political, cultural, and economic value of the materials the nation has produced and consumed in establishing and maintaining its global hegemony. That is, the course focuses on American “stuff.” Where have Americans and their institutions found the raw materials they have needed to build and maintain the nation? How have they gone about procuring these precious materials and commodities, and what have these things come to mean, both to Americans and to their friends and enemies abroad? Beginning with key agricultural commodities that helped the nation rise to global economic power in the late 19th century—particularly wheat and sugar—we will investigate what important substances like cotton, rubber, bananas, aluminum, petroleum, drugs, nylons, and Coca Cola can tell us about the relationships between the United States and the world, and between the nation and the non-human environment, as those relationships changed over the course of the 20th century. In the process, we also will begin to tease out some of the important and overlapping environmental, economic, political, and cultural foundations of modern globalization. Conference.

Half course for one semester
Joshua Howe, Assistant Professor of History and Environmental Studies
Wednesdays, 7:30–9 p.m.


Drugs, Gangs & Aliens
In this course, we will address and think critically about the interrelated nature of irregular immigration to the U.S., the drug trade and the “War on Drugs,” and the expansion and criminalization of gangs throughout the Americas. We will examine how cornerstones of state sovereignty such as the rule of law, the care and control of space and population, and the monopoly on violence are being challenged by these phenomena, as well as analyze, question and discuss their representation and problematization in Latin and North American literary works, essays, chronicles and films in relation to theoretical concepts such as sovereignty, violence, neoliberalism, border, immunity and community. Conference.

Half course for one semester
Christian Kroll, Assistant Professor of Spanish and Humanities
Thursdays, 5:40–7:10 p.m.

Summer 2019


Critical American Indian Studies
The course begins with a critical examination of the origins of the field of American Indian Studies. We will engage with Indian authors who helped usher in an era of critical American Indian thought including Vine Deloria Jr., Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, Beatrice Medicine, Walter Echo Hawk, and Robert Warrior. Similar to the origins of the field, this course will maintain a primarily legalistic and philosophic approach to the condition of ‘being Indian.’ How is Indian belonging determined, and by whom? What are the legal conditions that have shaped the image and recognition of Indians in contemporary north American pop culture? The ‘Indian as legal construct’ will be our point of departure for examining contemporary themes such as representation and identity, queer indigeneity, social and political activism, decolonization movements, tribal justice systems, and tribal sovereignties. We will end the semester by pulling the great Indian renaissance in literature to the present day with Scott Momaday and James Welch, and with plays by Thomson Highway and Drew Hayden-Taylor. While focused primarily on north American Indian peoples, this course will also utilize authors addressing native Hawaiian issues of decolonized research, tribal belonging, and sovereignty including Linda Tuhiwai Smith and J. Kēhaulani Kauanui. Conference.

Full course for one semester
Miishen Carpentier, Assistant Professor of Anthropology
TBA: Mondays-Thursdays, 2 hours/day for 6 weeks, starting in June


Dance and Identity on the Global Stage
What is the relationship between dance and identity in a global world? This course considers how contemporary dance practices reflect and/or contest racialized, gendered, sexualized, and classed social identities as they are formed in national and transnational contexts. “Contemporary dance,” for the purposes of this course, signals a broad genre of choreography that gained prominence during the late 20th century. While most closely associated with influences from the Euro-American concert tradition (ballet, modern and post-modern dance), contemporary dance works frequently expand beyond these bounds. The works that we will consider invoke dances of the African Diaspora, Kathak (a form of Indian classical dance), Khon (Thai dance drama), and Latin/o American social dance forms, among others. Focusing our attention on a select set of concert works from the late 1990s to the present, we will examine both the formal strategies (movement vocabulary, structure, etc.) that choreographers employ to address issues of identity as well as the global political economies that shape the creation of their work. Through viewings of the works themselves as well as readings drawn from within and beyond the interdisciplinary field of critical dance studies, students will explore methods for describing, interpreting, and critically analyzing how dance makes meaning. In our approach to both primary and secondary source material, we will consider how the critical study of dance contributes to scholarly conversations in critical race theory, globalization theory, cultural studies, gender and sexuality studies, and postcolonial studies. Conference.

Half course for one semester
Victoria Fortuna, Assistant Professor of Dance
TBA: meets weekly, 6-9 p.m. for 7 weeks, starting in June