Loyola University Maryland

Graduate Program in Liberal Studies

Fall 2015 Course Offerings

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FALL (August 31–December 17, 2015)

No classes: 11/25, 11/26
Last day to withdraw: 11/23/2015


LS 650-401: The Absurd in Life and Literature

The course will run as a graduate seminar in which the main goal will be to find a workable definition of the absurd in literature. The term “absurd” is often used derisively to describe something which ought to be dismissed, yet the absurd as a mode of thought has become one of the most influential elements of modern (and post-modern) literature. Collectively and individually the group will undertake a voyage of discovery to determine the philosophical roots of the concept of absurdity and its manifestation in contemporary literature and film. We will work with the source material, looking first at the European thinkers and writers from which the ideal first sprang and following subsequent developments in the work of contemporary American writers. The works to be read will include writers as diverse as Kierkegaard, Camus, and Albee. The works themselves will vary from Kafka’s Trial to Irving’s Ciderhouse Rules. Students will be challenged to examine a complex issue critically and express themselves effectively in written work, classroom discussion, and presentations. (Thematic)

Dr. Steven Burr & Dr. Randall Donaldson

Wednesdays, 6:30–9 p.m., 9/2–12/16/2015 [no class 10/14, 11/26, 12/16]

Required of all students in their first semester  

LS 709-401: The Moral and Political Ideas of Tolkien's The Lord of Rings

The course explores a masterpiece of English literature in terms of moral and political theory. We will try to tease out an answer to something rather odd: Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings as “a myth for England” yet the books and films are an astonishing global phenomenon. Why? Maybe the world over there is an appetite for elves, hobbits, wargs, nazgul, and nasty little fellows like Gollum. Maybe its success speaks to the voyeur in us: The appeal of wandering inside one man’s densely constructed fantasy. Or maybe it is because we sense that the fantasy world that is Middle Earth is jammed full of moral, political, philosophical and religious ideas. In every community the great themes of friendship, war, mercy, treachery, possession, land and totalitarianism, are the stuff of fascination. How did Tolkien refine his own sense of these themes? Like all great artists, he was gifted with, and burdened by, remarkable intuitions about human beings and their longings but he was also a great man for ideas and there were many original ideas floating in the air. We will read and discuss some of the great contemporary philosophers Tolkien surely knew about, including the classic work of the notorious Carl Schmitt. We will also read some selections from thinkers of the Middle Ages, a period of history which Tolkien loved. In reading these authors, the objective of the class is to understand Tolkien’s moral and political vision, and to wonder aloud how his fantasy might shape our reality for the better. (Historical)

Dr. Graham McAleer

Tuesdays, 6:30–9 p.m., 9/1–12/8/2015 [no class 10/13, 12/8] 


* LS 652-501: Making Foreign Policy

Who makes American foreign policy, and how? We'll look at making foreign policy with cases from World War II through today. What ideals, institutions, personalities, and constraints are at work with various countries, economic crises, the environment, cybersecurity, and more?

We will examine the making of foreign policy as told by distinguished practitioners – mostly presidents and their key advisors. We'll then draw lessons from their experience as we design and debate students' own foreign policy strategies for current and emerging issues.

This course will be structured to help interested students prepare a proposal for Loyola's Emerging Scholars celebration of graduate research. (Thematic)

Dr. James Quirk 

Mondays, 6:30–9 p.m., 8/31–12/14/2015  

*Hybrid course - this course will be taught online with several face-to-face meetings. See WebAdvisor for exact dates.  


LS 687-601: A Sensory Approach to Writing Creative and Practical Non-Fiction

The rise in popularity of creative non-fiction in memoirs, journals, blogs, travelogues, and personal essays is the inspiration for this course, which explores non-fiction techniques and structures through a variety of sensory-based activities and readings from a number of literary genres.

Unlock the subliminal and powerful secrets of your own creativity and productivity! This course will teach you the tried and true—but little known and used—techniques of some of the most accomplished writers. Learn how to get beyond “writer’s block” and under-confidence to a successful “writer’s wellspring” through a variety of sensory-based activities and readings from a number of literary genres. Using the universal magic of our own senses (and there are more than five!) this course will help you conjure successful texts like a master. This workshop-based exploration of quality creative non-fiction will change how you write forever.

The course uses lecture, seminar-style discussion, small-group activities, student-led discussion and presentations, peer critiques, and hands-on assignments. Students will perform regular small-group critiques of their written work and will take an active role in each class meeting. A final, edited electronic portfolio is required. (Creative)

Mr. David Belz 

Thursdays, 6:30–9 p.m., 9/3–12/17/2015 [no class 10/15, 11/26, 12/17]