(June 1 - July 14, 2016)
No classes, 7/4,7/5
Last day to withdraw: 6/21/2016
LS604.401 Modern Hispanic-American Fiction
Dr. Thomas Ward, Monday and Wednesday, 6:00–9:00 p.m. [6/1–7/13, no class, 7/4]. (Historical)
LS657.501: Democracy and Democratization [Hybrid Course]
We take for granted that countries are—or ought to be— democratizing. But this is a new and remarkable assumption.
Why would we want a country to be (or become) democratic? Scholars argue that democracy is good inherently, and the best tool for producing a just and prosperous society. Others purport that “democracies don’t go to war with each other” and even “democracies don’t have famines”! But as we have seen in the last few years, democratization can be a volatile process.
What counts as “democratic”? Elections? Free speech? A “fair” distribution of income? What’s necessary for democracy and democratization? Are there cultural, social, economic, or institutional “requisites” before democratization can begin?
Building on this foundation, we will focus on four stages of democratization: after World War II (1945), the “third wave” of democratization (after 1974), after the Cold War (after 1989), and with special attention to post-9/11 Middle East. Are there historical lessons? How does social media matter? And more…
Through case studies and comparative analyses, we will consider the different methods and levels of success of countries that initiate a transition to democracy by themselves, and countries on which democracy is “imposed” by outsiders. Reading sources will vary from book-length treatments, scholarly journal articles, first-person accounts, Congressional testimony, and shorter articles and documents from leading scholars, practitioners, and journalists.
We will rely on a series of short written assignments and a consideration of one topic at greater length. You may choose a topic from the course or an approved non-course topic. You will develop an interesting question, and address it using a wide range of resources, and present your findings to the class in our last meeting. Finally, throughout the semester you will spend some time on one particular facet of Ignatian pedagogy—reflection.
Dr. James Quirk, Tuesday and Thursday hybrid, 6:00–9:00 p.m. [6/2–7/14, no class, 7/5], face-to-face meetings, 6/2, 6/16, 6/30, 7/12. (Thematic)
LS 742.601: Shades of Black: Film Noir and Post-War America
This course will survey the darkest genre in American cinema, film noir, with its tales of crime, corruption and anti-heroism. We’ll trace its origins in German expressionist films such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and then analyze the way it reflected and shaped post-World War II cultural anxieties about gender, race, power, and violence. We will also read important critical writings about the genre, and view numerous examples of film noir, beginning from early manifestations (The Maltese Falcon; Murder, My Sweet), moving to its flowering in the ‘40s and early ‘50s (Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Out of the Past, The Big Heat, T-Men, The Big Combo, Strangers On a Train, The Lady From Shanghai, and others), to its baroque ending in the later ‘50s (Kiss Me Deadly, The Killing, Touch of Evil). We will also briefly examine more recent “neo-noir” films such as Chinatown, Body Heat, L.A. Confidential, and two films by African-American director Carl Franklin (One False Move, Devil in a Blue Dress) to assess how this revival has not only remodeled the genre’s characters and themes, but also altered our understanding of the post-war American culture.
Dr. Randall Donaldson, Tuesday and Thursday, 6:00–9:00 p.m. [6/2–7/14, no class, 7/5]. (Thematic)
Required of all students in their first semester
(July 18 - August 25, 2016)
Last day to withdraw: 8/4/2016
LS641.401: Human, Animal, Machine: The place of Nature in our Techno-Consumerist Age
We will study contemporary, largely American, authors, as they reconsider our imperiled relation with the natural world. McKibben (The Age of Missing Information) compares twenty-four hours spent on an Adirondack mountain with twenty-four hours of programming on every single cable TV station. Weston (An Invitation to Environmental Philosophy) explores the rich intelligence of animals, including our own pets. You’ll be invited to investigate your own relationship to nature and technology (smartphones down, please).
Dr. Drew Leder, Monday and Wednesday, 6:00–9:00 p.m., 7/18–8/24. (Thematic)
LS744: American Manhood in the Making [Hybrid Course]
With the dawn of the American democratic experiment came new opportunities for identity and gender construction. Men and women from all over the world poured into America and brought with them their own notions of what it meant to be men and women. Although manhood is often viewed as stable and fixed, rooted in biological truths, history and literature tell a story of gendered contingency and uncertainty, often paired with intense anxiety. This course looks at the way manhood has changed in America by reading the historical and literary documents that influenced Americans’ perceptions of themselves and their individual and collective manhood. Using Michael Kimmel’s Manhood in America as a historical guide, we will read works by Benjamin Franklin, Henry David Thoreau, Fredrick Douglas, Willa Cather, Henry James, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Sinclair Lewis, Richard Wright, John Updike, David Sedaris, and other American authors. The diversity of these authors, male and female, multi-racial, straight and gay, as well as multicultural, will provide a spectrum of views on American masculinities, and allow us to interrogate different varieties of masculinity from different perspectives.
Students will give two brief presentations, a five- to ten- minute review of a scholarly article on masculinity and a ten-minute presentation on the theme of masculinity in an American film. Students will also write four reaction blog posts, discussing the reading for the week and posing questions to be addressed in class. Finally, students will write a fifteen- to twenty-page research paper discussing the theme of masculinity in one of the texts through a historical or theoretical lens.
Dr. Patrick Brugh, Tuesday and Thursday hybrid, 6:00–9:00 [7/19–8/25], face-to-face meetings, 7/19, 7/28, 8/9, 8/11, 8/23, 8/25. (Thematic)
Required of all students in their first semester
(September 7–December 22, 2016)
No classes, 11/23, 11/24
Last day to withdraw: 11/22/2016
LS 660.401: Practicing Death
Facing his own approaching execution, Socrates proclaims (as recounted in the Phaedo) that “it seems to me natural that a man who has really devoted his life to philosophy should be cheerful in the face of death.” For Socrates, the philosophical manner of existing, what he called “care of the soul,” is properly practicing death. Much more than a morbid consideration driven by darkness and fear, the thoughtful examination of death is precisely an engagement with life.
This course will examine the notion of “practicing death” as a uniquely philosophical/religious way of approaching life, noting some historical philosophical/theological foundations and locating its more immediate presence in specific examples from literature and film. Underlying our examination will be the question of the creation of individual value and the determination of individual meaning in response to the inevitability that is one’s death.
The main purpose of this course will be the examination of the question of the creation of individual value and the determination of individual meaning in response to the inevitability that is one’s death. While the philosophical/theological groundwork may provide us with specific tools for understanding and formulating the question, and while the more “artistic” examples may further enhance our understanding of what is at stake in posing and attempting to answer the question, the main trajectory of our efforts will be directed at a responsible, individual understanding of the question and the formulation of a possible response.
Dr. Steven Burr, Wednesdays, 6:30–9:00 p.m. [9/7–12/21, no class 10/12, 11/23, 12/21]. (Thematic)
Required of all students in their first semester
LS 679.401: Literary Biography
This course looks at biography as a literary art form, while examining the role biography plays not only in understanding the significant accomplishments of certain individuals, but in illuminating the times in which they lived. Has biography changed over the decades? Are biographies ever entirely unbiased? Are popular biographies invariably less accurate than academic ones? What privacy rights do public figures retain? These are some of the questions this seminar addresses as it looks at biographical writings about such figures as Madame Curie, Thomas Jefferson, Ulysses Grant, Mohandas Gandhi and Coco Chanel. Students will also be asked to write a biographical essay about a public, artistic or historical figure of their own choice.
Dr. Brian Murray, Thursdays, 6:30–9:00 p.m. [9/8–12/22, no class 10/13, 11/24, 12/22]. (Creative)
LS617.501: Voters, Campaigns, and Elections in the United States: Elections 2016
Focus on the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and its context. We use academic scholarship, political rhetoric, historical documents, and current news analysis. We consider U.S. politics and elections in historical context, the evolution of the 2016 elections, and the American electorate itself. Finally, we look ahead to possible implications of the new President, his or her policies, and the political environment in which he or she will govern.
Dr. James Quirk, Mondays hybrid, 6:30–9:00 p.m. [9/12–12/19], face-to-face meetings, 9/12, 10/10, 11/7, 12/5. (Historical)
LS689.601: American Film Classics
Everyone loves the movies, and we all have our favorites. We recommend some to friends, noting that the acting was “brilliant,” the camera work was “awesome,” or the story “moving.” Yet we don’t often pause to consider the meaning behind the words. In this course we will take a close look at several films generally considered classics and attempt to establish how they achieve their effect on us. Once we’ve established a framework for discussion we will take up an additional ten films, selected at least in part from a survey of those in the class.
The emphasis in each class will be on discussion and developing a critical eye for the way a film is made. Each student will be asked to submit a viewing report for each of the initial films. Four short papers (750 words), two presentations, and a final written project are also required.
Dr. Randall Donaldson, Tuesdays hybrid, 6:30–9:00 p.m. [9/13–12/20], face-to-face meetings, 9/13; 9/20; 10/18; 11/1; 12/6. (Creative)
LS697.601: Reading Television
This course contends that, while television is primarily a visual and oral medium, anything like an adequate appreciation of its pervasive contributions to American culture requires something much more akin to mastering a unique and comprehensive literacy. So, together we'll learn how to "read" television by viewing a handful of exceptional seasons of highly successful TV series and placing them in social, historical, generic, aesthetic, and theoretical contexts. Possible series include: All in the Family, M*A*S*H, Dallas, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The West Wing, 24, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Simpsons, The Sopranos, and Deadwood. The four or five series to make the cut will be determined by student votes during the preceding semester.
Requirements include a short (three- to four-page) episode analysis, a longer (five- to seven-page) essay with accompanying presentation applying secondary source material to a particular series, leading a class discussion, and a final (twelve- to fifteen-page) research paper. In addition students will be required to watch four or five seasons of television outside of class in preparation for class discussions.
Mr. Louis Hinkel, Mondays, 6:30–9:00 p.m. [9/12–12/19, no class 10/10 12/19]. (Creative)