September 6 - December 21, 2017
No classes: 11/22, 11/23
Last day to withdraw: 11/28/2017
LS600.401: Self and World: Fundamental Issues in Human Existence
What does it mean to be a human being in the world? Through an examination of the fundamental conditions and experiences of human existence, this course will under-take to define the human self, the world, and the manner in which the two relate. Themes to be considered may include faith, exile, solidarity, and death.
Dr. Steven Burr, Tuesday, 6:30–9:00 p.m. [9/12–12/19, no class 10/17, 12/19]. (Thematic)
Required of all students in their first semester; open to others by permission only
LS689.401: 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, Thursdays, 6:30–9:00 p.m. [9/7–12/21, no class 10/19, 11/22, 12/21]. (Creative)
LS 678.401: Persuasion: The Lawyer’s Craft
Persuasion through writing, analysis, and argument has been a constant friend of the lawyer. But, what of the layperson? How can a layperson change the course of the law through his or her writings? We will examine the rhetorical tools deployed (e.g., logos, pathos, and ethos) in popular works and how they have influenced legal change. We will consider how these works changed our perception of justice, rights, and belonging.
Dr. Winsome Gayle, Mondays, 6:30–9:00 p.m. [9/11–12/18, no class 10/16, 12/18]. (Creative)
LS753.601: Philosophy of Peace
We agree that peace is preferable to war, but what do we mean when we talk about peace? This course will take a philosophical and historical perspective on major figures in diverse areas of peace studies, from Aristotle to Zinn, from Lao Tsu to Gandhi, from Freud to Friere. We will focus primarily on thinkers who conceive of peace not merely as the contingent absence of war, but as a realizable and enduring possibility for humanity. Analyses of the contemporary situation through text and film will help us to soberly evaluate these views.
It is all too easy to look at our world in dismay, pointing to its sorry state as evidence that peace is unattainable for human social organizations, let alone for individual souls. Yet peace is as much a part of human history as war, most conflicts are re-solved without violent eruption, and people everywhere have lived lives of quiet contentment as well as desperation. In our discussion-based seminar style course we will inquire into the reasons for war before approaching peace theory from the perspective of positive and negative peace.
Dr. Catriona Hanley, Wednesdays 6:30–9:00 p.m. [9/6–12/20, no class 10/18, 11/22, 12/20]. (Thematic)
January 16–May 10, 2018
NO CLASSES, 3/5–3/8
LAST DAY TO WITHDRAW: 4/16/2018
LS600.401: Self and World: Fundamental Issues in Human Existence
What does it mean to be a human being in the world? Through an examination of the fundamental conditions and experiences of human existence, this course will undertake to define the human self, the world, and the manner in which the two relate. Themes to be considered may include faith, exile, solidarity, and death.
Dr. Steven Burr, TBA (Thematic)
Required of and open only to students in their first semester
LS 681.401: Living Theater
This is a hands-on course in which students will explore the process of beginning with a play text, developing an interpretation of it, and creating a solid production plan—a set of concrete choices that respond to a specific understanding of a text. To this end, students will read and interpret plays as “literature” and then go on to act in scenes from plays, consider the work a director might do on the text, and conceive of and execute scenic and costume designs. This work will be supported by readings in dramatic theory and attendance at and criticism of local theatre productions. The course will end with a group project in which the class develops an original theatre piece and brings it to full production. This is a course in considering possibilities —not finding the “correct” answer. Emphasis is placed on the work of the imagination in response to thoughtful analysis. Each activity will build on the one before, enhancing the student’s understanding of the process as a whole. While they may not become “master” actors, directors, etc., students will clearly grasp the interconnectedness of the key parts of the highly collaborative art-for that is Theatre.
Ms. Julia Brandeberry, Mondays, 6:30–9:00 p.m. [1/22–5/7, no class 3/5, 4/2, 5/7]. (Creative)
LS 782.401: Baltimore Stories
America is built upon a tradition of storytelling and activism. We have always found ways to claim our independence, to work to change unjust laws, policies, and procedures, and to share all that we have learned and all that we are with the next generation. Before we had a written language, storytelling was how we shared our stories and how we built and sustained our culture. Before we had a country, indentured servants—both black and white—longed for a place to call their own. They lay claim to the world they inhabited by creating narratives which shaped their view of the world. From bedtime stories to kitchen gossip, the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, Americans have used the power of words and the might of the sword to carve out new stories and preserve their significance for the future. At the same time, stories from the Holy Bible or the Torah or the Koran have been used to define the moral character of different religious groups throughout history even as they have been used by others to maintain oppressive regimes. Stories are important; they bestow power and authority. Who gets to tell them and who gets to hear them is part of the complicated pattern of relationships which make us who we are.
This course will examine Baltimore's rich and complicated history and explore some of the stories that have shaped and transformed it. Each state and each city has a story, there are a million of them; Baltimore City, as a microcosm of America, has thousands of them. From the 1968 Riots to the 2015 Baltimore Uprising, Baltimore City has used both storytelling and activism as tools to define and redefine its identity and its place within the national conversation. In each story and in each act of engagement the issues of race, class, and gender intersect. These moments of intersection demand our attention.
Dr. Karsonya Wise Whitehead, Thursdays, 6:30–9:00 p.m. [1/18–5/3, no class 3/8, 3/29, 5/3]. (Creative)
LS 669.601: Jane Austen’s World: The Marriage of Literature and Philosophy
This course will explore three of Jane Austen’s most beloved novels—Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma—in the light of the philosophical theories they illustrate. Is the virtuous heroine a stoic, keeping emotion under control? Is she a feminist, showing independence in a man’s world? Or is she an illustration of Aristotle’s “golden mean?” Is Austen a proto-Marxist critiquing bourgeois life, or a social conservative? We will read novels, philosophical excerpts, and watch Austen on film, as we combine our business and pleasure.
Dr. Drew Leder, Tuesdays 6:30–9:00 p.m. [1/16–5/1, no class 3/6, 4/3, 5/1]. (Thematic)
LS 718.601: HELL & US: The Question of Evil from Medieval to Modern Culture
What is evil? Can a person be evil? What are the limits for ridiculing evil through satire?
This course will examine the question of evil in medieval and contemporary culture through a multidisciplinary perspective, employing insight and analysis from ethics, psychology, and the arts. By studying influential theologians and psychologists (Augustine, Aquinas, Stone), and focusing on paintings, poems, short stories, essays, songs, and movies within different time traditions (Michelangelo, Dante’s Inferno, Martin Luther King Jr, etc.), we will discuss broader ethical and social issues such as violence, war, mass murder, suicide, the representation of the devil in antiquity and modern times, political satire, dictatorship, and genocide.
We will first approach the general foundation of Christian ethics and the concept of evil through selected readings from Aristotle, Saint Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas and see their applications in literary works within the medieval tradition (mainly Dante’s Inferno), as well as in relations to essays by influential civil rights activists such as Frederick Douglass, Marcus Garvey, Malcom X, and Martin Luther King Jr. We will also examine artists (for instance Giotto, Michelangelo, William Blake, and Sandow Birk) and modern authors (such as Primo Levi, Mark Twain, and Ernest Hemingway) as well as filmmakers and directors (Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy and George Lucas’ Star Wars). Students will learn interactively through group discussions and presentations, and be actively engaged in approaching the topics from multiple perspectives. By the end of the course, students will create one analytic essay focused on a specific moral issue pertaining to the question of evil, one creative project where they will design their own hell based on Dante’s model from the Inferno, and a final research project that will incorporate both analytic and creative components. There will also be a special session via Skype with art director, writer, and producer Sandow Birk, who will discuss with students his groundbreaking movie.
Dr. Nicolino Applauso, Wednesdays 6:30–9:00 p.m. [1/17–5/2, no class 3/7, 4/4, 5/2]. (Historic)