Loyola University Maryland

Graduate Program in Liberal Studies

Fall 2016 Course Offerings

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Fall (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 rhetori c, 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)

Spring (January 17 – May 11, 2017)

No classes, 3/6, 3/12
Last day to withdraw: 4/18/2017


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 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 A. Burr

Monday, 6:30–9:00, 1/23/2017–5/8/2017 (Historical) [no class 3/6, 3/27, 5/8]

Required of all students in their first semester; open to others by permission only

LS706.401: Liberation Thinking

Examines the foundations of liberation thinking during the Renaissance, comparing European and Latin American paradigms developed during the European conquest of the Americas and checks in on them again during the seventeenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Some themes studied are mortality; justice/charity; God/Church; spiritual/temporal power; spirituality/sovereignty; immanence/transcendence; the nature of the soul; virtue; theology and history; the Gospels; the evangelization of Native Americans; the doctrine of non-violence, the Counter-Reformation; Utopian visions; and revolutionary appropriations of Christ (liberation theology).

Readings will include Thomas More, Erasmus, Las Casas, Guaman Poma de Ayala, Tolstoy, Renan, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Gustavo Gutiérrez.

Dr. Thomas Ward

Wednesday, 6:30–9:00, 1/18/2016–5/3/2016 (Historical) [no class 3/8, 3/28, 5/3]


LS713.501: The Many Faces of Immigration

The United States has long been known as a nation of immigrants. Most current residents originally came from someplace else, or at least their forebears did. This course will examine the process and the history of immigration to North America across a broad cross-section of individuals of numerous national origins and ethnic groups. There will also be a consideration of the political, social, and economic conditions in both the native country and the receiving country which might have encouraged a person to emigrate or influenced his or her reception in the adopted country. Students will also have an opportunity to consider the subject from the vantage point of their own family background.

Dr. Randall Donaldson

Tuesday, 6:30–9:00, 1/17/2017–5/2/2017 [This is a hybrid course which will be taught both on-line and face-to-face. Face-to-face meetings will take place at Loyola’s Columbia Center on 1/17/17; 2/7/17; 2/28/17; 4/4/17; and 4/18/17] (Historical)


LS635.601: A Genealogy of Race

This course explores the modern European ‘scientific’ invention of the concept of race as a way of categorizing human difference in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century writings of intellectuals such as Voltaire, Kant, Forster, Blumenbach, as well as Gobineau and Galton. The course then turns to exploring the persistence of the category of race in scientific writing throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. The course concludes with a critical analysis of statements that debunk race as a scientific category.

Racial identity remains at the very core of the modern ego. Yet the American Anthropological Association issued a position paper in 1998 claiming that “[r]acial beliefs constitute myths about the diversity in the human species and about the abilities and behavior of people homogenized into ‘racial’ categories,” and claimed further “evidence from the analysis of genetics (e.g., DNA) indicates that most physical variation, about ninety-four percent, lies within so-called racial groups. Conventional geographic ‘racial’ groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes.” Despite this pronouncement, the construct of race remains entrenched in modern scientific discourse, both in the human sciences and the biological sciences.

Dr. James Snow

Saturday, 9:30–12:00, 1/21/2017–5/8/2017 (Historical) [no class 3/11, 4/1, 5/8]

LS666.601: Personhood at the Extremes

Humans have persisted in thinking of themselves as a species apart, but what makes humankind unique individually and as a species remains unclear. Advances in neuroscience, computer science, as well as ethics, generate questions about the nature of intelligence, consciousness, and personhood as well as the rights and protections associated with being human. In this course we will tackle classic readings from Descartes to modern ruminations on artificial intelligence, examine our relation to our creations and pets and the way our various identities affect the way our personhood is perceived and protected.

Dr. Suzanne Keilson

Thursday, 6:30–9:00, 1/19/2017–5/11/2017 (Thematic) [no class 3/9, 3/30, 4/13, 5/11]