Course DescriptionsMLS 511M Faulkner’s Light in August
Consistently ranked as one of the best English-language novels of the twentieth century, William Faulkner’s Light in August contains the Nobel Prize winning author’s earliest—and perhaps most explicit—commentary on racism and misogyny in the American South. In our study of Faulkner’s seventh novel, we will also examine writings that preceded Light in August and the critical conversation surrounding it.
MLS 512M Spinoza's Ethics
Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) was unable to publish his most important work during his lifetime. Instead, he left the manuscript for friends to edit and publish after his death -- as part of his Opera Posthuma. Appearing in 1678 (and immediately banned in much of Europe), the Ethics presents, in one geometrically-structured volume, a radical take on the major issues in modern philosophy -- theology, theory of knowledge, psychology, and ethics. Based on this work, Spinoza has been decried as an atheist and lauded as a "God-intoxicated man." Einstein called himself "Spinoza's disciple," while contemporary neuroscientists look to Spinoza for ideas regarding the role of emotions in our cognitive processes. Hailed by historians as the intellectual spark for the "radical enlightenment," Spinoza's Ethics scandalized its 17th-century readers, and its ideas still challenge us today.
MLS 566 Gender, Culture & Human Rights
This course will explore the tension between respecting cultural traditions, and respecting human rights. We will pay particular attention to the role that gender plays because many of the cultural traditions that seem to violate human rights disproportionately affect women. Issues such as female genital mutilation, forced prostitution, dowry, suttee (the practice of widows throwing themselves on the funeral pyre of their husbands), and wearing the veil have increasingly been the focus of international attention. These examples raise difficult ethical and political questions: Is the notion of human rights a cross-cultural or universal notion or is it culturally and historically specific? If cultural practices are voluntary, is it appropriate for someone from another culture to intervene? What are the appropriate guidelines for cross-cultural interaction? How can a concern for cultural sovereignty and integrity be balanced with cultural practices that apparently harm individuals? In this course we will explore the theoretical debate about these issues, and the implications for politics, ethics and public policy.
MLS 585 Writers of the Wild West
An introduction to the rich tradition of American nature writing from the prairies and deserts, mountains and glacial valleys of the west: featuring Muir, Austin, Snyder, and Leoplod, among others.
MLS 603: Religion and Western Culture 
The society that emerged from the ruins of the Roman Empire brought together classical, Germanic, and Christian elements to forge a new western European culture. This course traces the interaction of these strands through an examination of religion, social and political development, and changes in the arts. Students will examine the medieval synthesis in which religious concerns predominated, explore the factors that lead to its breakdown, and enhance their research skills at the graduate level.
MLS 605: Milestones of Modern Science 
Science has always been concerned with the search for order, whether it be to explain the starry phenomena in the night sky; the diversity of substances like rocks, water, and wind; or the nature of our own origins. This course pursues the pathways of science since the 17th century, concentrating on some of the exceptional ideas in biology and physics, with excursions into chemistry and mathematics. We study how the accumulation of knowledge acquired by technical tools and extraordinary thinking fabricates a new view of the universe and indicates our place in it.
MLS 690: Thesis Project 
The culmination of the degree program is the completion of a thesis project. Working under the direction of a faculty mentor and with the support of a liberal studies seminar, students apply the knowledge they have acquired in the program in designing and executing a final project. The project may be a research study or a creative work supported by a critical or theoretical essay. For guidelines and approval procedure, please see page 88 of the Graduate Studies catalog.