Course Descriptions

Spring 2014

From the 2013-2014 Graduate Studies Catalog.

MLS 512 The Mad and the Bad [4]
Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Madness: The phenomena which we refer to as "madness" or "mental illness" have been understood and dealt with in different ways in different cultures and historical periods.  Some have damned madness as demonic possession; others have sought it as a source of inspiration.  Some see the mad as "lunatics"; others say that only madmen and children speak the truth.  Modern medicine sees mental illness as organic/chemical brain dysfunction; yet some contemporary critics maintain that the diagnosis of "mental illness" is just a way in which society expresses its disapproval of the unusual ways in which some individuals choose to think, speak, and act.  Topics to be discussed include madness as possession, madness and creativity, madness and insight, the biomedical account of madness, and other controversies.

MLS 520 Writing Self, Other, Culture [4]
A course to develop skills in research and writing that supports students in composing both autobiographically and ethnographically/journalistically (using interview and observational methods). Course readings focus on writing practices and exemplars of narrative work.

MLS 549M O Odysseus, Where Art Thou? [1.34]
Homer's Odyssey is one of the most important and influential texts of world literature.  Drawing on oral myths and songs passed down for generations, the epic poem was composed around the 8th century BCE yet continues to inspire and provoke readers today.  In this course we shall do a careful reading of Homer's Odyssey in its original historical, social, and cultural context in an attempt to understand the meaning and power of the poem.  Students will also be encouraged to consider modern literary odysseys such as James Joyce's Ulysses, Derek Walcott's Afro-Caribbean odyssey, Omeros, and N. Scott Momaday's Native American epic Way to Rainy Mountain.

MLS 550M Nietzsche and Film [1.34]
This masterworks class will read a series of contemporary films through the works of Friedrich Nietzsche. We will examine notions of genius, power, and insanity along with films like A Beautiful Mind, Being John Malkovich, and Eternal Beloved, as well as attempt to understand the implications of Nietzsche's work on Western civilization and thought.

MLS 603: Religion and Western Culture [4]
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 [4]
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 [4]
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.