Humanities Course Offerings
Comprised of the fields of art history, history, literature, music history, philosophy, and religion, the Humanities concentration offers students the chance to pursue essential questions about what it means to be human and to develop informed and humanistic goals and concerns. Humanities both prepares students for graduate and professional school and offers students a broad-based background in a number of disciplines.
The course explores the relation between the two terms “visual” and “culture” as constructions, examining visual forms of expressions, such as painting, photography, advertisement, comics, and digital imagery. The course revolves around some of the following questions: What is the difference between the terms art and visual? What are the diverse forms of the visual? How has the visual impacted us today? How does culture determine visual form? With an emphasis on the determining role of visual culture in the wider culture to which it belongs, it draws on images from both Western and non-Western worlds to be analyzed and placed in their cultural context.
The course introduces the students to the major works of art and art movements of the world by analyzing the visual characteristics of works of art and placing them in their historical and cultural context. It covers sculpture, painting, architecture, print, ceramics, and photography from ancient to modern cultures from east and west. The course seeks to provide the beginning art history student with a range of conceptual, visual, and verbal skills essential to the description and analysis of visual forms.
The course explores architecture as a cultural force and its interaction with the environment, in the context of social, cultural, and political realities. It draws examples from ancient Classical, Renaissance, Islamic, Asian, and Modern architecture comparing form, function, concept, association, and intent. Students will be introduced to the fundamentals of architecture and art, design, space, structures, styles, theories and development of architecture.
The course offers a broad view of modern Asian art, including painting, photography and print of China, Japan, Tibet, Nepal and India for a selective and meaningful understanding of its visual culture. The focus is on Tradition vs. Modernity with a wide range of art historical issues and discourses. Emphasis will be placed on thematic issues in visual culture such as movement of people, ideas, images, cross-cultural influences, and variations in the structure of political, economic, and social institutions.
The course traces the development of architecture, painting, and sculpture of China, Japan, India, and Tibet for a selective understanding of its visual culture from the earliest times to 12th C CE. It is a comparative study of the cross-cultural influences and encounters via the silk and spices routes with a focus on ancient civilizations, philosophy, and religious institutions particularly the traditions of Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. The goal is to understand the traditional arts of Asia by examining the process of artistic and cultural assimilation that occurred along with movement of people, goods, and images between major cultural regions and substantiated in built environment, city planning, painting, and sculpture.
Visual culture is an emerging field of study, and the course explores the relation between the two terms “visual” and “culture” as constructions by examining visual forms of expression: architecture, sculpture, painting, and photography. It probes into questions on visual perception, visual culture, and visual problems. The course also examines generic and particular icons of public culture, such as those found in comics (including Disney characters) and advertisements. Images from both American and non-Western world will be analyzed and placed in their cultural, historical, and social context. The course will discuss issues of modernity, modernism, urban experience, technology, primitivism, feminism, identity, and mass consumerism in visual culture in the context of various movements and theories, such as realism and neo realism, neo-expressionism, surrealism, and postmodernism.
Architecture and urbanism will explore the history and patterns of urban forms in some major cities of the modern world, as it relates to urbanism, environment, and community. The course focuses on natural and green architecture as well as the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system as an emerging movement and requirement in modern architecture that reconnects man to earth through the built environment, which will provide a new framework to approach buildings and structures.
Throughout the history of art, women have been important and primary subjects of a variety of arts and those of visual culture. This seminar course attempts to explore the visual and historical context of the changing portrayals of women across cultures and relates it to their social, political and cultural context. The representation of women in sculpture, painting, print, and photography are shaped by cultures and the debates surrounding them, have implications on contemporary attitudes and behavior towards them. Students will examine the ‘shaping’ of feminine forms from a multi-cultural and objective perspective.
This brings us to the next question, of how culture shapes the visual, and how culture affects the visual. The great power of the visual to affect the way we think and to promote cultural, political and economic changes demands a deep understanding of the visual forms, their deconstruction, transformation, re-usage, and contestation. For an understanding of how culture shapes feminine forms, representations of women will be examined from a cross-cultural perspective particularly Western and Asian that encompasses issues of identity, status, empowerment, women’s movements, and human rights.
Beginning with the early civilizations of Southwest Asia and North Africa this course traces the rise of complex, stratified societies, including organized religions, political systems of thought and practice, and the various historical phases of Mediterranean society from the Greeks through the Renaissance.
This course introduces students to the formative influences and developments that have shaped the modern Western world. It examines processes of state formation, scientific and technological change, political and religious upheaval, capitalist development, and territorial expansion as elements in the modernization of the West. The course explores the history of the West as a diverse congeries of peoples, ideas, and movements.
This course is a survey of East Asian history from the earliest time to the present. The course will be restricted to those aspects of East Asian history that enable us to understand the complexities and diversities in the historical experience of three East Asian countries: China, Japan, and Korea. This course concentrates on how three East Asian societies have distinctively achieved their own economic, political, social, and cultural developments, sometimes by way of mutual inspiration, influence or actual interaction with each other, and, later, with a broader world.
This course is a survey of modern China, from around 1600 to the present. The course helps students to understand the origins, processes, and outcomes of the revolution in 20th century China. The course analyzes the complex and contradictory process of revolution, including the Communist Revolution and the many other revolutions that have transformed Chinese society and politics.
This course examines the emergence of the Third World in modern history, the response to and reformulation of the question of modernity among Third World peoples and intellectuals, and the formation of modern global relation, beginning around 1450 to the present, in which Euro-Americans played a central part. This course also explores recent changes in the status and the meaning of the Third World and lays out numerous historical problems that still remain in this increasingly globalizing and interactive world.
Focused on North America in the era of slavery and colonization (circa 1500 to 1865), students examine the interaction of Native Americans, Europeans and Africans and consider the development of North America as part of the Atlantic World and the Pacific Basin. Through readings, discussions, field trips, and papers, students acquire an understanding of current historical research trends and seek to understand select problems in cultural, intellectual, political, and everyday life.
Prerequisite: AMEREXP 200.
This course examines the role of cultural institutions and ideas in the forming of the American mind from 1865 to the end of the 20th century. It explores the influence of native progressive traditions as well as European social thought on modern American thinkers from across the political spectrum. Readings from W.E.B. DuBois, Jane Addams, Henry George, John Dewey, Randolph Bourne, Lewis Mumford, Lionel Trilling, Ayn Rand, Richard M. Weaver, Richard Rorty, William F. Buckley, and others.
The course explores the history and development of the American West, a space of settlement and contestation. It examines one of America’s more enduring myths, the idea of the frontier as a continuous line of expansion westward over time. Students compare and contrast the real and the symbolic West as a zone of encounter between different people, empires, and societies.
Prerequisite: Any 100-level history course, or sophomore standing.
Some scholars have suggested that the whole idea of Asia is an invention, since geographically speaking the separation of Asia from “Europe” (or West, in a strict sense) makes little sense. This is the point of departure for this course, which will examine constructions and representations of East (Asia) and West, as ideas, in significant scholarly and literary works and films, both Euro-American and Asian. The course examines each work in its relation to its historical circumstances to convey a sense of changes historically in such representations and constructions.
Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or INTS 215.
This course introduces historical complexities and issues, and various constraints that have shaped the lives and struggles of East Asian women from the “pre-modern period” to the present, in their dealings with the questions of their own culture and, later, modernity. Literary works and films will be widely used.
Prerequisite: 100 level History course or sophomore standing.
This course examines historical issues and problems of modern China (such as women, family, and revolution) through their representations in literature and film. The course considers literature and film in their relation to historical circumstances. Film and literature provide a multiplicity of class, ethnic, gender, generational, and regional perspectives.
This course investigates the unfolding of the idea of “China” in history. The course examines the “invention” of the Chinese past and present according to the circumstances of different periods, political needs, and cultural self-images of the population inhabiting this area of the world a population that changed quite significantly over time in its constitution.
Prerequisite: Sophomore standing.
This course is intended as an advanced survey of the People’s Republic of China from its beginnings in 1949 to the present. The survey will cover internal developments in Chinese socialism and its global context as well as developments in Chinese society and culture since 1949.
This course is a survey of modern Japan from the mid-19th century to the present, with emphasis on historical issues that have led to diverse understandings and interpretations. The course focuses on the development of modern ideology, social relationships, and economic and political institutions in a global context. The course takes the development of Japanese capitalism in the global economic system as the central event of modern Japanese history and of Japan’s changing place in the world during the 20th century.
In this course we examine “education” by looking beyond the typical setting of the school. Instead, we will consider education in the context of learning and culture. As scholars in history and anthropology have shown in recent decades, learning can be found in classrooms, families, churches, and public places. It can be thought of broadly as the process by which people acquire knowledge, attitudes, values, and skills. We will study the past as a deeply constitutive force in the present. Historians call this approach cultural history, anthropologists call it historical ethnography. Specific topics will include prominent and influential theories of pedagogy and learning as well as the historical and cultural dynamics of race and ethnicity in learning. Throughout we will keep the long history of education reform in mind—including contemporary initiatives. The course is a reading and writing intensive seminar, with students expected to complete an original research paper testing or applying principles discussed in class.
The Americas were populated for millennia before European colonization transformed the hemisphere and the lives of its indigenous inhabitants. The descendants of these people live in many parts of North America—including Orange County, California. This seminar explores the histories and cultures of selected Native American peoples from Canada, Mexico, and the United States during selected eras from before colonization to the contemporary period. Reading current and classic scholarship on Native Americans and writing a research essay on a topic of the students’ choosing, students will acquire an understanding of the historical and cultural processes that have defined Native American lives.
The United States of America originated as colonies within the British Empire, and the early founders of the republic openly celebrated the expected emergence of an American empire after the American Revolution. In what ways can the history of the United States be understood through this lens of emerging empire? Might that lens obscure as much as it reveals? What is imperialism, how is it different from colonialism, and what relationship to American cultural development has it had? To explore answers to these and other questions, students will focus on the US experience of empire and compare it to the history of imperialism and colonialism in India, Africa, and elsewhere. Students will read classic and contemporary works in colonial studies, postcolonial studies, and American cultural history in preparation for group discussions, seminar papers, and independent research.
This is an introduction to literary genres and to the art of critical reading. The course will survey important examples of lyric poetry, short narratives, essays, novels, and drama. The main objective is to help students gain confidence and insight as they read difficult literary masterpieces, such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet, as well as help in grappling with the intense poetic strategies of poets such as John Keats and W. B. Yeats. The course will survey a variety of critical approaches to literary texts and it will also focus on the student’s growth as a critical writer. Lit 140 serves as a prerequisite for higher courses in literature.
This introductory course offers a rigorous initiation to the “close reading” of literary texts and critical essays as well as to in depth interpretive activity. While it serves as a prerequisite for advanced courses in literature and humanities, it serves no less as preparation for critical reading in all intellectual disciplines in which difficult texts, complex writing, and both research and scholarly rigor are in play.
This course explores powerful and complex major work from the remarkable period of North American literary maturity, an era often called the “American Renaissance:” Melville’s Moby Dick; Twain’s Huckleberry Finn; Whitman’s Leaves of Grass; Emerson’s Essays; Henry Adams’ Education; Thoreau’s Walden; and Emily Dickinson’s elegant poetry, and other texts.
This course examines major texts of literature in North America’s 20th century cultural upheaval: the poetry of William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, Hart Crane and Wallace Stevens; novels by Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner and Joseph Heller; dramatic texts by Eugene O’Neil alongside studies in the relationship between art and the rise of cinema with its competing but often derivative narrative and imagistic techniques.
Prerequisite: LIT 140, or sophomore standing.
This course will survey the major works, genres, and themes of Chinese and Japanese pre-modern literature, focusing on literature of the Tang/Song dynasties and the Nara/Heian eras (c. 700-1200 AD). Students will study the works of individual poets and essayists, their contributions to the classic anthologies, and excerpts from the major novels and prose narratives of the premodern age. The course will also examine foundational critical theories within Asian literature, such as the genesis of poetry, the relationship between images and ideographic meaning, and the roles of fiction and diaries within society.
Prerequisite: LIT 140, or sophomore standing.
This course will survey the principal works, authors, and themes of Chinese and Japanese medieval literature, focusing on literature of the Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties and the Kamakura, Muromachi and Edo eras (~1100-1800CE.) The course will look at the three dominant genres of poetic anthology, personal narrative and staged drama, with particular attention paid to the conflicts between elegance and earthiness, worldliness and reclusiveness, and the changing perspectives towards gender and personal identity.
Prerequisite: LIT 140, or sophomore standing.
Students taking this course will read and discuss texts from various Asian countries but will focus primarily on works from China and Japan. The literature dealt with in class will be drawn from various periods, nations, and genres in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Prerequisite: LIT 140, or sophomore standing.
This course explores various aspects of the literatures that have developed in Latin America. The works read in class may be drawn from indigenous sources as well as from the Spanish and Portuguese traditions. All works are read in translation.
We distinguish the essay for its exceptional capacity to convey the movement of experience. What is the source of his power? What is the art of the essay? To begin answering this question, we will place the essay side-by-side with what it opposes—the treatise. This clash between the pathos of self-reflection and the rigidity of the method emerges with full clarity in Descartes, whose writings will serve as our starting point. We will then see how similar conflicts take place in the works by the Stoics, Montaigne, Rousseau, Nietzsche, Chesterton, Rilke, Borges, Susan Sontag, Orwell, and Joseph Brodsky. We will also look at the essayistic practice in cinema (Orson Welles, Guy Debord) and photography (Lee Friedlander, Walker Evans).
Prerequisite: LIT 140, or sophomore standing.
From Heraclitus on, the concept of nature has proven to be unique in its ability to expand imagination, stimulate thought, and articulate disagreement. This class will place major texts in the traditions of natural philosophy, pastoral, and cultural critique alongside contemporary interventions, including arguments for the ecology without nature. Our goal is to rethink nature in response to the technological mastery of all life made possible by the advancement of science. The texts to be studied include Aristotle, Pliny the Elder, Lucretius, Virgil, Rousseau, Diderot, Thoreau, Darwin, Dennett, and Will Self.
An examination of the genres and styles of comedy from Aristophanes to Samuel Beckett and contemporary stand-up. We begin by clarifying distinctions fundamental to comic representation of action (such as invective, humor, grotesque, wit, mock, irony, sarcasm, deadpan, etc.) Then we undertake a journey through different worlds of comedy (the comedy of errors, satire, nonsense, and black humor). Throughout our readings, we will consider the following alternatives: Does comedy reinforce or subvert the existing social norms? Does it exacerbate or mask social antagonisms? Is laughter a servant of hegemony or an agent of emancipation? In each of our readings, we will work to identify the potential of comedy to serve as a framework for sociological commentary, metaphysics of the self and political praxis. Primary texts will be supplemented by reading in the theory of comedy (Hegel, Baudelaire, Bergson, Freud).
This course introduces students to the ancient literatures of Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome, primarily poetry and drama, from Gilgamesh through Virgil. The course is designed to give students a broad understanding of the major literary works of this period and their historical significance.
Shakespeare is the greatest dramatist of all times. Most recently the 16th-century bard has been a great scriptwriter for Kenneth Branagh and Hollywood. This course focuses on a close reading of selected tragedies and comedies. Attention will be paid to the specificity of the English language of the period in order to facilitate reading. Due attention will also be paid to action, character as well as to the heft and swing of the meter and rhyme. The goal of the course is to help students understand the reasons for Shakespeare’s unparalleled success by locating the remarkable achievement of his literary career in the context of the theatrical, literary, social, and political world in which he worked.
This course examines recent trends in literature and/or criticism across cultures from a comparative point of view. The primary emphasis is on examining the way in which both literary texts and critical methods respond to changing points of view about the individual, culture, and history. The works examined in this class changes from year to year, but normally includes major works of drama and fiction.
Prerequisite: Instructor consent.
This course will examine the life, work and influence of Murasaki Shikibu, author of the Tale of Genji (c. 1005-10015 CE), taking into consideration the intellectual and aesthetic heritage of the Heian era as a whole. Students will also investigate the arts and culture of her age, her concept of Yamato-damashii, or “essential Japan-ness,” and her vision of the role of the author within the “floating world” of human actions.
This class examines the evolution and disintegration of literary dissent in the 20th-century Europe. We begin by surveying the three forces responsible for the emergence of dissent: the ideology of communism; totalitarianism as the governmental form; and socialist realism as the literary canon. The conceptual backbone of the class is the contrast between individual acts of dissent and the dissident movement. While the individual acts of dissent proceed from rejection or disagreement with the regime, the dissident movement was born out of seduction and subsequent disillusionment in the very idea of the communist state. In the final segment of the class, the students will inquire into the legacy of dissident thought through class presentation and discussion. Readings include texts by H. Arendt, K. Marx, F. Furet, C. Lefort, M. Bulgakov, A. Platonov, Abram Tertz-A. Syniavsky, Solzhenitsyn, Milosz, Havel, and others. We will also study films by Alexander Medvedkin, Chris Marker, and Sergei Einstein.
In the 21st century the novel continues to thrive as a literary genre nourished by a long and rich history with sustained cross-cultural significance. What factors contribute to the resilience of this literary form? How has the novel become synonymous with modernity itself? What, if any inter-textual dialogue among writers and books may be discerned? This course examines the phenomenon of the novel by evoking these trajectories: its emergence, its ongoing diversification and its global dispersion and reinventions. From year to year the course will stress readings drawn from Anglo-American, European, post-colonial, and/or Asian spheres. Traditional categories (realism, modernism, postmodernism) will be supplemented by local variations and re-orientions. Alongside such authors as Dickens, Sterne, Austen, Stendhal, Dostoevsky, Flaubert, Conrad, Joyce, Nabokov, Beckett, Pynchon, Cormac McCarthy, Natsume Soseki, Mo Yan, and others, theoretical texts will frame the novel’s significance in the context of cultural production and the formation as well as erosion of historical consciousness: George Lukacs, Bakhtin, Auerbach, Ian Watt, Raymond Williams, Edward Said, Fredric Jameson, Eto Jun, et al.
The purpose of this course is to explore through literary, historical, and political documents the unique way in which French intellectuals were affected by, reacted to, and in some instances voiced their outrage about colonialism and to examine the role some French intellectuals played in the resolution of these conflicts.
Prerequisite: LIT 140/LIT 155 and instructor consent.
This course begins with a brief survey of the history of the main theories of reading as they emerged in the West with Plato and Aristotle. The goal of the course is to help students understand and familiarize themselves with a body of texts written about the role and function of literature within the disciplines. The course includes an examination of the relationship between primary and critical texts in light of movements that took shape in the 20th century such as Formalism, Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, and Cultural Studies. The aim of the course is to equip students with the necessary tools to become sophisticated and demanding readers and to sharpen their critical judgment whether or not they intend to pursue graduate studies in the humanities.
This course is a survey of traditional music from around the world. It is designed to help students develop their skills in listening to, and describing music, and through this engagement, to deepen students’ appreciation of both the universal human activity of music-making and some of the specific cultures and peoples involved in it and their histories. The course is open to all students regardless of level of previous musical training.
This course will examine embedded views of the relationship between humans and their environments in the context and function of music in different times and cultures. Music is commonly both a means of the most profound communication between humans and nature, and an embodiment of cultural understanding and expression of this relationship, of humans’ place in nature. Readings will include examination of music cultures, the expressed views and philosophies of the people in those music cultures, and studies of the ecological systems and ecological impacts of human actions where those people live.
This course will explore the relationship between the universal human activity of music-making and biological and psychological aspects of our mental processes. Readings will be drawn from a range of disciplines, to include the physics of sound and hearing, the neurobiology of perception, the cognitive psychology of memory, temporal processing, emotion, entrainment, and expectation, the social psychology of functions such as communication, empathy and intercultural understanding, and related philosophical questions. These theoretical foundations will be applied to listening and music-making activities, but no prior experience is required. The primary goals are 1) to develop an enriched understanding of and appreciation for the function of music in human life, and 2) to develop an enriched understanding of and appreciation for the complexities of the human mind, through the lens of our musical activities.
This course explores traditional and popular musical practices in Spanish-speaking Latin America. Focusing on the rich mixture of African, European, and indigenous cultures that characterize this region, the class will examine technical aspects of music itself, cultural contexts of musical creation and performance, and the historical development of particular musical styles. Case studies, explored through listening and reading, will highlight various local and national musical traditions and their presence in transnational migrant communities and emerging world music markets.
This course examines classical, folk, and popular music of East and Southeast Asia, with an emphasis on both technical aspects of music as well as its cultural and historical context. Topics may include court music and theater traditions, music and nationalism, folk music revitalization movements, music and politics, and the development of contemporary popular music styles. Individual case studies will be explored through extensive listening and the reading of musical ethnographies.
This course, open to students regardless of previous background in music, examines the history and development of what is often called “classical music,” the art music of Europe up to the 20th century. Students will focus on developing listening skills and thinking critically about musical compositions and styles, while learning about the social and cultural contexts in which the music was created.
This course will introduce the student to the main themes of Western philosophy and the various approaches within philosophy. It will acquaint the students with the major thinkers of the philosophical tradition by analyzing and discussing challenging texts of the history of philosophy.
This course considers the role ethics and philosophy play in how wo/man relates to her and his human and natural environment. The central themes of the course are the relationship between human centered and nature centered views of the universe and wo/man’s responsibility for the care of the universe. Philosophies considered include but are not limited to Anthropocentrism, Confucianism, Taoism, Aristotelianism, Humanism, Transcendentalism, American Indian, EcoFeminism, and Deep Ecology.
This course examines major philosophical approaches to ethics. The course includes Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic, Confucian, Taoist, and Existentialist approaches, among others. Issues that pose ethical dilemmas are examined. The purpose of the course is to teach the skills of critical reflection especially as they apply to understanding the foundations of ethics.
This course will introduce students to the methodology of philosophical thinking and the grand topics that have engaged philosophers over the ages including the problem of evil, the existence of the Deity and the problem of human life. Students will be introduced to the general sub-disciplines of philosophy, including the history of philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, normative ethics, applied ethics, aesthetics, and political philosophy. They will study select contemporary periods. They will also be introduced to meta-philosophy, different styles of philosophy; e.g., analytic, system building, existentialism, and phenomenology.
Prerequisite: any previous philosophy course.
This course examines philosophical viewpoints as manifested within selected literary texts. The relationship between the literary form of the text and the philosophical content, as well as the relationship between philosophy and literature, will be explored and conceptualized.
This course examines ways in which Eastern and Western philosophies have analyzed how we can know the world and what is the nature of reality. Topics include the difference between knowledge and opinion, perception, the limits of reason, and the limits of language. Texts will be drawn from classical Western and Eastern traditions. An important goal of the course is to bring the student to the awareness of what constitutes a philosophical question. The emphasis of the course is the development of the student’s philosophical thinking.
This is an extensive course on how and why corporations make the decisions that they do regarding what constitutes the private good, the public good, both nationally and internationally. In what ways does the capitalist profit motive affect ethical decision making? What are the consequences? What constitutes good management, destructive management? What is an accident? A tragedy? A disaster? Who should ultimately be responsible? A philosophical examination of intensive case studies will analyze what responsibility corporations have for risk management, social welfare, and environmental sustainability in the global interface of the 21st century.
Topics in Humanities
This course explores the major religious traditions today to identify their common patterns and points of difference and to find methods of understanding and engaging human life in its religious depth. Topics include distinctive practices, primary stories, scriptures, relation to society, and attitudes on issues of nature, life-and-death, justice, and global citizenship.
The course examines the historical development of educational thought and practice in the West from the early Greeks to the present, focusing on the theme of humanism—its interpretation by the early Greeks, its reformulation in the Christian era, its eclipse and later revival during the Renaissance and its tenuous existence in the age of the modern and pre-modern state (1600-1900). Students will read from the works of such writers as Plato, Dante, Pico Della Mirandola, Erasmus, Vico, Comenius, Pestalozzi, Montessori, and Rousseau.
This course will examine three central questions of the stage: What are the literary and cultural origins of the theater? How does an actor relate to the written word? How can the actor influence the audience? To investigate these questions, the course will provide basic training in theater exercises for motion, speech, and concentration, in-class discussion and performance of plays, and analysis of both Eastern and Western philosophical ideas of the theater.
The goal of this course is to introduce students to some of the great—popular and classical—works written in Western Europe during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Readings include the bawdy tales of Chaucer, Boccaccio, Rabelais, and Cervantes; Dante’s great epic poem, Inferno (from The Divine Comedy), Erasmus’ Praise of Folly, More’s Utopia, and Montaigne’s Essays. These timeless pieces have shaped and continue to shape the Western imagination from Shakespeare to James Joyce and Thomas Pynchon. Attention is paid to the historical contexts although emphasis will be on genres and forms.
Experimental critical writing is a slippery genre that challenges and breaks down traditional genre distinctions, sidestepping and/or transforming conventional expository protocols. A hybrid form, experimental critical writing challenges disciplinary boundaries and borrows, as it pleases, from various genres—personal essay, historical writing, memoir, non-fiction, drama, diary, autobiography, fiction, reportage, poetry, rant, and manifesto. Exceeding genre and discipline boundaries, experimental critical writing produces new epistemologies not possible within forms bound by conventional constraints. This course will uncover some of the rhetorical possibilities traveling under the name “experimental critical writing;” explore emergent “alternative” theoretical and methodological frameworks related to the production of knowledge; blur the boundaries between disciplines, genres, the academic and non-academic; and consider what it means to produce new knowledge as a socially and ethically responsible global citizen.
Prerequisite: Literature 140 or another Humanities course.
This is an intensive upper-division course designed for Humanities majors and non-majors who seek to prepare themselves to engage issues of graphic literacy in an increasingly visual global and professional culture. This course will pursue landmarks in the history of cinema and establish analytic vocabularies for interpreting film masterpieces as well as emerging visual technologies. Our curricular emphasis will be upon “film texts” of the highest artistic status. Our analytic emphasis will focus on (i) critical approaches to those texts and (ii) interpretive disputes carried out across the last century’s divergent critical viewpoints, now under siege by aesthetic and conceptual norms that seek consensus (hegemonic unity) in a world only recently opened to multiple cultural perspectives.
Visual rhetoric can be understood as visual argument (or an argument using images). This course encourages students to explore and write about non-traditional forms of rhetoric drawing from a wealth of topics related to film genres, ancient rhetorical genres, and film studies. This is not a film appreciation course but rather, a writing and rhetoric course, which encourages students to engage with the way in which visual culture communicates and makes arguments. Each week, we will explore and write about a different film genre and its particular concerns. Our analyses of movies in this course will turn on the fundamental examination of how meaning is created through the power of artistic vision and visual technology.
The goal of this course is twofold: to examine the evolution of Greek philosophy from the earliest known stages and explore the way in which philosophical and literary issues permeated and continues to permeate the work of contemporary thinkers and writers; and to provide a take on the antique world.