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Course Schedule

SPRING 2016 MALS Course Schedule  – Tentative


Please, keep in mind the following as you register:

  • MALS courses are not repeatable, and students may only enroll in and take one Introduction to Graduate Libeal Studies during their program.

  • In some cases, MALS core courses will be cross-listed with other programs. Students who would like to have these courses satisfy the core course requirement for their chosen tracks must register for the MALS course number. 

MALS 70000 Introduction to Graduate Liberal Studies
Decoding Celebrity: Georgia O’Keeffe as Case Study
Tuesday, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM, 3 credits, Linda Grasso

What is celebrity? How is it achieved? What purposes does it serve? In this course, we explore these questions using twentieth-century painter Georgia O’Keeffe as a focal point. Reading cultural criticism, history, autobiography, and popular culture biography, we consider the ways in which O’Keeffe’s celebrity enables an understanding of larger issues such as how celebrities are commodified and consumed by a variety of constituencies for a multitude of reasons. Viewing works of art, photographs, advertisements, documentaries, and You Tube videos, we also consider the complex ways in which celebrity images are created and circulated in multiple public domains. Conducted as a research seminar, the course requires students to study texts intensively, design and execute a research project, and share findings with peers.                         
MALS 70000 Introduction to Graduate Liberal Studies
Becoming Lewis Mumford: Studying, analyzing and writing about the architecture of New York City
Wednesday, 4:15 PM - 6:15 PM, 3 credits, Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis

This course will introduce students to critical thinking and techniques of academic reading and writing with a specific focus on the urban form, history and architecture of New York City. This introductory course is designed for students interested in history, urbanism, architecture and the politics of space. This course takes an interdisciplinary approach drawing upon anthropology, history, archaeology, geography, architectural history and other disciplines to demonstrate how scholars study, research and write about the built environment and urban space, as well as how people experience and use space and architecture in New York City. We will look at various theories of architecture and space. This course will also emphasize fieldwork and visits to various monuments, buildings and institutions in New York City so that students can learn the process of researching in New York City. Students will develop critical thinking, writing and researching skills in this class. Students will write weekly papers about architecture, critique scholarship, assemble an annotated bibliography, and write an abstract for their final research paper that will be presented to the class in an informal workshop setting.
MALS 70000 Introduction to Graduate Liberal Studies
Journalism and Science                                    
Monday, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM, 3 credits, Christopher Anderson

How do journalists report on important scientific controversies, scientific discoveries, and the increasingly common intersections between science and public life? Should journalism try to be more like science? Should science try to be more like journalism? As children of the Enlightenment desire to understand, control, and legislate the world around us, what does comparing science and journalism teach us about the ways we human beings try to come to grips with and act upon an uncertain universe? And how are recent changes in technology—from “blogging” to big data”-- affecting the boundary lines that used to clearly separate journalism and science from both each other and from other knowledge-based disciplines?
Students in this course will grapple with these issues through a combination of targeted readings, student discussions, lectures, films, and field trips to news organizations in the city, culminating in a 25-30 page paper that ties this class into the students’ larger long-term thesis plans. The class itself is divided into three sections. The first section examines the different ways that journalists have struggled to cover science accurately as well as the larger issues that get foregrounded by this struggle. The second section examines the various ways that journalism itself has struggled with its’ desire to be both scientific and “narratival,” and current journalism reform movements (from precision journalism to computational reporting) that adopt aspects of science in order to try to be more “objective.” The final section looks at the rise of the public relations profession, the emergence of open science, the growth of digital technologies, and the way these professions and technologies are changing the way science itself is communicating with the larger world.
MALS 70000 Introduction to Graduate Liberal Studies
Waste Matters: Economy, Ecology, and the Cultures of Trash

Thursday, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM, 3 credits, Christopher Schmidt     
In his book Garbage, the poet A.R. Ammons writes, “Garbage has to be the poem of our time because / garbage is spiritual, believable enough / to get our attention.” It’s true that garbage, trash, waste and pollution are increasingly prevalent concerns in a culture riveted by mounting ecological and economic damages. But before demonizing waste outright, let’s pause and consider what it means to assign the negative value of “waste” to an object or even a class of persons. By looking at the symbolic and real uses of waste, this class will make a survey of the burgeoning field of “dirt studies” as a way of exploring different disciplinary frameworks within Liberal Studies, including art history, economics, anthropology, ecocriticism, and literary studies. Students will present on a text in class, and compose a final essay or digital project.

MALS 70100 Narratives of New York: Literature and the Visual Arts
Monday, 4:15 PM - 6:15 PM, 3 credits, Robert Singer

This course will explore critically significant representations of New York City—its people, places, history, and complex identity formations—as it is revealed, or rather manufactured, in varieties of narrative forms, from Walt Whitman and Stephen Crane to Diane Arbus and Spike Lee. Particular attention will be given to evaluating the manner in which literature interrelates with film and other visual media and how each venue reflects cultural and historical ideologies. For example, what makes a text a “New York” narrative? Do literary and visual narratives mirror the city’s psyche, or serve to analyze it in penetrating ways?
Course requirements include active participation in discussions, one oral presentation, and an end term paper (15—20 pages), which critically interprets the assignments or interrelated material.
MALS 70400 Cultural Studies and the Law
Thursday, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM, 3 credits, Michael Yarbrough

This course will explore the relationship between law and culture from a number of vantage points. How do legal concepts, categories, narratives, and ideologies shape ways of thinking outside legal institutions? How do processes and structures of meaning shape the content and contours of law? How is the notion of “law” itself constructed through cultural processes? We will explore these questions through texts from the law & society tradition, broadly defined, using frameworks that include legal consciousness, legal culture, law in everyday life, critical legal studies, and critical race studies. To center our inquiry, the course will focus especially on questions of gender and sexuality, critically interrogating law’s role in helping constitute gendered and sexual identities, practices, relations, and ideologies.

MALS 71400 Introduction to International Studies            
Wednesday, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM, 3 credits, Tomohisa Hattori

The two main purposes of this course are to introduce you to theoretically informed historical analyses of international relations (IR) and to help you apply one of the theories of IR to an international subject of your choice.  While the historical contexts and theories of IR will help you engage in further studies in IR, your paper will enhance your understanding of how you may gain social scientific knowledge by reviewing relevant theoretical literature, conceptualizing your subject matter, developing research questions, figuring out how to approach these questions, and gathering relevant data to answer them.  Because MALS 71500 in the fall of 2015 focused on human rights and international law, this course will focus more on the issues of wars and political economy. 
MALS 72100 Feminist Texts and Contexts
Wednesday, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM, 3 credits, Jean Halley

Office hours: Wednesdays 5 to 6:30 pm

Feminist Texts and Contexts examines the diverse ways human beings think about and experience sexuality, sex and gender roles, intimacy and love, marriage and other forms of intimate human relationship, parenting, and domestic and sexual labor through the lens of feminist thought.  The course explores how both the experience and the ideological meanings of human sexuality and gender have varied in different social and historical contexts, and how sexuality permeates the social division of labor.  Grounded in feminist analysis and historical responses to feminist thought, Feminist Texts and Contexts investigates the ways humans think about and organize gender and sexuality, and how these are related to the material realities of the political economy and people’s everyday lives and work.

MALS 72200 Contemporary Feminist Theories 
Tuesday, 4:15 PM - 6:15 PM, 3 credits, Patricia Clough

MALS 72700 The Political Ecology of Social and Environmental Justice: Political Economy of the Environment
Thursday, 11:45 AM - 1:45 PM, 3 credits, Kenneth Gould
Cross-listed with EES 79903 and SOC 84510

This course explores the complex, dynamic interactions between social systems and ecosystems. Environmental political-economy challenges social science’s human exemptionalist paradigm by incorporating the natural environment as a variable. The course will examine the social origins of the major environmental stresses facing contemporary social systems, the social conflicts that these stresses have produced, and a range of approaches to resolving social system-ecosystem disjuncture at local, regional, national, and transnational levels. Major theoretical frameworks and debates in environmental political-economy will be addressed. Special attention will be paid to the roles of science and technology in generating and responding to socio-environmental disorganization, the role of socio-economic inequality in environmental conflicts, the emergence of environmental social movement coalitions, the fusion of the politics of place, production, and identity in ecological resistance movements, and linkages between transnational economic processes and efforts to achieve ecologically and socially sustainable development trajectories.
MALS 72800 Ecological and Social Theories of Social Behavior
Tuesday, 2 PM - 4 PM, 3 credits, Susan Saegert

MALS 73100 American Culture and Values
Revolution and the World: Early American Literature 1780-1855
Monday, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM, 3 credits, Duncan Faherty
Cross-listed with ENGL 85500

The landmark publication of Cathy Davidson's Revolution and the Word in 1986 recast the study of American literature by essentially establishing post-Revolutionary U.S. fiction as a field worthy of study. Davidson's focus on the "coemergence of the new U.S. nation and the new literary genre of the novel" has shaped scholarship and the development of the U.S. canon ever since. This course seeks to reploy Revolution and the Word as a springboard to interrogate how the field and its attendant canon have evolved across the last three decades. Central to our considerations will be thinking about the ways in which an accumulative plurality of revolutions (the U.S., the French, and the Haitian) impacted the formation of the early Republic. As such, we will examine how this larger political geography inflected the development of the novel. Indeed, a range of recent scholarship has fruitfully unsettled the notion that novels respect national borders, or that they retrospectively fit within the contours of mythic exceptionalist geographies. Instead of reading post-Revolutionary texts as an expression of an inevitable "American" subjectivity, this course will approach early American fiction both circum-Atlantically and transhemispherically, as we consider how the trajectory of U.S. cultural history was driven by the complex circumstances of settler colonialism and the horrors of enslavement. By moving beyond our proclivity to imagine national culture as a closed system, we will consider how early "American" novels situate themselves within global networks of exchange. In so doing, we will grapple with the shifting structures of feeling that define notions of democracy, empire, and nation in the early Republic, and attempt to account for the wider range of bodies which - either permanently or temporarily or theoretically - constituted the enthnoscapes of the early Republic. We will read a broad range of texts, including works focused on North Africa, South America, the Caribbean, Spain, India, Antarctica, and the South Pacific. Possible authors include: Susanna Rowson, Charles Brockden Brown, Martha Meredith Read, Tabitha Tenney, Washingon Irving, Caroline Matilda Warren, Leonora Sansay, James Fenimore Cooper, Edgar Allen Poe, Royal Tyler, Hannah Craft, Olaudah Equiano, Mary Prince, Martin Delany, and Herman Melville.


MALS 73200 American Social Institutions: Writing About Slavery
Tuesday, 4:15 PM - 6:15 PM, 3 credits, Hildegard Hoeller

This course will examine the central political and cultural struggle over the representation of slavery in the mid-19th Century. Both Northern abolitionists and southern slaveholders—writers free and enslaved, white and black, male and female, poet and scientist, lawyer and feminist-- tried to convince their readers that their depiction of slavery was truthful, that it showed American slavery as it is. The arguments both for and against slavery employed scientific, religious, economic, political, moral, and literary language to represent slavery.  The result was a compelling textual contest that spoke to the cultural and political concerns of mid-nineteenth century America as much as it produced some of its greatest, most influential literature.


MALS 73500 Africana Studies: Global Perspectives
Mondays 6:30 – 8:30 PM, 3 credits, Dave Brotherton
Cross-listed with SOC 85000/AFCP 72000 Youth Marginalization and Subculture of Resistance

In the current period a plethora of youth resistance actions, movements and subcultures have developed in response to socio-economic dislocations on a global scale. From rebellious students, youth riots in England to graffiti writers in Rio de Janeiro to politicized gangs in Quito and New York and the globalized Occupied Wall Street movement an endless range of symbolic and substantive responses by youth to their felt conditions of marginality can be observed and studied. In this seminar we will excavate this dynamic and fluid social field through focusing on theories and empirical studies that help to explain the continuity and discontinuity of youth social and cultural resistances over time. Questions of race/ethnicity, class, gender and age will be addressed as we trace the meanings and representations of youth reactions to industrial and post-industrial societies within and across their highly ambiguous political and cultural locations. Students will be expected to carry out small research projects that in some way reflect the transgressive practices, rituals and possibilities of youth in the late modern metropolis. 
The seminar has two major goals: (i) to explore the range of sociological theories that explain youth social and cultural resistance, and (ii) to critically interpret the different forms that this resistance takes in the context of an evolving and highly contradictory transnationalist capitalist order. We will focus in particular on the origins of youth subcultures as they emerge during both modernity and late modernity and their construction within changing notions of criminal and non-criminal deviance. 

MALS 75300 Data Visualization Methods
Monday, 11:45 AM - 1:45 PM, 3 credits, Lev Manovich                                                                                           

This class is designed to teach students practical skills in visualizing and analyzing data, with the particular focus on cultural datasets. We will cover the following practical topics: preparing data for analysis; summarizing data using descriptive statistics; popular visualization techniques for 1D, 2D, and multi-variable data; elements of data mining for data visualization; visualizing big data; elements of graphic design for visualization; designing and publishing online visualization projects. We will be also looking and discussing many important data visualizations created by designers, artists and scientists. We will also read and discuss influential theoretical publications with relevant topics such as  use of visualization in humanities, artistic data visualization and politics of big data. The students complete a number of practical homework where they have to analyze, visualize and interpret patterns in various data sets including historical humanistic data (MoMA art collection), socio-economic data (Census data for NYC areas) and social media data (millions of Instagram photos shared in NYC.
MALS 75500 Digital Humanities Methods and Practices
(Tentative)Tuesday, 4:15 PM - 6:15 PM, 3 credits, Matthew Gold

Cross-listed with IDS 81640
Digital Praxis Seminar II, Spring 2016
During the Fall 2015 semester, students explored the landscape of the digital humanities, examining a range of ways to approach DH work and proposing potential DH projects. In the spring, we will put that thinking into action. In this praxis-oriented course, we will split into teams and then develop and launch functional versions of projects first imagined in the fall. Students will complete the class having gained hands-on experience in the collaborative planning, production, and dissemination of a digital humanities project, and having picked up a variety of technical, project management, and rhetorical skills along the way. A goal is to produce projects that will have a trajectory and a timeline of their own that extends beyond the Spring 2016 semester. Students will be supported by a range of advisors matched to the needs of the individual projects, and successful completion of the class will require a rigorous commitment to meeting target delivery dates we will establish together at the outset. The class will hold a public launch event at the end of the semester where students will present their proofs-of-concept, and receive feedback from the broader community.


MALS 75700 Field Course in Island Long Term Human Ecodynamics
Wednesday, 4:15 PM - 6:15 PM, 3 credits, Sophia Perdikaris

This course is the second required course for the MALS concentration on Sustainability Science and Education. After the theory course that students complete in the fall semester, this field course will look at some of the challenges of applying sustainability in an urban island environment along with a hands on approach to the tools, equipment and methodologies for the collection of original data.  The course will include multiple place-based learning locations, including visits to projects that apply sustainable practices, museums, a visit with the Shinnecock nation, The Brooklyn College aquaponics facility and small urban farms.
MALS 77100 Aesthetics of Film
Tuesday, 4:15 PM – 8:15 PM, 3 credits, Edward Miller, Room C-419
Cross-listed with FSCP 81000, THEA 71400, and ART 79400

This course argues that a crucial aspect of the cinematic enterprise is the depiction of the filmmaking environment itself through the "meta-film." Using this emphasis as an entry into aesthetics, the course involves students in graduate-level film discourse by providing a thorough understanding of the concepts that are needed to perform a detailed formal analysis. The course's primary text is the tenth edition of Bordwell and Thompson's Film Art (2012) and the book is used to examine such key topics as narrative and nonnarrative forms, mise-en-scene, composition, cinematography, camera movement, set design/location, color, duration, editing, and genre. As sound is a particular focus in this course—and arguably especially important to the meta-film--we supplement Film Art with readings by Michel Chion, Amy Herzog, and Rick Altman. In order to understand the meta-film and its aesthetics we read key sections of Robert Stam's Reflexivity in Film and Literature: From Don Quixote to Jean-Luc Godard (1992), Christopher Ames' Movies about Movies: Hollywood Revisited (1997), Nöth & Bishara's Self-Reference in the Media (2007), John Thornton Caldwell's Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film & Television (2008), and Craig Hight’s Television Mockumentary: Reflexivity, Satire and a Call to Play (2011). We also read “classic” essays on metafiction by Patricia Waugh and Linda Hutcheon and reflexivity in video art by Rosalind Krauss in order to make distinctions between self-referentiality and reflexivity in film. We make full use of a database of media that depicts the production terrain itself. We watch Thanhouser and Marston's Evidence of the Film (1913), Charlie Chaplin's The Masquerader (1914), Max Fleisher’s The Tantalizing Fly (1919), Dziga Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera (1929), Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard (1950), Donen and Kelly's Singing in the Rain (1952), Chuck Jones’s Duck Amok (1953), Michael Powell's Peeping Tom (1960), Federico Fellini's (1963), Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt (1963), François Truffaut's Day for Night (1973), Richard Serra and Nancy Holt’s Boomerang (1974), Robert Altman's The Player (1991), David Lynch's Mulholland Drive (2001), Farah Khan’s Om Shanti Om (2007), Michel Gondry's Be Kind Rewind (2008), Pedro Aldomovar’s Broken Embraces (2009), and David Cronenberg’s Map to the Stars (2015).  In the final sessions we examine the aesthetics of recent comedic meta-television in series such as The Comeback (2005 and 2014) and Extras (2005-07); we also make an attempt at tracing a genealogy by viewing The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (1950-58) and Mary Hartman Mary Hartman (1976).
Course Requirements:
1. Weekly response paper: student responds to the film and the ideas presented in the reading and session.
2. Presentation of a week’ reading.
3. Paper proposal, due 10th week: written like an abstract for a conference paper, 500 words. Also presented in class. Sending out this abstract to a conference is strongly recommended.
4. Research paper: Due one week after final day of class, at least 12 pages. This paper is theoretically informed and reflects the content of the course, involving a close formal reading of a meta-film.
MALS 77500 Global Cities     
Monday, 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM, 3 credits, David Halle
Cross listed with SOC 82800

Global Cities seeks to understand the politics, economics, social, and cultural life of today’s urban-mega centers.  We will study innovation and job creation, neighborhood life including integration and segregation, housing including the “affordable housing” and “homeless” crises; the rise and decline of  urban “ghettos”,  the waxing and waning of the suburbs, education, political incorporation, crime and police-community relations, architecture and “starchitects”, ethnic and racial relations, immigration including Europe’s current refugee crisis, religious diversity, inequality, finance and banking, cultural institutions such as museums and art galleries, environmental issues including threats such as global warming and flooding as well as opportunities to make cities “greener”, urban riots, and terrorism.  We will focus especially on New York, Los Angeles, and London, but draw examples from many other global cities. The course complements International Migration (MALS 77400) by seeking to understand the global urban context to which so many international migrants are drawn.
MALS     78200 The Politics of Contemporary Urban Education
Monday, 4:15 PM - 6:15 PM, 3 credits, Joel Spring
Cross-listed with U ED 75200,
American Education: Historical, Political, Social and Legal Foundations
This course will focus on the history, politics, social and legal aspects of American education. Topics will include: history and political goals of public schooling; social goals of schooling; equality of opportunity; economic goals of education; equality of educational opportunity; student diversity; local control, choice, charter schools, and home schooling; power and control at state and national levels and the profession of teaching.
The course will require an essay exploring a topic of interest in American education. Also, students will be required to participate in a discussion forum for each class.
MALS 78500       Arabian Nights
Monday, 4:15 PM - 6:15 PM, 3 credits, Anna Akasoy

Cross-listed with MES 78000 & CL 87000
This course offers an introduction to the history and literary features of the example of the Arabian Nights as well as to its literary and visual adaptations. For the purposes of this course, the Arabian Nights will be treated as an open corpus which continues to expand and transform in a variety of cultural contexts and formats. We will be reading stories from the Arabian Nights in different English translations and discuss a variety of academic publications, but also take into consideration modern artistic interpretations, including examples from literature, the visual arts, film and theater. These comparative exercises will shed light on the continuing appeal of the Arabian Nights and assist us in contextualizing specific developments of the Nights within their respective historical environments.
We will begin by tracking the development of the text and its visual adaptations, beginning with the earliest stories and compilations in India and Persia, continuing with the first Arabic compilation in Iraq and expansions in Syria in the medieval period, proceeding with the introduction to western Europe by way of Galland’s early eighteenth-century French translation, and concluding with the Arabian Nights as a global phenomenon. We will discuss the institutional, intellectual and cultural circumstances which allowed for this transmission as well as account for different interpretations and adaptations. After exploring formal elements of the Arabian Nights (such as the story within a story, the significance of poetry, the classification as fairy tales, and the element of performance and story-telling), we will focus on major themes in the Arabian Nights and their adaptations in modern literature (morality, religion, magic, and power). We will discuss the appeal of the character of Shahrazad, paying attention to psychoanalytical and feminist interpretations and conclude with a discussion of the Arabian Nights in film and on stage and the impact of different media on the manner the stories are told.
MALS     78900 Childhood and Youth Studies: Approaches and Methods
Thursday, 4:15 PM - 6:15 PM, 3 credits, Colette Daiute
Cross-listed with PSYC 80100 and UED 75200

This course in Childhood and Youth Studies allows for an in-depth focus on the interaction of theory and method, with sustained attention to the ways in which researchers in the field frame research investigations, develop research questions, design and implement studies.  Students will engage with the history and contemporary study of of children, childhood and adolescence as defined and supported in organizations and collectives of human development (education, family, social welfare, community organizations, children’s rights), public media (children’s literature, broadcast, social media), and research settings.  The course builds on (but does not require prior attendance in) “Introduction to Childhood and Youth Studies” to encompass sociocultural approaches to childhood, field-based studies with children encountering various kinds of problems, educational opportunities, community interventions, and policies. Methods and measures addressed include traditional and innovative field-based, classroom, archival, digital, and lab studies with a variety of modes and measures, such as observation, natural discursive (verbal, visual, performance), interview, survey, digital, play-based, and co-research with participants in research contexts including ethnography, classroom interaction, community development programs, and digital, print, and performance media. Course activities include readings, discussion, and application to research projects, including students’ own research. No prerequisites. Contact
MALS     79600 Thesis Workshop
Tuesday, 4:15 PM - 6:15 PM, 1 credit, Tim McCormack

In this thesis writing workshop you will practice strategies of composing, drafting, and crafting that will help you complete an extensive piece of academic research project.  Prior to enrolling in this class, you have taken courses where you have gathered information and ideas about your subject of interest. You’ve learned different knowledge sets, rehearsed various methodologies of research, and practiced techniques to compose your ideas; now you will show that you can analyze and synthesize your know-how so that you can identify a scholarly topic and express that new knowledge in logically framed and rhetorically convincing graduate-level prose.  Not an easy task, but a doable one.
As a means of achieving this end goal, we will:
·       read about and explore varying composing and research strategies,
·       produce a number of drafts for your projects,
·       consider the best organizational form to use,
·       hone the appropriate tone and voice for the project topic and the perceived audience,
·       participate in peer review (inside and outside of class), and
·       self-reflect upon our individual research/writing practices.
While this class demands intellectual labor and focused attention upon your expressive abilities, it can also induce pleasure if you allow yourself to engage in the sometimes challenging/sometimes magical process of pursuing an intellectual project.