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Fall 2008 Courses

Fall 2008 Courses

MALS 70500  Classical Culture
Marie Marianetti, 3 credits, Mondays, 6:30-8:30 pm

The course will be a survey of selected pieces of ancient literature and legend that have subsequently influenced Western civilization. The chosen literary works will be analyzed from an interdisciplinary perspective, combining literature, history, archaeology, religion, culture, politics and philosophy. Certain universal issues will be considered as they are conveyed through the literary genres. The class will concentrate upon a thorough examination and discussion of the following primary sources: The Epic of Gilgamesh, Hesiod’s Theogony, Homer’s Odyssey, Aeschylus’ Oresteia, Sophocles’ Oedipus Cycle (the Theban plays), Euripides’ Bacchae and Iphigeneia in Aulis, Aristophanes’ The Clouds, Plato’s Apology andSymposium, and Vergil’s Aeneid.

MALS 70700  Shaping Modernity, 1789-1914
Gerhard Joseph, 3 credits, Mondays, 6:30-8:30 pm

After an introductory reading of Matthew Arnold=s AOn the Modern Element in Literature@ (which considers the degree to which Athe modern@ is a historical or a trans-historical concept), this course will examine some core Western texts that contributed to the shaping of the concept of the modern between the beginning of the French Revolution (1789) and the outbreak of World War I (1914). Our readings will be selected from but will, of course, not include all the works on the following pretty comprehensive list: Mary Shelley=sFrankenstein, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s ASelf-Reliance@ and ANature,@ Walt Whitman=s Leaves of Grass, Karl Marx=s Communist Manifesto and John Stuart Mill=s On Liberty, Frederick Douglass=s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle, Gustave Flaubert=s Madame Bovary, Charles Dickens=s Hard Times, Charles Baudelaire=s Poems, Friedrich Nietzsche=s On the Genealogy of Morals, Matthew Arnold=s Culture and Anarchy, Fyodor Dostoevski=sNotes from Underground,  William James=s Varieties of Religious Experience, and Sigmund Freud=s The Interpretation of Dreams.

MALS 70900  Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir I
Rachel Brownstein, 3 credits, Tuesdays, 4:15-6:15 pm

We will begin near the beginning, beginning (like Plutarch) with comparisons, but comparing ways of writing them as well as lives–e.g., Vasari’s Life of Leonardo and Freud’s. From the beginning we will have the end in sight, starting with the analysis of newspaper obituaries and moving on to Profiles from The New Yorker and “The Aspern Papers” by Henry James. Its relation to memoir, autobiography, and other modes of life-writing will be a theme of our initial study of biography; fiction and some poetry will be among the various works we will read by such writers as Godwin and Wollstonecraft, Hazlitt and Woolf, Gertrude Stein and Philip Roth. Students will write weekly response papers for most of the semester and submit a longer paper before the final class.

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

Two main purposes of this course are to introduce you to historical and theoretical contexts of international relations and to help you develop your research on the historically oriented analysis of international relations. The first half of the course introduces you to the history of capitalism, imperialism, and colonialism as the historical contexts of actual international relations. The second half of the course turns to the impacts of capitalism, imperialism, and colonialism on how international relations theories are formulated.

MALS 72100 Major Feminist Texts
Sandi Cooper and Susan O’Malley, 3 credits, Wednesdays, 6:30-8:30 pm
(Cross-listed with WSCP 80802)

We propose to restore the tradition established when women’s studies began as a concentration at the Graduate School – interdisciplinary approaches to the themes in all its courses. Usually at least two faculty from different disciplines participated in the classroom to work out new angles of analysis of traditional or canonical knowledge or to forge new visions. Our course will build on that pedagogy, using historical, literary and critical modes of analysis to explore western traditions of feminist thinking.

Text and context, that is the close reading of classic feminist texts in their historical environment, will provide our methodology. Authors as diverse as Christine de Pisan (14-15th century, C.E.) and Virginia Woolf (20th century) will be explored as significant literary innovators as well as major political voices. Students will be expected to examine their impact on the wider culture.
Two differently trained scholars functioning in each class meeting will be supplemented by invited guests.

MALS 73100  American Culture and Values
Robert Singer, 3 credits, Thursdays, 6:30-8:30pm

In this course, we will focus on a variety of literary and film titles as we explore complex eruptions and erasures of American identity as it is revealed, or rather manufactured, in varieties of narrative forms. From the early captivity narratives, to Emily Dickinson, and up to Kathy Acker, this course will present perspectives on the complex issue of national identity. Particular attention will be given to evaluating the manner in which literature interrelates with other media and how each venue reflects cultural and historical ideologies. For example, what makes a text “American”? How does literature from the past comment on the present? Are literary and film narratives mirrors or x-rays into the nation’s psyche?

Course requirements include active participation in discussions, an oral presentation, and two papers (8 -10 pages) which critically interpret the assignments.

MALS 74200 The Practice of Science/Science in Context
Joseph W. Dauben, 3 credits, Tuesdays, 4:15-6:15 pm
(Cross-listed with HIST 78400)

This course will use the techniques of history and sociology to study the development of modern science and its impact upon society. It will view science as an institution and as a profession, and consider such topics as science and religion; Catholic versus Protestant views of the Scientific Revolution; the role of science during and after the French Revolution; whether science contributed anything to the Industrial Revolution; American Federalism and science during the Civil War; capitalism and “big science” in America; the politics of science in the Soviet Union: the Lysenko case and modern genetics; ethical issues in biology and physics, including eugenics and the debate over recombinant DNA techniques, and atomic research (including hydrogen bomb projects) in the United States, Germany, Russia and China; computers and technological determinism.

MALS 74300  Research Ethics
Rosamond Rhodes, 3 credits, Mondays, 5:00-6:30pm at Mount Sinai School of Medicine (100th Street & Fifth Avenue), Annenberg 5 Felt Conference Room

Seminar participants will include CUNY students and MSSM medical students as well as students from Masters programs in Genetics Counseling, Clinical Research, and Public Health.

This seminar will explore the complex issues raised by human subject research. The seminar will begin with a review of some of the landmark cases of unethical use of human subjects in research, the policies that shape our current understanding of the ethical conduct of research, and the mechanisms for research oversight that have been instituted. Then, through reading a broad selection of seminal articles and papers from the recent literature, seminar presentations and discussions, we shall engage in a conceptual analysis of a number of controversial and pressing issues. We shall be discussing the moral and public policy aspects of topics such as research design, risk-benefit assessment, informed consent, the use of “vulnerable” subjects, research without consent, confidentiality, inducements, conflicts of interests, disclosure of research findings, tissue use, vaccine development, international research. In addition to exploring the moral landscape of this rich and provocative domain, the seminar should clarify and inform participants’ understanding of basic moral concepts such as autonomy and justice. It will also serve as a model for approaching other issues in applied ethics.

MALS 77100 Aesthetics of Film
Edward D. Miller, 3 credits, Tuesdays, 11:45 am-3:45 pm
(Cross-listed with ART 89500, THEA 71400 and FSCP 81000)

Ever since the Lumière Brother’s train arrived at the station, film has been concerned with its own mechanics and meanings and the ways in which film not only captures the moment but transforms it, creating an impact upon its audience with distinct aesthetics.

This course highlights the self-referentiality of film and argues that a central 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 them with a thorough understanding of the concepts that are needed to perform a detailed formal analysis.

The course’s main text is the eighth edition of Bordwell and Thompson’s Film Art 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, sound/music, and genre.

In addition, we read Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” in order to develop an understanding of the relationship between aesthetics and technology. We also read brief selections from Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Aesthetic Judgment and Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime in order to underline the affectivity of aesthetics.

In the final section of the course, we examine the challenges that digital culture has brought to the aesthetics of the once entirely analog medium of cinema. Thus we discern the effects of computer generated imagery (CGI) on the appearance of cinema as well as the ramifications of what Henry Jenkins has named “convergence culture” on the cinematic arts.

We ask how is the medium transformed when films are watched on a tiny iPod screen or accessed via YouTube.

In addition, as many films are now shot using digital video—and are edited using nonlinear programs such as Final Cut Pro—we investigate how the changes in production and post-production environments are dramatically changing the look and sound of cinema. We read selections from Lev Manovich’s Language of New Media and query his notion of digital cinema and the database logic in order to determine if the listing and looping of the database is indeed becoming an organizing principle for film, challenging the traditional causality of narrative structure.

As part of the course we cross genres and construct our own database of films that focus on the landscape and soundscape of the filmmaking terrain and highlight the aesthetics of cinema.

As such, we watch Thanhouser and Marston’s Evidence of the Film (1913), Charlie Chaplin’s The Masquerader (1914), Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera (1929), Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard(1950), Donen and Kelly’s Singing in the Rain (1952), Jean Rouch’s Chronicle of a Summer (1960). Federico Fellini’s  (1963), François Truffaut’s Day for Night (1973), Robert Altman’s The Player (1991), Tom DeCillo’s Living in Oblivion (1995), P.T. Anderson’s Boogie Nights (1998), David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (2001), and Fulton and Pepe’s Lost in La Mancha (2002). We also look at the formal conventions of the “making of” documentary, now included as a subfeature on so many DVD versions of films.

Students are expected to write short weekly response papers to the readings and screenings. The 12-15 page final paper is a critical analysis of a film that foregrounds the filmmaking process itself.
Enrollment is limited. No permits, non-matrics, auditors.

MALS 77200  History of Cinema I
Matthew Solomon, 3 credits, Wednesdays, 11:45 am.-3:45 pm
(Cross listed with ART 89500, THEA 71500 & FSCP 81000)

This course is an intensive examination of film history before 1930 that introduces students to international silent cinema, to the scholarly literature on early cinema, and to the practices of researching and writing film history.

Topics for our consideration include the “emergence of cinema”; the “cinema of attractions”; the “narrativization” of cinema; theater and early film; sound, color, and the “silent” image; the industrialization of film production; national cinemas of the 1910s; the Hollywood mode of filmmaking; women and African-American filmmakers; and film movements of the 1920s.

We will study the work of such filmmakers as Lumière, Méliès, Porter, Paul, Bauer, Christensen, Feuillade, Weber, Micheaux, Murnau, Dulac, Eisenstein, and others while considering the ways that silent films were exhibited and received in diverse contexts.

Students will write a 15+ page seminar paper on a research topic of their choosing that has been approved by the professor and will conduct a smaller-scale historical research project making use of archival resources. In addition, students are expected to complete assigned readings detailed in the syllabus and to actively participate in class discussions.