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Spring 2009 Courses

Spring 2009 Courses

RSCP 83100 Early Modern Disseminations: Encounters with European Culture East & West
Mondays, 6:30-8:30 pm, 3 credits, Martin Elsky, [95045] Cross listed with Comp Lit 71000 & ART 75000.

This course will focus on contact between European and non-European cultures in the Renaissance and Early Modern period, an age of exploration and expansion.

It will concentrate on the transformations that occur when cultural forms originally associated with the Italian city state move across borders via national states and empires to the New World and the eastern Mediterranean, to Tenochtitlan and the Ottoman Empire.

Readings will be drawn from literary and art history, as well as social and political history. The approach of the course will be set by beginning with cartography as an intercultural discipline used for the mapping of Europe’s own internally dynamic geographical space and its relation to geographies beyond its borders in some major cartographic projects of the period.

We will then consider intellectual theorization of contact with non-Europeans, as well as reciprocal effects of encounters between European and non-European cultures, including hybrid identities and hybrid cultural forms (literary and visual) expressing resistance, absorption, and synthesis.

Themes will include cultural forms in geographic motion, as well as issues of authenticity, imitation, appropriation, and mimicry.

Examples will be drawn from the historical, literary and visual traditions, including case histories and the theory of the state and empire; lyric, epic, travel narrative, and ethnographic description; prints, drawings, architecture, and cartography.

Emphasis will be placed on critical approaches and research problems as illustrated in readings from cultural history, literary criticism, and art history as applied so such figures as Shakespeare, Rabelais, Cervantes and others.
As an interdisciplinary course, students can work on materials related to their home discipline.

MALS 70800 Transformations of Modernity, 1914 to the Present
Mondays, 6:30-8:30 pm, 3 credits, David Gordon [95942]

The global economy is now in crisis. Such times have always held the potential for political extremism. Twentieth century Europe provides a cautionary tale of how bad things can become, and also how they can best be set right. The global economic crisis of the 1930s resulted in dictatorship and world war. By 1945, Europe was in ruins. Its post-war regeneration was made possible by a new period of cooperation. This course will examine the nationalist forces that led to Europe’s downfall by 1945. It will also explore the ways in which Europeans remade their continent, from economic cooperation to the election of new political leaders committed to internationalism. Special attention will be given to the fate of minority populations and border changes from the end of the First War through mid-century. The course will also examine the evolution of European relations with the rest of the world, and the problems and opportunities provided by economic and cultural integration in an increasingly interdependent world.

MALS 71000 Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir II: Words and Images
Thursdays, 4:15-6:15 pm, 3 credits, Suzanne Ouellette [95581]

A close and careful look at how people tell their own lives and those of others reveals individuals in all their complexity, in the many contexts in which they find themselves – internal and external contexts. Viewing, reading, and writing lives enable discoveries about individual uniqueness and the distinctive blend of consistency and change in lives; and discoveries about the communities, societies, and cultures of which individuals are part. The ability to see and develop deep understanding of one single person facilitates and requires the awareness and knowledge of the many who people their times and places, near and far. The class will consider the history and current state of the study of lives in its several forms, including written texts, painting, and film. The class will be an interdisciplinary space in which several different theoretical and methodological approaches will be engaged.

The course is intended for students seeking to make life studies a central part of their work and those for whom the biographical is only to supplement other approaches. Although it serves as the second part of the Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir sequence in M.A.L.S., student do not need to have taken that course in order to participate in this one.

MALS 71500 Critical Issues in International Studies
Thursdays, 6:30-8:30 pm, 3 credits, Mark Ungar [95582]

This course examines the world’s response to human rights abuse by analyzing the historical development of different rights, the effectiveness of international and regional protections, the conflict between rights and other issues such as security and democratization, the functioning of governmental and non-governmental organizations, the relationship between human rights and internal politics, and patterns of violations against different ethnic, racial, religious, gender and other groups.

MALS 72200 Contemporary Feminist Theories
Wednesdays, 4:15-6:15 pm, 3 credits, Susan Farrell [95583]
Cross-listed with WSCP 80802

This course will provide an introduction to themes, issues and conflicts in contemporary feminist theory. The course pays particular attention to the shift from the unifying themes in earlier feminist theorizing to the destabilizing influences of recent social theories (e.g. postmodernism, queer theory, and post-colonial theory) upon feminism. Readings and discussions will address a number of conflicts and developments within feminism about the category of woman, the politics of difference, the body, sexualities, performances of gender, the stability of sexed and sexual identity. Social institutions such as family, religion, the state and their impact on the social construction of gender will also be analyzed. The course takes an interdisciplinary and transnational approach to feminist thought and brings these theories to bear upon literature and media. There will be guest speakers, and students will be responsible for two reflection papers, a short oral presentation and critical book review essay on selected feminist utopian, speculative, and science fiction with an eye toward the future of feminism and gender

MALS 73200 American Social Institutions
Wednesdays, 6:30-8:30 pm, 3 credits, Andrew Robertson [95584]

This course serves as an introduction to the history, theories, and methods of American Studies as an interdisciplinary field. We will begin by taking a brief look at a few “classic” statements on the meaning and make-up of American culture from the nineteenth century, and then turn our attention to the 1930s, when American Studies as an intellectual and academic pursuit was first formally articulated. We will then examine some early American Studies approaches, especially the “American character” and “myth and symbol” schools that dominated work in the field during the 1950s and 1960s. Finally, and for the bulk of the semester, we will attend to more recent American Studies scholarship, which draws from a range of disciplines, including social and cultural history, literary criticism, sociology, and cultural studies. Topics will include subcultures and popular culture; working-class culture; the cultural production of race, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender; border zones and diasporas; transnationalism and empire. Our reading will be guided by several questions, including: why and for what purposes was American Studies created and institutionalized? How has the field developed and why? What constitutes an American Studies approach? What are the theoretical, political, and practical stakes of such an approach?

Course requirements include active participation in discussions; an oral presentation; a short paper assessing one of the week’s readings; and a longer paper surveying interdisciplinary scholarship on a particular phenomenon in American culture.

MALS 77300 – History of Cinema II
Mondays, 6:30-9:30 pm, 3 credits, Jerry Carlson, [95586] Cross listed with FSCP 81000

This course will outline and investigate main trends in world cinema from the coming of sound until the reorganization of Hollywood by the “blockbusters” of the mid-1970s.

The course will use a number of case studies in national cinemas to explore how new aesthetics, technologies, ideological perspectives, and modes of production and reception have reshaped and enriched storytelling in feature films.

Of particular interest will be the ways post-war cinemas challenge and alter the notion of classical Hollywood genres as developed and practiced by the American studios in the 1930s and 1940s.

The course will emphasize the close reading of films by such major directors as Charles Chaplin, Howard Hawks, Jean Renoir, John Ford, Orson Welles, Vittorio de Sica, Billy Wilder, Yasujiro Ozu, Stanley Donen, Jean Luc Godard, Federico Fellini, Roman Polanski, and Andrei Tarkovski.

The course is organized by a selection of films that illustrate key phenomena of the period. The topics under consideration include, among others, the cultural functions of the genre system, the development and influence of Italian Neo-Realism, the uses of self-reflexivity to investigate the impact of cinema upon the 20th century, and the rise of international art cinema with the emergence of the director as an “auteur.”

A number of recurrent questions will inform the course. What is the role of “authorship” in the cinema? Why and how do film styles change? How are films shaped by their contexts of production and reception? Why do particular film movements or national cinemas become influential? How does Hollywood respond to international challenges to its dominance? And how do cultural, social, and political forces relate to a medium that frequently claims innocence as “just entertainment?”

Students are expected to attend all screenings and lectures, to prepare the readings on time, and to hand in assignments on the designated dates. There will be a brief analytical paper and a longer research essay. Details of these assignments will be discussed in class.

Assigned Texts

Bordwell, D. & Thompson, K. Film History: An Introduction (2nd ed)
Geiger, J. & Rutsky, R. L. Film Analysis: A Norton Reader

Information: jcarlson@ccny.cuny.edu