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Approaches to Modernity


MALS students take four classes within the program—Introduction to Graduate Liberal Studies, two core courses in their chosen track, and the thesis—and choose their remaining electives from among all courses offered across the doctoral and certificate programs at the Graduate Center.



MALS Track in Approaches to/Transformations of Modernity

When was it that people first had the sense of living in new and different times— Modern Times? Charlie Chaplin’s famous 1936 film of that name suggests one answer, but scholars have different view of the beginning of modernity. Some recall the journalism and novels of the early eighteenth century, while others go back much further, and refer to what we used to call “the Renaissance” as the “Early Modern” period. Cultural historians invoke Wordsworth on the French Revolution: “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive”; art historians date the dawn to Paris in the 1860s, when Manet and his followers took to painting modern life. Was it modernity or modernism that dramatically emerged at a certain moment on or about December 1910, when according to Virginia Woolf human nature changed? Or did the shift occur deliberately, when his fellow poets followed W.C. Wiliams’s injunction to “Make it new”? Students in the MALS Track in Modernity consider the differences and similarities between modernity and modernism–and post-modernism as well—as they pursue a rich variety of graduate courses in literature, history, art history, film studies, sociology and other disciplines.

Core Courses
MALS 70700 The Shaping of Modernity, 1789-1914, 3 credits
MALS 70800 Transformations of Modernity, 1914-present, 3 credits

Questions about the MALS track in Approaches to Modernity may be directed to