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Spring 2008 Courses

Spring 2008 Courses

The two main purposes of this course are to introduce students to philosophical and theoretical perspectives of international relations (IR) and to help students apply these perspectives to the analysis of foreign aid and debt. While the philosophical and theoretical understanding of IR will help students engage in further studies in IR and international studies in general, the specific analysis of foreign aid and debt will enhance students’ knowledge of these critical issues. After introducing students to moral economy, i.e., ethical assumptions behind economic practices, the course introduces students to a critical realist philosophy of social science. The rest of the course examines key ethically oriented arguments about aid practices that assist the distant poor. Students’ own paper will apply a specific theory to the analysis of foreign aid and debt in a particular context.

MALS 70800
Transformations of Modernity, 1914-present
Thursdays, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 3 credits
Professor David Gordon

Twentieth century Europe has been torn between the forces of nationalism and internationalism. Its multinational empires were replaced after 1918 by antagonistic nation-states. By 1945, their struggles had left the continent in ruins. Europe’s 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 in 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, both during and after two world wars. 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 72200
Contemporary Feminist Theory
Thursdays, 4:15-6:15 p.m., 3 credits
(Cross-listed with WSCP 80802)
Professor Cheryl Fish


This course shall 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 theory upon feminism. Readings and discussion will address a number of conflicts and developments within feminism about the category of woman, the politics of difference, the basis of feminist knowledge, the body, ecofeminisms and science studies, performances of gender, the stability of sexed and sexual identity and feminist engagements with activism and politics. The course takes an interdisciplinary and transnational approach to feminist thought and brings the theories to bear upon literature, film, and scenes of everyday life. There will be guest speakers, and students will be responsible for a short oral presentation, reaction journal, and a seminar essay.


MALS 73100
American Culture and Values
Thursdays, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 3 credits
Professor Joseph Entin

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 74300
Bioethics, Policies and Cases:
Autonomy and Liberty in Medicine
Tuesdays, 5:00-7:00 p.m., 3 credits
Mt. Sinai School of Medicine
Professors Rosamond Rhodes and Ian Holzman

The concepts of “autonomy” and “liberty” have a significant place in medical and research ethics. In the clinical realm, autonomy is the central concept in our appreciation of informed consent for treatment and in the assessment of decisional capacity. In the context of research, many people see informed consent as the central factor in determining the ethical acceptability or unacceptability of research. In public policy, liberty is at issue in legislation requiring vaccination, quarantine, or reporting of infectious disease. Infringements on liberty are also involved in legislation that imposes limitations on abortion and reproductive choices, in our regulation of therapeutic and recreational drugs, and in the prohibition of physician-assisted suicide.
This course will begin with discussion of the recent Abigail Alliance cases that argued in terms of liberty and autonomy for the release of Phase I trial drugs for use by people with terminal illnesses. With that appreciation of the centrality of these terms, we will go on to explore the philosophic concepts of autonomy and liberty themselves. We shall read and discuss the work of classic and contemporary authors (e.g., Aristotle, Kant) in order to develop a clear understanding of how the terms are used and the controversies that they raise. We will then examine these concepts in the context of contemporary bioethics debates by reviewing some of the literature that speaks to matters such as: personal responsibility for health, public health efforts to promote good health, the assessment of decisional capacity in adults and children, justified paternalism, forced treatment and forced confinement, abortion, embryo selection, life extension, physician-assisted suicide, selling transplant organs, infectious disease, and genetic testing of children for adult onset diseases.

Principle Texts:
Christman J and Anderson J, editors, Autonomy and the Challenges to Liberalism: New Essays, Cambridge UP, 2005.
Gert B, Culver CM, Clouser KD, Bioethics: A Systematic Approach, Oxford UP, 2006.
Paul EF, Miller, FD, & Paul J, editors, Autonomy, Cambridge UP, 2003.
Rhodes R, Francis LP, and Silvers A, editors, The Blackwell Guide to Medical Ethics, Blackwell Publishing, 2007.

MALS 77200
History of Cinema I
Wednesdays, 6:30-9:30 p.m., 3 credits
Professor Alison Griffiths
(Cross-listed with ART 89500, FSCP 81000 &THEA 71500)

Film History I provides students with an overview of precinema, early cinema and silent film, considering American filmmaking and European national cinemas.

Beginning with an examination of nineteenth century philosophical toys and the serial photography of Edward Muybridge and Etienne Jules-Marey, the course traces the development of film from 1894 through to the advent of sound in 1927.

Following an analysis of early film (pre-1907), including the work of Edison, Porter, the Lumière Bros., Meliès, Pathé, and members of the Brighton School in the UK, the course takes up the major figures of Griffith, Vertov, Eisenstein, Dreyer, and Vidor, who were critical in exploring the creative possibilities of film form in the silent era.

Topics covered during the second half of the course include: Weimar cinema, Soviet filmmaking, Hollywood silent comedy, American “race” cinema of the 1920s, early documentary film, and the 1920s international avant-garde.

Course requirements:
In addition to four reading response papers (2-3pp), and an oral presentation of the final research paper, students are required to conduct original research on a topic approved by the professor and submit an 18-20pp final paper.

Required Texts:
Lee Grieveson and Peter Kramer, eds., The Silent Cinema Reader (London: Taylor and Francis, 2003).

Richard Abel, ed., Silent Film (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1996).

Antonia Land with Ingrid Periz, Red Velvet Seat: Women’s Writing on the First Fifty Years of Cinema(London: Verso, 2006)

List of readings and supplemental readings available in Certificate Programs Office (Room 5109).

MALS 78200
Politics of Contemporary Urban Education
Mondays, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 3 credits
Professor Bethany Rogers