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Course Archive

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These MALS courses have been offered in the past and can give you a flavor of our curriculum.

Introduction to Graduate Liberal Studies (MALS601)

A gateway experience for incoming MALS students. Students learn the conventions and expectations of graduate-level reading, writing, research, and critical analysis and explore the concept of interdisciplinarity. Topics include documentation of sources, formulation and development of independent research projects, research methods, use of online databases. The content will be interdisciplinary and/or intercultural, and the course methodology will include lecture, discussion, independent research, and varied forms of academic writing.

Nature and Human Nature (MALS600)

Addresses the development, status, and understanding of humanity within a larger context, e.g., how writers in various disciplines have defined humanity, nature, and the relationship between the two, or the interaction between humans.

Force, Conflict and Change: World War II (MALS610)

This seminar will provide an overview of the causes, course and outcome of World War II and the general impact it had on world history until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The seminar will use an extensive collection of oral interviews of World War II veterans (American, other Allied and Axis, both men and women from all theaters of the war) personally conducted by the instructor to illustrate the conflict.

The Arts in Context: Drama in Performance (MALS617)

This course proceeds from the premise that drama is designed to be performed, not just read.  To that end, we will focus on productions by UD's Resident Ensemble Players, and several members of that group will be visiting our class.  Other visitors will include directors, designers, and reviewers.  In addition, we'll look for opportunities to attend plays off campus, including optional trips to Wilmington and Philadelphia.  The course will also include a unit on film adaptation, and each student can choose one work by a major playwright (such as Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, or August Wilson) to see ways that a movie reworks a dramatic text.  "Drama in Performance" will not require acting talent (as the professor himself will illustrate), but each class meeting will include brief, unrehearsed readings from the plays being discussed.

Interpreting the Past: The Dream of Empire (MALS622)

There have always been empires.  Their number far exceeds the number of democracies of any sort that have ever existed.  Why is this so?  How are empires born?  How to they grow and flourish?  Why do they die?  Most important of all: what do they do to and for those they rule and what do they leave behind when they vanish?  All these questions will be explored through history and literature. This course will be based and reading and class discussion and a course essay will be required.

Composing Identities (MALS626)

Who we are and where we come from impacts all facets of our lives from our families to our professions to our social media presence. This course considers how culture and language shape our racial, ethnic, gender, sexual, and socioeconomic identities and how we represent them online. We will spend the semester considering how we "write" ourselves and our communities and how we are "written" by technologies and media around us. We will investigate the use of visual, audio, and cultural conventions within certain technological communities (Facebook, LinkedIn, Match) in creating individual and group identities. We will also discuss the importance of identification through association (with one another, with media, with brands, etc.) and how this necessitates critical awareness of the technologies we use.

Click here for a sample syllabus: MALS620 Composing Identity.pdf

Imperial Sunset: The Decline and Fall of European Empires in the 20th Century (MALS667)

In 1914 Europeans--and their overseas offshoots--ruled the world.  In less than 50 years these empires had all vanished, often leaving wreckage and ongoing conflict behind.  This half century of dramatic transformation largely shaped our world.  How and why it all happened will be the focus of this course.

Beyond Sight: Rhetoric and Race in Contemporary Times (MALS667)

This course draws on approaches to rhetorical theory, critical race theory, visual culture, and new media technologies to explore relationships between words and images. Written discourse increasingly involves visual dimensions that are influenced (and sometime controlled) by writers, and this understanding is most concretely rendered in areas that depend on technology. In a real sense, technology has pushed us to see visual dimensions of meaning as falling under our influence as writers and scholars in the humanities. Visual rhetoric also places audience in the center of theories of the visual and the design process. We will be looking at images, magazine covers, pages and screens other people have designed, and figuring out why (or why not) they succeed in doing what they set out to do. Throughout the course, we will be working to answer questions like the following:

  • What happens if we approach visual rhetoric only as reception (or interpretation) and not as production?
  • How do we, as scholars, learn to see and come to understand ourselves as viewers?
  • How are racialized subjects produced through practices of looking?
  • How can writers, designers, and decision makers for businesses build responsible documents for specific and general audiences?

Outcomes for scholars in the course include:

  • Identifying issues for visual rhetoric in writing studies and other disciplines
  • Connecting theories of rhetoric, race, and visual culture
  • Writing and producing a visual story by applying visual rhetoric and race in the service of the classroom or another community

Memory Speaks:  The Craft of Contemporary Memoir (MALS667)

To document, explore, commemorate, and ultimately to understand the relationship of ones' life to history is no easy undertaking, but this is the task of the memoirist.  From the initial recollection of events to the quest to bestow upon these events inward and outward meaning, memoir is a public genre, and it requires the imagination of the storyteller, the knowledge of the historian, and the discipline of the editor:  a delicate interplay of skill and talent that, with practice, yields memorable literature.  Creative, contemplative, and critical, Memory Speaks is a disciplined exploration of the theory and practice of written recollection, grounded in reading and discussion of influential memoirists' work as well as workshop discussion of participant work.

Two Cultures: Four Epochs (MALS667)

This course will focus on iSTEAM (Interdisciplinary Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics). We will address the classic division between STEM and the arts and humanities and how we might build a "Third Culture." We will couple four plays/movies with counterparts in science, technology, and society texts: Bertolt Brecht's Galileo with his notion of revolutionary theater with Thomas S. Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions; Jerome Lawrence's and Robert Edwin Lee's Inherit the Wind with Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species as an abolitionist anti-slavery, anti-racism thesis; Anna Ziegler's play Photograph 51 about Rosalind Franklin's role in the discovery of the structure of DNA with Anne Fausto Sterling's Myths of Gender: Biological Theories about Women and Men on sexism in science;  and Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race with Robert Moses and Charles Cobb's Radical Equations: Math Literacy and Civil Rights.

Who, or What, Drives History? (MALS667)

Historians have long argued about what powers historical change.  The dominant answer, until after World War II, was: great individuals (usually Great Men).  Then historians began to widen their view: demographic changes, climate change, new technologies, the rise of new social groups (or the rediscovery of neglected ones), new ideas--all these seemed of greater import than any individual, no matter how dazzling (or horrifying).  Focus on the individual became the province of biographers, with whom historians were often reluctant to claim kinship, or, worse yet, the playground of novelists, playwrights and film makers.  The argument goes on, and we will join it in this seminar.  We will look at a trio of great figures: Elizabeth I, Winston Churchill--and each student will fill out the trio with a person they choose to investigate.

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