June 8-August 13
Force, Conflict, and Change: Empires--Good Thing or Bad Thing? (MALS610-010)
The image of empire has been largely shaped not by historians but by Hollywood: marching Roman legionnaires or pith helmeted Britons ordering Asians or Africans about. (The image of empire might well include the American "winning of the West" but, for some reason, seldom does.) But empire is a much more complex business than cinematic spectacle and worthy of very serious attention. After all, much more of human history has been shaped by empires than by nation states and parliamentary democracies--both quite recent arrivals on the scene and by no means guaranteed to dominate the future. Empires of various sorts are still with us--and also aspire to write that future. We will look comparatively at several long lived and influential empires and seek at least a tentative answer to the question posed by the course title.
The basic reading for the seminar will be Krishan Kumar's "Visions of Empire" (Princeton,2017). A paper edition is available. Further readings will grow out of the discussions in the seminar and the paper topic chosen.
Every student will be expected to do a paper of roughly 15 pp on a topic developed out of the reading and seminar discussions. A one page proposal will be handed in at the end of the first month of the course. Once approved, the full paper will be due at the last class meeting. Details (footnote form, etc.) will be discussed in class.
September 1-December 10
Encountering 'the Other' in Tourism and Travel
International tourism is the fastest
growing industry in the world, and has produced one of the largest population
movements in the history of humanity. In this course, we will discuss
tourism and travel as cultural practices as well as globalization phenomena. We
will pay particular attention to tourism as an encounter in search for
authenticity and otherness. The course will examine topics such as tourism and modernity,
sexual and romantic tourism, ecotourism and environmental tourism.
Death and Dying
This course will consider a number of responses to the "problem" of death and dying. Our premise is that there is such a thing as a good death, that many traditions consider the good life as the one that ends in a good death, and thus the highest practice in life prepares one for a good death. We will not address the question of an afterlife per se, but rather we will focus on the meaning of death and the meaning of a life that ends in death. We will look at representatives of Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Western philosophical and psychological traditions, and religious viewpoints. Students are invited to form their own conclusions and seek their own coherence.
How to Read an Election
How do people really make important decisions, like how to vote in an election? Why are lies so often effective, even when they're transparent? How is it possible for two apparently rational individuals to draw the opposite conclusions from the same evidence? How to Read an Election moves beyond partisan politics to delve into psychology, literature, and film for insights into these and other questions that inevitably arise during an election season. We'll read recent best-sellers, such as Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow (excerpts), in which he summarizes his Nobel-prize-winning research on how humans make and manipulate decisions; The Secret Life of Pronouns, in which psychologist James Pennebaker offers hints on how to read between the lines to understand what people are really saying; and Weaponized Lies, a primer of critical thinking by neuroscientist Daniel Levitin. We'll also discuss relevant literary works, such as Arthur Miller's The Crucible and George Orwell's 1984; and films like Dr. Strangelove and Wag the Dog. A course website will provide links to lectures and interviews by many of these authors. In addition to the reading, the course will involve two response papers, a personal essay, and a take-home final exam.
Click here for a sample reading list: How to Read an Election Reading list.pdf
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.
Click here for a sample syllabus: MALS 601 Syllabus F19.pdf