The Master of Liberal Arts program at TCU offers 110 on-campus courses that cover a wide variety of topics, ranging from contemporary issues in the sciences to literary evaluation and criticisms.
The on-campus MLA program allows you to experience the traditional academic rigor of TCU. All on-campus classes are small, discussion-based classes from distinguished faculty members who are innovators and leaders in their fields.
Instructor: Lindsay Dunn
This course will examine how visual representations of authority both shaped and reflected the political and cultural climates of Europe during the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries. This investigation will familiarize students with the visual rhetoric of power and help them develop understandings of the ways in which images relate to identity construction and socially and culturally-specific notions of gender power, and authority in a variety of time frames, historical contexts, and geographic locations, Throughout the semester, students will explore how those in power used images to create, maintain, and promote their authority and manage their public personas while exploring the relationships between visual representations, society, and culture. By discussing historical precedents, this course will also raise issues pertinent to current cultural ideologies and visual rhetoric.
Instructor: Johnny Miles
This course examines the phenomenon of superheroes across global contexts. Exploring the representation of superheroes helps students grasp their potential cultural function, how religious themes may factor into those functions whereby to satisfy certain needs, and how those functions and needs may have changed across time.
Instructor: Steven Sherwood
Students will read literature and watch films about the survival of both everyday crises and life-threatening situations. They will write two papers on topics related to survival of such ordinary crises as divorce or job loss, survival in the outdoors, and the prospects of long-term survival of the human species. Students will examine factors, including personality traits, which either impede or enhance a person’s ability to survive a variety of circumstances that put his or her confidence, sanity, or soul in jeopardy.
Instructor: Spencer K. Wertz
Luther Standing Bear declares: “The Indian, by the very sense of duty, should become his own historian, giving his account of the race–fairer and fewer accounts of the wars and more of statecraft, legends, languages, oratory, and philosophical conceptions.” This course is a survey of the legends and myths and the cultural-agricultural practices of the North American Indian tribes and nations with a focus on the nature of the self (person; tribe), the world (nature; cosmos), and their inter-relationship(s). These concepts are discussed and comparisons with Western philosophy are made when appropriate.
Instructor: Douglas Ann Newsom
Global communications have created an international community exposed to persuasive campaigns, some advertising and some informational. This course will examine the influence and impact of global persuasive campaigns through an analysis of the structure of the campaign process and the use of images to create familiarity and experience. The ultimate impact and influence of such campaigns are highly variable, depending on the media in which they appear and the cultural context in which they are interpreted.
Instructor: Carol Thompson
What is deviance? From a sociological perspective, deviance is a matter of social definition, interpretation, and reaction. This seminar examines the story of deviance, a story involving the struggle between rule breakers and those who seek to define them as outside normative boundaries. The goal is to introduce students to substantive topics and scholarly work within the sociology of deviance while providing an opportunity for discussion and critique. Special emphasis will be placed on the interactional dynamics involved in defining and managing deviance and the development of deviant career.
Instructor: Michael Butler
Basic concepts and tools used by economists and applications of those tools to analyze contemporary economic and social issues will be discussed. Included among the issues will be drug prohibition, tax reform, Social Security, the minimum wage, and environmental protection.
Instructor: Joan McGettigan
An exploration of cinema as a form of American social expression. As cultural artifacts, films are produced in specific historical contexts by and for cultural groups. Films produced for American audiences reflect American values, myths, and behavior and thus constitute an important form of social expression. We will examine movies which depict specific periods, people, and events of American history, and ask questions such as: How do we see ourselves and our history through films? Who are the “heroes” we choose to portray onscreen? How have our notions of “realism” changed over time?
Instructor: Joan McGettigan
This course examines Hollywood films from a cultural perspective. Genres change over time, both reflecting and affecting the cultural attitudes of filmmakers and audiences. This course will focus on the development of the Hollywood Crime Film from the 1930s through the present day.
Instructor: Donald Frischmann
A study of literary works by outstanding, contemporary writers hailing from a variety of Mexican Indigenous (“Indian”) ethnic groups: Nahuatl, Zapoteco, Yucatec Mayan, Mazateco, Trotzil, among others. The pre-Hispanic roots of this new literature will be examined, as will recurring themes and other ancient motifs which persist in today’s writers. Short stories, poetry, and drama will be studied within their specific ethnic contexts, and also within a broader literary analytical framework. Recent English translations by Dr. Frischmann and his personal research experiences will make this course accessible to all MLA students.
Instructor: Michael Dodson
The course challenges the facile assumption that because guerrilla wars have ended and the generals have turned power over to civilians, Latin America will necessarily “go democratic.” The course focuses on the peace processes in selected Latin American countries in order to explore the serious challenges that confront nations seeking to democratize when they are saddled with deep legacies of authoritarianism.
Instructor: Michael Slattery
Our relationship with the Earth is changing at an unprecedented rate. The pace of change is accelerating not only from our advancing technology, but also from world population growth, economic growth, and increasingly frequent collisions between expanding human demands and the limits of the Earth’s natural systems. It appears that catastrophe looms ahead unless major changes are made in a short period of time. Or does it? Fortunately, human beings are capable of changing their behavior and values, which are then reflected in changes in national and international priorities. Such changes happen when people are confronted with new information or new experiences. This is a discussion and debate style course. The objective is to introduce students to controversies in environmental policy and science. The readings, which represent the arguments of leading environmentalists, scientists, and policymakers, reflect a variety of viewpoints and have been selected for their liveliness and substance. They are organized topically around major areas of study within environmental studies and include environmental ethics, water resources, energy, global climate change and population.
Instructor: Linda Hughes
An examination of the roots of current American interest in Arthurian legend in Queen Victoria’s reign. Students will read important literary works, including Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, William Morris’s “Defense of Guenevere,” and Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and explore the historical and political conditions surrounding the 19th-century medieval revival. The course concludes with a screening of Excalibur (1981) and discussion of its indebtedness to the Victorian era.
Instructor: Edward McNertney
The study of economics involves the learning of abstract theories about the workings of the economic system and the study of various policy tools that may be used to guide the economy toward specified targets. The course will focus on the historical development of the theories developed to explain our major economic issues, on the controversies surrounding these theories, and on the different policy conclusions that arise from the different theories. The major economic issues on which the course will focus include inflation, unemployment, business cycles, economic growth and development, international trade deficits and surpluses, federal government budget deficits and surpluses, income distribution, and globalization.
Instructor: Edward McNertney
Computer simulation models will be used to learn important economic concepts and to analyze current economic problems. Students will assume the role of economic policymakers and as such will initiate policy changes and examine their effects on various aspects of the economy, such as the national output level, the inflation rate, the unemployment rate, and the distribution of income. No prior computer experience is necessary.
Instructor: Michael C. Slattery
Do you have a fascination with the Weather Channel? Are you interested in a non-mathematical treatment of the principles of meteorology and climatology? Students in this course will develop a working understanding of general meteorological and climatological processes, develop an understanding of the spatial and temporal variability of these processes, and begin to understand how these factors influence the climate of a region. Basic information about the earth/energy system will pave the way for an examination of simple dynamic relationships, synoptic circulation, global climate and climate change.
Instructor: Rhonda Keen
Explores holistic women’s health in the contexts of history, culture, and science. Examines the influence of race, gender, age, and class on women’s embodied experiences and women’s health. Reviews effect of oppression and influence of power and privilege on systems and processes. Analyzes the impact of social construction of gender on women as consumers and providers of health care. Reframes contemporary systems to challenge prevailing social values and actions; suggests alternative practices and research agendas. Promotes women’s ownership and self-agency in naming misogyny, understanding health behaviors and selected problems; identifying choices in prevention and care. Introduces global considerations in women’s health.
Instructor: Ralph Carter
What foreign policy issues are on the horizon for U.S. policymakers? What should our foreign policy be as we enter the post 9/11 era? How should that foreign policy be made, and by whom? The domestic political environment facing U.S. foreign policymakers changed first after the Vietnam War and then again after the September 11th attacks. With the demise of the Cold War, the external political environment changed as well. This course will look forward to contemporary U.S. foreign policy on both the domestic and external levels. Domestically, the course addresses the various governmental and non-governmental actors who combine to produce foreign policy. Externally, it examines problems that revolve around specific issues (like terrorism and homeland security, the promotion of democracy, foreign trade, etc.) or around particular countries (Afghanistan, Russia, China, Mexico, Cuba, etc.).
Instructor: Clayton Brown
In this course, the political, social and economic factors in the New South are examined with attention given to comparative regional history. Particular emphasis will be placed on historical interpretations, showing both the professional and lay image of the South in today’s society. The economic modernization of the South will also be a major theme of the course.
Instructor: Cheryl Carithers
From Homer’s The Iliad to Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carry to Kathyrn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, we are given a glimpse into humankind at war. We see the winners and the victors and the death and destruction. We also gain a glimpse into the hearts and minds of those involved, from the military men and women who fight to the family members who love them to the people in the societies in which they live. We see the conflicts they face, hopefully, learning something as a result. Thus, this class will focus on war stories, from the ancient past to the very present, fiction and non-fiction, from epic poems, novels, and modern-day films to narratives from the soldiers themselves. As we read the war stories and watch them emerge on film, we will not only analyze the content but also discuss the impact they have on all those involved and humanity as a whole.
Instructor: Sidney Thompson
This course will examine how American literature from the 1800s to the present has explored the racial divide between African Americans and white authority. We will achieve a broad historical and political perspective by reading a range of genres, including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry composed by black, white, and biracial authors, with the purpose of using the literary tradition as a lens through which we assess the contradictory nature of American democracy and the vulnerable position of African-Americans within it. Our discussion will address slavery, abolition, segregation and Jim Crow laws, police brutality, “the white gaze,” white privilege, white guilt, cultural appropriation, racial passing, faith as propaganda, and the commonplace assumptions and fears about race, law enforcement, and national identity that have helped perpetuate the constraints of institutional racism in the United States.
Instructor: Carol Thompson
This course introduces students to the central ideas in the field of social psychology and the significance of these ideas in providing explanations for criminal behavior and related phenomena. Additionally, classic social psychological theory and research are examined and utilized to understand offenders, victims and criminogenic environments. The course emphasizes the integration and application of course content to understand contemporary criminological issues such as the use of the death penalty for juveniles, treatment and control of sex offenders, criminalizing drug offenders, and the validity of repressed memory.
Instructor: Manochehr Dorraj
An introduction to the theoretical evolution of the international economy as a subdiscipline within the field of international relations. The course discusses the classical economists, Marxist theory and neo-Keynesian theories of growth and capital accumulation and distribution, then focuses on first, second and third world perspectives on the international political economy. Also studied are the roles of multinational corporations, the International Monetary Fund, the politics of international trade, the role of foreign aid, the third world debt crisis, the impact of the technological revolution, the emergence of a multi-polar world, and the ramifications of Japanese and German economic resurgence for “the new world order.”
Instructor: Jeffrey Roet
In a world subject to war, ethnic conflict, and economic disruption, to what extent does geography explain the unfolding of global events? How do access to waterways, the level of economic development, the blessings of natural defenses, and proximity to other nations determine the stance a country presents to the outside world? Geographer Dr. Jeffrey Roet will introduce geopolitical concepts that help explain conflict and change and show how geography is indeed the stage upon which history is set. He will reveal centuries-old patterns behind the dynamics of war, economic competition, and other current global concerns.
Instructor: Ray Drenner
From the human genome project and cloning to hormone replacement therapy and antibiotic resistance, new issues involving human health as science discovers more about the causes and treatment of human diseases, increasingly confront us. Our ability to manage our health depends on our understanding and appreciation of the biological concepts underlying these issues. This course will examine some of these contemporary issues and the underlying biological concepts through readings from a variety of Web resources.
Instructor: Steven Woodworth
This course examines the issues and problems involved within the Confederate government in selecting and using generals and in developing and implementing national strategy during the Civil War. Topics include the personal role of Jefferson Davis, the influence of Robert E. Lee, the problematic service of Braxton Bragg, P.G.T. Beauregard, and Joseph E. Johnston, among others. We will also explore the controversies among Confederate leaders between offensive and defensive strategy and between Virginia the western theater of the war.
Instructor: Gene Smith
Today’s headlines report the failure of revolutions with their civil wars, ethnic massacres, and palace coups. What constitutes a successful revolution? What lessons are there in the American experience? General Washington’s startling words in 1783 express his anxiety for the problems of American state building and give the title to a course that will examine the origins of those problems in the protest to British Imperialism, the War for Independence, and the post-war challenges leading to the creation of the Federal structure under the Constitution.
Instructor: Joanne Connor Green
This class will examine the perennial dilemmas between Freedom, Order and Equality especially as they pertain to political ideology and public policy. To understand the dilemmas, we will examine the basic structure of our government with special attention paid to the structural tensions that augment this dilemma. Next, we will look at how the dilemmas surface in contemporary debate among liberals and conservatives and how the dilemmas impact the definition of policies in the United States. We will be discussing and debating a number of current issues that pit these three valued ideals against one another to better understand the positions presented by advocates on both sides of the policy debates and to illuminate our personal positions and views.
Instructor: Andrew Haskett
Understanding how media texts are created. The course provides a behind-the-scenes look at film, television, and radio, guiding students to a thorough understanding of the technological and stylistic options available to producers and directors. These options, in turn, form the palate from which directors and others construct mediated texts–the images, sounds, and dramatic tensions necessary for the successful execution of theatrical film, television, and radio. Examples will be taken from current film, television, and radio programming. Aimed at an educated consumer of the media, this course requires no previous experience in the media arts.
Instructor: Fred Oberkircher
Human beings receive over 80% of their information about the spatial environment through vision. The mechanism by which this visual environment is revealed to us is light. It is the quality of that light, in all of its manifestations, that has inspired mankind for thousands of years. Ranging from the philosophical statement “I see”, which has more to do with the act of understanding than the process of seeing, to the psychological aspects of certain three dimensional visual illusions that work, based solely upon stored mental information on the location of our sun and the resultant cast shadows; light has both inspired and guided our relationships with the world that surrounds us. So strongly interwoven is this relationship that it passes for the commonplace. This course seeks to explore and clarify the inter-relationship between man and light. Individual/team investigations will concentrate on the use of light and color to create sophisticated themed environments. The TCU Center for Lighting Education will be used to support the actual demonstration of and investigations into the use of various types of electric lighting devices, ranging from simple track fixtures to computer controlled fixtures that can change color, lighting position, and pattern.
Instructor: Joan McGettigan
Time and again filmmakers turn to literature for inspiration; we have become accustomed to seeing favorite works of literature “translated” for the screen. This course will ask you to move past the initial reaction–Is the film better than the book, or vice versa?–to analyze the methods used in adaptation. How does each medium establish characters, develop mood and atmosphere, communicate emotions and thoughts? Furthermore, the course will examine how adaptations have been influenced by factors such as changing cultural attitudes and censorship.
Instructor: John Harvey
One of the least understood features of our economy is the nature of capital (physical and financial). Yet, it plays a vital role in creating present employment and future productive capacity, and it grabs headlines through stock market fluctuations and international financial crises. This course both arms the student to differentiate among the confusing variety of uses of the term capital and explains what it can and cannot do in terms of world and domestic economic growth, social security financing, federal debt financing, and third world development.
Instructor: John Harvey
The ignorance surrounding economic issues in our country is frightening. One regularly sees misstatements in the press regarding such important concepts as Social Security, the national debt and deficit, unemployment, the business cycle, the stock market, and inflation. The goal of this course is to explain these and other economic phenomena in clear terms that the non-economist can easily understand.
Instructor: Ralph Carter
The struggle for control of Jerusalem and surrounding territories has made violence between Jews and Arabs a recurring phenomenon since the 1920s. The 1948 creation of an independent Israeli state only exacerbated this violence. This course examines contemporary conflicts issues between Israelis and Palestinians against the context of a history of past conflicts. Focal points for the course are the underlying reasons for these conflicts, their conduct and resolutions to date, and the various efforts to promote a more lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Instructor: Andrew Paquet
The course examines current biological issues in Public Health through lectures, readings, class discussion, and debate. Issues such as vaccines, food safety, use of genetically modified plant crops, environmental toxins, bioterrorism and emerging diseases are examined.
Instructor: Andrew Haskett
“British Humor,” as exemplified in popular culture by Monty Python’s Flying Circus has gained acceptance in the U.S., but is actually based on a long tradition that has its roots in the special love of wit, puns, paradoxes, and epigrams the English have manifested since the Viking invasions. Even though sensing the laughable and absurd is a universal trait, humor is expressed according to cultural differences and values of class, education, or special interest. Students in this course will look at British Humor on radio, TV, and film and attempt to define its unique attributes.
Instructor: William Graham
An introduction to recent developments in astronomy and astrophysics: how the Universe began and how will it end, the age of the cosmos, the origin of galaxies, the birth, life, and death of stars, stellar and galactic black holes, millisecond pulsars, supernovae, comets and quasars, and the worlds of the solar system. Questions to be pondered include: Where and what is the missing mass? Are we alone in the Universe? Are we in danger from a comet colliding with earth? Where and how did life originate? The latest discoveries by the Hubble Space Telescope, Cassini, and other space missions are also discussed.
Instructor: Daniel Terry
Humans have long been captivated by issues of right vs. wrong and good vs. evil. The complexity of these issues is the stuff of novels, movies, art, and political and social disputes. Where does our sense of morality come from? What is morality, anyway? Is it innate or socially constructed? And how does morality function and shape our behavior in daily life, both individually and at the group level? The last two decades have seen a tremendous surge in research into the nature of human morality, including research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and evolutionary biology on emotion, decision-making, judgment, character traits, and moral intuitions. In this course we will examine the current literature and state of research into the complex issue of morality, exploring the connections between scientific research and philosophy about how and why humans believe the things they do about issues of right and wrong.
Instructor: Michael Sherrod
The course provides an in-depth overview of the challenges involved in identifying and systematically evaluating opportunities for creating new ideas, new models, ventures, and initiatives, across a wide range of contexts, including startups, social enterprises, and large, established corporations.
Instructor: Marie Schein
In this course, we will first ask the question, “What is Native American Literature?” In order to propose an answer, we will begin by examining several examples of the oral tradition, representing selected tribal nations, in order to reach a better understanding of the historical and cultural background that informs creation stories, myths, and legends. Then, we will investigate the relationship between the oral tradition and the written literature of key Native writers and explore the diverse aspects of storytelling in their poems, plays, and/or novels through the lens of identity, community, and survival. At times, we will also consider how films and other visual arts address these themes. In the fall semester, we will have the unique opportunity to meet Lucy Tapahonso, one of the most respected Native poets today and the poet laureate of the Navajo Nation. She will visit our class and give talks on campus in early October.
Instructor: Lindsay Dunn
This class examines social and cultural constructions of the artist and the art world. Through viewing film adaptations of artists’ biographies and films depicting artists’ lives and works, this course offers students the chance to explore art history, the genre of biography, the roles of the artist and art enthusiast in popular culture, and film theory. Throughout the semester, students will explore how authors draw from stereotypical and culturally-specific understandings of artists’ roles when constructing their narratives. In addition, students will improve their ability to critique texts by closely looking at images, written texts, and films. This course also raises issues pertinent to current cultural ideologies, popular culture, and visual rhetoric.
Instructor: Sidney Thompson
Students will read American literary works by and about African Americans that have been adapted into different media, from the written texts of poetry, drama, and fiction to the visual texts of photography and film. Students will assess whether the adaptations clarify, distort, or contribute to the original themes of African Americans surviving in an oppressive culture, and will regard how the conventions of a medium affect a difference. Adopting the critical vernacular of each genre, students will articulate the strengths of adaptation versus the weaknesses of appropriation, as well as scrutinize stereotypical and production-safe representations and tropes in light of unique and daring originality. Our discussions will address sensitive racial issues as diverse as slavery, segregation and Jim Crow laws, the ethical nature of sharing self-deprecating and race-undermining truths, and white privilege.
Instructor: Katherine Downey
Whereas the ancient world played out the problems of philosophy on the public stage, in our day it is on the movie screen where we grapple with the drama of human life. Yet the essential questions persist: What is truth? What is justice? What is freedom? In this course we will learn how each has been addressed in the philosophical tradition and examine how a major film engages with it. From personal reflection, collaborative research, reading, discussion, and film analysis, we will delve into the complexities of each philosophical question in order to compose a sturdy definition for ourselves. Along the way, we will learn how to watch and analyze a film, how to grapple with persistent questions and the ambivalence they engender, and finally how to apply our philosophical study to address the practical problems of our day.
Instructor: Darren Middleton
Participants in this summer seminar will read, discuss, and then appraise how selected creative writers use the “short fiction” genre to probe as well as investigate issues of religious meaning and spiritual significance – what we might call “models of the sacred.” This course will emphasize the history, theology, and practices of various and global religious traditions. Particular attention will be paid to how women and men imagine “myth,” “ritual,” and “sacred power” in the context of personal and social concerns. Students will wrestle with topics such as the meaning and endurance of faith; the problem of evil and suffering; the search for identity and integrity; and, several other themes. Selected authors include: Chitra Divakaruni, Alifa Rifaat, Chaim Grade, David Bezmozgis, William Trevor, Raymond Carver, Tim Gautreaux, Jhumpa Lahiri, Carol Shields, Alice Walker, and others.
Instructor: Larry D. Lauer
involvements, understanding the powerful influence of today’s communication and media realities will be critical when working in, advising, or leading any organization or cause. We will explore: (1) why communication always breaks down, and what, if anything, can be done about by it. (2) How media revolutions change everything. (3) Understanding today’s news media. (4) Developing strategic communication initiatives. (5) Communicating issues and crises. (6) Why brand identity is critical for institutions. (7) Assessing audience needs and interests. (8) Using group process to achieve objectives. (9) Chairing effective meetings. (10) Win-win approaches to resolving conflicts. (11) Making effective presentations. (12) Dealing with various leadership styles. (13) Coping with internal politics. (14) Hiring based on style or skills? (15) Generating creative and innovative ideas. (16) Freedom of speech issues in a new media world. Students will search topics each week to prepare for discussions. They will study a leader and prepare a class presentation based on their assessments. Top leaders will be invited to class or “Skyped-in” to participate in discussions. The professor will give brief talks on his “lessons learned” over 50 years of study and work in media and strategic communication.
Instructor: Johnny Miles
Language is neither innocuous nor value-neutral in the matter of group identity or the process of constructing identities, ancient (e.g. Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, and Samaritans) and/or modern (e.g. Native, Latina/o, Asian, and African Americans). Integral to this process are stereotypes (image and non-image) that effectively reify the representations of “other(s)” while presuming the superiority of one ethnic group (e.g. Israel and Euro-American) over another. These stereotypes proliferate throughout culture and time via diverse media, including the Bible, itself a cultural artifact. Postcolonial analyses probe the representation strategy of stereotyping to reveal the identity of “self” reflected within “other” while simultaneously ascribing an often-silenced voice to the “other.” This course’s focus on representation will enable students to identify, explain, evaluate, and critique the use of stereotypes while examining diverse media wherein these stereotypes are embedded.
Instructor: Joan McGettigan
Through this course, students will critically examine how movies have helped to construct viewers’ understanding of what journalism is; how it functions in relation to politics, social movements, and public discourse; and, what the role of the journalist is in our society. Specific topics are four-fold. First, how journalism movies have reflected their cultural time and place: for example, how movies in the 1930s depicted the influence of the press on public opinion about politics and the Great Depression; and how the war correspondent of the 1940s was depicted as a liaison between those in the military and homefront audiences. Second, how journalism movies are related to their specific production contexts: for example, which Hollywood stars frequently played newspaper editors and reporters, and how their star images shaped audience perceptions of those professions. Third, how key moments in journalism history have been depicted onscreen: for example, the Washington Post investigation of Watergate by Woodward & Bernstein. And finally, how journalists have interacted with Hollywood to try to influence their onscreen images: for example, how newspaper editors in the 1930s complained to major American studios about movie portrayals of reporting as a profession. Films are likely to include: Citizen Kane (1942), All the Presidents Men (1976), Spotlight (2016), Up Close and Personal (1996), Ace in the Hole (1951), as well as Good Night and Good Luck (2005).
Instructor: Harry Parker
This course will examine the subject matter of the theatre, through the medium of film. Students will view around a dozen movies that treat the mythos and iconography of the theatre – a closely related, but distinctly different art form. Among the topics to be examined are: the blurred lines between reality and the fictive world of the stage; the power of outside forces to contaminate the artistic processes of the theatre; the sense of luck and chance in any artistic endeavor, especially the theatre; the struggle for women to compete in a male-dominated arena; the struggle to allow one’s ego to inform their art, without allowing it to destroy their art; the pressure to understand what innovations must be embraced by artists, and which traditions must be discarded. Assignments will include regular class discussions, short essays about films viewed in class, and take-home exams. Films under consideration for the class include 42nd Street, All About Eve, Shakespeare in Love, and many others.
Instructor: Eric Simanek
Whiskey embodies multiple sciences and engineering. Whiskey has played a significant role in history including that of the United States. The course conveys elementary science concepts from the disciplines of chemistry, plant biology, genetics, neuroscience and engineering along with the historical underpinnings of these concepts as well as the impact that whiskey has had on US history since the colonial era up to and including multinational corporations. Laboratory experiments are linked intimately to lecture content. The discussion, while rigorous, should be accessible to interested students from any discipline.
Instructor: George Shaw
This course will examine historical and biographical films to see how they reflect or distort the facts of their subjects. At a time when history is frequently deemphasized in the education system, the role of popular culture in teaching us history is more important than ever. This course will look at how history plays out on the silver screen compared to what really happened in order to understand how good or bad a history professor Hollywood really is. Issues and questions examined will include: when movies change history, as they so often have, in what ways have they altered the realities of the past? Are there patterns or trends in how movies embellish or ignore the facts? How has Hollywood’s treatment of historical subjects changed over the years? Are feature films still a viable part of building the careers of rock bands and idols.
Instructor: Kylo-Patrick Hart
This course explores films, television programs, and related media offerings of the 1950s in relation to cold-war popular culture and its various aspects pertaining to “containment” (including atomic anxiety, brainwashing, juvenile delinquency, McCarthyism, and the nuclear family).
Instructor: Cheryl Carithers
Government cover-ups? Secret societies? Alien visitation? Although many scholars question the validity of conspiracy theories, we cannot deny that they have become a popular cultural phenomenon, as illustrated by the success of the many novels, movies, and television programs that focus upon them and the millions of websites dedicated to them. Therefore, as a result of this growing societal fascination with conspiracy theories, the class will delve into the mysterious world from which they emerge. In doing so, we will not only explore many theories but also attempt to separate the fact from the fiction. Thus, we will examine conspiracy theories from historical, cultural, and rhetorical perspectives, with an emphasis on analysis of the argumentative techniques used by both conspiracy theorists and alleged conspirators. The end result will be a better understanding of both how and why the theories continue to foster the attention of not only conspiracy theorists but also society at large.
Instructor: Darren Middleton
The English Roman Catholic novelist Graham Greene (1904-1991) was an intensely theological thinker, despite his struggle with traditional forms of Christian doctrine, and such themes as good and evil, sin and judgment, grace and mercy, as well as the problem of suffering and humanity’s yearning to reach God, pervade his literary art. Moreover, his challenging ideas are of special interest to theological efforts at rethinking faith’s meaning in the twenty-first century. The class will meet as a seminar once a week to read and discuss several of Greene’s novels. Attention will be given to identifying the theological theme(s) in the work, situating such ideas in the wider context of Christian life and thought and, where possible, appraising Greene’s theology in light of the readers’ own faith perspectives. Some focus on the filmic adaptations of such works will occur.
Instructor: Donald Jackson
Most people do not fully appreciate that when the Bill of Rights was created and ratified in 1791, James Madison (its principal advocate) may not have fully appreciated all of its implications. Do you fully appreciate the implications that you were endowed by the “Creator” with certain inalienable rights? From your birth? Do you understand that we had these rights before the United States Constitution was ratified in 1789? Think of what that means! As human beings you already had certain rights. These were not given to you by any government. They were yours. It was decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1833 that the United States’ Bill of Rights imposed limitations on the powers only of the United States national government. It took us many years to find a way to protect your rights relative to state and local governments. Living in Texas, I trust you may appreciate the importance of protecting these rights. If you were a minority, you should especially appreciate the significance of protecting rights. Mostly, these rights have come to us since 1937 (as we shall consider). Many of them are the consequence of the “Due Process Decade” of the 1960s. We have backed away from some of our rights since then, but we have also expanded some of our rights since then. You should be proud of the reality that we have achieved one of the most inclusive vigilant regimes for the protection of human rights in the entire world! On July 4th this is what you should celebrate. Most of the increments in our protected freedoms resulted from the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment that was ratified in 1868. In this class we shall explore the protection of human rights in our constitutional system since its founding in 1789. Do not despair. It has usually been an excellent history of protecting your rights and mine!
Instructor: George Shaw
This course will examine the incredible impact of the Beatles on their times and ours. In order to better understand the role of the arts in shaping societies, the music of the Beatles will be examined in the context of the profound political and social change of the 1960s. Students will be encouraged to pursue topics related to the music of the Beatles, and other significant artists of that era, and the broader issues of social change that seemed to emerge hand-in-hand with the radical changes in popular music of that volatile era.
Instructor: Cheryl Carithers
Ironman. Spiderman. Batman. Superman. Few people can deny the timeless appeal of these famed superheroes and others like them. With a recent resurgence in popularity, the scrutinizing eyes of more than the traditional comic book fan fall upon these figures from graphic literature.Â Thus, we might consider, if historically, we have too easily dismissed them as entertainment without considering what they might teach us about ourselves, society, history, and even the world around us.Â This course will delve into the historical rise, fall, and resurgence of the popular superhero.Â And, in this exploration through both literature and film, we will investigate the how and why we have, perhaps even need, superheroes in our world.
Instructor: Kylo-Patrick Hart
This course focuses on influential media representations of otherness in its various forms including crime and criminals, disease and disability, and non-heterosexual sexual orientations, in a range of noteworthy films and television programs from the turn of the 20th century to the present day.
Instructor: Kylo-Patrick Hart
This course is designed to guide the student in learning to write a feature-length film screenplay, from concept generation to dramatic structure narrative to the student’s own individual acts. In a workshop environment, participants receive feedback on their efforts from the professor and their peers at every step along the way.
Instructor: Paul Witt
Students will develop their potential to lead others to think and act as ethical, responsible individuals. To help maximize social and professional influence, two key dimensions of leadership will be examined: the cultivation of sound character and the use of persuasive communication.
This course examines the relationship between light and human health. Topics will include: the aging visual system, light and the circadian system, yellow jaundice, vitamin D deficiency. A specific focus of the course will be “hands on” experiences of light as it is used for human health.
A study of distribution of the world’s energy resources and a look at alternative sources of energy such as wind, tides, geothermal, synfuels, solar, and nuclear power. Environmental issues including air and water pollution, solid waste, pesticides, toxic substances, etc., will be addressed as will new techniques for finding and evaluating earth resources utilizing satellite data and the Internet.
An overview of the native Americans of the region from pre-contact times to the present. Relations and differences among native groups are emphasized as well as interactions with non- Indian groups. Efforts to “whiten” the native population ranging from Spanish missionary activities in the 16th century to the federal government’s “termination policy” in the 1950s are analyzed.
This course examines three contemporary Mexican novels — The Old Gringo (1985), Like Water For Chocolate (1989), and Esperanza’s Box of Saints ( Santitos ) (1999) and the film version of each book. We will discuss how the works treat crossing borders, and how society is presented differently in the two mediums — novel and film. Each work also studies the similarities and differences of the two countries (cultures) that seem destined to coexist, according to Alan Riding, as “distant neighbors.”
The complexity of our society makes it necessary for us to draw what we know, or think we know, from information about events, trends, and even people from the mass media. Yet few people are trained as consumers of information produced by the media. This course examines the various perceptions of reality that the mass media create, exploring some of the reasons why these perceptions occur.
The evolution of the American business system is examined with emphasis on four basic themes: the impact of technological and managerial change, the interaction between business and society, the position of the businessman and businesswoman in society, and the constantly- changing relationships between business and government. Special attention is devoted to the contemporary business scene.
An examination of the dramatic (but low profile) political transition taking place in countries that only recently were torn by revolution and by counterinsurgency wars. The original causes of those revolutions, including the Cold War ideological divisions that formed the international environment in which they took place will be discussed. We will examine the tentative, fragile steps that are presently being taken to overcome the authoritarian and violent political legacies of the past and to build a more inclusive, democratic political future.
This “period” course in American history reviews major political, economic, social, cultural and diplomatic events: World War II, the Truman administration and post-war America, the Eisenhower administration and the consensus of the 1950s, the Kennedy administration, Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society, the civil rights movement, the Republican ascendancy, and the rise of southern power.
This course explores the highly ambiguous relationship between religion and violence. It provides an overview of situations in the world today that are examples of this ambiguous relationship. Ethical teachings regarding violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are examined. Students are exposed to authors who seek to comprehend violent behavior using explanatory theories. Responses to 9/ll/2001 written by a Jew, a Christian, and a Muslim are encountered. The goal is to allow students in the course to develop an understanding of various dimensions (ethical, social, psychological, political, and theological) of the relationship between religion and violence.
This course provides cross-cultural perspectives on the rise, growth, decline, and societal impacts of religious revitalization movements. Readings , discussions, and audiovisuals focus on anthropologically studied cases of religious revitalization, with their prophetic figures and conversion processes, and the relationship of the movements to human struggles over meaning and social identity. The course generates critical insights into five major areas of religious movement inquiry: 1) ideas about how new religions originate, 2) types of new religious movements around the world, 3) dynamics of recruitment and conversion to movements, 4) life inside religious movements, and 5) research in the sectarian setting.
This course focuses on the Indians of Texas. Four major culture areas are identified, allowing for in-depth studies of these cultures in the pre-contact era. In addition, the post-contact legacy of these cultures as it has affected the development of the state of Texas will be examined.
Instructor: Joan McGettigan
This course focuses on the cultural importance of Frank Sinatra, one of the most influential figures in 20th century entertainment. The course examines the Sinatra of recorded music, radio, Hollywood movies, and Las Vegas, politics, and organized crime. Through music, movies, and documentaries, the course explores the changing cultural landscape in the US from the 1930s through the 1980s.
This course examines the central question in international politics: What is the ‘right’ course of action in a given situation? Thus it considers various approaches to the study of ethics and morality as well as the ends pursued, the means used, and the importance of the decision-making strategies employed by policymakers.
Students will become acquainted with the impact that fossils and paleontology have had on the history of the earth. It was the fact that fossils were finally accepted as a record of ancient life that began to change the way that 17th-century naturalists looked at the world. The fundamental notions of change and evolution of natural systems have forever affected man’s view of the world and fossils, which, in particular, document “worlds before man.” The history of interpretation of fossils in the argument for evolution and the use of fossils in modern biology and geology will be examined.
Instructor: Steve Sherwood
Students who take this course will explore not only the theories that purport to explain why people laugh but also a number of practical, social, rhetorical, and psychological uses for wit and humor. The work of the course will revolve around readings of works about humor, analyzing works of humor, and writing essays related to this topic, including one essay in which students attempt to write humorously and then, using several theories of humor, analyze to what extent they have succeeded or failed.
This course covers both colonial and national periods of Latin American history through a combination of historical readings, fiction, and full-length feature films and videos. It aims at providing an overview of the past from the late fifteenth century to the recent present. Important institutions, processes, and themes will be studied. Students are presumed to have little or no knowledge of Latin American history and knowledge of the Spanish language is not required. Students will read both primary and secondary accounts of the events covered in the films and will be asked to assess the films in light of historical facts and interpretation and poetic license.
A focus on the impact of World War II as the seminal event of the 20th century that gave rise to or influenced most major contemporary global issues. By examining the war in a broader perspective, issues such as the East-West balance of power, the end of traditional imperialism, the upheavals in the third world, and the proliferation of technology, the effect of the war fifty years later can be better understood and interpreted.
This course examines the cultural, narrative and critical impact of literary and cinematic forms of Film Noir and the Detective Film in the United States. The course introduces the student to the technical and aesthetic processes used in developing the style and form found in the American Cinema since 1941.
This course explores how the American popular music and recording industries and American popular culture have intersected in the years since the invention of audio recording and the impact of recorded music on the culture.
Instructor: Steve Sherwood
Students who take this course will write three full-length pieces (8-12 pages each) of creative nonfiction based on incidents that have occurred in their lives. Students will read selected works of creative nonfiction and from three textbooks on writing (Ann Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life , Phillip Lopate’s The Art of the Personal Essay, and Mary Catherine Bateson’s Composing a Life ), and the work of the course will revolve around writing the three pieces, reading and responding to fellow students’ pieces online, and analyzing reading assignments from the textbooks.
A study of the historical evolution of jazz styles in the United States from the 1890s through the contemporary scene, including American popular music (Tin Pan Alley), protest music, and motion picture/television music. Included is an examination of the correlation of musical styles on cultural changes in America.
The physiological changes that take place in the body as a result of acute and chronic exercise. Specifically, the concepts of physical fitness, conditioning programs, wellness, body composition, nutrition, risk factor reduction and the influence of exercise on disease and aging are investigated.
How is science different from or similar to other areas of human endeavor such as art, religion, philosophy, or politics? This course explores the workings of science and scientists by studying recurring themes and selected episodes of scientific change and the social and intellectual milieu in which they occurred. The focus is on the interaction between science and society from the Renaissance through the Enlightenment and the Victorian Era and into the Modern Age. Related topics range from man’s (and God’s) place in the universe to sociobiology, sexism, and evolutionary ethics.
This is an advanced poetry writing workshop that focuses primarily on the students’ own work. Special attention is paid to invention, point-of-view, voice, form, metaphor, and dramatic development. Students and instructor discuss student work in the context of principles that emerge through a short lecture and the study of exemplary historical and contemporary models.
This course focuses on the major developments in American poetry from 1945 to the present to address these central questions: How well does poetry address the needs, concerns, and anxieties of contemporary American culture? Have international crises, domestic political and cultural shifts, and the proliferation of electronic media rendered poetry obsolete, or does poetry still hold particular promise in terms of its ability to shore crumbling values or, better, to envision a new ethics, one more responsive to the complexity of our times?
The study of global communications in the context of world politics. Overview of world mass media characteristics, impact of British colonialism, role of the United Nations, the New World Information Order, ownership of communication technology, issues in monopoly of knowledge, analysis of information flow and world economy and role of image-makers.
This course examines the history of sex and violence in film and on television. Topics that may be covered include efforts to regulate or restrict film and television program content, how formerly taboo topics relating to sex and violence have been presented in film or on television, how media companies attempt to profit by presenting sex and violence in film and on television, what the manner in which sex and violence are presented in film and on television tell us about the society of the time, and how the First Amendment limits government regulation of film and television content.
This course is an intensive overview of the history of television and related electronic media from the 1920s to the present. Topics include the rise of the network system, programming, rating and audience research, regulation, and the evolution of television technology. Viewing of significant programming in television history.
The effects of dramatic population increase on the environment with special emphasis on the role of green plants in the biosphere. The course concentrates on the function of plants with regard to world food production, global warming trends, deterioration of the ozone layer, acid rain, nuclear war, and habitat destruction as it relates to natural ecosystems such as tropical rain forests.
From the end of the Second World War in 1945 until the collapse of the Soviet Union forty-five years later, the Cold War dominated the domestic and foreign affairs of the United States. This course examines the origins of the Cold War and some of the consequences, including the development and application of the containment policy, McCarthyism, the wars in Korea and Vietnam, various other interventions, the debates over diplomatic issues, and the various strategies employed by different presidential administrations. Students will have a chance to do some reading on these subjects and to discuss them. Also, they will view episodes from CNN’s production, “The Cold War”. The requirements consist of short weekly papers based on the readings and also a kind of term project, a five-seven page critique of John Lewis Gaddis’ book, We Now Know. The other readings are T.G. Paterson and J.G. Clifford, America Ascendant: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1939 and R.J. McMahon and T.G. Paterson, The Origins of the Cold War, 4th ed.
An examination of contrasting models and standards of communication ethics. Students apply these perspectives to specific situations in politics, advertising, interpersonal communication and writing.
The course explores 20th century American culture through examining the ordinary objects of our lives, from A-1 Sauce to Zippo lighters, studying how, when, and why ordinary objects rise from the culture and in turn give shape and character to both culture and personal identity.
Instructor: Manochehr Dorraj
The last two decades of the 20th century ushered in tumultuous changes in the economic, social, and political landscape, these transformations would have an indelible impact on the emerging society of the 21st century. This course is designed to provide a forum for analysis and discussion of some of the most significant issues of global politics in the new Millennium. While the attempt is to dissect these issues primarily on their own terms, we would also discuss the challenges they pose to the United states and the global community.
Instructor: Manochehr Dorraj
Since there is no separation between state and church in Islam, no study of Middle Eastern politics is complete without analyzing the pervasive role of Islam in cultural and political life. This course, however, does not concentrate on Islamic theology, rather the focus is on the politics of Islam and how it molds political discourse and agenda. After the study of the origins and historical development of Islamic political theory, the focus shifts to explaining the use of post World War II Islamic revival. In this connection, the problematics of democratization in the Muslim World and the prospects for Islamic governments are discussed.
Philosophical examinations of moral, aesthetic, ontological, and epistemological issues concerning food are topics studied and discussed in this course. Such issues as vegetarianism; ethical issues regarding food additives, food politics and feminism; food as art; food as a metaphor of life; cultures (e.g., Mayan and Japanese) characterized by their cuisine; and recipes as a model of justified rational procedures are covered during the semester. One of the key concepts developed to handle these issues effectively is food making as a thoughtful practice, where “practice” is understood by the American pragmatists, Peirce and Dewey.
In addition to providing an overview of Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern History from the Paleolithic age to the fall of Rome, this course explores in some detail various controversial topics that have generated popular interest and often engendered misinformation. These topics are analyzed in a scholarly manner in order to solve the “mystery” or expose common misperceptions and pseudo-scholarship. Typical topics include the following: the fall of Rome, the historical Jesus, other Biblical topics, the pyramids, the Neanderthal problem, and the search for the Trojan War.
This course will examine the frequently intertwined traditions of ritual and drama among Mayan peoples of Southern Mexico and Central America, from pre-Hispanic times to the present. The course will combine a historical perspective beginning with pre-Colombian documents and Spanish colonial chronicles. Twentieth-century manifestations will be particularly highlighted, based on the instructor’s first-hand research; special emphasis will be given to the work of performance groups based in Yucatan and Chiapas, Mexico. Extensive video material will complement textual analyses.
This course examines the relationship between legal institutions and social processes. Course readings and discussion will focus on the social and political nature of law; the creation and organization of law in modern societies; social functions of law; the limits of law as an instrument of social change; the legislation of morality; democracy, individualism and law; criminal behavior and individual rights; and the use of scientific information in law.
A study of the indigenous inhabitants of the Andes, especially Peru and Bolivia, through archaeological and ethnographic data. Focus is on the development of agriculture and early population centers, particularly the Incas. The course ends with a study of contemporary Quechua and Aymara peoples, and discussion of current political and economic issues.
The major controversies that exist in law and criminal justice today are discussed with emphasis on the development of critical thought concerning these issues. Both empirical evidence and grounded theory is discussed in such a manner as to help the student formulate thoughtful opinion concerning the selected topics. Topics include but are not limited to: The Death Penalty, Gun Control, The Insanity Defense, Drug Legalization, Prison Privatization, Drunk Driving Laws, Myths of Organized Crime, Crime and the Media, Fetal Endangerment Statues, and The Jury System.