Martin Scorsese concludes his A Personal Journey… Through American Movies (co-directed and co-written by Michael Henry Wilson, 1995) with a brief passage from Elia Kazan’s America America (1963). This epic, physical, elemental, almost monomaniacal film is an important touchstone for Scorsese, a talisman of the passage from and between the old world of Classical Hollywood and the new, more distinctly personal and modern cinema of such directors as John Cassavetes, Luchino Visconti, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Scorsese’s varied contemporaries in the soon to emerge New Hollywood. Kazan’s film is also a driven tale of the passage from the old world of Europe and Asia Minor to the new, ambivalently cleansing world of America. Kazan’s film itself sits between these opposed and entwined worlds. Its extensive use of European locations in Greece and Turkey (mostly the former due to the Turkish authorities’ objections to Kazan’s choice of locations and subjects), deployment of modish techniques associated with the new waves of Europe such as the jump cut and a more episodic, novelistic narrative structure, dexterous deployment of Haskell Wexler’s lucid and fluid hand-held camera, and reliance on non-professional actors and less well-known faces, all combine to grant the film both a freshness and a sense of grounded authenticity. But these elements – including its emphasis on minority ethnicities (specifically Greek and Armenian) and the entrenched prejudices they endure in Turkish ruled Anatolia – are also combined with more traditional aspects of characterisation, continuity, narrative and language (everyone speaks in English, some with American accents), making the film a fascinating hybrid of old and new.
It is therefore unsurprising that Scorsese found the film so moving and significant in his own development as a filmmaker. Kazan pointed the way towards a fruitful and committed combination of the old influences and the seemingly freer terrain of a truly “modern” cinema. Kazan’s film also clearly pointed back to the influence of the Soviet montage cinema of Sergei Eisensten and Alexander Dovzhenko, and such breakthrough directors as Roberto Rossellini, a central figure in the cinematic fusion of fact and fiction, and whose key film Paisa (1946) is directly and bravely referenced in one of America America’s most shocking moments (as the bodies of failed revolutionaries are hurled into the sea). America America keenly reflects Kazan’s own influences across American and European cinema, highlighting for a director such as Scorsese how to integrate and present such cinephilic allegiances and touchstones.
From what I have written so far, one might get the impression that America America represents a radical break in Kazan’s cinema. There is some truth to such a claim. It is certainly, by some distance, the most personal work that Kazan produced for the cinema (his sometimes shockingly forthright 1988 autobiography, A Life, is its only real competition). The film closely parallels the novel that Kazan was writing at the time, his first, a partial fictionalisation of the single-minded, ruthless journey his uncle took from Anatolia to America at around the turn of the century (the film itself begins in 1896). It is also the first film for which Kazan was fully responsible for the script, and, I would argue, his last truly successful work for the cinema. Kazan was always forthright about placing himself in relation to America America and its impassioned account of identity, migration, memory, ethnicity, racism, ethics, morality, the dream of America and the uses to which it is put. Kazan’s voice opens proceedings over the image of a stark mountain partially engulfed by cloud, its elemental and bold iconography a marker for much of what is to come. This voice also clearly positions Kazan as emerging from the epic and episodic story that is about to unfold: “My name is Elia Kazan. I am a Greek by blood, a Turk by birth, and an American because my uncle made a journey.” But the film can also be seen productively in relation to many of the films and plays Kazan had made up until this point, certainly sharing the intense interrogation of family, patriarchy, place, belonging and outsiderness that characterise such seminal works as East of Eden (1955), Wild River (1960) and Splendor in the Grass (1961) (the director’s greatest films alongside America America and Panic in the Streets ). Nevertheless, America America does mark an important juncture in Kazan’s cinema leading towards more directly personal and self-generated projects, labours of love that largely failed to find significant audiences: The Arrangement (1969) and The Visitors (1972). Although America America was nominated for a number of Academy Awards, and received a mixed critical reception (which it holds till this day), it was not a financial success. Kazan struggled to get funding for the film – unsurprising when one encounters the scope and relentlessness of the final work – and Warner Bros. only provided financial backing when other sources pulled out of the project; perhaps feeling some loyalty towards Kazan as a result of some of the films he had made for them in the past (including the recently successful Splendor in the Grass).
The most common criticisms of America America relate to the inadequacies of Stathis Giallelis’ central performance, the lack of variety in the writing, and the naivete and clumsiness of the film’s unsubtle deployment of core symbols (shoes and other items of costume, the “Anatolian Smile”, confining interior spaces, elements of geography, etc) and actions (such as the moment when Stavros kisses the ground on arriving on American soil). But although I think that some of these criticisms are valid they are also, for me, largely beside the point. Giallelis is indeed a very limited actor – a non-actor even – but his performance has an honesty and single-mindedness, even monotony, that is entirely appropriate to the film (though it doesn’t always make it easy to watch). There are countless shots of him glowering and scowling at the camera and the film’s other participants, but the purity of his mission and inscrutability of his expressions and actions are brilliantly communicated by these actorly and even physical limitations. This element, amongst others, also helps the film to ford the barrier between documentary and fiction, actuality and history, fact and myth. The film itself partly counteracts this monotony – marked by the mantra-like repetition of the phrase “America America” – through its visual style and episodic narrative structure. It is a film full of set pieces, some defined by action – such as the early “retaliatory” massacre of Armenians by the Turks – and others more intimate and reflective in scale. For me, the film’s greatest and most extended passage is one that moves beyond the more extreme and physically brutal details of Stavros’ picaresque journey from Anatolia to Constantinople (Istanbul) and his initial work there as a hammal, an almost sub-human manual labourer. Although extreme in its ruthlessness, it is easy to understand Stavros’ will to leave these demeaning environments and pursue his dogged dream of America. But the film’s greatest section – full of clutter, detail and weight – involves his near seduction by and temptation of marriage to the daughter of a wealthy merchant. This sequence is marked by one of the many dichotomies that structure the film: the radically different worlds of men and women, and the attitudes that each hold towards one another. It is in this section that Stavros is given the taste of an easier life. But the static servitude of the old world and the patronage it requires, as well as the knowledge of a life that repeats endlessly across generations, is cloying and deadening to Stavros.
America America’s visual style is characterised by Wexler’s shifting use of hand-held camerawork and often striking juxtaposition of close-ups and extreme long shots – these long shots also partly work to “hide” elements of Giallelis’ performance. This combination works well to emphasise both the immediate experience of the characters and their place within a broader and dwarfing network of history, myth, geography and cultural diversity. The film is full of both open spaces – particularly those of the Anatolian plain that Stavros trudges through – and pointedly enclosed environments. For example, Stavros and his bride to be, Thomna (Linda Marsh), are given an apartment as a gift for their coming marriage. Its interior is cluttered with domestic objects and tokens, many revealing an attention to detail, familial history and daily life that is truly touching and caring (the mantle even carries pre-arranged photographs of their future in-laws). But the sense of entitlement and pre-ordination this communicates is also gently horrifying and stultifying, particularly for Stavros. This sense or feeling characterises another wonderful moment when Thomna’s father (Paul Mann) regales his future son-in-law with tales of what he should expect and demand of married life. The promised comfort of children, food, domesticity, patriarchal respect, heritage, the knowledge of sedentary existences that repeat over generations (with expanding waistlines to match) – considerable “achievements” for someone of Stavros’ meagre and impoverished background – palls alongside Stavros’ pursuit of freedom, change and rebirth, as well as his dream and fantasy of America. His pained and bitter rejection of “the good family life” is shadowed by the snippets of information about America that he learns throughout his travels: pictures in magazines and on the walls of shipping offices; questioning and dismissive accounts by those who have returned; the chauvinistic privilege and wealth of the few Americans he actually meets. Although Stavros claims he will be “washed clean” in America, his relentless march towards the new world is ironically accompanied by his degradation (he is robbed, has to take on the lowest of occupations, must tolerate his exploitation by a wandering Turk, almost marries for money, and becomes the lover of an older woman who sponsors his ultimate passage). There is a purity of purpose to Stavros’ actions and decisions – though these are not without their moments of existential doubt – but his journey emphasises what he must sacrifice, endure and compromise to meet his goal. This is why the film’s penultimate scene, showing him at work in a New York shoeshine parlour, comfortable in his adoption American manners, appearances, language and morality, is both unsettling and apt in its implications. The speed and commercialisation of American life are indicated by his aggressive pursuit of customers and money: “Come on you. Let’s go you, people are waiting.” But America America is also about the ties of family and ethnicity, and how these profoundly mark the experience and legacy of migration. Characteristically, Stavros’ final words can also be read and heard as a call to his homeland, a symbol of the relentless progression of this migration. In its final moments the film returns to the image of the cloud shrouded mountain and the steady voice of Kazan announcing that Stavros eventually managed to bring all of his family to America, “except for his father. That old man died where he was born.”
This final line highlights the importance of time – and different notions and experiences of it – to America America. The film’s episodic structure and duration are highlighted by its use of jump cuts. These act to emphasise the relentless linearity of Stavros’ journey, as well as his movement from the old to the new world. It is apt that a “modern” technique of film style is used to dramatise this progressive journey. These jump cuts also act to emphasise a sense of disorientation. The long, sometimes repetitive passages that are often contrasted with these radical shifts in space, place and time are marked by a cyclical temporality. These menial chores, backbreaking labours, rituals of courtship and servitude, are played out at length and in detail to help dramatise the will and effort Stavros has to muster to overcome them (to literally jump forward in space and time). But in such moments as when the film cuts from the final emotional conversation between Stavros and Thomna to a close-up of Stavros’ determined, isolated face battered by the spray of the ocean, we experience something of the radical shift in time, place and experience that characterise migration. In this moment Kazan contrasts the vastness and indifference of the ocean with the boxed-in, darkened interior that contained the previous conversation. America America is Kazan’s testament to origins, to the passage from the old world to the new and everything that is gained and lost while enduring and pursuing this odyssey.
America America/The Anatolian Smile(1963 USA 168 mins)
Prod Co: Athena Enterprises Corp./Warner Bros. Prod, Dir: Elia Kazan Scr: Elia Kazan, based on his book America AmericaPhot: Haskell Wexler Ed: Dede Allen Art Dir: Gene Callahan Mus: Manos Hadjidakis
Cast: Stathos Giallelis, Frank Wolff, Harry Davis, Elena Karam, Gregory Rozakis, Paul Mann, Linda Marsh, Katharine Balfour
450.601 - Forbidden Knowledge: the "Metaphysical Rebel" in Myth and Literature
But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat" (Gen. 2:17). This interdisciplinary course explores the theme of forbidden knowledge in the various forms it takes in the Bible, the Epic of Gilgamesh, Greek tragedy, folklore and folktale, and in western literary classics ranging from Milton's Paradise Lost through the versions of the Faust story in Marlowe, Goethe, and Thomas Mann, to short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. What do we make of the parallels between the Greek hero Prometheus and the Biblical Satan? How are we to understand the figure of Dr. Frankenstein as "the Modern Prometheus"? Does Faust's pursuit of conventionally forbidden areas of knowledge anticipate 20th and 21st century quests to unveil the secrets of nuclear power, or of artificial intelligence, or of genetic engineering of the human genome? In addition to our literary readings, we will discuss a variety of operas and other relevant musical works; films from Bride of Frankenstein and Dr. Strangelove, to Hannibal; and transgressive visual imagery from Paleolithic cave art to the work of contemporary performance artists ? in a collective quest to find and define the boundaries of "the forbidden."
450.602 - Markup Languages for Humanities Research
This course aims to train students to mark up (historical) documents by making use of a set of markup languages such as XML and (X)HTML. In addition to learning the basics of these languages, students will be introduced to and work with existing standards such as TEI and will learn to develop their own schema's. Ample time will be devoted to broader questions regarding the conceptualization of primary sources in digital environments, the ways in which these sources can be conceived of as data, the relationship between our scholarly questions and the data sets that we create, and the methods used to make this data available online. Ultimately, this course will provide students with a set of tools and skills necessary for the development of their own DH research projects based on the ability to handle various markup languages as well as a thorough understanding of the ways in which these languages can be used to translate physical documents into digital formats. (Available online)
450.604 - Heaven on Earth: History, Art, and the Material Culture of St. Peter's and the Vatican
This course will explore the spectacular historical, cultural, and artistic spaces that comprise the Vatican in Rome, in particular St. Peter's Piazza and Basilica, the Papal Palace, and the Vatican Library and Museum. Our central concern will be to examine the material culture of the Vatican; meaning its physical and visual manifestation through architecture, sculpture, painting, decorative arts, books, manuscripts; and to explore this unique effort to manifest the most heavenly and spiritual spaces on earth. While greatest emphasis will be placed on the Renaissance and Baroque periods, ca. 1475-1650, this course will also include an overview of the history of the Christianity (and, by extension, the history of the papacy) from its early Christian origins in ancient Rome, through the Protestant Reformation, and onwards to the foundation of the Vatican Museum during the Enlightenment. This is also very much a hands-on course as well, and will therefore involve regular interaction with medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and Enlightenment-era rare books and manuscripts directly related to the Vatican in the collections of the Sheridan Libraries (in the newly built Brody Learning Commons on the Homewood Campus), in addition to a special visit to the Walters Art Museum.
450.606 - Ethics for a Multicultural World
This course will address the ethical dilemmas and privacy issues that challenge intelligence and government decision makers in an increasingly complex operational and technological environment. We will examine basic moral, ethical and privacy considerations from all sides at several key points in intelligence operations from collection to covert action. The course will analyze the evolving nature of privacy concerns worldwide, with an emphasis on the balance between individual rights and national security needs as executed by intelligence agencies. Students will examine the policy implications inherent in seeking to address these issues. The readings will include diverse and opposing viewpoints as well as practicums and simulations to allow debate of the key positions in "real world" situations. (Available online)
450.607 - Through a Glass, Darkly: American Film Noir
The term film noir, French for "black film," was first applied to Hollywood films by French critic Nino Frank in 1946. Unrecognized by the American film industry as a distinct formula during the classic period of Hollywood (1930-1960), Cinema historians and critics defined the category retrospectively to describe the distinctive style look and feel of many American films made during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. The course examines the cultural origins, unique elements, underlying values, and major auteurs of both American noir and international noir filmmakers. Film noir was defined through the general themes of alienation, existentialism, loneliness, cynicism, pessimism, despair, paranoia and entrapment, coupled with a gritty and distinctive visual style and mood. We will screen and discuss select noir films and develop skills of viewing and analyzing them closely. Topics include the emerging field of film theory and criticism in the early 1960s, literary origins and style; male and female roles; film and society in the years after WWII; German expressionism and Nazism in Germany as major influences on early Noir; early gangster films; and the role of the "auteur" in the definition of the form. Among the films considered are Fritz Lang's M (Germany-1931), John Huston's The Maltese Falcon (U.S. - 1941), Orson Welle's Citizen Kane (U.S.- 1941) and Touch of Evil (U.S. - 1958), Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly (U.S.- 1955), and Francois Truffaut?s Shoot the Piano Player (France - 1960). The course will conclude with analysis of neo-noir films like Sam Fuller's Underworld U.S.A. (U.S.- 1961) and John Frankenheimer's The Manchurian Candidate (U.S. - 1962) among many others.
450.608 - Judaism,Christianity,Islam
Despite over 1,000 years of conflict both external and internal, Judaism, Christianity and Islam share doctrines and practices. Students will examine the essential teachings of the three great Abrahamic religions concerning revelation, scripture, sacred geography, worship, prophecy, holy war, divine justice and judgment, blasphemy (including sacrilegious humor), and the afterlife. Readings will include selections from the Bible, Quran, St. Augustines The City of God, Moses Maimonides The Guide for the Perplexed, The Alchemy of Happiness by Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazzali, as well as the contemporary classics What Do Jews Believe? by Rabbi David Ariel, Introduction to Christianity by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), and The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity by Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Visits to a synagogue, church, and mosque for a service of worship will be required.
450.610 - Twice-Told Tales: Classic Texts and their Contemporary Retellings
This course offers a comparative study of classic texts and their modern or contemporary retellingsin literature and on stage and screenwith a focus on how these ancient stories, which have endured through the ages and helped define our sense of what it means to be human, have been refashioned to reflect modern realities. Examining second stories provides the pleasure of seeing the familiar from a fresh and surprising perspective (e.g., the wanderings of Odysseus seen through the eyes of his stay-at-home wife, Penelope) and also allows us to study the cultural content of the tales through a bifocal lens. How does the political protest of Sophocles Antigone change its thrust when it is retold by a 20th-century French existentialist writing during the Nazi occupation of France? Our twice-told pairings are Homers Odyssey and Margaret Atwoods Penelopiad; Sophocles Antigone and Anouilhs Antigone; Shakespeares The Tempest and Frederick Buechners The Storm; and Virginia Woolfs Mrs. Dalloway and Michael Cunninghams The Hours. Note: This course satisfies the interdisciplinary core requirement.
450.611 - Social History of Medicine
This course will explore the demographics of audiences, the reasons for attending the theatre, who presented theatre, where theatres were located, what theatre space looked like and why they looked that way in order to track the dynamics of western political and social history. Major works of dramatic literature will serve as the entry point into various periods and as reflections of the historical forces at work. The major periods to be studied are: Classical Greek and Rome, Medieval, Renaissance (Italy, England and Spain), 18th and early 19th centuries, the modern era and the postmodern present. (Available online)
450.613 - British Victorian Women
This course embraces the broad sweep of primarily British Victorian women's experiences. It analyzes the emergence of the Victorian stereotype of middle and upper class women and compares that stereotype to the reality of individual case studies. It also explores the variety of expectations and demands on working class women - focusing on geographical, industrial and rural factors and the resulting lives of women working and living across the British Isles. In addition, there is an emphasis on Victorian women as agents of change in the fields of literature, medicine, teaching and social work both at home and abroad, as well as in local and national politics.
450.616 - Beneath the Veneer: Film Culture of the 1950s
Pleasantville (1998) provides a look back at the cultural memory we have regarding the 1950s. We will then examine three films which focus on different aspects of the blacklist: High Noon (Screenplay written by the blacklisted Carl Foreman), On the Waterfront (Directed by informer Elia Kazan), and Salt of the Earth (Written, directed and produced by members of the original "Hollywood Ten,"). A study of two musicals, By the Light of the Silver Moon and Gentlemen Prefer Blonds will examine the competing cultural icons of Doris Day and Marilyn Monroe represented within the context of the fifties musical. Other themes explored include the rise of youth culture and concerns over juvenile delinquency (Rebel Without a Cause, The Wild Ones, Blackboard Jungle); war, both cold and hot, with a comparison of The Bridges of Toko Ri (Korean War) to Forbidden Planet's use of science fiction to comment on the cold war; a focus on film auteur Alfred Hitchcock (Strangers on a Train, Vertigo, and North by Northwest); and a closer look at changes in the western genre (a revisit of High Noon, Johnny Guitar and The Searchers). The course will conclude with an analysis of the New York City film scene of the late 1950s with a focus on John Cassavette's Shadows (1959).The 1950s currently occupy a mythical realm steeped in nostalgia and an ennobling of the past. For Hugh Pearson, a 63-year-old retired builder from California, "I grew up in the '50s. That was a wonderful time. But it was 'Ozzie and Harriet' days, 'Leave It to Beaver'-type stuff." Conservative Newt Gingrich agrees and looks to the fifties for a type of foundational national identity and a clear sense of American identity represented in “the Norman Rockwell paintings of the 1940s and 1950s.” From the perspective of the left these very same images symbolize bland conformity, homogeneity, exclusivity, and conservatism. Both perspectives provide a veneer covering a far more complex cultural landscape. This cour
450.618 - American Literature on Display
This course investigates links between American literature and technologies of display and circulation from the 1820s through the 1920s. Well look at works by canonical and non-canonical prose writers and poetsfigures such as Edgar Allan Poe, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser, Henry James, and H. L. Mencken, but also Gertrude Atherton, Ida Tarbell, Ida B. Wells, and Dashiell Hammettboth as literary representations and as vehicles for larger socio-cultural shifts towards visibility and mass production, expressed through phenomena like book illustration, photography, advertising, fashion, and cinema. Discussion-centered classes will focus on the analysis of our texts and the hands-on examination of rare books and archival materials.
450.621 - The Self in Question: Readings in Lit & Psychol
What is the nature of the self? For Plato, the self is a sleeping giant; for Buddha, it is an illusion; for Freud, it is instinctual hunger; for Schopenhauer, irrational will; for B.F. Skinner, it is a machine; for R. Buckminster Fuller, it is a verb; for Sartre, it is a useless passion. Thinkers throughout the ages have probed the riddle of our human identity, and today, the dimensions of this age-old quest have been expanded to include the formative roles of gender, class, race, and culture. From selves in the making to selves under siege, from the lonely, existential self to the transpersonal, communal self, in this class, we explore questions of selfhood from the perspectives of literature and psychologytwo key disciplines devoted to understanding the perplexities of human nature. This course satisfies the interdisciplinary core requirement. (Available online)
450.623 - The Theater of Revolt: Makers of Modern Drama
In this course, we study the playwrights whose intellectual brilliance and moral passions created a revolution in traditional theater, unleashing energies that continue to drive theater a century later. We will read major plays of Ibsen, Chekhov, Pirandello, Shaw, Brecht, and ONeill in the context of their social/historical settings to understand how shifting philosophical, cultural, and scientific views required new ways of staging human stories, prompting innovations in both subject matter and technical form. Because drama is primarily a performance art, we will spend time comparing versions of the play on the page with the play on the stage. Our alternate-weekly, extended-class format will afford us the opportunity to analyze scenes from distinguished theater performances that have been captured on film.
450.624 - Follow the North Star: Hist,Stories of Slaves Escaping MD
The course examines the many ways in which slaves sought or were able to escape from slavery by running away, or by assistance from nature. Included will be an examination of the ads for runaway slaves that appeared in newspapers, the stories of the ship Pearl and the brig Enterprise, the fate of slaves who fled to the British during the War of 1812, and the path to freedom followed by slaves who enlisted in the Union Army prior to Marylands abolition of slavery in 1864. The course is designed to broaden ones understanding of the choices and paths enslaved Maryland residents were able to follow to freedom, from the Declaration of Independence to the case of Elizabeth Turner decided by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase after the Civil War.
450.629 - Halls of Wonder: Art, Science, & Material Culture, 1400-1750
This course will address the cultural fascination in Europe with sources and objects of wonder and popular imagination. At its core, this exploration will focus on material culture across the academic disciplines (disciplines that were not recognized as separate areas of knowledge at the time) from art, science and technology, literature, religion, and beyond. Through our focus, in particular, on collecting material objects, we will also be exploring in great detail the origin of museums, first as private Renaissance and Baroque wunderkammern (German, halls of wonder), and then ultimately as the first national museums of the Enlightenment period. Major themes will include socio-economic change and the emergence of new commercial and professional classes; the rise and consolidation of centralized states; the invention of printing by moveable type; literacy and evidence of historical reading practices; patronage of the arts; collectors and the collecting of books and objets dart; revolutions in the graphic arts; arts and press censorship; the advent and progress of Renaissance humanist interest in the ancient Greco-Roman world; the Protestant and Catholic Reformations; the Scientific Revolution; the production and circulation of literary texts; and popular culture (riot, ritual, and rebellion) in the Renaissance.
450.630 - "Orientalism" vs. "Occidentalism": A Brief History of Two Illusions
This course examines the evolution of regional attitudes that shape national discourses that create global discourse that influence the ways peoples and therefore nations at both ends of the Eurasian continent perceive and deal or do not deal with each other. Primary focus will be upon the sectarian religious, ethnic, social-economic conflicts that frame popular images, upon competitive power groups, international and domestic, that manage and model leadership polities, and upon the domestic and international press that play a significant role in shaping public perceptions. Students will view documentaries and films, read, weigh, consider and discuss a wide range of literary and media sources, including a film based upon Kiplings The Man Who Would Be King and other films, essays by world leaders, from the 19th-century father of modern India, Raja Rammohan Ray and Henry Louis Vivian Derozio, to the 20th- and 21st-century writers, such as Kishore Mahbubani (Can Asians Think), Steward Gordon (When Asia Was the World), Edward Said (Orientalism), and Ian Buruma and Avishai Margalit (Occidentalism, The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies). (Available online)
450.631 - Western Theatre History: The Dynamic Interplay of Social, Economic and Cultural Forces
Theatre offers unique insight into the development of western civilization by depicting people in their relationships to themselves, to each other, and to society. Theatre history provides a distinctive lens through which to explore the social, economic, cultural, geographical and other forces shaping those relationships over the past 2500 years. Beginning with the inception of theatre in religious ritual up to the present postmodern era, Western Theatre History: The Dynamic Interplay of Social, Economic and Cultural Forces will explore the demographics of audiences, the reasons for attending the theatre, who presented theatre, where theatres were located, what theatre space looked like and why they looked that way in order to track the dynamics of western political and social history. Major works of dramatic literature will serve as the entry point into various periods and as reflections of the historical forces at work. The major periods to be studied are: Classical Greek and Rome, Medieval, Renaissance (Italy, England and Spain), 18th and early 19th centuries, the modern era and the postmodern present.
450.634 - Italian Renaissance Art and Thought
In what sorts of intellectual contexts was Italian Renaissance art produced and received? What, in other words, were the connections among Renaissance art, philosophy, theology, mathematics, rhetoric, and history? This seminar will investigate a number of answers to such questions through a consideration of primary evidence and recent scholarship. Among other things, we will consider Aristotles theory of magnificence as it was applied to Renaissance architecture, the development of perspectival systems, the notion of a Renaissance or golden age, and Vasaris efforts to conceptualize art of the Renaissance in metaphorical terms. Several substantial writing assignments will allow students to develop critical positions of their own, and throughout the term there will be an emphasis upon close reading of both texts and artworks. (Available online)
450.637 - Modern American Poetry: From Robert Frost to Natasha Trethewey
The clichéd era of effete poetry by dead white males read by little old ladies in sewing circles has long passed. The current U.S. poet laureate is Natasha Trethewey, an African-American woman from Mississippi. Barack Obama's 2013 presidential Inauguration featured a poem by Richard Blanco, the son of Cuban exiles and an openly gay, former engineer. Four years earlier, President Obama asked Elizabeth Alexander, an African-American professor from Yale University, to read her "Praise Song for the Day". Bill Clinton's presidential inaugural poets were Maya Angelou (1993) and Miller Williams (1997). As diverse as these poets are, they nevertheless follow artistic forms established by one of the early founders of modern American poetry, Robert Frost, selected in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy as the first U.S. Inaugural poet. This course will explore American 20th- and 21st-century poetry from early modernist luminaries like William Carlos Williams and Elizabeth Bishop through U.S. poet laureates still writing today, such as Rita Dove and Philip Levine.
450.641 - Food and Politics
Food is central to our daily lives, yet few of us consider the political implications of what we eat. In fact, numerous political struggles take place over the production and consumption of food. These range from global conflicts over agricultural subsidies or genetically modified foods to more local concerns about food safety or the rising incidence of obesity among children and adults. Over the course of the semester, we will address these debates with two goals in mind. On the one hand, we will consider what is special or unique about food and agriculture as a distinct area of policy. On the other hand, we will attempt to draw larger lessons from the politics of food about the character and operation of political institutions and the public policy process.
450.642 - Yesterday's Tomorrows: Utopian and Dystopian Futures in Science Fiction Literature
Beginning with Thomas More?s seminal work Utopia (1516), this course will engage in an interdisciplinary discussion of the construction of the utopian/dystopian-cacotopian dynamic in science fiction, or more broadly speculative fiction, and the accompanying philosophical issues and concerns raised in these stories. Although the focus of the course will be on the literature, we will examine the construction of these stories, and authors, within a cultural context to question how ?utopia? and ?dystopia? have been defined historically and articulated through literature, art, philosophy, film, photography, music and theatre. These authors react to and against major historical paradigm shifts caused by, for example, the Industrial Revolution, Modernity, War, the Cyber Revolution, and century ends, along with the overarching ?End of Days? stories. Among the authors under consideration are H.G. Wells (The Time Traveler), Jules Verne (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Mysterious Island), Samuel Butler (Erewhon), Charlotte Perkins Gilman (Herland), Edward Bellamy (Looking Backwards), Yevgeny Zamyatin (We), Isaac Asimov (I, Robot), Ursula LeGuin (The Dispossessed, The Left Hand of Darkness), Walter Miller (A Canticle for Leibowitz), George Orwell (1984), Philip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, The Man in the High Castle, Minority Report), Margaret Attwood (The Handmaid?s Tale, Oryx and Crake), William Gibson (Neuromancer), Cormac McCarthy (The Road), Octavia Butler (Parable of the Sower, Kindred), Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games trilogy), among many others. Through these stories the writers both project possible futures and offer incisive commentary on contemporary realities. (Available online)
450.645 - Documentary Photography
Documentary photographs inform, entertain, and enlighten us on subjects as diverse as Civil War battlefields, Alabama sharecroppers, and outer space. We will explore different genres of documentary photography, including the fine art document, photojournalism, social documentary photography, the photo essay, and photography of propaganda. We will look at the relationship of image and text in the works of Walker Evans and James Agee. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and Minimata: Words and Photographs by Alieen and Eugene Smith. Students will work on a semester-long photo documentary project on a subject of their choice.
450.646 - Religion of Politics, Politics of Religion: Conflict and Convergence in Sacred Authority and Temporal Hierarchies
This course examines patterns of authority that evolve from interpreting the great texts to developing contemporary global cultural hierarchies. Special focus will be directed to two dominant competing 20th- to 21st-century authority systems, one represented by Mahatma Gandhis satygraha nonviolent program for social change, the other by Seyyid Qutbs (ideologue of Ikhwan, Muslim Brotherhood) program for violent change. These two competing ecumenical ideologies and their secular versions, not geography, religious orthodoxies, or ethnic rivalries, represent the great divide in global relations and within societies today, since both provide opposing models for radical social change within the same developing world, often religious communities. Students will evaluate this and other contrasting themes through reading, discussion, and case studies from contemporary India, America, South Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Egypt. (Available online)
450.651 - Western Political Philosophy
This is intended as a broad survey of Western political thought, particularly as it developed in the European historical context from the classical era to the 20th century. The thinkers we will discuss can be thought of as engaged in what Robert Hutchins called a "great conversation" across the centuries on the central questions of political philosophy. These questions include: What are the purposes of government? What is the best form of government? How are justice and liberty best realized in a political system? What are rights - and where do they come from? What is sovereignty and in whom does it reside? What principles make political authority legitimate? Is disobedience to political authority ever justified? In many ways these questions are perennial ones, as relevant in our own time as in the distant past. Moreover the divergent systems of thought developed to answer these questions continue to shape much of contemporary political life - e.g. democracy, constitutionalism, liberalism, socialism, and conservatism. Among the political philosophers who will be examined are Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Machiavelli, John Locke, Edmund Burke, Thomas Hobbes, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, Hannah Arendt, and Leo Strauss. (Available online) 450.656 An American in Literature (3 credits) What does it mean to be an American? Some scholars have found a national character; others have argued that national character does not exist; perhaps, given our diversity, we have multiple characters. In this course, we will use American fiction (novels) to find (if we can) the answer, an answer, perhaps many answers to this question. Likely, we will raise some questions of our own. Our Americans will be male and female, black and white, young and old, good and evil, rich and poor, and, well, Americans.
450.660 - Reading Judith Shakespeare: Women Writers in Tudor-Stuart England
In 1928 Virginia Woolf famously asked, If Shakespeare had a sister who followed her brother to London to be a writer, what would she write? Nearly a century has passed since that question was asked, and scholars are still working to identify the many varieties of writing produced by women in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century England. In addition to readings about contemporary culture, this course will include writings by women in several genres: drama (Elizabeth Cary and Lady Mary Wroth); poetry (Isabella Whitney; Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke; and Aemelia Lanyer); prose fiction (Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle and Aphra Behn); and selections of religious writings by women on both sides of Englands confessional conflict. A final project will combine historical research and creative fiction, as each student creates a historically accurate context in which Woolfs Judith Shakespeare could have succeeded in her goal of becoming a writer.
450.661 - History of Russia
This course will first address the issue of Geography, which more than history dominated the thinking of the Eurasian Steppe, a centrifugal plain which caused the people to adopt centripetal institutions; it will include study of the region of Siberia--the land of the Shaman east of the sun; the constant stream of foreign invasions throughout Russian history and their indelible marks on the character and culture of the people; the periodization of important leaders (Peter the Great, Ivan the Terrible, Catherine the Great, etc) of Russian History;the enormous contribution of its 19th century literature (Pushkin, Dosteovsky, Tolstoy, Chekov, etc); the spiritual influence of the Russian Orthodox Church; the causes and effects of the Russian Revolution in 1917--and arguably the most important world event in the 20th Century; Stalin, Khrushchev and the age of the Cold War; and the Post-Communist search for identity (Gorbachev, Yeltsen, Putin, and Dimitry Medvedev).
450.666 - World War II in Visual and Literary Art
This course will focus on American and Japanese perspectives on the war but will also include other national perspectives, such as German, Chinese, French, and British. Students will view or read clips and excerpts from both fictional and documentary texts and films. Students may be asked to do independent projects on better-known works such as From Here to Eternity, The Caine Mutiny, The Diary of Anne Frank, Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan, Schlindlers List, or Flags of Our Fathers. (Available online)
450.667 - The Bildungsroman as Literary Form-Chronicling Personal Growth in Countries and Cultures
The bildungsroman, often referred to as the Novel of Adolescence or Coming of Age novel, is one of the worlds most fascinating literary forms because of its manifestations in the literatures of many cultures and countries. The development of the form closely parallels the development of nations, the emergence of philosophical, social, and literary movements which have defined the world from the Eighteenth Century onward. Many major writers of the Romantic, Modern, and Post-modern periods have experimented with the form in compelling works such as Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man, Mrs. Dalloway, Madame Bovary, Great Expectations, Native Son, Catcher in the Rye, and The Famished Road. The illusiveness of the form derives in part from its ubiquitous nature. The classical German bildungsroman differs significantly from its English, French, American, African American, Asian, and African counterparts. This course examines the bildungsroman in several of its manifestations: the rise of the form in Eighteenth Century Germany, its adoption among French and English writers, its adaptation in Joyces Ireland, its popularity among American and African American writers, and its unique presentation in Asian and African literatures. Students will read several major bildungsromans and discuss the constructs of the form as well as the ways it differs among countries and cultures, races and ethnicities, and between genders. Some attention will be paid to the social and societal contexts associated with the form, as well as the ways in which it has been shaped by prevailing philosophies. Students will be encouraged to participate in The Bildungsroman Project, a Digital Humanities project designed to catalog and explore the form (http://bildungsromanproject.com/). (Available online)
450.668 - Afghanistan and Pakistan: Struggling Societies-Foundling Democracies
Afghanistan and Pakistan are at crossroad todaytwo contemporary societies struggling to define basic human values, two polities uncertain about their constitutional roots. The stakes are not only high for the peoples of these nation states but also for the global community, which has, true to convention, intervened. While the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights is reflected in broad principle in the current constitutions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, violations of the most basic human rights are endemic. This tragedy is at the root of the problem of governance in both states. Students will examine the continuing social, cultural, and consequent constitutional crises in these two Silk Road hub-Great Game battleground territories through study of the historical religious, literary-artistic, geographic, environmental, natural resources, ethnographic, economic, social institutional, regional-international relational, and current constitutional contexts. Special attention will be given to the 2008 Pakistan and 2009 Afghanistan national and regional assembly election outcomes.
450.669 - Family in Cross-Cultural Perspective
This course examines the family from various cross-cultural perspectives. Throughout the semester we will examine the family as a social institution through the lenses of race, gender, age, social class, and sexual orientation. First we will explore how the notion of family has changed over time in the United States. Next we will explore the social processes that take place within the context of the family such as dating, courtship, marriage, and parenting. We will also look at other issues that affect families such as immigration policy, work inside and outside the home, poverty, and domestic violence. (Available online)
450.671 - Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics
Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics takes us back to the rough ground upon which we live our lives. His Ethics is an inquiry into human happiness or eudaimonia, and as such it opens up a whole host of considerations about human life, human nature, the human good, justice, the relation between virtue and politics, and finally, the status of philosophy itself. This course will consist of a close reading of one of the most influential books on the subject of human happiness and human excellence, with an eye toward understanding how Aristotle's teaching in the Ethics can inform our own thought about moral and political issues today.
450.673 - Monstrosity & Metamorphosis: Imagining Animals in Early Art & Literature
From man's earliest artistic expressions on the walls of caves, animals have figured centrally in the human imagination. One can argue, in fact, that much of early art and literature does not differentiate fully between the human and the animal, that human self-awareness evolved, in part, through interactions with animals, and through the imaginative fusion of human and animal forms. This seminar will study the representation of animals, and human/animal hybrids, in cave painting, in Sumerian art, in Egyptian mythology, in classical mythology (Crete and the Minotaur, tales from The Odyssey, tales from Ovid's Metamorphoses), in the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf, in a selection from Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, and in the monstrous creatures that decorate the margins of medieval manuscripts in the Christian West. The seminar will use a blog for the posting of texts and images, and will require a research paper. This course satisfies the interdisciplinary Core course requirement. (Available online)
450.675 - Literary Analysis of the Hebrew Bible
This course focuses on narrative criticism of the Hebrew Bible, comparing it to similar methodologies (poetics, rhetorical criticism, etc.) and contrasting it with other forms of exegesis (historical criticism, deconstruction, etc.). Students will study key literary terms and discuss the elements that work together to form a story. The class will consider the narrator's voice in relation to the text and the reader, examining narrative omniscience, key type scenes, and themes in the Hebrew Bible and ancient Near Eastern (ANE) literature. This course attempts to discern narrative criticisms place in the history of Biblical interpretation. Long overshadowed by historical criticism and increasingly seeking to find its place in the midst of a number of reader oriented approaches, narrative criticism can be a valuable partner to both. This class examines narrative criticisms value as a tool for exegesis by studying its roots and the methodologies incorporated by narrative critics of the Hebrew Bible. (Available online)
450.678 - Religions of the Emerging World
The emerging world of the 21st century is globally interconnected: Al peoples are now neighbors. In this world, competing religious claims to unique truth pose a serious threat. Yet abandoning such claims can reduce religions to quaint cultural relics. How can religious believers maintain the vitality of their spiritual heritage while fully appreciating the faith/wisdom traditions of others? This course explores the insights of one man who has sought that balance of religious consciousnessphilosopher Huston Smithas he reflects on Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Rather than competing, he found, the worlds religious traditions can greatly enrich one another. (Available online)
450.682 - The American Presidency
This course is an introduction to the study of the presidency. Part one of the course examines how the office of the presidency became the central focus of the American political system and how the presidency developed various resources beyond the formal constitutional powers of the office such as party leadership, control of the executive, and relations with the public. Part two explores how presidents engage the broader political system and its relations with Congress, the press, the broader public, and the bureaucracy. Part three questions the sources of successful presidential leadership and examines whether presidential leadership hinges on personal skill, particular electoral or political circumstances, or an incumbents position within a larger partisan context of American politics. The class concludes with a consideration of presidential greatness and asks whether such a goal is attainable (or desirable) given the complex environment of contemporary American politics.
450.683 - The History of the Book from the Ancient World to the Digital Humanities
"What is the future of the book?" This course will tackle that question in two distinct ways. First, we will delve into the distant historical past together and explore the circumstances governing the transmission of knowledge itself, from its origins in Bronze Age cuneiform, hieroglyphic and Semitic-language manuscripts, up to the Greco-Roman period, in the form of inscribed tablets, papyrus rolls, and epigraphic fragments. The next portion of the course will address the medieval manuscript revolution, marking the epochal technological transition to the codex book-form still in use today. Here we will address the progress of paleographythe forensic development of Western handwriting over timeand the proliferation of book illustration and illumination alongside the parallel development of traditional sacred and novel secular textual genres, partly made possible through these same innovations in book production. In the interest of presenting an especially focused study over the final half of the course, we will then move from the late Middle Ages to the Printing Revolution, from the middle of the 15th c. up to the close of the 17th c. We will hone in on the first era of information overload (before our present-day digital revolution) and its broader cultural impact on the cultures of book history and the reception of knowledge over time. (Available Online)
450.684 - Introduction to Buddhism
Buddhism has been and continues to be one of the major global philosophical-religious-cultural systems because it provides a complete alternative world-view to other major global world systems. Beginning with instructional videos by Alan Watts and other prominent Buddhists, a brief survey of the literature and history of Buddhism will introduce the fundamental presuppositions and doctrines that guide the seeker on how to live fully, enunciated in a popular Buddhist devotional text, the Dhammapada, the Path of the Teaching of the Buddha which will be analyzed in class. An anthology of Buddhist texts representing the Theravada and Mahayana schools, the two major sects within historic Buddhism, will introduce the rich discourse within global Buddhism on the meaning of the Dhammapada. Peter Harveys An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics will be a resource to supplement lectures. Students will be expected to respond to readings, videos and lectures in two short (3-4 pages) essays on topics of their choice, and a research project (12-15 pages) from a short list of topics. The last class will be reserved for brief (10 minute) presentations of the student research papers.
450.687 - The American Revolution
This course will explore the roots of the American Revolution, comparing the perspectives of England with the colonies on the causes, comparing the positions of Loyalists and Patriots within the colonies, exploring the role of diplomacy during the revolutionary years, reviewing the war years, studying the legacy of the revolutionary experience on the social, religious, economic, and political fabric of the new nation and the resulting Constitution for the United States.
450.689 - Introduction to Digital Humanities in the Liberal Arts
This introductory course in the MLA programs digital humanities concentration is designed to familiarize students with digital encoding tools, web platforms, assorted search engines and other methodologies directly relevant to a wide range of research agendas in the liberal arts. In the course of the semester, students will receive a comprehensive introduction to selected tools and methodologies, such as the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) and text mining software (e.g. Voyant and Collatex). Assigned text encoding projects will guide students in identifying appropriate textual markup strategies, resolving issues generated through digital research, and finally in selecting appropriate tools for edition making. The semester will conclude with group critiques of these assigned projects from the standpoint of both content and user experience. (Available online)
450.692 - Religions of the East
This course explores the history, doctrines and practices of the Religions of the East. The eight religions of the East that will be studied are: Hinduism (Vedic and Classical), Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Daoism, Confucianism and Shinto. Primarily through narrated power-point slides and secondarily through directed reading and online discussion, students gain valuable insights into how these eight religions emerged, evolved and endured over the millennia to be the principal sources of creed and conduct for the peoples of South Asia and East Asia.
450.694 - Philosophy of Beauty
Since Plato, "Beauty" has proven to be a crucial topic in Western Philosophy. Philosophers have seen fit to address numerous questions surrounding the topic: what is beauty, what distinguishes and constitutes it, who can create it, who can discern and appreciate it? Is it subjective or objective? We will consider a variety of other critical questions via the prominent thinkers we will read in this class, such as: what is the point in creating art? Who or what is it for? What is its desired or intended impact on the audience? What are the germs of creativity, or what is the critical environment for its emergence? Is creativity and artistic inspiration an individual privilege, or can it be shared broadly in society, or in a community? What is the political role or place of the artist and his/her work? Philosophers read in this class may include Plato, of course, but also Aristotle, Augustin, Aquinas, Hume, Burke, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, among others. If time permits, we will also look at more recent philosophers writing on the topic--and why beauty might no longer be a concern for art and artists.
450.695 - American Political Theory and Practice
Our purpose in this course is not to provide an account of the mechanics of American government, but to examine the principles that underlie those mechanics, and the way in which those principles change over time. In other words, we are going to examine the political philosophy that serves as a basis for the American regime (or regimes, if one is so inclined). This means that in addition to questions of justice and right we will examine how the thinkers of the Founding era understood the human being, and the sort of governmental structures that are built on this understanding. We will also consider the revolution in American politics that occurs in the 20th century. The progressive movement of the 20th century builds on a different view of human nature and metaphysics (originating in, but ultimately transcending, Hegelian Idealism), and therefore finds itself in tension with the principles of the Founding. This tension is one of the animating forces of American political partisanship today, so an understanding of the development of American political theory will help us to better understand political disagreements in our own day. (Available online)
450.697 - The Rise and Fall of Empires: From Rome to Brexit
This course will examine what correlation can be traced between the rise and fall of empires, ranging from the ancient Roman to the modern British, and their relative effects upon other societies. It aims to acquaint students with the events, traditions, ideas, and values that have shaped the modern world. Students will gain a perspective on the position of these empires among the nations of the world, and on the controversies and agreements concerning the desired attributes of government, culture, and ideals. It will focus on central themes and issues in the development of political, economic, and religious institutions, and will raise questions about human values, economic growth, institutional change, cultural development, and political democracy. (Available online)
450.699 - Great Books in Great Contexts
This course brings together works by some of the worlds greatest thinkers and locates them in the context of some of Johns Hopkins most beautiful academic venues, interspersed throughout the semester with lectures by a number of invited speakers. Together we will explore Homers Odyssey, Platos Phaedo, Dantes Inferno, Shakespeares Hamlet, Shelleys Frankenstein, Conrads Heart of Darkness, and Woolfs A Room of Ones Own. After writing a series of close readings in the first half of the semester, students will choose from an array of themes to construct a final comparative essay.
450.700 - "The Souls of Black Folk": Evolving Conceptions of Leadership in African American Literature and Culture
Equal parts historical study, sociological investigation, and cultural analysis, W. E. B. Du Bois' classic work, The Souls of Black Folk, exemplifies the type of interdisciplinary and multidimensional approach employed by political and social theorists in their efforts to make sense of the fundamental conditions, contours, and characteristics of political life in modern societies. Paying particular attention to Du Bois account of race, the role political leadership, and the relationship between leaders and the masses, we will put Du Bois seminal work in conversation with a number of other prominent Afro-American voices, including Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Ralph Ellison, Martin Luther King Jr., James Baldwin, Cornel West, Barack Obama, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. By attending to Du Bois political engagements as well as literary representations of political leadership that have been influenced by him in one way or another, students will have the opportunity to explore the premises and implications of racial politics as well as some of the creative ways in which African Americans have sought to overcome racial domination. What are the appropriate roles and responsibilities of political leaders? What is the nature of their relationship to the community? What are the foundations of legitimate leadership and authority? What form should black politics take in order to overcome white supremacy? How should we understand the relationship between class, gender, race, and sexuality? (Available online)
450.704 - Poetry and the Visual Arts (IC)
This seminar will explore relationships between the languages of poems and those of the visual arts, including painting, drawing, sculpture, and photography. We will begin by discussing theoretical essays contrasting verbal and visual artistic expression, and go on to consider, for example, poems based on paintings (Auden's "des Beaux Arts" and Breughel's "Fall of Icarus"); poetic images that make use of a pictorial tradition (Chinese ink painting in Li-Young Lee's "Persimmons"); reciprocal tensions in the poetry and visual art of a single artist (Derek Wolcott); the use of similar techniques, such as the symbolic coding of color, in poems (Wallace Stevens) and in painting (Marc Chagall); and the individual responses of several poets to the same work. The class will use a blog for the posting of visual images and other class-related materials. Requirements will include short papers/commentaries, and one long paper.
450.707 - Therapy of the Soul: Philosophy of Ancient Rome
This course will cover some of the most important philosophical texts in the Roman Empire, texts at the nexus of Ancient Greek culture and early Christianity. We will consider Lucretius On the Nature of Things, one of the earliest atheist writings, an evocative poem outlining the philosophy of Epicurean hedonismthe path to maximizing pleasure, and diminishing fear and anxiety. We will next read from the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca, a significant political actor in Rome, and advisor to the emperors. The most popular philosophy in the Roman Empire, Stoicism, as exemplified by Senecas artful writing, lays out a therapy of the soul that is an impressive precursor and fascinating comparison to Freudian psychoanalysis. An even more impressive political actor, Cicero, is also on the reading list; we will look at his work on moral duties and political corruption, and consider how or why his prescriptions failed in Rome, but endured for later political philosophers. In the latter part of the course, we will consider the emergence of Christianity in later Rome through the writings of St. Augustine. His work provides powerful insight into how ancient Greece and Rome prepared the way for Christianityand also indicates what was radically new in the Christian narrative and worldview. (Available online)
450.710 - The Mind of Leonardo Da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci (14521519) was one of the most fascinating individuals in history. He is the creator of what are arguably the worlds two most famous paintings: the Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. He was also a brilliant scientist and engineer; he made dozens of original anatomical discoveries (for example, he injected hot wax into an ox brain to demonstrate the shape of the ventricles), and he invented hundreds of devices (from ball bearings to a steam cannon). He was well-known as a musician, court entertainer, and even as a practical joker. Who was Leonardo? What do we know of his personal life, including his thoughts on religion, sexuality, or politics? What personal traits shaped his genius? This course explores his thousands of pages of manuscripts; his paintings and other artistic projects; his scientific projects (including anatomy, physiology, botany, and geology); and his civil and military engineering projects. (Available online)
450.712 - Cosmos & Consciousness:Perspectives from Modern Physics & Religion
What does the culture of mass energy, space-time, the Big Bang, and black holes have to say to the culture of myth, ritual, contemplation, and prayer? And vice versa? In this course, students are introduced to the profoundly strange realities unveiled by modern physics, and they explore the impact of quantum theory and relativity on our understanding of questions which have traditionally been the province of the worlds great spiritual traditions: What is the origin of the cosmos, and where, if anywhere, is it headed? Does the universe have meaning? What is the relation between time and eternity, between mind and matter? Who are we and how did we get here? In exploring these questions, students examine the problems and possibilities of finding common ground where modern science and the worlds time-honored spiritual traditions can meet. This course is team-taught by a physicist and a religious studies scholar.
450.713 - Shakespeare & The Film
This seminar will examine Indian, Chinese, and Japanese film adaptations of four tragedies by Shakespeare. The plays and their directors are as follows: Macbeth (Maqbool by Vishal Bharadwaj, and Throne of Blood by Akira Kurosawa); Othello (Omkara by Vishal Bharadwaj); Hamlet (The Banquet by Feng Xiaogang); and King Lear (Ran by Akira Kurosawa). Students will discuss each play prior to viewing its film adaptation(s); the seminar will also make use of a blog for weekly postings of related materials. Seminar requirements include a paper and oral report concerning the influence of an Asian native tradition on one of the films under study, such as that of Noh theater on Kurosawa's Throne of Blood, or Peking opera on Feng Xiogang's The Banquet.
450.726 - The Supreme Court and the Constitution
Does the Constitution still work? Should it be amended or rewritten? Can a sitting president be charged with a crime? How can a president be impeached? What are the limits of executive power? Answering these, and many other similar and very current, questions, form the backdrop for this course on the American Constitutionits origins, growth and development, and its role in the governance of our nation. We will examine the main doctrines of constitutional law and the Bill of Rightssome settled, others still (and perhaps always) contested. And we will examine how the Supreme Court is constituted, how it decides cases, and the impact of its decisions.
450.731 - History of the Papacy: Pope Francis in Context
This course will cover the history of the papacy from Late Antiquity until the present day. It will pay particular attention to the growth of the papacy as an institution, its ideological expression, and the historical roots of todays Pope. The acclaimed historian, Thomas F.X. Noble, has noted that the papacy is the worlds oldest continuously functioning institution. Its longevity alone has prompted curiosity and interest, inspired scholarly works and attracted popular attention; to many, it has been the model of tradition for two millennia. But upon closer inspection, another story, one of transformation, also emerges. The approach of most papal histories, beginning with the Liber Pontificalis in the sixth century up to and including many twentieth-century accounts, is to weave a seamless narrative. These histories attempt to reinforce the notion that the papacy was (and still is) moving inexorably toward some preordained end. Most historians today disagree with this approach, and prefer to acknowledge far more contingency: the papacy as an institution has witnessed periods of monumental transformation over its 2000-year history. This course will highlight these developments, place them within their proper historical context, and demonstrate that perhaps no institution has witnessed more change and continuity than the papacy. This course satisfies the interdisciplinary core requirement. (available online)