Dr. David Denny, culture & media department chair, presented a paper on Lars von Trier's Antichrist at the International Zizek Studies Conference in Cincinnati in April 2014.
Introduction to Film
This course seeks to enhance the understanding of film as an artistic and ideological
Students will focus on selected narrative films to develop the visual literacy of active viewers. To what extent can film be studied as a "text" to be read and reread rather than simply watched? Students will address questions about film's place in culture and ideology, its political and social relevance, and how, for better or worse, it can shape a sense of the world. An Art, Media, & Technology course.
Kolker, Robert. Film, Form, and Culture. Boston: McGraw-Hill. 2006. Print
CMS 321A or LIT 321A
Literary and Critical Theory
This course examines the history of literary and critical theory while focusing on significant contemporary approaches to the reading of literature and culture. Students will develop a working relation to the following critical approaches: Marxist political-economy and historicism, Freudian psychanalysis, semiological analysis, gender studies, post-colonial theory, and postmodernism.
It may seem counter-intuitive to think that literature needs theory in order to legitimate itself. After all, doesn't theory just get in the way of experiencing the magic of literature? But, then, how do we distinguish literature from an editorial or an advertisement? The fact is that theory has always existed side by side literature in the attempt to distinguish itself as a unique form of human expression and taste. This class examines this relation by taking a journey into literature's past, examining how this question unfolds in the course of its history. We will read Plato, Wordsworth, Baudelaire, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, Simone de Beauvoir, Monique Wittig, Edward Said, and Laura Mulvey.
CMS 321E or LIT321E
Literary and Critical Theory
This course examines the history of literary and critical theory while focusing on significant contemporary approaches to the reading of literature and culture. Students will develop a working relation to the following critical approaches: Marxist theory and historicism, Freudian psychoanalysis, semiological analysis, deconstruction, gender studies, and post-colonial theory.
It may seem counter-intuitive to think that literature needs theory in order to legitimate itself. After all, doesn't theory just get in the way of experiencing the "magic" of literature? But, then, how do we distinguish literature from an editorial, an advertisement, or a piece of propaganda? The fact is that theory has always existed side by side with literature in literature's attempt to distinguish itself as a unique form of human expression and taste. This class examines this relation by taking a journey into literature's past, examining how fundamental questions of literariness, the means and methods of criticism, and the functions of literary texts unfold from early times to the present. We will read works by thinkers including Plato, Wordsworth, Baudelaire, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, Simone de Beauvoir, Jacques Lacan, and Jacques Derrida.
1. 'Beginning Theory' by Peter Barry (Manchester Univ. Press) ISBN 978-0719079276
2. 'Mythologies' by Roland Barthes (FSG) 978-0374521509
3. 'The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism', ed., Vincent Leitch (2nd edition)ISBN: 978-0393932928
In addition to these required texts your instructor will post various study aids and online learning materials which will help you navigate through the texts.
CMS 336 A or SOC 352 A
United States and Middle Eastern Relations
Friday, Saturday and Sunday 9am-6pm 4/25-4/27
Dr. Masoud Kheirabadi
This course will take the student beyond the conventional media propaganda to examine the nature of U.S. involvement in the Middle East. It will trace the history of U.S. involvement, economic aid, and military assistance. Major contemporary issues of the Middle East with regard to the United States are examined.
A proper understanding of contemporary American involvement in the Middle East requires knowledge of America's role in post-World War II political, social, and economic changes in the Middle East. This course will take you beyond the conventional media propaganda to examine the nature of American involvement in the Middle East. It will trace the history of U.S. involvement efforts, economic aids, and military assistance and adventures. Major contemporary issues of the Middle East with regard to American interests and involvement are examined. There are no prerequisites for this course
- David Lesch and Mark Haas, The Middle East and the United States: History, Politics, and
- Ideologies, Westview Press; updated fifth edition, 2013 (ISBN-13: 978-0813349145) Rashid Khalidi, Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East, Beacon Press, 2013 (ISBN-13: 978-0807044759)
• Tareq Ismael, et al, The International Relations of the Contemporary Middle East:
Subordination and Beyond, Routledge, 2013 (ISBN-13: 978-0415661355)
• Mahmood Monshipouri, Democratic Uprisings in the New Middle East: Youth, Technology, Human Rights, and US Foreign Policy (International Studies Intensives), Paradigm Publishers, 2014 (ISBN-13: 978-1612051352)
• Kamran Bokhari and Farid Senzai, Political Islam in the Age of Democratization (Middle East Today), Palgrave Macmillan, 2013 (ISBN-13: 978-1137008046)
Watching the Romance
Romance has always been the bread and butter of Hollywood—so much so that we rarely think to question the terms of the love plot: why do these people like each other so much? Why do we care if they get together in the end? Why are romantic plots so ubiquitous in Hollywood film? This course examines the formal structures and narrative tropes of romance in American film from the silent era to the present day. Historical and theoretical readings will offer lines of sight into the dynamics of gender, race, ideology, and political economy in these films.
Since almost every studio film includes some kind of love story, this syllabus could be coextensive with film history itself. To narrow down the field, I chose pairings of films and theoretical readings that offer insights into the uses and modalities of cinematic romance. So rather than asking what love is, we'll be asking what love does in these films. What role does the romantic plot play in the overall ideological functioning of the film? Each week, students will be required to watch one film and read related secondary material. The films will be available on reserve at the library, although most are also available to stream or rent at Netflix, Amazon Instant, iTunes, or your local video store.
All of the readings will be available in PDF format on the course moodle site. There are no required textbooks for the course.
CMS 364A or LIT364A
Introduction to Queer Studies
Wednesday 3:15-6 and Online
This course provides a general introduction to the interdisciplinary field of queer studies. The goal of the class is to introduce students to works that challenge normative assumptions about gender and sexuality. Topics covered in the class will include: historical constructions of gender and sexuality, cultural representations of sexuality in literature and film, and the contemporary politics of sexuality. This class is open to students of all backgrounds. No previous coursework in queer/gender theory is required.
CMS364/LIT364 maps the terrain of the relatively new, interdisciplinary field of queer studies. The course is designed to introduce students to some of the prominent perspectives, politics and practitioners in the field. (Note: the terrain of queer studies is vast, and our survey of it is necessarily partial and incomplete—consider this class a beginning point rather than a complete journey.)
This class will focus on three general and inter-related themes:
- History & Identity: We will trace changing societal understandings of sexuality from the ancient world to contemporary society.
- Representation: We'll examine how queer representations in literature and popular culture support and/or challenge dominant ideas about gender and sexuality.
- Politics & the Law: We'll delve into contemporary political and legal discourse in order to explore how certain understandings of gender and sexuality are legitimated by the state.
Queer studies scholarship is overtly LGBTQ-affirmative and anti-homophobic in orientation. This political stance is in part due to the legacy that feminist studies and gay & lesbian studies have had on queer studies. Like those areas of study, queer studies is an intentionally activist academic project. It seeks not just to recover the "silent" voices and experiences of queers throughout history, but to disrupt taken-for-granted or naturalized cultural assumptions about gender and sexuality that serve to oppress and marginalize.
- Meem, Deborah T., Gibson, Michelle A, and Alexander, Jonathan F. Finding Out:
- An Introduction to LGBT Studies, 2nd Edition. Sage, 2014. Paperback. ISBN: 978-1452235288
Course Packet: A small packet of additional required & optional articles will be supplied the first day of class.
Films: Watch the following two films outside of class. See the course schedule below for the dates we will discuss these films.
- Milk, directed by Gus Van Zant (2008)
- Hedwig and the Angry Inch, directed by John Cameron Mitchell (2001)
Both films are on 3 day reserve at Shoen Library.
Ethics and Social Issues
Thursday 6:30-9:15 pm
As society moves into the twenty first century, people are confronted with social and ethical problems that leave them overwhelmed by their persistence and urgency. From bioethics and human rights to torture and the death penalty, this class explores these issues, and others, from within the rich and complex tradition of ethical thought. In the process, we will study and examine 'the good life,' 'the golden rule,' utilitarian ethics vs. moral obligation, and meta-ethical concerns such as power, class, and gender.
All the readings will be provided in a pdf format that I will email to you.