MLAS 520.001, Seminar on the Human Experience: Prose Workshop: Fiction and Creative Non-fiction

Instructor: Tommy Hays
Mondays, 6:00-8:30 p.m.
Registration Call Number (CRN) 10434

This class will provide structure, support and constructive criticism for students who are interested in writing fiction or creative nonfiction. Students may have a project in mind or one they’re already at work on, but that is not required. In fact, part of what students may accomplish is discovering and tapping into creative veins from which to write. Each student will submit short stories, novel excerpts or creative nonfiction during the semester, which I will respond to at length in writing, and which we as a class will discuss. I will also meet individually with students to discuss their writing. And finally, we will read and discuss works by accomplished writers to heighten our awareness of craft so that we might avail ourselves of the many possible approaches to our own work.

Limit 12 students.

MLAS 520.002, Seminar on the Human Experience: Literary Classics of the 21st Century

Instructor: Sam Schuman
Tuesdays , 6:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Registration Call Number (CRN): 10435

In this course, we will look at several books written since the turn of the twenty-first century. Some were enormously popular; some are by well-known authors; some are obscure; some are tragic and others comic. The choice of texts is rather idiosyncratic: these are all books I enjoyed reading!

We will seek to ask, and perhaps even partially answer, the questions: “What makes a work of fiction last? Why does one book become a classic, and another disappear after a few years? What, exactly, IS a classic?”

I suspect, even hope, that not everyone will like every book on the reading list: that should make for better class discussions, and the class will be almost entirely conducted as a discussion.

Each student will find and present to the class at least one published book review of one of the texts. For each novel, we will try to have two very brief reports of reviews, hopefully, one negative and one positive. Also, on the day we begin reading each book, one student will present a brief (5 minutes – maximum) biography of the author (age, background, other works, etc.) There may, as well, be a couple of other in-class reports, for example on the political background of a novel, etc.

Everyone will keep an informal, personal diary recording her or his reactions to and thoughts about the books we read. I’ll collect these occasionally, just for my information, and to make sure everyone is keeping up. I will NOT make judgments about what you write, just be sure that you are writing.

At the end of the semester, each student will give a 15 minute presentation on a book of her or his choice, not on the reading list, written in 2000 or later, which you believe might become a classic. I’ll help with a partial list of possibilities, just to begin your thinking. These should be creative and interesting presentations, not “talking head” performances which just involve reading a paper. In addition to the presentation, a final paper of 4-6 pages, on the same book/author, is required. Grades will be based on class participation, diaries, the in-class presentations and the final paper.

MLAS 540.001, Seminar on the Individual and Society: Wanted, Dead or Alive: The Nation

Instructor: Ron Sousa
Wednesdays, 6:00-8:30 p.m.
Registration Call Number (CRN): 10436

Over the past quarter century, “modern” concepts of nation and nationality—i.e., those forged in the eighteenth century—have come under increasing critique. The critique has come from more than one quarter. The principal source has been “post-modern” academic scholarship, which, seeing language as a rhetorical medium, understands everything to be a discursive construct, “nation-ality” being one such construct. “Nation-ality” is, by that logic, a key, highly entrenched set of discourses because of the power they wield on many fronts, from arbiters of individual/group identity to articulators of economic behavior/expectations. Equally, commentators on world economy have seen the increasing transnationalization of capital and the creation of regional or global labor/trade agreements (e.g., NAFTA) as indicators of basic change in the concept and practice of “nation-ality.”

After sampling excerpts from some of the theoreticians of modern nationality we will follow out the critique through a reading of extracts from some of its now-classical texts, as well as one study in its entirety: Benedict Anderson’s pivotal Imagined Communities (1983). The common reading will end in consideration of the “literary deconstruction” of nation, with the reading of Nobel Prize laureate José Saramago’s History of the Siege of Lisbon.

In addition to the common reading, each enrollee will be asked to develop an area of focus and begin individual reading and research in that area with the goal of first sharing the (ongoing) results of her/his research with the rest of the class and then carrying that area of focus to conclusion in a term paper of 25-30 pages. Production of the term paper will be her/his principal task in the second half of the course.

MLAS 560.001, Seminar on Science and Human Values: Astronomy and Cosmology

Instructor: Randy Booker
Mondays, 6:00-8:30 p.m.
Registration Call Number (CRN): 10437

This course will explore the historical, cultural, philosophical and scientific sides of the development of astronomy and cosmology. The course will span a wide period from ancient astronomy through the present. One goal of the course is to understand how science progresses. The course will also show the impact that advances in the other sciences (such as biology, geology, physics and chemistry) have had on our understanding of the universe. The course will emphasize how the type of astronomy we practice and our understanding of both the universe and our position in it are a product of the type of society we live in and social change. We will also study the relationship that exists between society and science, and between society and individual scientists. We will examine the contributions of astronomy not only to scientific understanding but to society and culture as well. This course does NOT require a science or math background.


MLAS 600.001, Contemporary Issues: Environmental Literature and Media

Instructor: Gerard Voos
Thursdays, 6:00-8:30 p.m.
Registration Call Number (CRN): 10438

Students will be provided an in-depth introduction into environmental literature through the reading of the works of writers such as: Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard, Henry Beston, Aldo Leopold, Barry Lopez and Terry Tempest Williams. These authors provide not only a sense of place in their writings, but also a message, sometimes sublime, other times screamed at the top of their literary lungs, about the state of their world.

The media portion of the course will be characterized by documentary and mainstream films, video clips, still photography, paintings and other artistic media dealing with environmental and nature-related topics. As with the mentioned authors, representative media will range from a subtle portrayal of an environmental theme to explicit declarations of policy malfeasance or administrative lethargy.

Each class period will include a discussion of the week’s reading assignment and presentation and discussion of environmental media in one or more of the forms listed above. Assignments will include at least one major written assignment and one class presentation.

Authors that may be covered in class include: Henry Beston, Annie Dillard, Barry Lopez, Terry Tempest Williams, Aldo Leopold, Edward Abbey, Gary Snyder, Wendell Berry, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Mary Austin, John McPhee, Rick Bass, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, Bill Mckibben, David Quammen


MLAS 670.001, Scholarly Inquiry Seminar

Prerequisite: Successful completion of 21 hours in the MLAS Program
Instructor: Holly Iglesias, Ph.D.
Tuesdays, 6:00-8:30 p.m.
Registration Call Number (CRN): 10439

This seminar provides a forum for students to develop their individual scholarly interests into a capstone MLAS project. Includes survey of techniques of inquiry in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, as well as practical issues from finding a topic, to final presentation and defense. Students will define a topic for the project seminar and begin preliminary research. Project proposals must be approved by the project advisor, the project seminar instructor, and the Program Director. Prerequisite: 21 hours in the MLAS Program. (Grading S/U).