Spring 2019

HUM 326 - Studies in Film and Culture: Language and Film

Instructor: Stewart

A study of a specific group of films in relation to their specific cultural and historical contexts. Note: May be repeated up to three times if different selections of films are studied.

Specifics of the topic: This course will survey many of the ways that language is present in films.

Prerequisite: Sophomore standing.


Hum 361: Representations of Jews in Medieval Art and Literature

MWF 11-11:50

Instructor: Professor Pam Beattie

This course will draw on a wide range of European visual and literary resources to show that the representation of Jews and Judaism in western European culture during the Middle Ages was neither uniform nor static but instead shaped by local, geographical, cultural, political, and religious circumstances.  Studying these representations in context will allow us a more nuanced understanding of the development of ideas about race, identity, and "otherness" as they emerged between about 500-1500 CE. Because literary genres were fluid in the Middle Ages, we will explore different kinds of texts ranging from saints' lives, ballads, romance (including Arthurian literature and the Grail Quest tales), drama, songs (such as the Cantigas de Santa Maria), historical narratives, and even polemical treatises. Reading the texts in conjunction with analysis of visual representations ranging from sculpture to stained glass to manuscript illustrations will give us insights into how Jews shifted in the medieval imagination from "witnesses to divine revelation" to "Christ-killers" and allow us to trace stereotypes and literary tropes including accusations of ritual murder, blood libel and host desecration.


HUM 361-02: Renegade Thinkers

T,Th 1pm-2:15pm

Instructor: Assistant Professor Michael Hagan

Throughout the history of philosophy there have been many ‘renegade’ thinkers that deterritorialize the ground of the canonical works and the personas of the academic tradition.  Students will examine the works of several renegade thinkers, including Diogenes, Ken Kesey, Robert Anton Wilson, Aldous Huxley, Philip K. Dick, Timothy Leary, Alan Watts, and Ken Wilber.  We will investigate the syncretic and interdisciplinary aspects of each philosopher as well as their relationship with the canonical works and personas. 


HUM 363: Magical Realism

M,W,F 10:00 AM- 10:50 AM

Instructor: M.Williams-Spring, 2019

Magical realism is one of the principal genres of storytelling to emerge from the second half of the 20th century, one that continues to exercise strong influence in more current fiction and film, from slipstream to Weird and New Weird.  More broadly, it is a mode, a way of telling, and the class will be devoted to engaging its uses and implications in a number of late 20th and early 21st century works.  We will begin by establishing a working definition and description of magical realism, testing our assumptions through a number of critical lenses, through the short fiction of Garcia Marquez, Salman Rushdie, and Angela Carter, and through films by Terry Gilliam, Guillermo del Toro, and Behn Zeitlin. Three response essays, a midterm and a final, and committed participation will be the requirements.


HUM 512/612-01 Buddhist Polity

TTH 2:30pm- 3:45pm

Instructor: Professor Pat Pranke

This course is a survey of Buddhist statecraft, political theory, and governmental and religious institutions from ancient through modern times and across several South and Southeast Asian civilizations. The purpose of this exercise is to gain an understanding of how Buddhism was both shaped by and helped shape the diverse social and political environments in which it flourished.


HUM524: Films and Mental Illness

W 4pm- 6:45pm

Instructor: Professor Ann C. Hall

Films and Mental Illness brings the sciences and humanities together to examine representations of mental illness, brain trauma, and addiction in films like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Frances, The Madness of King George, The King of Hearts, Diving Bell and Butterfly, and others.


HUM 561-02/ENG 551-01: Jewish Identity in Graphic Novels & Comics

T,Th 11am-12:15pm

Instructor: Professor Ranen Omer-Sherman

Whether one adapts the term “graphic novel,” “sequential art,” or something it is critical to know that the form is a rapidly expanding, even explosive phenomenon that will likely be with us for many years to come. But how are we to assess their merits? As D. Aviva Rothschild asserts “graphic novels use words and pictures in ways that transcend ordinary art and text, and their creators are more than writers and artists. The artist must have a director’s eye for shadow, angle, setting, and costume. The writer has to know when the text speaks and when the art speaks, avoiding redundancy. In the ideal graphic novel, the text does not distract from the art or vice versa; the eye flows naturally from element to element, creating a whole that a text-only book cannot match.”  Throughout this semester, we will adapt Rothschild’s aesthetic perspective as a useful guide, one that encourages us to be as attentive as possible to both the visual and textual dimensions of the works.

In recent years the graphic novel has received considerable attention as an explosive cultural phenomenon. Today one cannot walk into any chain bookstore without noting the ever-proliferating bookshelf space afforded for the display of graphic novels, as many in the publishing industry have become aware of their artistic and literary, as well as commercial, vitality.  As Hillary Chute asserts, graphic novels embody “an embrace of reproducibility and mass circulation as well as a rigorous, experimental attention to form as a mode of political intervention.” This course offers students a substantial encounter with the variety of challenges to Jewish identity and selfhood represented in the graphic novel’s enduring fascination with the consequences of the erasure/repression, as well as celebration, of ethnic/racial origins. We will examine how graphic novels (and even the comics genre) can embody a powerful composite text of words and images that produces effects significantly different from more traditional forms of literary narrative. And this creative power becomes especially striking when placed in the service of gender, racial, religious, and other forms of identity exploration. This course explores the profound influence of the Jewish imagination on the art of visual narrative, ranging across the creation of Superman, graphic memoirs about Auschwitz and post-Holocaust consciousness, the complex reality of Israel, and beyond. Students will have the option of writing formal research papers or producing their own graphic narrative, by prior arrangement with the instructor.


HUM 562 / HUM672 / HUM692: The Global Human

Th 4:00pm-6:45 pm

Instructor: Bertacco

The course explores what it means to live a human life in different parts of our globalized world.  The main theoretical framework is postcolonial, enabling our exploration of conceptions of the human and the nature of human culture beyond the Western one, through historical, literary and cultural texts, films, and cultural theory. Special attention is given to issues of gender and sexuality seen from a transnational perspective. The approach is firmly based in the Humanities disciplines and in the Comparative Humanities pedagogical model--interdisciplinary and comparative.


HUM 635 - Seminar in Humanities: Theory of Repulsion And Disgust

Th 4:00pm-6:45 pm

Instructor: Dr. Natalie C. Polzer

With an interdisciplinary range comprising the areas of philosophy (aesthetics, ethics, existentialism) law, anthropology, psychology and literary and cultural studies, this course will explore theories of disgust and repulsion in the Humanities and Social Sciences from the 18th century until the present.  Repulsion and disgust will be considered both as philosophical and/or ideological systems of thought and as social systems embedded in religious and cultural practice, through a close study of seminal works by Georges Bataille, Mary Douglas, Sigmund Freud, Julia Kristeva and Martha Nussbaum, among others.


LING 390 - Special Topics in Language: Languages of the World

T,Th 9:30am-10:45 am

Instructor: Stewart

General description: Investigation of selected areas of the study of language from an interdisciplinary perspective (Humanities or Social Sciences).

Specifics of the topic: This course offers a comparative survey of languages from three perspectives:

  1. Language Families
  2. Language Areas
  3. Language Types

Once this background in natural languages is established, students will consider what an adequate global auxiliary language would have to be like.

Prerequisites: LING/ENGL 325 or LING/ENGL 518, or permission of the instructor.

Linguistics Minor: This course may serve as a Core course in the Minor.

(Cross-listed with ML 313 - Special Topics in Language, Literature, or Culture)