Spring 2020

HUM 361-01. Selected Topics: Renegade Thinkers

M. Hagan • MW 2:00–3:15 p.m.

Throughout the history of philosophy, there have been many “renegade” thinkers who 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. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing.


HUM 362-01. Selected Topics: Reading the Hebrew Bible as Literature/The Hebrew Bible in Contemporary Literature

R. Omer-Sherman • TTh 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.

Many of us think that we somehow know what is in the Bible, even if we rarely encounter it directly. Yet when we do read it, we can sometimes be shocked anew by both its violence and moral energy, the myriad ways that it radiates human suffering, outrage, spiritual insight, and sometimes even stupefies us with what can seem a bleak portrait of human (and perhaps divine) failings. Considering the diversity and complexity of the Hebrew Bible, it should not be surprising that the interpretation of the Bible as literature has been a multifarious and ongoing process. As one contemporary biblical critic proclaims, as readers “our inclination must be toward ‘both … and,’ not ‘either … or,’ or in the words of the Maoist Chinese slogan, ‘let a hundred flowers bloom.’ For unlike what happened to that slogan in China, where its proclamation led to an outburst of critical voices the beleaguered government felt compelled to suppress, in biblical studies the ‘hundred flowers’ and more are the only way to capture the rich texture of what the biblical corpus has to offer.”

Prospective students of faith should take note that this course might pose serious challenges for them and bear in mind that the paradigm that guides this class is literary analysis, usually through a secular humanist lens. Hence we will explore some critical voices for whom the Bible is only a literary text, with no particular discernible theological meaning or divine correspondence. On the other hand we will also encounter interpreters for whom the Bible is a richly complex and challenging literary as well as a theological text, and should be savored in all of its ambiguity, symbolism, mystery, and indeterminacy. This course is also intended as an immersion in contemporary uses of the 2,000-year-old tradition of Midrash. Traditional Midrash is the ancient rabbinic tradition of exegesis (written and compiled between the first and 11th centuries) in which wherever the Torah seemed to be tantalizingly less than explicit or specific, interpreters sought to provide fresh interpretation and meaning in contexts relevant to their present moment. Traditional Midrash includes many opinions on a single verse often in dialogue or disagreement, an inherently democratic discourse (save for the crucial omission of the voices of women!). This traditional variant of storytelling is a close relative of intertextuality which theorist Susan Handelman aptly describes: “Texts echo, interact, and interpenetrate.” Thus, in later weeks of this class, we explore representative examples of how the modern literary imagination responds to ancient stories and uncovers fresh and often disturbing truths there by brushing those sources up against contemporary realities. Particular attention will be given to identifying and studying specific biblical passages, stories, symbols and motifs, as they are used today by a range of critics, fiction writers and poets, including feminists in dialogue with the ancient texts that excluded their voices. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing.


HUM 363-01. Special Topics: The Fantastic in Fiction & Film (WR)

M. Williams • MW 2:00–3:15 p.m.

A critical approach to the fantastic mode as it manifests itself in film and modern fiction. Extensive examination of modern fantasy from the late 19th and early 20th century will be followed by viewing 4-5 representative films and reading two iconic short novels. Short response assignments, three take-home exams of more sustained length and scope. Special emphasis on the fantastic as modern myth-making.

Note: May be repeated when topics vary.


HUM 514-01. Perspectives on Religious Coexistence & Conflict: The Contemporary Middle East in Literature & Film

R. Omer-Sherman • TTh 1:00–2:15 p.m.

This class draws on literary narratives and film documentaries (as well as a few exemplars of fictional cinema) to discuss the relationship between the Zionist dream of Homeland and the marginal figure of the Arab, both as perceived external threat and as the “Other” within Israeli society. The core question we will address concerns the writer’s empathic response to the plight of Palestinians and the Arab minority within Israel itself—and the Arab writer’s perceptions of Israel. This course focuses on the artist’s response to Israeli politics and culture and issues such as human rights, Israel’s historical relations with its Arab neighbors, as well as its current struggle to accommodate a nascent Palestinian nation. Other dynamics to be examined will include: the influence of the literary imagination on Israeli society; the role of dissent and protest in Israeli society; the Jewish state’s ambivalence regarding Jews of Arab origin. We will see how the narrative forms of literature and cinema among Israelis and Palestinians alike often challenge the rigid lines formed in ideological narratives to distinguish the “West” from the “East” and expose the contradictions in the dominant narrative. Whenever apt, the instructor will also create opportunities for students to participate in a lively dialogue about current news headlines and important cultural and political trends in Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East, as they develop. Assignments will include midterm and final essay exams as well as brief and informal response papers. Prerequisite: Junior standing.

Note: Co-listed with HUM 614-01.

Note: Credit may not be earned for both HUM 514 and HUM 614.

Note: This course includes Community-Based Learning (CBL). Students will engage in a community experience or project with an external partner in order to enhance understanding and application of academic content.


HUM 524-01. Special Topics in Film Study: Film & Mental Illness

A. Hall • W 4:00–6:45 p.m.

This course 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, The Madness of King George, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Silence of the Lambs, and Silver Linings Playbook, and others. Prerequisite: Junior standing.


HUM 561-01. Selected Topics: Playscript Interpretation

R. Vandenbrouke • TTh 2:30–3:45 p.m.

Some Reasons UofL Students Might Want to Take TA 571/HUM 561:

  • You want to improve your ability to imagine a play produced on stage from text alone.
  • You want to expand your grasp of a variety of periods, styles, and cultures including older plays from them.
  • You want to challenge your imagination by reading plays and authors you have not studied carefully before.
  • You wonder what it’s like to write a play.
  • You want to broaden your understanding beyond the contemporary focus of most American theatres.
  • You want to use essential theatre terms precisely and correctly.

Prerequisite: Junior standing.

Note: Co-listed with TA 571-01.


HUM 596-01. Selected Perspectives in Humanities: Perspectives on Medieval Representations of Others (WR)

P. Beattie • TTh 9:30–10:45 a.m.

This course will explore the representations of “others” in the art and literature of western Europe during the Middle Ages. We will read medieval literary sources ranging from The Song of Roland to Marco Polo’s Description of the World and look carefully at medieval paintings and manuscripts in order to increase our understanding of the complexity and diversity of medieval culture. Our exploration will range from the study of monstrous and marvelous “races” that appear in the margins of manuscripts, travel literature and romance, to the imagined (and occasionally realistic) depictions of Muslims and Jews that frequently appear in similar settings as well as in chronicles, histories, and polemical texts. Looking at these representations in context will give us insight into questions such as: To what extent is the representation of others—in terms of religion, ethnicity, or gender—a reflection rather of the authors’ or majority culture’s state of being than that of the others they are representing? Is religious and ethnic hatred inevitable? What is the relationship between visual/material culture and literary culture? To what extent are the representations that appear in medieval literature and art mirrors of reality or manifestations of the imagination? Is it possible to separate the two? Prerequisite: Completion of 75 undergraduate hours.


LING 390-01. Special Topics in Language: Philosophy of Language: Words of English (WR)

T. Stewart • TTh 11:00 a.m.–12:15 p.m.

While enrolled in this new course, you will investigate and explore the range and variety of words that have come to be in the English lexicon, but do so without ignoring words that have passed out of use or those that are yet to rise to common use. You will sample approaches to words including:

word histories, dialect words, new word creation, children’s learning of words, dictionary writing, word meanings, usage trends, slang & jargon, taboo words & work-arounds, challenging spellings & surprising pronunciations

If you enjoy stretching your vocabulary, playing with words, or debating the best or most correct word, you are sure to find a place in this course. You will discover new resources for working with words, and you will learn new ways to work with tools you already know. Prerequisite: LING 325 or equivalent may be helpful but is not required.

Note: Co-listed with ENGL 371-01.

Note: Course may be counted within the Undergraduate Minor in Linguistics.


LING 590-01. Special Topics in Linguistics: Morphology

T. Stewart • TTh 4:00–5:15 p.m.

This course surveys all the ways that languages use to indicate similarity and differences among words. Morphology is the term for the study of word structure: how words are built on other words and how the different forms of words are created and distinguished.

Alongside more familiar ideas like prefixes (re- in reconsider) and suffixes (-al in magical), the bigger picture includes sound-shifts (as in tooth ~ teeth), clipping (ed[ucation], obvi[ously]), compounding (whistleblower), combinations of these (fintech < fin[ancial]tech[nology]), and more.

We will be looking at patterns and systems from a number of the world’s languages (past and present) in order to get a sense of what is and isn’t possible, and we will work toward a level-appropriate final project of manageable size and scope that introduces a computer-based model for morphological knowledge. Prerequisite: LING 325/ENGL 325 or equivalent.

Note: Co-listed with LING 620-01.

Note: Course may be counted within the Undergraduate Minor in Linguistics.