Spring 2021 Courses

FIL 1002 Introduction to Film Studies (100% online, CRN 14941)
Instructor: Dr. Scott Ferguson

This online course is designed to teach students how to think critically, and creatively, about the art of the moving image. The first half of the course outlines the fundamentals of film aesthetics: narrative, mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing, and sound. The second half explores a variety of important modes of moving image culture, including genre, documentary, avant-garde, animation, music videos, and YouTube culture. Most important, students learn to evaluate the historical and cultural significance of a wide-range of moving-image works by looking closely at the forms and technologies that shape them. To foster this aim, the course takes up “self-reflexive” works which, wittingly or not, make their own forms and technologies integral to their meaning.


FIL 3077 Contemporary Film and New Media (100% online, CRN 18171)
Instructor: Dr. Scott Ferguson

Offering an advanced introduction to the history of global motion picture practice from 1950s to the present, this online course explores the aesthetics of film and new media across various genres, movements, and national contexts. Selected topics include late Hitchcock and the twilight of Classical Hollywood; Shirley Clarke's independent American aesthetics in the context of the Civil Rights struggle; the art cinemas of France and Sweden; direct cinema and cinema verité; political cinema in Latin America; the end of the Hollywood studio system, including the Hollywood Renaissance of the late 1960s and early 1970s and the rise of the “New Hollywood” blockbuster; avant-garde motion pictures from American Underground film to new media experimentation with video, television, and computer graphics; Black cinema of the 1980s; New German Cinema; modern Iranian cinema; Hong Kong cinema; digital videomaking in the Danish movement known as Dogme 95; and feminist impulses in the Neo-Neorealist movement of the 2010s. Throughout the semester, we will consider how both sound and image affect the spectatorial experience of motion pictures, as well as how such aesthetics speak to the social, economic, and cultural contexts from which they emerge. In doing so, we will analyze moving image works as reflexive allegories, which variously thematize the sociohistorical significance of their own formal and technological processes.


FIL 4808 Ethics and Film (100% online, CRN 25308)
Instructor: Dr. Brook Sadler

This is a two-part course focusing on:

(1) How do films address ethical issues such as racism, abortion, poverty, and sexuality? How do films construct narratives, direct emotions, and create frames for understanding?

(2) How do films raise ethical problems of exploitation, representation, and spectatorship?

Each film is paired with readings that provide theoretical, philosophical, or historical perspectives.


FIL 4808 Black American Cinema (100% online, CRN 25625)
Instructor: Dr. Todd Jurgess

This course offers a broad survey to Black American cinema across a variety of periods and genres. Using historical and theoretical texts, students will examine films from the silent period to the present, focusing on the ways that film style articulates questions of identity, economics, and aesthetic issues relevant to racial representation in cinema and other art forms. This course will cover many different film periods and movements (the race films of the 20s and 30s, the blaxploitation genre, the LA Rebellion, etc.) but will place much of its emphasis on the diverse terrain of contemporary Black American cinema, from mainstream narrative and documentary films to experimental films and video installations. Readings for the course include foundational texts within film studies as well as readings in critical race theory, fiction, and poetry. Assignments will include a midterm and final exam, a couple short formal analysis papers, and a short research presentation. The class’ delivery will be in the form of video lectures, Canvas forums, and Teams-based discussions.


HUM 2250 The Twentieth Century: Europe (100% online, CRN 21323)
Instructor: Dr. Maria Cizmic

This course focuses on analyses of selected works of twentieth century art, including films, paintings, music, and literature, in the context of major political, social, and economic events, such as war, depression, totalitarianism, and technological change. No prerequisites.


HUM 2250 The Twentieth Century: The United States (100% online, CRN 21323)
Instructor: Dr. Sara Callahan


HUM 2522 Intro to Cultural Study Pop Music (online (100% online, CRN 16324)
Instructor: Dr. Andrew Berish

This class uses historical and current-day music to explore the structure, aesthetics, and meaning of popular music. We will listen, read about, and discuss music in many different genres: hip-hop, rock, country, EDM, and more. Artists will include: Jay-Z, Led Zeppelin, Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, and many others. We will explore answers to a wide range of questions: How does music work? What is the role of popular music in our daily lives? How is musical meaning shaped by ideas of race, gender, and class? What is the role of technology in the production and reception of music? What does it mean that a song or performance is "authentic"? Is there such a thing as "selling out" music for money and fame? Who decides what music is art? Who gets to write music history? Is music a political force?


HUM 3237 The Seventeenth Century (100% online, CRN 25734)
Instructor: Dr. Brendan Cook


HUM 3240 Early Christian Cultures, The Middle Ages (100% online, CRN 21320)
Instructor: Dr. James D'Emilio

This course centers on the culture of the Mediterranean world in the first eight centuries
of the Common or Christian Era (CE or AD). We begin with the life and teachings of Jesus as
portrayed by his followers in the first and early second century. We place the “Jesus movement”
and its success in the context of Jewish texts and traditions, Greco-Roman culture, and the
contemporary Roman Empire. The rest of the course is set between the third and eighth centuries, the transition from late Antiquity to the early Middle Ages. We focus on Christian texts and works of art as part of the society and culture of the late Roman Empire. Throughout the course, we explore the diversity of early Christianity and address these major questions: how did medieval Christianity—the religion of Roman Catholicism and the eastern Orthodox churches—take shape from the diversity of beliefs and practices of the first generations of Jesus’s followers? how did Christianity develop its language of art and its longlasting institutions,
practices, values, and doctrines through interactions, exchanges, and conflicts with Greco Roman culture and thought? how were ancient politics, culture, society, and thought, and the Roman Empire itself, transformed by Christianity? We conclude by considering the Qur’an, the
emergence of Islam, and the creation of the Caliphate, and their deep ties to Judeo-Christian
biblical traditions and Greco-Roman culture and politics.

This is a course on culture, not religion, but our emphasis on early Christianity reflects its
centrality—and that of religious practice and thought—to the art and literature, politics and
ideologies, moral values and social institutions of late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. In
other words, studying early Christian culture, the formation of Christianity, and, finally, the
emergence of Islam is a sensible way to explore the culture and history of this period. It provides a framework for discussing social, political, and cultural aspects of the end of the Roman empire in the west and its transformation in the east, and for understanding how Antiquity came to an end and how the period we call the Middle Ages took shape.


HUM 3242 The Enlightenment (100% online, CRN 16349)
Instructor: Dr. Benjamin Goldberg

This is a course on the European Enlightenment, a complex cultural phenomenon of the 18th century. The Enlightenment is the idea that we have found the correct worldview, from the moral to the scientific, and that we can structure our way of life according to the principles of
Enlightenment. In many ways, this time period is responsible for the picture we have today, from the justifications of our political institutions, economic arrangements, and social lives, to the structure of our science and its place within that society. We shall explore this idea of Enlightenment through various readings from philosophy, science, politics, and elsewhere, in the hopes of not just understanding the history and meaning of this concept, but also how this idea might inform current ideas and debates. The class will involve lectures, group activities, and discussions. Please come prepared!


HUM 4261 Utopia and Science Fiction (100% online, CRN 21909)
Instructor: Dr. Benjamin Goldberg

This is a course that explores the idea of utopia—a perfect place and society—through works of science fiction. In this course we will address not only the meaning of utopia, but explore how it has been conceived, attempted, thought about, and represented in literature and film. We will find that in order to talk about utopias, we must also discuss and understand the idea of
dystopia: the opposite of a utopia, a place and society that is full of suffering. Finally, we will be concerned not only with fictional representations, but about the ideas of utopia in real life. The syllabus includes works from Ursula LeGuin (The Dispossessed), Iain M. Banks (The
Player of Games), and Ryan Coogler (Black Panther).


HUM 4824 Perspectives on Emotion, Dr. Brook Sadler (100% online, CRN 21911)
Instructor: Dr. Brook Sadler


HUM 4890 Ancient Epics (100% online, CRN 21361)
Instructor: Dr. James D'Emiliio


HUM 4931 Senior Seminar (Hybrid)
Instructor: Dr. Maria Cizmic

Building on our work from last semester, this course is focused on writing a 15 to 20-page analysis and research paper (between 4800 to 6400 words). This project is the culmination of your work as a major in the Department of Humanities and Cultural Studies, and the class is designed to guide you through the research and paper writing process. We will learn techniques of research, approaches to analytical writing, and how to build, support, and organize an argument. The writing process will be broken down into stages, with many opportunities for research, writing, revision, workshops, and one on one meetings.

Past Courses

Here is a list of other frequently taught departmental courses:

AMS 2270 20th Century American Culture

The twentieth century saw the United States and its people expanding their borders—and their sense of themselves—into areas the nation’s founders could never have anticipated. As their ideas changed, Americans continually debated what their nation could—and should—be: to its citizens, to its leaders, and to the world. The class has two main goals: first, to increase your familiarity with some of American culture’s most marked characteristics in the twentieth century, exposing you to people, art, and ideas that set the terms for some of the century’s most significant debates; and second, to increase your comfort exploring and adding to the insights and methodologies of scholars of the twentieth century.

AMS 4804 American Film

This course offers an introduction to the history American cinema—from early experiments with moving pictures to recent work in digital formats. Attending to both narrative form and stylistic technique, we will explore the aesthetic, cultural, and psychological consequences of American films from a number of genres and modes.


AMS 4804 Ethics of Food Production

This course starts with the premise that food production in the United States has become problematic to the point of harming citizens, society, and the environ-ment. We will examine the historical and contemporary relationships between people and the food they produce and consume, focusing on the distancing and detachment inherent in the 20th-Century Agro-Industrial complex. How does this distancing from our food sources (both animal-based and plant-based) affect our relationships to the Earth, to our spirituality, and to one another?

HUM 3242 The Enlightenment

This is a course on the European Enlightenment, a complex cultural phenomenon of the 18th century. The Enlightenment is the idea that we have found the correct worldview, from the moral to the scientific, and that we can structure our way of life according to the principles of Enlightenment. In many ways, this time period is responsible for the picture we have today, from the justifications of our political institutions, economic arrangements, and social lives, to the structure of our science and its place within that society. We shall explore this idea of Enlightenment through various readings from philosophy, science, politics, and elsewhere, in the hopes of not just understanding the history and meaning of this concept, but also how this idea might inform current ideas and debates. The class will involve lectures, group activities, and discussions. 


HUM 3804 Introduction to Cultural Studies

This course aims to introduce students to the major ideas and skills necessary for all majors in the Humanities and Cultural Studies Department. We will conduct an overview of the central topics of cultural studies, including (but not limited to) feminism and gender studies; theories of ethnicity, race, and post-colonialism; theories of class; power relationships; and technology and media. In this class, students will also work on careful analysis of a range of primary aesthetic and cultural forms, including literature, visual art,film, music, and other cultural events and performances. Students will also learn critical thinking skills that will further develop their writing skills. This course provides a thorough grounding in interdisciplinary work through the combination of theoretical readings, primary analysis, the application of cultural criticism, along with some research skills. This course is a requirement for the Humanities and American Studies degrees, and students must pass with a B-.


HUM 4824 Introduction to Film and Media Theory

This advanced introduction to film and media theory offers students sophisticated tools for thinking critically and creatively about motion pictures and the psychological, cultural, and political meanings they engender. With consistent reference to not only mainstream Hollywood cinema, but also the international history of experimental and oppositional cinema, the early years of silent cinema, and emergent forms of digital media, the course traverses three interrelated areas of inquiry. First, it explores questions of film and media ontology. Second, it assesses the influence of structuralism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, and phenomenology in the theorization of film and media. And third, it surveys the plurality of historically specific viewing conditions that vary according to race, class, gender, and sexuality.


HUM 4890 The American Horror Film

Taking stock of the American horror genre, from its early German Expressionist and
Surrealist influences to its more recent appearances in contemporary cinema and
television, this course explores the horror film’s main currents and multiple variations,
including its early interest in monsters and mad scientists, its post-1960 turn toward
psycho killers and internal possessions, and its recent considerations of technology and
torture. To this end, students interrogate the horror genre’s signal characteristics: What
kinds of threat does it depict and how do these change over time? How do different
subgenres respond to these threats? What effects do horror films produce in their
spectators? Fear? Shock? Anxiety? Disgust? Paranoia? Why do viewers find these
sensations so unpleasurably pleasurable? What kinds of “cultural work” does the horror
film do? To answer such questions, the course carefully analyzes foundational films from
horror’s “classic” era, its various convergences with film noir and science fiction, and its
later secularization in the slasher film, familial horror, and so-called “torture porn.” It also
investigates horror cinema’s engagement with other media, including photography,
video, and television. Selections from the Course Reader contribute to our discussions
with texts that take up the history of the horror genre, its narrative structures, formal
styles, and spectatorial pleasures, as well as its links to larger social and cultural
concerns, including race, gender, sexuality, and class.


HUM 4938 Muslims, Christians, and Jews: Medieval Light on Modern Issues

This course examines relationships among Jews, Muslims, and Christians in the Middle
Ages by considering 1) how sacred texts defined and interpreted similarities, differences, and
relationships between their faiths, 2) how rival faiths and believers were portrayed, and 3) how
communities practicing different religions lived together, whether in harmony or conflict. We
treat topics and texts from the Hebrew Bible and the earliest Christian writings of the first and
second centuries of the Common or Christian Era (CE/AD) to the Qur’an and the rise of Islam in
the seventh century, and diverse representations and interactions of Christians, Muslims, and
Jews in Europe and the Middle East through the fifteenth century. We focus on the Middle Ages,
but we explore issues of relevance today, when relations among Muslims, Jews, and Christians
range from tolerance, dialogue, and easy coexistence to bitter polemics, suspicion, hostility, and
violent conflict.

This course will give you insights into these modern debates in several ways. You will
learn about the historical development of these religious communities, their shared heritage, and the complex history of their interrelationships. We will examine the origins of common
stereotypes and the causes and nature of intellectual, cultural, social, and political conflict among these communities. We will assess the legacy of medieval conflicts in shaping modern attitudes. Finally, this history has implications that go beyond the specific relationships among the three faiths: it illustrates the ways in which identities—ethnic, national, and racial, as well as
religious—may be defined and hardened; the ways in which communities bolster their own
cohesion through opposition to others; the circumstances that foster cooperation, trigger
persecution, or limit violence among diverse communities; and the social, political, and
intellectual ends that are served by creating “enemies”.