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Master of Liberal Arts Program
811 Anderson Hall
Temple University
Philadelphia, PA 19122
215-204-1644 (phone)
215-204-9611 (fax)

Michael Szekely
Director, MLA Program
mszekely@temple.edu
215-204-6479 (phone)

Stephanie Morawski
Administrator
morawski@temple.edu
215-204-8516 (phone)

Course Offerings

MLA courses are usually offered in small seminar settings (7 to 12 students) which provide opportunities for lively engagement and exchange of ideas among the students and the professor.   As with most graduate courses, students may be expected to give oral presentations and to submit written assignments, often including a substantial end-of-term paper.

Most MLA courses are usually offered during the evening at Temple University’s Center City campus at 1515 Market Street, very close to City Hall. A typical course meets once a week, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.  Some online or "blended" courses, with variable meeting times, may also be offered.

In addition, a number of other graduate courses in the College of Liberal Arts and across the University are offered on Main Campus, typically during the day or early evening. The MLA program also offers "cross-listed" courses with other academic departments.

Registering for courses:

For general information regarding registration, please go to: http://www.temple.edu/registrar/students/registration/info.asp

NON-DEGREE SEEKING students interested in registering for MLA courses need to first contact the Office of Continuing Studies (see especially "Graduate Students" section).

NEWLY ADMITTED DEGREE SEEKING will be registered by the MLA program during the first semester of enrollment (to include, barring any complications, MLA 5011 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies).

After the first semester of enrollment, all CONTINUING DEGREE SEEKING students should be able to register on their own via Self-Service Banner in TUportal.

General questions or concerns? Contact Dr. Michael Szekely, Assistant Director/Advisor, at mszekely@temple.edu

 

Master of Liberal Arts Courses

Summer I 2015

MLA 5120 Topics in Cultural Studies: Love and Sexuality
Michael Szekely
Mondays and Wednesdays, 5:30-8:25
TUCC

What is love? Or should we ask: How is love? When is love? What is the link between love and sexuality? Why do we love what we love? We will explore the historical, philosophical, and literary forms of love and sexuality across different secular and religious traditions, including ethical and moral concerns, as well as questions concerning sexuality and gender. Topics addressed may include: the varieties and forms of love (agapic, philial, erotic, romantic, etc.); the nature of sexual pleasure, sexual desire, and sexual activity; connections across sexuality, love, friendship, and marriage; gender issues relevant to sex and love; sexual ethics and moralities of love.

Michael Szekely (Ph.D., Temple University; Philosophy). Dr. Szekely's primary research and teaching interests are in Cultural and Critical Theory, Aesthetics (especially the philosophy of music), and Contemporary Continental Philosophy, with more particular interests in French poststructuralism (especially Gilles Deleuze and Roland Barthes) and the Frankfurt School (especially Walter Benjamin). He has published articles in such journals as Jazz Perspectives, Social Semiotics, Textual Practice, Rhizomes, Contemporary Aesthetics, Popular Music and Society, and the Oxford Handbook on Music Education Philosophy, and is currently writing a book on contemporary continental philosophies of music. Dr. Szekely is also a practicing musician and composer, with particular interests in collective improvisation and popular music.


Summer II 2015


MLA 5110 Topics in the Arts and American Culture: Jazz
Michael Szekely

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 5:30-8:25
TUCC

From the academic enclaves of higher education to its role in corporate culture in marketing anything from cars to cognac, jazz in the early 21st century seems to reside at extremes. Jazz occupies the curious position of experiencing, on the one hand, a precariousness to the extent that some would argue that it is actually a dying art form and, on the other hand, a resurgence in terms of its role in promoting certain cultural or commercial ideals (and here I am referring primarily to the U.S. culture with which I am most familiar), e.g. democracy, freedom, national pride, hipness, individualism. This course will look at the cultural, historical, political, artistic, and philosophical attributes of jazz. We will may also chronicle the lives of different musicians, in search of the ways in which their work documents experiences, struggles, recollections, depictions, etc. and speaks to the role of music in shaping certain societal/cultural/political visions, goals, and dreams. To which events/issues were these musicians responding? How did their work reflect these events/issues? How did their work influence these events/issues?

Michael Szekely (Ph.D., Temple University; Philosophy). Dr. Szekely's primary research and teaching interests are in Cultural and Critical Theory, Aesthetics (especially the philosophy of music), and Contemporary Continental Philosophy, with more particular interests in French poststructuralism (especially Gilles Deleuze and Roland Barthes) and the Frankfurt School (especially Walter Benjamin). He has published articles in such journals as Jazz Perspectives, Social Semiotics, Textual Practice, Rhizomes, Contemporary Aesthetics, Popular Music and Society, and the Oxford Handbook on Music Education Philosophy, and is currently writing a book on contemporary continental philosophies of music. Dr. Szekely is also a practicing musician and composer, with particular interests in collective improvisation and popular music.

Fall 2015

MLA 5011 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies
Gabriel Wettach
Wednesdays, 6-8:30
TUCC

N.B.: MLA 5011 is required for, and limited to (with rare exception), all newly matriculated Master of Liberal Arts students.

This course is designed to serve as an introduction to interdisciplinary studies in the MLA program.

This first half of the course focuses on particular strategies of reading and interpretation and emphasizes critical and analytical thinking, discussion, and writing that engages critical dimensions of popular culture.

The second half of the semester will lay the groundwork for your final seminar paper. It will be necessary to work on a number of research and writing assignments, to present and explain your research at various stages, to read and critique the work of your peers, and to receive feedback and integrate it into your final paper. All of the assignments in this half of the semester should help you to further reflect on your ideas as well as to continue developing the research and writing skills necessary for the successful completion of a sound, graduate level seminar paper. Course members will work together to help one another to probe ideas, shape points of interest, and draft (and finalize) your seminar paper.

Gabriel Wettach (Ph.D., Purdue University; Theory and Cultural Studies). In addition to teaching in the MLA program, Dr. Wettach is also currently the Advising Coordinator of Undergraduate English at Temple University. His primary research and teaching interests are in film and television studies and cultural criticism. Courses taught include: Television Studies, Stars and Stardom, Celebrity Culture.


MLA 5120 Topics in Cultural Studies: Humor
Michael Szekely
Tuesdays, 6-8:30
TUCC

This course will take seriously (no, really) the notion and impact of humor (including satire) as commentary and critique, from the boiled babes of Swift’s A Modest Proposal to Chaplin’s The Great Dictator to the show-stopping inquisition of Mel Brooks’ History of the World, from Lenny Bruce to George Carlin, from Richard Pryor to Margaret Cho, from The Daily Show to The Chappelle Show.

Is humor an art? Consider style, method, approach. At any rate, similar to certain general questions we might ask of art, what is the connection between humor and society? Can a society be, in a sense, “measured,” or analyzed with reference to its (range of, and sense of!) humor? Can humor go too far? And if so, how, why, and/or when would that be the case?

Is humor simultaneously a more potent and “lighter” medium through which to address our culture and its discontents? Or does it provide a convenient kind of escapism to laugh off (literally) our problems as a society?

How do jokes participate in social processes? What do jokes tell us about the joke-teller and joke-receiver? When is it wrong to laugh? Why are farts funny?

Seriously funny exploration of the theme at hand will be embarked upon in true interdisciplinary (engaging the philosophical, sociological, political, and psychoanalytic dimensions of humor, among others) and multi-medium (engaging a variety texts, recordings, film and video, etc.) fashion.

Michael Szekely (Ph.D., Temple University; Philosophy). Dr. Szekely's primary research and teaching interests are in Cultural and Critical Theory, Aesthetics (especially the philosophy of music), and Contemporary Continental Philosophy, with more particular interests in French poststructuralism (especially Gilles Deleuze and Roland Barthes) and the Frankfurt School (especially Walter Benjamin). He has published articles in such journals as Jazz Perspectives, Social Semiotics, Textual Practice, Rhizomes, Contemporary Aesthetics, Popular Music and Society, and the Oxford Handbook on Music Education Philosophy, and is currently writing a book on contemporary continental philosophies of music. Dr. Szekely is also a practicing musician and composer, with particular interests in collective improvisation and popular music.

MLA 5210 Topics in Political Culture: Politics and Fiction
Joe McLaughlin
Thursdays, 5:30-8:00pm
Main Campus

Students in this writing intensive course will write essays and a course paper on novels that reflect the development of American politics by authors such as Henry Adams, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, Henry James, Robert Penn Warren, Graham Greene, Ward Just, William Kennedy, Toni Morrison, and John Updike.

Joseph P. McLaughlin, Jr. (Ph.D., Temple University; Political Science). Dr. McLaughlin is Director of the Institute for Public Affairs and assistant dean for external affairs for the College of Liberal Arts. He teaches American politics and public policy in the political science department and is director of the Pennsylvania Policy Database Project, a six-university effort to build a comprehensive policy database for the Pennsylvania General Assembly. McLaughlin joined Temple after a long career as a government official and urban lobbyist, working on major policy issues in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Washington DC. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English literature from Middlebury (VT) College and masters and doctoral degrees in political science from Temple University.

MLA 5082 Independent Study
Consult with the MLA faculty advisor.

MLA 9995 Master’s Project
Consult with the MLA faculty advisor.

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MLA Course Inventory

 

MLA 5011 Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies

This course introduces students to interdisciplinary graduate studies and to cultural analysis by looking at the kinds of questions that can best be answered through an interdisciplinary approach and with various available methodologies. Taking American culture as its primary focus, students read texts in areas such as Visual Culture, American Studies, Women's Studies, and the Arts and Society. Topics include, for example: cultural representations of gender and sexualities, and of race and "whiteness"; the social construction of space and place; technology and its construction of identity; boundaries of culture and consumption (high, low, middlebrow); museums and cultural memory.

MLA 5110 Topics in the Arts and American Culture

This course explores the relationship between the arts and American culture, with an emphasis on how music, literature, and visual arts have reflected social, political, and intellectual concerns. The levels of art, from high to middlebrow to popular, will also be considered, with attention to the cross influences from one to the other, and the question of audience.

MLA 5120 Topics in Cultural Studies

This course examines topics relating to popular culture, media, and advertising, with an emphasis on how cultural representations reflect social and political interests. The approach embraces various competing disciplines (e.g., literature, anthropology, philosophy) at the intersection of aesthetics and politics.

MLA 5130 Topics in Visual Culture

An exploration of photography, film, television, and other visual media, in terms of the ways they interpret the world. Some of the issues considered will be: What are the elements of the visual? How are race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality represented in the media? How do visual media interact with one another?

MLA 5140 Topics in Performance Studies

Performance Studies encompasses dance, theater, and mixed media theatrical presentations, from street theater to happenings to public ritual. The course targets specific topics ranging from historical studies to the contemporary.

MLA 5150 Topics in Gender Studies

The changing constructions of gender are the subject of this course which will explore such topics as representations of masculinity; feminist theory and the academy; the sexual revolution; society and homosexuality.

MLA 5160 Topics in Environmental Studies

This course explores a wide range of environmental issues and the various factors that define those issues, encompassing physical, economic, political, demographic, and ethical considerations.  Possible topics include groundwater contamination, suburban sprawl, river basin management, environmental justice, and the greening of abandoned urban spaces.  It may also include an examination of the cultural meaning of the environment and its representation in art and literature.

MLA 5171 Intellectual Heritage, MLA

This course may focus on a number of diverse topics depending on the instructor:  e.g., the Greek foundations of modern thought; the religious texts that provide an important underpinning for Western Civilization; the Enlightenment commitment to reason, science, and the essential goodness and individuality of man; Romanticism and its emphasis on feelings and the imagination; great thinkers of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty first centuries.

MLA 5180 Ways of Seeing

Our educational system tends to neglect the visual world, despite our growing dependence on pictorial and visual information. Using methods from anthropology, psychology, communications theory, and art history, this course will explore nonverbal communication, the built environment, photography, film, and television as culturally conditioned symbolic systems.

MLA 5190 Modernism

Modernism was not a single movement but a multiplicity of cultural changes involving issues of perception, identity, memory, culture, and the nature of modernity itself.  This course explores the terrain of culture and the arts (e.g., film, art, literature, Cubism, Expressionism, Surrealism) within the context of historical and technological change.

MLA 5210 Topics in Political Culture

Public policy has often emerged out of a combination of legal struggle, political negotiation, private wealth, and public interest groups. This course focuses on American political culture, including such topics as civil rights, the conservative right vs. the left, government by plutocracy, national health care, the rights of the poor, and the fate of the middle class.

MLA 5220 Topics in Urban Studies

This course explores the way cities have been formed and continue to be formed in relation to parks and neighborhoods, suburbs, and regions. The emphasis is on the way urban culture is shaped through the design of space, architectural form, and through urban planning.

MLA 5230 Topics in International Studies

After World War II, with the independence of formerly colonial nations, a new world of independent nation states evolved, torn between the pressures of ethnic culture, global communications, and international economies. This course explores issues of cultural identity and cultural conflict, as they surface in literature and film, in global tourism, in efforts at global cooperation and global competition.

MLA 5250 Topics in Science, Technology, and Culture

The impact of science and technology on culture has been pervasive and can be measured in terms of social life and habits, the environment, the arts, and politics. Emphasizing the last hundred years, this course examines some of the more significant changes in science and technology, from the automobile to computers, and explores the ways the individual and society have been redefined.

MLA 9082 Independent Study

Students who wish to enroll for Independent Study must submit a proposal written under the direction of a faculty member who will supervise the student's work. This proposal must be submitted the semester before the Independent Study is to take place. The proposal should describe the project, indicate a) works to be read, b) frequency of student-instructor meetings, c) student writing to be produced, and d) means of student evaluation.

MLA 9995 Master's Project

Reserved for qualifying paper research; consult with the MLA Advisor.

 

Explore...

"The greatest value of the MLA program is the opportunity it grants you to explore.  The core curriculum will provide a soft introduction to the rigors of graduate study, allow you time and space to try on different methodological clothing, and ultimately allow you to discuss complex material in a way only the classroom setting can provide.  This investment in intellectual diversity is an asset..."

Patrick Grossi, former MLA student (current Ph.D. candidate in History)