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Featured Courses

Summer term

MLA Proseminar: Chinese History and Civilization
EALC 501 640
Professor Paul R. Goldin

This seminar focuses on the political, social and cultural history of the Chinese region from the Stone Age to the present day. Readings will consist of primary and secondary sources, including influential modern studies of Chinese history and civilization. All course materials are in English and no knowledge of Chinese is presumed.

History of Sexuality
GSWS 422 940
Professor Kristine Rabberman

In this online course, we will consider the impact of social, economic, and political conditions on social constructions of sexuality, from the classical world of Greece and Rome, to the early modern West, to the streets of Victorian London and 1920s New York. Our readings will explore a host of different topics, including the eugenics movement, race, ethnicity, and class in the US and Europe; the cultural influences of burlesque, the blues, pin up girls, and speakeasies on the evolution of sexual roles in the early 20th century; the development of homosexual, bisexual, and queer identities across time and place; and the importance of sexual roles and hierarchies in colonial and postcolonial societies. Students will be expected to participate actively in live class discussions and threaded discussions, lead two class discussions, write weekly blogs, complete two response papers and a longer paper (a review essay, a research paper, or a piece of creative non-fiction), and develop a group presentation with a PPT for the final class.

CIMS 416 940

Professor Scott Burkhardt

This is a workshop-style course for those who have thought they had a terrific idea for a movie but didn't know where to begin. Students will start with a short script of 5 to 15 pages then we will focus on learning the basic tenets of dramatic structure and how this will serve as the backbone for a feature screenplay. Along the way we will read and watch classic films- Chinatown, Thelma & Louise -and contemporary films- Short Term 12, Bridesmaids -and examine what makes them successful as character driven stories. Each student should, by the end of the semester, have at least thirty pages of a screenplay completed with an outline to guide them the rest of the way. Films and their corresponding screenplays will be required reading for every class, and students will also become acquainted with how the business of selling and producing one's screenplay actually happens in Hollywood and independently. This is an online course and no previous screenwriting experience is necessary. 

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Fall term

Russian History in Film
RUSS 575 640
Professor Vladislav Todorov

The course draws on the cinematic/fictional representation of the Russian/Soviet history based on Russian as well as non-Russian sources. The analysis targets major modes of imagining, staging and reenacting history, construction of images that satisfy dominant political, cultural and ideological stereotypes, and help create national identities. Bias, eye-witness accounts, propaganda uses and abuses of history, forgeries and the production of alt-facts become topics of particular interest. The discussions involve nation builders, iconic heroes and charismatic antiheroes, great commanders and revolutionaries such as Alexander Nevsky, Ivan the Terrible, Rasputin and the Fall of the Romanovs, Lenin and the October Revolution, Stalin and the construction of the Soviet Colossus, the Storming of the Winter Palace, the Civil War, the Great Purge, the Red Scare in the US, etc.The pedagogical goal of the course is to help students develop a critical approach to various aspects of the narrative/visual representation of history.

Academic Writing and Research Design
MLA 541 640
Professor Kristine Rabberman

What is "feminist theatre?" This course will examine a wide array of performance pieces by and about women, in turn serious, hilarious, outrageous, poignant—and always provocative. How can theatre provoke not only thought and feeling, but also social, political, and personal change? We will focus on both plays and performance art pieces, which we will read and/or view onstage or on film. These readings/viewings will be contextualized with material on feminist theatre theory and history. Students will have the opportunity to customize research projects to pursue their own areas of interest. The class will also take full advantage of events occurring on campus and in Philadelphia during the course of the semester. Highlights will include the LiveArts Festival in late summer; the class will also feature invited guest speakers and artists.

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Individual capstone projects


The capstone project is the culminating experience, allowing you to integrate and celebrate your education at Penn.

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Individualized curriculum

Courses and Curriculum

With Penn's MLA program, you design a curriculum centering on a particular theme that interests you.

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Interdisciplinary certificates


Several certificate programs are available to help organize your discovery in a topic area.

See Certificates >

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