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Featured Courses

Summer term

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

This online 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.

Screenwriting
CIMS 416 940

Professor Scott Burkhardt

This is an online 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

Economics of Heritage
ANTH 598 640
Professor Peter Gould

Largely through heritage tourism, archaeological sites, historic structures, museums and live performances play important roles in economic activity in most countries, particularly those emerging from poverty. Nonetheless, government resources available to support archaeological and heritage sites, museums and research programs are in decline worldwide. Meanwhile, commercial and economic development initiatives are threatening the archaeological record, heritage resources and historical landscapes to ever greater degrees. As a consequence, the competition for funds to protect and preserve heritage is intensifying, as is the challenge of articulating the value of heritage resources and the need for heritage practitioners to understand and utilize the tools of economics to pursue their objectives. This course provides students with a foundational understanding of the application of the theory and practice of economic analysis as it relates to cultural heritage. We examine these in advanced and developing economies as well as rural and urban settings. The course enables archaeologists and practitioners in heritage-related fields to become informed and critical consumers of economic analysis. Although theoretical, mathematical and statistical techniques will be introduced, an extensive background in mathematics or economics is not required.

El Greco and Modernism
ARTH 507 640
Dr. Christopher Pastore

This seminar examines the relationship between bravura brushstrokes, idiosyncratic style, artistic identity and the rise of formalism in the modern era. Taking cues from the collection of the Barnes Foundation and Albert Barnes’ theories, we begin in the Renaissance and consider the distinct styles developed by masters and their students in the 16th Century and move forward into a study of formalism and the work of Cezanne and the Post-Impressionists. Burgeoning Renaissance art theory and artists’ responses to the rhetoric surrounding increasingly divergent aesthetics and uses of media help us come to grips with early modern artists such as Tintoretto and El Greco. Groundbreaking theorists such as Lodovico Dolce and Gian Paolo Lomazzo, as well as other authors including Pietro Aretino and Giorgio Vasari reveal an awareness of increasing tension in debates about art and artifice. We read their works, among others, and then contrast their positions with dramatically different formal concerns raised by Roger Fry and Barnes himself. As did both Fry and Barnes, the seminar then discusses Renaissance artists in comparison to Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works collected and hung with these “old masters” in the galleries of the Barnes Foundation, as opposed to their normal segregation by period and region in other museums. In the process, students ask questions about changing theoretical approaches to art and visual studies, the power of the collector and patron as well as the way that modern artists found inspiration for innovation in the works of previous centuries.

MLA Proseminar: Science, Truth and Democracy
PHIL 525 640

Professor Michael Weisberg

For the last four centuries, scientific research has provided our most reliable understanding of the world. Although the scientific revolution started modestly with attempts to understand stellar movement, we now know the age and constitution of the universe, the basis of heredity and we can make and break chemical bonds at will. By all appearances, science seems to have made substantial progress from the scientific revolution to the global scientific enterprise of the 21st century. This course explores how science has generated this knowledge, and whether it has been as progressive and reliable as it seems. We consider methodological issues such as the sources of scientific knowledge, objectivity, the growing importance of computation in the natural sciences and the nature of modeling. We also examine products of scientific research: explanations, models, theories and laws of nature. You have the opportunity to discuss questions about science and values, including whether non-scientific values can and should enter scientific research, the relationship between science and religion as well as the role of the public in guiding the scientific enterprise.

Academic Writing and Research Design
MLA 541 640
Professor Kristine Rabberman

What is "feminist theatre?" This online 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.

Russian History in Film
RUSS 575 640
Professor Vladislav Todorov

This online 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.

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Individual capstone projects

Capstones

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

Certificates

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

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