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Featured Courses

Spring 2015

MLA Proseminar: Visions of Rome
CLST 517 640
Professor Joseph A. Farrell, Jr.

Artists, writers, and filmmakers have been drawn to and repelled by the intense experiences offered to them by the city of Rome. This course surveys the cultural record of those experiences in various media from antiquity to the present. We will consider the city as a center of culture, a den of iniquity, a religious sanctuary, and a political capital as depicted in the works of (among others) Cicero, Fellini, Goethe, Piranesi, Montaigne, Kubrick, Juvenal, Byron, Luther, and Freud.

Public Arts, Liberal Arts: Moved to Learn—Embodied Cognition & the Arts of Awareness in Everyday
FOLK 579 640
Professor Nancy Watterson

What do mindfulness and martial arts have in common?  What does integration of knowledge—of our selves, of our own bodies—have to offer contemporary efforts to integrate seemingly distinct bodies of research? How can practitioners’ insights—into balance, ease, alignment, meta-cognition, attentiveness, intention—affect the very processes of learning about learning? And how do current needs for interdisciplinary skills and knowledge integration intersect with other key trends: motivation, resiliency, self-efficacy?  Such questions form the crux of inquiry for any learner curious about exploring the somatic roots (or body-based ways of knowing) and mindful practices that have observable effects in everyday life and wide-ranging applicability to work, interactions with friends and family, and the very ways you approach research.

MLA Proseminar: The Social-Political Philosophy of Education
PHIL 550 640

Professor Karen Detlefsen

In this course, we will examine some of the most pressing problems in contemporary philosophy of education. These problems include: how much control over a child's education ought to be allocated to parents and how much to the state; what role, if any, ought religion to play in education; how do race and gender impact individuals' educational experiences and how should such issues should be addressed in the classroom; what sort of, if any, civic education ought to be taught in schools, especially in wartime such as in the post 9-11 USA; and how should schools be funded. We will deal with a number of case studies, mostly recent, but some crucial historical cases as well. Our readings will be primarily philosophical texts, supplemented with those from other fields, such as psychology, history and sociology, in order to provide empirical context to the theoretical problems facing education today.  As a seminar, the instructor welcomes student participation, including students bringing their own interests in educational theory to the classroom. At the same time, the instructor will lecture to the extent necessary to make classroom discussion especially rich.

Middle Eastern Cities: Imperial, Colonial, National, Contemporary
HIST 560 640

Professor Geoffrey Schad

The civilizations of the Middle East have always been urban cultures, from the world’s first city-states of ancient Mesopotamia to the modern megalopolis of Cairo. But is it possible to speak of a “Middle Eastern” or an “Islamic” city? This seminar will look at the functions— political, economic, social, and religious— cities and urban life have played in Middle Eastern history and how cities have been affected by the region’s larger history. These themes will be explored with specific reference to religious centers (e.g. Jerusalem and Mecca), political capitals (e.g. Constantinople / Istanbul and Cairo), provincial centers (e.g. Aleppo and Baghdad), and port cities (e.g. Beirut and Smyrna / Izmir), during the early-modern and modern periods, with particular attention to the impact that the colonial encounter with the West, the construction of nation-states, and contemporary conflicts (e.g. the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Lebanese, Iraqi, and Syrian civil wars) have had on these ancient cities. This course fulfills the following requirements for the History Major: Africa/Middle East, seminar, World History concentration seminar.

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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.

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