This course examines ways in which the arts (literary, cinematic, theatrical, visual, and aural) develop key ideas that help shape a culture's system of beliefs. The ideas and themes under consideration vary with different versions of this course. Recent examples include the myth of the "rugged individual," the nature of the unconscious, the relationship between imitative behavior, rivalry, and violence, the quest for forbidden knowledge, the pursuit of flow states for peak performance, the "psychedelic renaissance."
A Survey of intellectual developments in western civilization from the Renaissance through the eighteenth century focusing on the relationship between the individual and the state. Emphasis is placed on the many narrative genres Miguel de Cervantes's Don Quixote (1605) encompasses and subverts: the chivalric romance, the picaresque narrative, the Moorish romance, the pastoral romance, etc., as well as on the visual arts.
This course situates what is being called "the psychedelic renaissance" (the recent movement to legalize psychedelic substances for clinical use in treating a variety of mental illnesses) within several intersecting areas of study: philosophical idealism, religious mysticism, shamanism, Romantic era poetry, depth psychology and psychotherapy. While mainstream media outlets focus on the successes of psychedelic therapies in clinical trials, the decriminalization of psilocybin in several U.S. cities, and financial opportunities for the pharmaceutical industry, little attention is paid to what it might mean for our society to embrace the use of consciousness-expanding drugs, given their potential to radically challenge our most fundamental beliefs about the nature of reality and human identity. Our study of the psychedelic renaissance thus serves as a platform for thinking about some of the big questions that attend the human condition: Why does anything exist? Is the universe intelligential and purposive or mindless and mechanistic? Does the brain create the mind, or does the mind create my brain? Does consciousness extend beyond waking awareness? If so, what does it experience? To what extent do I exist separately from others? What is death?
This course is a survey of rock history, from its roots in the mid-1950s, to the end of the 'Summer of Love - Flower Power' era, to The Rolling Stones' disastrous Altamont concerts in late 1969, to the break-up of The Beatles in 1970. Students examine cultural influences, historical events, and stylistic developments of rock music, primarily in the United States and Great Britain, to gain a wider knowledge and understanding of rock music's place as a crucial part of the arts and culture of this time period in many parts of the world.
Even though the Biblical materials stand at the foundation of the Western tradition, common knowledge of the Bible is at a low point. The popular debate often gets polarized into two extreme positions: the Bible holds all truth, or the Bible is irrelevant. Yet many modern discoveries on archeological sites or in the archives now provide a much clearer idea of the way the Biblical materials are put together over the centuries, and the way the Biblical authors respond to each other, developing, critiquing, and reinterpreting ideas in the political and cultural crises of their times. Students study a selection of materials from both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, not only to appreciate the depth and complexity of what the Bible "says" in its own original contexts, but also to reassess what it "says" to the modern world--with its very different cosmology, anthropology, and political and social structures--about human responsibility to the planet and to fellow human beings about the recognition of human destructiveness and the hope for survival.
In this course, students develop the expertise necessary to communicate intelligently about the artistic medium of film. Drawing on the expertise of two professors, students consider key terminology related to mise-en-scene, editing, and sound; apply those concepts to a wide variety of examples from the advent of film to the present; and begin considering critical approaches to the medium. In addition to regular class sessions, film screenings are required.
This course engages philosophical and literary works from the late Seventeenth to the Mid-Twentieth Century that document the emergence of the modern concept of the self. The authors considered explore such questions as, "Is the self static, determinate, and unified, or is it dynamic, ephemeral, and fragmented? Is it autonomous or culturally conditioned? Does it will its own actions, or are these determined by external circumstances? Is it innately good, or evil, or neither?" Working from literary, philosophical, historical, and psychological perspectives, the course traces how early modern thought in the West has variously represented the self, how these representations have reflected and influenced its cultural evolution, and how they remain imbedded in contemporary formulations of selfhood. Authors include Pascal, Hobbes, Bunyan, Locke, La Rochefoucauld, De Lafayette, Franklin, Rousseau, Diderot, Hume, Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Dostoevsky, Freud, Kojeve, and Girard.
This course offers students an introduction to high medieval culture through verbal and visual experience of the quest. Medieval romances and spiritual quest literature are informed by the neoplatonic idea of a transcendent reality, a divinely ordered world beyond us that yields an ultimate truth. At the same time, all such journeys begin in the post-Edenic world where the fallen senses can deceive the knight, the pilgrim, and the visionary navigating the dark forest, the garden of erotic pleasure, or the castle, where seemingly noble conduct masks sin. When the knight or pilgrim sets forth, he or she experiences not only the soul's journey to God but also the construction of identity. The course asks students to draw informed connections between the disciplines of history, art history, literary history, the history of gender, and the history of religion.
Why does monstrosity assume such a visible place in medieval culture? Gothic babwyns (grotesques) gambol in the margins of liturgical manuscripts, function as downspouts on cathedrals, and appear in epics and chivalric romances as forces of both good and evil. This course explores medieval ontology, the nature of creation, and our human ability to know it fully, through the monstrous. The course begins with an art historical introduction to Classical theories of monstrosity reflected in visual traditions that medieval artists and writers inherited. The role of the monstrous in pagan, classical culture serves as a contrast to the place monsters assume in the evolving Christian contexts the course sets forth as interdisciplinary case studies in medieval monstrosity. Each case study sets up a historical context for the study of monstrosity, informed by a specific material and literary culture. Recent research in art history, geography, anthropology, literary history, and cultural studies inform the course's interdisciplinary format.
This interdisciplinary humanities course (theater, music, film) explores the artistic and cultural meanings of selected dramatic works and their treatment in film from Sophocles to Shaw and the ways librettists, composers, and directors have adapted plays to the musical stage and film from Mozart to Bernstein. The course examines not only what has been adapted, discarded, and transformed in musical stage and film versions of dramatic works, but also why particular changes in structure, emphasis, and interpretation were thought necessary and desirable. Students also explore the evolving cultural and aesthetic values from one era to another as they discover what musical stage and film adaptations of plays can reveal about the present as well as the past.
Richard Wagner's monumental operatic tetralogy "Der Ring des Nibelungen" (The Ring of the Nibelung) (1848-1874) constitutes one of the most significant and influential artistic achievements in Western music and drama. Since Wagner is also a one-man interdisciplinary humanities show, to study this work one must address, not only music and drama, but Greek theatre, German, Norse, and Icelandic mythology, architecture, set design, and philosophy, in particular Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. The course explores scholarly and critical responses to the four operas of Wagner's "Ring" and also "Tristan und Isolde" and introduces students to the central issues connecting music and drama, film, philosophy, and the evolving dialogue between art and culture as embodied in these works.
This course examines the works and times of prominent intellectual critics of modern European society. It centers on the texts of nineteenth-century writers, theorists, scientists and revolutionaries who formulated far-reaching analyses of and challenges to modern cultures, practices, values and economies. Special emphasis is placed on the generation of ideas and ideologies of the period, such as materialism, psychoanalysis and Marxism, and their application in culture and the arts. Cross-listed as HIST/HUM 317.
Taoism is one of the most influential beliefs in East Asia, and is perfectly embodied in landscape art. As a significant visual tradition in the world, this landscape art reveals the complicated relationships between man and self, man and man, man and society, and, above all, man and nature. From an interdisciplinary perspective the course examines the richness of this cultural heritage. The achievements of Taoist landscape art in China, Korea, and Japan are approached through slide lectures, museum visits, creative work sessions, writing assignments, group discussion, and class presentation of research project. The emphasis is placed on students' comprehension of Taoism and appreciation of landscape art and their capacity to explore the intricate relationships between art and religion.
This course explores some of the major theoretical and cinematic approaches to film genre, and provides the opportunity for students to produce a short film project based upon this exploration. The specific genre (e.g., documentary, horror, melodrama, film noir, etc.) under study for any given semester is at the discretion of the professor. Through the analysis and subsequent production of the selected film genre, students interrogate the ways that industrial, social, technological, and aesthetic factors shape the development, circulation, and reception of a film genre over time. In addition to regular class time, evening film screenings are required. Themes and films vary by instructor. Recent topics include "Documentary" and "Horror." Please consult the department website for information on current and upcoming offerings. Crosslisted as ENGL/HUM 340.
This colloquium explores the development of theory in the Marxist critique of Capital and capitalist cultures, especially in its relation to revolutionary praxis in Late Capitalism. The course examines foundational themes of Critical Theory as elaborated by Frankfurt School authors (Adorno, Horkheimer, Benjamin, and Marcuse) and study revolutionary movements and practices (Situationists, 1968, Autonomists, Tarnac 9, and Occupy) in relation to Marxist theory. Discussion and study also include more contemporary contributions to the question of the relation between theory and revolutionary praxis in a world dominated and saturated by capitalist culture by important Marxist writers, including Debord, Baudrillard, Badiou, Zizek, Holloway, and The Invisible Committee. Some familiarity with Marx and Marxian theory is recommended, but not required.
'Print Culture' habits of reading work against the dramatic and visual nature of medieval composition, in which words were to be heard aloud and images visualized. Medieval manuscript illumination of literary texts reflects this active, visual process of reading. Humanities 367 immerses readers in medieval manuscript culture to experience a performative mode of reading essential to the appreciation of medieval literary genres like dream vision, chivalric romance, and allegory.
This course presents a constellation of influential critiques of Western intellectual history, especially examining Enlightenment liberalism and its ideological afterlives. Themes include: critique, Euro-American centrism, orientalism, de-colonial struggles, postcolonial theory, pathologies of freedom, power, hegemony, racialization, identity, liberalism, the democratic illusion, mass deception, the Holocaust, camps, mass migration, terrorism, comprador intellectuals, and culture war. Horkheimer and Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment provides the starting point for our humanist and aesthetic critique via readings of Homer, mythology, philosophy, and religion. Important "non-western" authors might include Aime Cesiare, Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Sylvia Wynter, Gayatri Spivak, and Hamid Dabashi.
Expressly designed as an experiential learning opportunity, this course invites students to dive into the workings of a 21st century library by undertaking, completing, and documenting a small library project. Specific project roles include: Metadata Creator, Exhibit Curator, Instructional Designer, Digital Publisher, and Transcriptionist/Historical Investigator. Along the way, students are asked to actively reflect on their educational experiences at the University of Puget Sound and to begin to articulate a growing repertoire of skills in critical thinking, communication, research, creative problem-solving, and ethical decision making.
This course surveys a wide range of software tools and technologies that are becoming associated with the domain of scholarly activity known as the "digital humanities": micro- and macro-directed text analytics, annotated timelines, multimedia presentation platforms, data and network visualizations, NGrams, thick maps/GIS, topic modeling, immersive simulations, etc. During the first third of the course, students read conceptual material about digital methods and look at representative completed projects that have made use of such tools and methods. Each student then proposes a project that aligns with her or his research interests and selects a suite of tools appropriate for the project type. During the last two thirds of the course, students meet individually with the instructor at least once a week to review project status and plan ensuing phases of the work. In the final weeks, students reconvene as a group to discuss their completed projects. The course is appropriate for students who want hands-on experience using tools and methods that are changing the way scholarship in the humanistic disciplines is being conducted.
Independent study is available to those students who wish to continue their learning in an area after completing the regularly offered courses in that area.