David Chard, Dean and Chair
Michele Mrak, Director
Liberal Studies Academic Council, 2008-2009: Professors: Jack Myers (English), Donald Niewyk (History), John Ubelaker (Biology). Associate Professors: William G. Barnard (Religious Studies), Dennis Simon (Political Science). Assistant Professors: Robert Rasberry (Management and Organizations), Sara Romersberger (Theatre). Adjunct Professor: Dianne Goode (Art History).
Philosophically, the Master of Liberal Studies degree is tied to the earliest ideas of education. In 1852, John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote, in The Idea of a University, that the liberal education “is simply the cultivation of the intellect, and as such, its object is nothing more or less than intellectual excellence.” Yet in today’s educational milieu, in which most learning is characterized by a rapid ascent on a specialized path that helps individuals achieve professional success, the MLS’s broad-based, interdisciplinary curriculum goes against current trends and returns to earlier concepts of intellectual enrichment. The MLS program offers a multidisciplinary education to college graduates who wish to broaden their understanding of the world and examine new perspectives on issues of cultural, political, scientific and social significance.
Students are allowed up to six years to complete the required 36 graduate credit hours through part-time evening study. The curriculum includes courses in the behavioral sciences, fine arts, humanities, science and culture and social sciences. If there has been a single precept that has most significantly shaped the MLS curriculum, it is that each course must present an idea that is both timeless in nature and socially or culturally relevant.
Behavioral Sciences. Behavioral sciences courses examine the
individual and his or her behavior in various environmental settings such as
family and the workplace. Courses blend psychology, sociology, organizational
behavior and anthropology to introduce students to issues in human behavior
as it is influenced by cultural values and expectations.
Fine Arts. Fine arts courses offer a variety of perspectives on artistic expression throughout history and across cultures. The variety of courses encourages students to study Western and non-Western visual arts, dramatic arts and music within a broad sociohistorical context.
Humanities. Humanities courses offer the broadest possible treatments of literature, philosophy, religion and communications. By connecting the history of human ideas as presented and disseminated through poetry and imaginative literature and the development of religious and philosophical thought, humanities courses provide insight into the nature and development of humankind.
Science and Culture. Science and culture courses present issues pertaining to health, the environment, our understanding of the natural world and the implications of technological advancement as approached by professors of chemistry, geology, physics and biology. Students find the historical and philosophical approach to these subjects accessible and challenging.
Social Science. Social science courses provide a blend of history, economics and political science in the study of wealth, power and status. These courses enable the student to step away from the headlines and slogans of the day and take a long look at what it means–and has meant–to be a thoughtful citizen of the world.
The Master of Liberal Studies degree is open to persons holding a bachelor’s degree or higher professional degree from an accredited university or college. An official transcript from the school that awarded the degree is required along with a completed application form, application fee, and personal essay.
Applications will be considered for the fall, summer, and spring semesters. Applications for MLS admission must be completed and on file in the MLS office at least two weeks before the beginning of the term. A student must receive official acceptance into the program before enrolling in classes. In some cases, a provisional acceptance may be tendered for one semester while awaiting the arrival of an official transcript or in other situations in which it is deemed appropriate by the Director of the program and/or the Dean of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.
The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is not required for admission. However, admission to the program, based solely on the previous completion of a bachelor’s degree, is not guaranteed. Admission decisions are made by the Dean of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development based on the applicant’s previous academic record, the level of writing ability demonstrated in the personal essay, and, upon request, an interview with the MLS Director and/or the Dean regarding the applicant’s academic goals and expectations.
Thirty-six (36) credit hours of approved graduate study normally are completed within six years after beginning the program.
1. Students must take two foundational courses within the first 12 hours of their course work: HUMN 6370/The Literate Mind at Work, and HUMN 7104/Research Methods. It is highly recommended that students take these as their initial courses in the program. These courses may not be waived.
2. Students must complete their coursework with at least a B (3.0 G.P.A.) average All courses attempted for credit on a student’s graduate program must average B (3.0) or better, with no grade less than C (2.0) applying toward the degree.
3. Within the 36 hours, students may include up to six hours of transfer graduate credit from another accredited institution or another academic department at SMU (see below).
4. Within the 36 hours, students may also include up to six hours of Independent Study (see below).
5. Students may not take more than
three one-credit-hour classes unless special permission is given by the Director/Dean.
Transfer credit The student must file a Petition for Transfer Credit, accompanied by a course description and official transcript, with the MLS office.
Transfer credit will be accepted by the Dean under the following regulations:
1. The course must be compatible with the overall curriculum of liberal studies.
2. The course must be graduate level (6000 or above).
3. The course must have earned a grade of A or B.
4. The course may not have been used in attaining a previous degree.
5. The course must have been taken within the past six years.
Courses taken prior to matriculation must be approved within one year of beginning the MLS program. Transfer credit will be considered for study by correspondence or online study on a case-by-case basis.
Students may earn up to six credit hours through Independent Study in a subject area relevant to the MLS Curriculum. Students must first complete the two required courses and must be in good academic standing to be eligible to undertake an independent study.
To enroll in an Independent Study, students must work with an MLS faculty member to define specific course requirements and complete an Independent Study Contract subject to the approval of the Director and/or Dean. Independent Study courses may be taken for one, two, or three credit hours.
The deadline to submit proposals to the MLS office is at least two weeks before the beginning of the term for which the study is requested. The form is available online in the MLS Forms Library.
BHSC 6115. Classic Texts in the Behavioral Sciences. A one-hour course that focuses the student’s attention on a single, seminal text in the behavioral sciences through close, directed reading, seminar discussion and a final paper. Texts and topics change each semester. Topics include, but are not limited to: Freud, Five Lectures in Psycho-Analysis and The Prehistory of Egypt.
BHSC 6314. Native American Heritage of North America. An anthropological consideration of the historical and cultural background of the native peoples of North America. Emphasizes the nine major native culture areas of the continent and the role that their heritage plays in their participation in modern American life.
BHSC 6315. The Lively Mind: Creative and Critical Thinking. Explores ways to develop intellectual powers through a twofold approach: an examination of the biological and historical evolution of the human mind and the development of perception, memory, imagination and judgment.
BHSC 6319. Professional Ethics and Organizational Responsibility. Focuses on ethical issues connected with organizational management and is designed to develop the student’s capacity to recognize and reason through such issues. Uses cases and readings to integrate ethical reflection and decision making. Uses materials that are selected because of their topical relevance to contemporary managers, curricular relevance to liberal studies and conceptual relevance to applied ethics.
BHSC 6320. Organizational Leadership. Describes and analyzes a wide variety of different theoretical approaches to leadership. Gives special attention to how each theory can be, or has been, employed in real-world situations. Provides special application through the readings of contemporary leadership books, classic cases and great films.
BHSC 6324. Language, Culture and Beliefs. Since all humans have an innate, biological ability to acquire language, people usually take it for granted and overlook its true power. An examination of assumptions about the relationship between language, culture and belief. Illustrates how language is manipulated to maintain and manufacture status; disparities regarding gender, class and race and power; and ideology in the information age.
BHSC 6325. Anthropology of Speech and Body Language. Examines in depth the two major systems of communication upon which human interaction is based–language and non-verbal communication–and explores their use in daily life.
BHSC 6326. Communication and Persuasion. Nonverbal communication’s role in structuring experiences and in shaping interactions with and understanding of others. Includes the effects of space, time, body movements, environment, objects and voice quality on human communication. Discusses persuasive communication ideas and issues, including modern mass media, classical foundations of persuasive communication theories and the ethics of persuasion.
BHSC 6363. The Immigrant Experience. An interdisciplinary approach to immigration in the United States. Explores the historical, ethical, social, cultural, legal and political dimensions of the immigrant experience as well as America’s ambivalent and changing attitudes toward the immigrant. Begins with an examination of the peopling of America before the Civil War and concludes with discussion and analysis of current waves of immigration. Addresses the causes of migration, the growth of ethnic communities, the role of women, bilingual education, illegal immigration and America as a multicultural society.
BHSC 6371. Cognition: How We Think and Learn from Infancy to Aging. An exploration of the mind in three parts: cognitive development, memory and aging. The evolution of thought, knowledge and memory from infancy until death. Processes that transform the brain and mind of a newborn into that of an adult, what infants and children know, where children’s ideas come from and how intellectual functioning changes with age.
BHSC 6372. Psychology of Aging. A balanced overview of health and aging. Distinguishes aging facts from myths and explores the physiological and psychological processes of aging from middle age through old age.
BHSC 6398. The Child in Contemporary Society. Normal child development stages, both psychological and physiological. The impact of societal changes, such as family disharmony, divorce and remarriage, drug and alcohol abuse and the influence of media. Emphasis on the changing role of the school and public policy in the life of the child.
FNAR 6115. Classic Works: Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergere & Impressionism. Focuses on a single, seminal text or work of art in music, drama or the visual arts through close, directed reading and seminar discussion. Begins with the premise that there are more ways than one to “read” a painting by considering a variety of different scholarly interpretations of Manet’s major painting, Bar at the Folies-Bergere. Critical readings and background lectures on Manet’s significant place in the movements of Realism and Impressionism.
FNAR 6309. Art of the Renaissance in Italy. Explores painting, architecture and sculpture during the Italian Renaissance from its beginning in the early 14th century through the High Renaissance in the 16th century. Discusses major artists and their works within their cultural contexts. Focuses on technique, stylistic influence and iconographical developments.
FNAR 6310. Art of the Ancient Maya. An introduction to the art and history of the ancient Maya of Central America and the principal sites and monuments of Mayan civilization, along with a working knowledge of the Maya hieroglyphic writing system. Approaches the Maya artistic tradition through the methods and insights of anthropology, archaeology, epigraphy and history.
FNAR 6311. Etruscan Art and Archaeology. Surveys the art and society of the Etruscans and other peoples of ancient Italy from the beginning of the Iron Age to the Roman Conquest. Studies topics in their geographical and cultural context. Includes Etruscan cities and cemeteries, architecture, tomb painting, sculpture and metalworking.
FNAR 6312. Art and Architecture of Ancient Pompeii. Surveys the history, monuments and society of ancient Rome from about 300 B.C.E. to A.D. 79, as reconstructed from the excavations of Pompeii, Herculaneum and other cities and sites of ancient Camoania.
FNAR 6314. Arthur Miller: Art, Activism and Life. Arthur Miller was, arguably, one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century. In addition, he was a prolific essayist, often addressing political and social issues, as he did in his collection On Politics and the Art of Acting. An examination of Miller’s art through a variety of plays, including All My Sons, Death of a Salesman and The Crucible. Also an examination of his activism and social conscience through his writing on the subject and his life experiences, such as his stand against the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1957.
FNAR 6315. The Owl and the Nightingale: Sacred and Secular Music in Medieval France. Considers sacred and secular modes of music making in medieval France within appropriate social and political context. Includes Plainchant as an outgrowth of liturgical and artistic life within monasteries and cathedrals. Also secular music, such as that of the troubadours and writers of motets, within the ambiance of French courts and cities.
FNAR 6316. On Being Funny: Physical Comedy and Beyond. Explores the roots of comedy and asks what it is–historically as well as currently–that makes people laugh. Uses Commedia dell’Arte and the European clown as a basis to research and recreate physical comedy from its classical expressions to modern versions in film and television. Includes individual performance assignments to complement the research and scholarship of the course.
FNAR 6318. Women in American Theatre: Actresses, Playwrights and Directors. Throughout the history of American theatre, women have made significant contributions as actresses, playwrights, directors and managers. Yet most of this history has been invisible or defined as “exceptional.” An examination of the influence and impact of women artists in the development of American theatre as aesthetic, cultural and economic phenomena. Students attend live productions and view filmed plays of female theatre artists as available; in-class visits from local or national female artists are arranged when possible.
FNAR 6319. Theatre Live and Local: A Performance Seminar. A study of contemporary and traditional theatre performance that strives to enhance students’ understanding and appreciation of theatre performance, their critical judgment and vocabulary and their ability to place a performance in a historical/cultural context. Bases seminar work on attendance at live, local theatre productions as assigned by the instructor.
FNAR 6320. Mummies, Myths and Monuments: Egypt of the Pharaohs. An overview of Egyptian art against its cultural background from the formation of Pharonic Egypt through the height of the New Kingdom. Considers aspects of applied technology, social and religious issues and political matters of ancient Egypt, concentrating on the vibrancy and meaning of art as a reflection of social and religious practice.
FNAR 6321. Great Books of Art History. An introduction to the profound, humane and entertaining scholarship of art history through the principal movements, methods and writings of the 20th century. Emphasis on theory and practice of the discipline. Tailored for students who love to read. Showcases a selection of influential, topical and elegantly written books and articles. Uses such topics as the biography of the artist, philosophies of art, connoisseurship and historicism and modernist, feminist and other current critical modes to encourage the student to formulate his or her individual place and voice in this evolving humanistic discipline.
FNAR 6322. Modern Movements in European and American Painting. Begins with realism and impressionism and traces the development of the avant-garde through such “modern” styles as expressionism, cubism, futurism, Dadaism, surrealism, abstract expressionism, pop and op art and photo realism. Stresses readings about the works of representative artists and critics.
FNAR 6330. Social and Musical History of the Symphony Orchestra. A non-theoretical course that investigates the historical background of the modern symphony. An introduction to important orchestral works and movements from the 17th century to present. Also an examination of the construction of the symphony orchestra as a cultural institution.
FNAR 6337. Imagining Reality: History and Aesthetics of Nonfiction Film. An exploration of the issues and concepts of nonfiction film, using work from a variety of cultures and styles and including issues of sponsorship and distribution. An historical overview of the genre from the silent film era to the new social documentaries, with the dual goals of increasing understanding of the filmmaker’s decisions concerning style, camera angle and other techniques, as well as increasing awareness of social, ethical and legal issues surrounding “documentary” film.
FNAR 6339. Mortals, Myths and Monuments: Art and Culture of Ancient Greece. Designed to familiarize the student with the primary concepts inherent in ancient Greek art and literature as seen through their cultural contexts. Delves into the works of Greek philosophers, painters and architects to establish, to a large extent, the foundations of Western civilization.
FNAR 6340. Greek Odyssey. A visual analysis of the rich tapestry of ancient Greek culture, including visits to museums and archaeological sites during a trip to Greece Allows students to visually experience the tapestry of ancient Greek culture, particularly the mythological, archaeological and historical settings in which the art and architecture were created. Touches on various aspects of ancient Greek life, including religion, Olympic contests, theatrical performances, political developments and artistic expression.
FNAR 6341. Conservation and Preservation: Etruscan Archaeology in Italy. A first-hand experience in excavating an important Etruscan site, Poggio Colla, just northeast of Florence. MLS participants join other faculty and students at this ongoing dig and are housed on site in a converted farmhouse. Archaeologists, art historians, conservators and other professionals instruct participants in the cultural heritage of Tuscany, the archaeological process and conservation and preservation technique. Side trips to Rome and Florence introduce students to local museums of Etruscan art.
FNAR 6380. Music, Society and Politics in 19th Century Paris. Am examination of the roles played by music in Parisian society between 1789 and the World War I. In 19th century France, music was both a passive and an aggressive force in the unfolding of political agendas, social stratification, religious empowerment and the struggle for national identity. Includes selected musical works that were performed in Paris and their performers, performance spaces and audiences. Neither previous musical knowledge nor the ability to read music notation is necessary.
HUMN 6115. Classic Texts in the Humanities. A one-hour course that focuses the student’s attention on a single, seminal text in the humanities through close, directed reading, seminar discussion and a final paper. Texts and topics change each semester. Topics include, but are not limited to: Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway; Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov; Whitman, Leaves of Grass; Melville, Billy Budd; Proust, Swann’s Way; and Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics.
HUMN 6306. Major Philosophers of the 19th Century. A study of the life, thought and significance of major philosophers of the 19th century, including: Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Marx in Europe; Bentham and Mill in Britain; and Peirce and James in America. Develops the student’s critical assessment of their arguments and influence.
HUMN 6308. Women’s Lives and Women’s Literary Tradition. An examination of classic texts in the American and British women’s literary tradition. Focuses on how texts reflect the ideals and conflicts in the portrayal of women’s lives and is organized in stages from childhood to old age. An introduction to selected modes of literary theory as a context for reading women’s literature. Includes Alcott, Morrison, Austen, Charlotte Brontë and Eliot.
HUMN 6310. “Tell About the South:” Voices in Faulkner’s Novels. William Faulkner’s novels belong to the tradition of “Southern Gothic,” but their material is typically presented through the multiple voices of conflicting narrators. A confrontation with Faulkner’s modernist “difficulty” through the exploration of several novels, focusing on their value for readers and citizens. Includes: The Unvanquished, As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury and Light in August.
HUMN 6313. Shakespeare, From Page to Stage. It takes imagination to invest an armchair reading of a play with immediacy. Conversely, “live” Shakespeare can baffle those unfamiliar with the text. An examination of the dynamic relationship between text and stage. Students view and read examples of the major Shakespearean genres, including comedy, tragedy, history and romance. Readings are based to some extent on live productions available in the Dallas area.
HUMN 6317. Heroes and Heroism. The hero (either male or female) is a mythical construct through which a society embodies its values, transmits them to the young and celebrates what it wishes to believe about itself. Begins with the classical or Greek conception of the hero and the Hebraic-Christian ideal. Examines how these traditional views of the hero were modified in the Middle Ages by the writers of the tales of chivalry and romance. Includes Shakespeare’s Hamlet as the embodiment of the Renaissance idea of the hero. Also works by Shaw, Woolf and Camus with discussion of how they grapple with the modern and contemporary question of heroism.
HUMN 6318. Americans in Paris: The Lives and Literature of the “Lost” Generation. After World War I, American artists and writers poured into Paris, and the friction between the two cultures sparked some of the great arts and letters of the 20th century. An introduction to the works by these expatriates, their influential precursors and their European contemporaries. Examines, in the process, modernism and its major works in painting, science, philosophy and music.
HUMN 6319. Ethics and Literature. Because of their complexity and density, literary works are fruitful texts for the study of moral philosophy. A study of works that evoke questions about individual responsibility, free will, the nature of evil and the resolution of conflicting moral claims. Also an examination of a variety of literary works in the context of such traditional philosophies as utilitarianism and Kantianism.
HUMN 6320. Jewish American Literature. From the Yiddish literature of the European shtetle through Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg and the greatness of such writers as Bellow, Malamud and Roth, an exploration of the themes, issues and development of Jewish American literature. Includes immigrant literature from the turn of the century, American Jewish responses to the Holocaust and modern interpretations of ancient themes. Also addresses the particular issues that arise in studying any distinctive cultural/ethnic literature.
HUMN 6321. Marcel Proust and the Modern Tradition. An interdisciplinary course that examines modernism through the lens of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. Traces, by reading carefully chosen excerpts from this monumental literary work, the arc of modernism, pairing Proust’s literary evocations with major modernist movements in painting, science, music and contemporaneous literature.
HUMN 6322. Making Sense of the American Spiritual Landscape. The American spiritual landscape is quickly changing, shaped by trends, both old and new, that have left their marks on the way in which people understand and practice their faith. Designed to provide an understanding of the most significant trends affecting American spirituality today, as well as a theological, conceptual and historical framework in which to consider them. Among the topics: separation of spirituality from theology and religion, diversity and fragmentation in the spiritual communities and changing attitudes toward authority and individualism in religion.
HUMN 6323. Psychological and Religious Significance of Dreams. Do dreams contain important insights and even messages about human life and destiny? Or, are they merely accidental byproducts of brain activity, of no real importance to the psyche and to human development? An exploration of the meaning of dreams in human experience, with particular attention to the integration of psychological and religious understanding of dream material. Includes a close look at what several orientations in psychology and one ancient religious tradition have to say about the significance of dreams in human experience. Provides opportunities for students to learn basic principles of dream interpretation and to apply them to their own dreams.
HUMN 6324. Evil and the Concept of God. An in-depth scrutiny of both classic and contemporary discussions of evil, a problem judged to be a central issue in philosophy of religion and in theology. Also pays attention to thinkers who sought to deny or evade the problems of evil.
HUMN 6325. Women in Modern Literature and Film. An examination of the representation of women in modern literature and film from the turn of the century to the present. Begins with late 19th century works by Chekhov and Ibsen and explores how they present a crisis in the cultural context of woman’s traditional role. Examines how women writers from Europe and the United States have struggled in their works against narrow gender definitions in their writings and have tried to define women as active, autonomous and intelligent beings. Also looks at how women are represented in more recent European films that deal with the legacy of National Socialism and that pose the question of women’s historical agency.
HUMN 6328. The Muse in Arms: War and the Literary Imagination. A survey of writing about war from Homer to O’Brien. Examines changing attitudes towards war as a human activity and confronts the perennial problem of rendering “extreme” experience in accessible terms. Encourages critical thinking about the cost of war and the moral dimensions of conduct in wartime.
HUMN 6330. Wit and Humor in African American Literature. Develops a better understanding of the aesthetics, cultural/historical experiences and literary conventions of African American writers. Focuses on traditional wit and humor in the selected works. Includes traditional writers such as Hurston and Hughes and contemporary writers such as Toni Morrison, J. California Cooper and Ishmael Reed. Since African American literature is based on oral tradition, students are expected to present individual readings/performances.
HUMN 6335. The Bible and Literary Creation. Approaches the Bible from the standpoint that it is, among other things, a literary anthology, providing its readers with a cosmic vision and models of literary forms. In that sense, it is both a product of, and a means of stimulating, the imagination. Increases Biblical literacy and awareness of the presence of the Bible in English and other Western literatures.
HUMN 6336. Searching for Humanity: Aliens, Humans and Machines in Science Fiction. An examination of science fiction works that go beyond entertainment to provide a vital “literature of ideas” through which students may consider practical and ethical questions facing the post-industrial world. Focuses, through a variety of novels, films and short stories, on the question of what it means to be human in relation to the alien/other and the alien/machine. Includes authors such as Lem, Heinlein, Le Guin, Dick and Gibson.
HUMN 6338. The Fire of Transformation: Exploring the Mystical Life. An exploration of how certain individuals throughout the world and during different periods of history came to have powerful and transformative spiritual experiences. A careful examination of the ways in which different religious traditions understand mysticism. An investigation of a variety of spiritual techniques designed to catalyze, deepen and stabilize these alternate levels of consciousness. Also the philosophical and social-scientific analyses of the dynamics of mystical states of awareness and the metaphysical, ethical and psychological implications of mysticism in the modern world.
HUMN 6341. Ethical Implications of Children’s Literature. An examination of a wide range of children’s literature, both historical and current, with an emphasis on building an adult understanding of the moral and cultural themes in these works. Confronts issues of colonialism, race, ethnicity, gender and class. Acquaints students with different approaches to children’s literature by using a variety of literary criticism.
HUMN 6342. The Spiritual Vision of Jesus. An attempt to define the spiritual vision of Jesus as it can be reconstructed from New Testament texts. Attention to methodological challenges, the shape of Second Temple Judaism and other issues of relevance, including the attitude of Jesus toward the temple, law and prayer. Considers recent scholarship from the Jesus Seminar and the search for the historical Jesus, as well as how these considerations impact the contemporary view of Jesus and spirituality.
HUMN 6344. The Kabbalah and Jewish Mystical Tradition. A historical overview of the Jewish mystical tradition, commonly known as the Kabbalah, from its inception in the Biblical times (or, more precisely, in the period when the Bible was written) until the end of the 18th century. An examination, by reading and discussing the primary texts that have been most influential in shaping this tradition, of how the esoteric experiences and otherworldly journeys of the mystics reflected the condition and needs of the Jewish community, helping it to sustain its identity and to affirm, develop and hone its beliefs and practices. Plumbs, by unraveling the highly symbolic, metaphoric and allusive language of the mystical literature, its sometimes outlandish, but invariably fascinating, ideas, including ideas about the structure of the godhead and the human soul, creation and end-time, good and evil, sin and repentance, suffering and redemption, and angels and demons.
HUMN 6349. King Arthur’s Britain: Landscapes, Legends and Literature. An exploration of the physical and cultural world surrounding the legend of King Arthur. Begins with the basic themes and motifs of the Arthur story as recorded in literature. Considers the social and cultural geography in which these stories are set to reach a better understanding of what King Arthur has meant to the land he was supposed to save.
HUMN 6350. The Art of African American Storytelling. Designed to establish the traditional roots of African American storytelling. Traces the roots of African American storytelling from Africa through the diaspora and examines the survival, uses and importance of verbal arts in the African American culture. Also examines the cultural clashes between descendents whose experiences are disparate: one group dominated by respect for oralities while the other dominated by reliance on authorized written texts.
HUMN 6354. Remembering the Sixties: Culture and Change. Was it the decade that America came unraveled, or was it the dawning of the Age of Aquarius? An examination of eyewitness accounts, participants’ recollections and fictional and film representations of the most controversial decade in order to discover how mass media influence cultural perceptions and how later commentators on this era have constructed nostalgic or demonized versions as ammunition in continuing contests about values.
HUMN 6355. Virgins and Goddesses from Prehistory to Modern Mexico. Develops a better understanding of contemporary culture and society in Mexico and Latin America by examining pre-Hispanic belief systems, especially regarding female deities and their modern counterpart, the Virgin of Guadalupe. Explores recent archaeological research, identifies similarities among mythic/symbolic female images of prehistory from around the world and examines the pivotal role of the feminine in belief systems and its impact on modern traditions, including those of Mexico.
HUMN 6356. Oral Interpretation of Literature. An introduction to the study of literature through performance. Based on the assumption that performance is a method of understanding and enjoying literature. Includes performance readings of prose, poetry and dramatic literature. Also written work, but focuses on the discovery and exploration of literature through the medium of vocal and physical performance.
HUMN 6358. Trances and Dances: Investigations into Aboriginal Religious Life. An introduce to the religious beliefs and practices of several non-Western (or pre-Western) cultures, including Australian aboriginals, African tribal peoples and native North and South Americans. An examination, through readings, videos, lectures, classroom discussion and in-class activities, of such phenomena as spirit possession, sacrifice, masks, shamanism, out-of-body experiences, spiritual healing, visions and pilgrimage. Also an exploration of the psychological and social functions of trance, exorcism and magic; the problems and possibilities of cross-cultural religious contact; and the hidden meanings of myths and dreams.
HUMN 6360. Philosophers Examine Religion. From antiquity to the present, philosophers have studied religion seriously. Doing so has produced a significant literature worthy of careful reading and reflection. A two-part course that studies the thought of notable philosophers about religion and its claims.
HUMN 6361. The Literature of Religious Expression. An examination primarily of the expressions of belief (or human values) in literary forms (poetry, fiction and prose)–that is, the attempts of artists who believe strongly in sharing the intensity of their religious feelings. Includes selections from the writings of Donne, Herbert, Bunyan, Defoe, The Book of Common Prayer, the Bible, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Arnold, Tennyson, Browning and contemporary poets.
HUMN 6366. Reading St. John’s Revelations. A review of what is undoubtedly the most controversial and troubling book in the New Testament. A history of St. John’s book, with attention to morality and other elements of the book’s socio-historical setting, including the larger context of Jewish apocalyptic literature. An examination of various approaches to interpretation of the text and ways of both reading and appropriating the book’s message. Includes literary and theological study of the book’s imagery and the theological implications of various interpretations.
HUMN 6370. The Literate Mind at Work (Required Course). Designed to ensure that beginning MLS students have mastered the critical academic skills–reading, discussion and writing the researched argumentative essay–required to succeed in graduate liberal arts studies. Writing intensive and includes drafting, rewriting and editing as part of the writing process. Also includes basic research technique and styles of annotation, as well as a review of academic integrity and issues of plagiarism. NOTE: This course must be taken within the first 12 hours of the MLS curriculum; it is highly recommended that the course be taken in the first semester and that it be taken in conjunction with HUMN 7104 Research Methods.
HUMN 6373. American Regional Literature. An exploration of the regional literary voices that form the roots of American literature. Out of the unique development of each region comes the diversity and richness of ethnic influence, literary genres and thematic focus that constitute the foundations of American literature. Texts and topics vary from semester to semester. Topics include, but are not limited to: literature of the Southwest, Southern literature, and New England literature.
HUMN 6375. History of the Freedom of Expression, Since the invention of the printing press, there have been conflicts over what limits, if any, there should be to freedom of expression. Heavily influenced by the turn this debate took in England, guarantees of freedom of expression in America came with the Bill of Rights. But these rights have been the subject of constant controversy; many of the most important national issues reflect them. This course traces the history of those conflicts.
HUMN 6377. Gutenberg and the Rise of Printing. An examination of both the earliest development and the enduring impact of the printing press, which began with the typographic experiments of Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany, more than 550 years ago. Traces the rise of the first “mass medium” from the earliest printed fragments to the much larger editions of following centuries. Shows how these accelerated the spread of learning, religious reform and social change–all of which profoundly shaped today’s world. Uses examples from the Bridwell Library’s Special Collections and works printed in the first decades of European typography.
HUMN 6380. The News Media in Contemporary Society. An examination of the influence of the news media on policymaking and electoral politics. Includes a consideration of news ethics. Designed to help the student become a more sophisticated news consumer, better able to apply rigorous standards to the products delivered by print and electronic news organizations.
HUMN 6387. Story: Fact, Fiction and Truth. Narratives may be a way of giving flesh to the desire to know more about what it means to be human. They are a means to express, to celebrate and to instruct others about that which an individual wishes to be true about himself or herself, but stories can explore the margins of humanity as well. An exploration of the ways stories work, how individuals read and appropriate what they read and the importance of narratives to people’s lives. Includes Ovid, Chekhov, Welty, Joyce, Tolstoy, O’Connor, Faulkner and Hemingway.
HUMN 6390. Law and Literature: Parallel Interpretive Strategies. Begins with the assumption that both law and literature require interpretation. Moves, from that point, to an examination of methods of interpretation–both legal and literary. Develops a sense of the law as a text requiring constant mediation and evaluation. Juxtaposes case law with literary texts by such authors as Browning, Camus, Melville and Glaspell.
HUMN 6393. Poetry Writing Workshop. A studio/seminar course in the craft of poetry writing, offering constructive criticism and discussion of student poetry along with an examination of technical, theoretical and aesthetic issues concerning contemporary poetry writing and the creative process.
HUMN 7101. Summer Classics at St. John’s College, Santa Fe, NM. Each summer this Great Books college offers three week-long summer classics seminars, with optional campus room and board. Each week offers several different morning and afternoon topic choices, along with extra lectures, optional trips to the Santa Fe Opera and invigorating social interaction with summer scholars from all over the country. MLS students who attend a St. John’s seminar (Students must make their own arrangements to attend.) may earn one credit hour by writing a journal and a substantial paper in response to a selected seminar.
HUMN 7104. Research Methods (Required Course). Designed to familiarize students with the research strategies and resources central to the liberal arts. Explores all aspects of modern computer searches and online access to library resources. NOTE: This course must be taken within the first 12 hours of the MLS curriculum; it is highly recommended that the course be taken in the first semester and that it be taken in conjunction with HUMN 6370 The Literate Mind at Work.
HUMN 7212. Monastic Spirituality at St. Gregory’s Abbey. For five days, students experience the life of the Benedictine Order and consider ways in which that experience might inform their own spiritual practice. The schedule consists of meditation and prayer five times daily, following the practice of the monastery, and includes lectures and guidance provided by monastery brothers and a member of the faculty of SMU’s Perkins School of Theology. An experience in disciplined thought and personal contemplation by placing oneself outside the daily routine of the secular world.
SCCL 6308. Ecology in Balance: People and Planet. A study of the impact of population growth on the demand and availability of resources, energy and food. Considers interrelated effects of people and environment, along with constructive solutions to problems arising from growth.
SCCL 6335. Biological Man in a Technological World. A study of the hazards of the new technology upon men and women. An examination of critical problems confronting humanity, including overpopulation, malnutrition, pollution and major diseases, in an age of rapidly advancing technology.
SCCL 6349. Biology of Nutrition. Nutrition can be defined as the study of foods and how foodstuffs affect health and biological function. An introduction to the composition and function of nutrients–that is, carbohydrates, fats (lipids), proteins, vitamins and minerals and water (the “forgotten” nutrient). Includes consideration of the chemistry of nutrients and their biological function. However, a background in chemistry is not required. Definition of terms as a key to understanding the facts and concepts that are presented, including terms often seen in the press or on food labels: low carb, unsaturated fats, saturated fats, high protein and vitamin enriched. A diet analysis for the individual student as a term project.
SCCL 6359. Frontiers in Astronomy and Cosmology. A study of current information and theories concerning earth, moon, sun, planets, stars, pulsars, quasars, black holes, galaxies and the structure of the universe. Designed for the beginner and does not require a math or science background, even though the results of NASA space research and current astronomical and physics research are presented and discussed.
SCCL 6389. The Origins and Evolution of Life. A study of the biological aspects of the origin of life on earth, the history of the subsequent evolution of animal and plant life and the environmental and geological setting throughout the ages. Discusses the mechanisms of evolution and man as an evolving biological species.
SCCL 7206. Biotic Communities & Environments of the Southwest. A week of room and board near Taos, New Mexico, and guided hiking through wilderness areas plus lectures on various vegetation zones of the Southwest, their evolutionary relationships, adaptations and field identification. Additional one-hour credit by enrolling in SCCL 7106 and completing a review paper after the trip.
SOSC 6115. Classic Texts in the Social Sciences. A one-hour course that focuses on a single, seminal text in the social sciences through close, directed reading, seminar discussion and a final paper. Texts and topics change each semester. Topics include, but are not limited to: The Federalist Papers; Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto; The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.
SOSC 6302. Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. Central to this course is the question of whether Nazism is a uniquely German phenomenon or a potential danger in any country. An examination of the formation of Hitler’s personality and ideology, the conditions that permitted his rise to power and the nature and purposes of his dictatorship.
SOSC 6305. The History of Time. The passing of time is a universal human experience, but the control, measure and politics of time differ among cultures. A reading seminar that addresses changing perceptions of time from the rise of astronomy and astrology in the ancient Near East to Medieval and Renaissance ideas of time and the development of clocks and other modern ideas and scientific theories. Also an examination of the social and political consciousness of and control over time in American society. Includes readings that incorporate the works of historians, archaeologists, scientists, novelists and poets from the classical Greeks to H.G. Wells.
SOSC 6307. History of Consumer Culture in the United States. The business, cultural and political history of the rise of consumer culture in the U.S. between the colonial period and the present. Focuses on the development of institutions ranging from advertising to desire and luxury to the practice of “charging it.”
SOSC 6309. The Struggle for Human Rights: America’s Dilemma. An examination of certain violations of human rights within their historical context. Attention to the evolution of both civil and human rights as entities within global political thought and practice. Teaches students to recognize the use of propaganda to justify or deny violations of human rights, from torture to terrorism and from slavery to genocide.
SOSC 6310. Dignitas and Decadence: The Society and Culture of Imperial Rome. An examination of the main currents and ideas of Roman imperial society from the establishment of monarchical rule by the first emperor, Augustus, to the fall of the empire in the fifth century A.D. Explores the profound social changes experienced by Roman society as a result of its military expansion, the incorporation of new peoples, developments in polytheistic and monotheistic religion, the spread of Stoic philosophy and changes in the definition of Romanitas and Roman citizenship, including developments in gender- and class-based rights.
SOSC 6312. Julius Caesar and the Fall of the Roman Republic. A consideration of important historiographical questions concerning the fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the monarchical Roman Empire as a direct consequence of the life and death of Julius Caesar.
SOSC 6314. Living Through the American Revolution. An exploration of the social history of the American Revolution and what the revolution meant for the many different people who experienced it. Focuses on one stage in the historical process of “becoming American” and shows how these people took part in a set of large-scale transforming events that changed both the course of history and the people themselves.
SOSC 6315. From Hannibal to the Fall of Rome: Warfare in the Ancient World. An introduction to Roman warfare and diplomacy, with special attention to Roman theories of imperialism and the just war. Explores scholarly problems that are particularly familiar to modern Americans. Focuses on primary texts, monuments and artifacts that illustrate Roman expansionism and military life.
SOSC 6316. Farms, Plantations and Towns: Diversity in the “New World.” An exploration of the interaction of native, British and African cultures in the early period of North American settlement. Focuses special attention on the daily life of small communities, including native villages, Southern plantations and New England towns and the interaction between them. Shows how America was a “new world” for all three groups, though in different ways for each.
SOSC 6323. History of Schools and Education in American Society. A focus on the evolution of schools in American society. Uses an interdisciplinary approach to explore schools from colonial America to the present. Includes the relationships and tensions between children, families and schools and between social and political ideals and the realities of mass education.
SOSC 6327. American Citizenship. Seminar that weaves together the disciplines of history, law and political science to confront the problems of American citizenship in the past, present and future.
SOSC 6329. The American Presidency. An examination of issues concerning the “modern” or post-war presidency, an institution at the center of the political system that is fascinating, perplexing and in many senses paradoxical. Exposes students to a variety of perspectives and methods that can be employed to analyze the institution, the decisions of its occupants and the effectiveness of specific presidential administrations.
SOSC 6330. Politics and Film. Designed to use film as a vehicle for enhancing understanding of real-world politics and culture in the United States. Considers political ambition, electoral politics, the nature of political leadership, theories of decision making and the role of the media in politics. Also an examination of the “two faces of film:” as a portrayal (accurate or not) of politics, but also filmmaking as a political act in itself. From the 1940s to the present, films have had the potential to deepen our understanding of political change, but have also raised questions as to the political agenda of their makers, the use or misuse of history and the extent to which filmmaking is motivated by the profit incentive and the cultural norms that govern the industry.
SOSC 6332. Ideas Shaping the American Character I: 1607 to 1876. An exploration, through the biographies and writings of key early Americans, of the political, economic, religious, social, intellectual and artistic ideas that have shaped the American character. Specific attention to the free enterprise system and democracy as twin pillars upholding the edifice of the republic. Begins with key figures such as John Winthrop, Anne Hutchinson and John Edwards; moves through the founding members of the republic; continues through the 18th century with figures such as Tecumseh, Emerson and Thoreau, Frederick Douglass and feminists Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth and Susan B. Anthony; and concludes with Civil War figures Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln.
SOSC 6333. Ideas Shaping the American Character II: 1877 to the Present. An exploration, through the biographies and writings of key Americans since the Civil War, of the political, economic, religious, social, intellectual and artistic ideas that have shaped the American character. Specific attention to the free enterprise system and democracy as twin pillars upholding the edifice of the republic. Includes key figures, such as Frederick Jackson Turner, Willa Cather, Eugene Debs, W.E.B. DuBois, Carrie Chapman Carr, Frank Lloyd Wright, Bob Dylan, Ronald Reagan and Madeleine Albright. NOTE: This course constitutes the second half of Ideas Shaping the American Character, but is self-contained; the first half is not a prerequisite.
SOSC 6334. From Pews to Bleachers: American Cultural Institutions. An exploration of the institutionalization of culture in the United States between the American Revolution and the Great Depression, focusing on churches (religious culture), theatrical venues (performance culture), museums (artistic culture), libraries (print culture) and sports (physical culture). Covers the emergence of an infrastructure devoted to the cultural life of Americans and takes a broad view of culture, in that it includes sports and religion in addition to the usual cultural venues of the arts.
SOSC 6336. History of the Ancient Near East and Egypt. An examination of the ancient cultures of Mesopotamia and Egypt from the origins of writing in the fourth millennium B.C.E. to the time of Alexander the Great. Includes the histories, literature and archaeological remains; reading original sources in translation; and viewing original artifacts. Explores topics such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, the law code of Hammurabi, Assyrian imperialism and warfare, the rise of the Egyptian empire, Egyptian myths and poetry, Egyptian religion and beliefs in the afterlife and Egyptian medicine.
SOSC 6337. Texas and Tejanos: Seminar on Mexican-American History. An examination of the growing historiography on Mexican Americans, focusing on the relationship between Texas and their regional ethnic identity as Tejanos. Prior to 1980, few books specifically on Tejano history were written. However, the field has expanded rapidly in the last 25 years. Since social history has predominated during this period, the emphasis is on that branch of historiography, but other genres are included as well.
SOSC 6342. America’s Defining Moment: The American Civil War and Reconstruction. The modern South has yet to shake the tragedy of the War Between the States. An examination of the origins of this struggle, the battles, the reasons for Northern victory, the effect upon today’s South and the reason for its continued fascination for Americans.
SOSC 6343. America: Conflicting Values in a Capitalist Democracy. An examination of the special relationship between American democratic politics and the free market economy, as well as the rationale of free enterprise. Students interested in the political and philosophical questions raised by the U.S. system of democratic capitalism will find the course particularly relevant. Includes a discussion of current issues, problems, values and criticisms of the free enterprise system.
SOSC 6346. Queen Victoria’s England. Queen Victoria’s long reign – 63 years, from 1837 to her death in 1901 – encompassed a time of remarkable change for Britain, moving from an early stage in which the polarizations of the class system came to the forefront to a middle stage of relative peace and prosperity based on the economic and technological progress symbolized by the Crystal Palace to, finally, a decline in the influence of the aristocracy and the rise of the political significance of the working classes. This, coupled with the erosion of confidence in the institutions of church and state, the challenges to Victorian patriarchy and the problems of the Empire and Ireland, made Great Britain at the end of Queen Victoria’s life a nation that would have been hardly recognizable to her at the beginning of her reign.
SOSC 6348. The Changing Landscape of Political Thought. Political theory provides ways of seeing, describing and altering the political world. An introduction to the way political thinkers do these things in the process of creating political theory. Discusses why there is no single, agreed-upon definition of politics, no privileged methodology for examining politics and no universal agreement as to the values that should shape politics. Shows why it is important to understand that this is so. Examines the questions raised by theorists such as Emma Goldman, Ayn Rand, John Locke and John Stuart Mill.
SOSC 6355. America Enraged: From Integration to Watergate. The 20-year era spanning 1954 to 1974 was tumultuous, exalting and foreboding–and bewildering as well. A nation that had prided itself on political stability found its political system no longer equal to meeting the demands for change. A nation that had taken for granted a collective commitment to public order suddenly was stunned by the fragility of its institutions and the assault upon the values professed by the society. In this era, Americans for the first time took to the streets by the thousands, sometimes by the tens of thousands, to resolve disputes once left to the established governmental processes.
SOSC 6367. Comparative Revolutions: A Historical Perspective. What is the nature of modern political revolutions? What are the conditions that tend to produce a revolutionary explosion? What are the characteristics of revolutionary leaders? Why do people follow them? An attempt, by considering answers to these and other related questions, to provide interdisciplinary perspectives on a topic of special interest in today’s age of monumental upheaval and rapid societal change. A comparative analysis, drawing especially on the American, French, Russian and Chinese revolutions as case studies, that underscores the common denominators of the revolutionary experience.
SOSC 6376. Cultural and Intellectual History of Modern Europe: Renaissance to Enlightenment. An introduction to the predominant themes in the literature, philosophy, art and music of European civilization, from the Italian Renaissance through the French Enlightenment. Emphasis on those aspects of the European heritage that have been of primary importance in shaping Western culture in the 20th century. Part I of a two-part series, which need not be taken sequentially.
SOSC 6377. Cultural and Intellectual History of Modern Europe: Romanticism to the Present. An exploration of major trends in the development of European literature, philosophy, art and music in the 19th and 20th centuries. Primary attention to the role of arts and ideas in the shaping of the contemporary world. Part II of a two-part series; Part I is not a prerequisite.
SOSC 7302. Studies at Oxford University: War and Diplomacy in Europe, 1815-Present. A study of the dynamics of nationalism that arose in Europe after 1815 and how those dynamics led to the 20th century’s two cataclysmic global wars. On the campus of University College, one of Oxford’s oldest institutions, students are housed in college rooms and attend lectures by faculty of the SMU-in-Oxford program and guest lecturers from Oxford. Also an exploration of war and diplomacy during a visit to London and a tour of famous World War I and II sites in Belgium and France, including the American cemetery and memorial at Normandy Beach.
SOSC 7303. In the Camps: Historical Field Trip to Poland. In the West, the Holocaust plays a significant role in the memory and conscience of civilizations. A journey to sites in Poland, such as the Warsaw Ghetto and death campus including Treblinka, Auschwitz/Berkinau, Belzec and Chelmno, designed to give students a deeper understanding of the Holocaust and both its victims and its perpetrators.
Master of Liberal Studies (MLS)
P.O. Box 750253
Dallas TX 75275-0253
The Office of Nondegree Credit Studies provides access to courses throughout the various SMU curricula for students who do not want to work toward a degree, but do want to take undergraduate or graduate credit courses for personal enrichment or for transfer to another institution. The admissions policies and procedures reflect the special needs and circumstances of part-time students.
Nondegree Credit Studies
P.O. Box 750382
Dallas TX 75275-0382
Informal Courses for Adults provides rich intellectual experiences that can broaden perspectives of the world. Participants can explore the globe, study other cultures, learn new languages, write beautiful prose or learn to meditate – all without ever leaving the classroom. Noncredit courses are offered in the areas of history, creative writing, the fine arts, literature, communication, philosophy, religion, personal finance, food and travel and international languages. Classes are taught by professional educators and experts but held informally–which means attendance records are not kept, grades are not assessed and transcripts are not provided.
P.O. Box 750275
Dallas TX 75275-0275