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Upcoming Roster

Fall 2023

Fall 2023 MLAS courses begin Monday, August 28 and end Wednesday, December 6.

MLAS 6200: Seminar in Fine and Creative Arts: Listening to Film
Prof. Stan Link , Department of Composition and Theory, Blair School of Music
Tuesday evenings, 6:00-8:30 pm
Course Description: Although we commonly say that we “watch a movie,” this course begins from the premise that hearing is as vital to the experience of cinema as the eye. Film’s presentation of music, sounds, and human voices may often be heard as elaborating on the image, dialogue, and story. But sound also has its own work to do in our interpretation of events, and its own way of doing it. By closely examining and analyzing excerpts from dozens of classic and recent films this class will put the entire soundtrack in the foreground of “watching.” Our immediate goal will be to understand how listening reveals and constructs characters, deepens locations, unfolds time, guides the eye, interprets dramatic events, and stimulates emotional responses, etc. Ultimately, however, the course also aims at highlighting the ear’s contribution to our experience of our own lives in a world that may, in fact, only appear to be driven by images.
(Fine and Creative Arts)


MLAS 6300: Seminar in History: Cuba and the United States
Prof. W. Frank Robinson
, Department of History, College of Arts and Science
Wednesday evenings, 6:00-8:30 pm
Course Description: Today, Cuba and the United States stand at an impasse after having recently taken historic steps to chart a new course in their relations. Throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and especially since Fidel Castro's takeover in 1959, the histories of Cuba and the United States intertwined in powerful ways. Of all the peoples in Latin America, none has been more familiar to the United States than Cubans--who in turn have come to know their northern neighbors equally well. In 1899, as the United States settled into its occupation of Cuba after the Spanish-American War, President William McKinley offered his famous observation about the relationship between the two countries: “The new Cuba yet to arise from the ashes of the past must be bound to us by ties of singular intimacy.” Clearly, Cuba occupies a unique place in the history of American foreign relations, and this course seeks to trace the complex political, cultural, and economic ties between the two countries.


MLAS 6700: Core Course/Interdisciplinary Seminar: Human flourishing: a life well lived
Prof. Michael Bess,
Department of History, College of Arts and Science
Monday evenings, 6:00-8:30 pm
Course Description: In this course we explore what it means to live a good life.
The topic will be divided into four thematic levels – personal/psychological, spiritual, national, and global. 

  • The personal/psychological part of the course will explore two millennia of writings about what constitutes a life well lived, and seek practical ways to apply these ideas to our own lives in the present. 
  • The second phase of the course focuses on the question of transcendence – the powerful relationship that many people find (or at least seek) between their individual selfhood and a greater sense of purpose or meaning.  For many this quest finds fruition through organized religion, while for others it assumes more informal or secular forms.  We’ll survey the history of this quest for transcendence among the people of many cultures, exploring how their experiences might be relevant to our own lives today.
  • Next we’ll look at the national and community level, analyzing the socioeconomic systems of the Scandinavian countries, and comparing them point by point with the American system – assessing the relative strengths and weaknesses on either side. 
  • Finally we’ll turn to what it means to be a good global citizen, and how much impact a single individual can make.  Surveying the major planet-level challenges facing humankind over the coming century, we’ll study the solutions that have been tried, why they have fallen short thus far, and various possible pathways toward a safer, more democratic future.

(Core Course, History, or Social Science)