New fall courses

This fall, students have the opportunity to learn more about French cinema, Islamic architecture, Beethoven and other topics through a variety of new course offerings.

Mona Damluji, the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Asian and Islamic Art History and Visual Culture, is leading several new art history courses, including Energy and Culture (ARTH 398), which examines the oil and energy industries through a cultural lens.

“We typically assume that understanding questions related to energy and oil is the work of economists, scientists and geologists. Yet the cultural dimensions of our modern world are constantly shaped by the decisions, infrastructures and economies of energy and oil,” Damluji said. “We will examine histories of coal, oil and ‘green’ energy in order to contextualize and critically engage the work of architects, photographers, filmmakers and writers who explicitly address how oil shapes our modern lives.”

Another of Damluji’s new courses, Mediating Islam (ARTH 298), examines media representations of Muslims, from television shows like “Homeland” to Comedy Central specials like the “Axis of Evil Comedy Tour.”

“As modern media consumers, we are constantly confronted with uncritical narratives in film, television and online that reproduce representations of Muslims and Arabs as the other, the ‘terrorist,’ and the assumed ‘enemy’ of the west. As engaged world citizens it is our responsibility to place these narratives in a critical light and search for alternative or counter narratives,” Damluji said.

Here is a quick look at some of the other new fall courses:

Impossible Monsters: Goya as Painter and Printmaker (ARTH 298)—Taught by Professor Evelyn Staudinger, this experimental course offers an in-depth look at the life and work of Spanish artist Francisco de Goya y Lucientes. Its offering coincides with the October opening of an exhibition on Goya at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston—the first of its kind in North America in 25 years. It is one of two courses offered this year through the Wheaton Institution for the Interdisciplinary Humanities.

Architectures of Islam (ARTH 298-03)—This introductory survey led by Damluji will take a closer look at Islamic architecture and explore the cultural, religious, social and political dimensions of Islam that have shaped diverse approaches to architecture and urban planning since the seventh century.

Introduction to French Cinema (FR 246)—Taught by Professor Jonathan Walsh and offered as part of the Film and Society Connection, this class will survey classic French films over the years from the silent period to the poetic realism and new wave movements, looking at directors such as Ganz, Carné, Truffaut and Godard.

Early Islamic Societies (HIST 251)—Taught by Associate Professor Yuen-Gen Liang, this course will survey Islamic history from 600 C.E. to the end of the 18th century, exploring the emergence of Islamic culture through religious practice and law, gender and minority relations, literature, art and architecture. It is offered as part of the Dividing East and West Connection.

Modern China (HIST 298 A02)—This experimental course will examine the political, social and cultural development of modern China, with a focus on both the foreign and domestic factors in China’s transition from its imperial past to a modern nation-state. It is being taught by Quentin Pearson, the Mellon Post-Doctoral Teaching Fellow in History.

Applied Health Science (MGMT 298)—Offered through the Business and Management program, this experimental course will cover the processes and products of life science commercialization and investigate the ethical and social justice issues raised by the industry. Students will work in teams to identify human health problems in the United States or globally, develop solutions and create a product and business plan to address that need. It is being taught by Professor of Biology Bob Morris and David Huizenga, a biologist, former patent attorney and entrepreneur.

Beethoven (MUSIC 398)—This study of Ludwig van Beethoven, taught by Professor Ann Sears, is the second WIIH-designated course offered in 2014-15. The course will include discussion, listening and performance of the works and life of Beethoven, and his work will be examined from the viewpoints of style, form, compositional technique, performance practice and reception history. Students in the Goya and Beethoven classes will collaborate on an exhibition in the Weil Gallery.—————————————————
Classes start Tuesday, August 26. View the full 2014–2015 Academic Calendar.

The new Energy and Culture course will examine the histories of coal, oil and green energy and their impacts on modern culture. (Photograph of Okrika, Nigeria by Ed Kashi)
The new Mediating Islam course examines media representations of Muslims in  television and other areas, such as this movie poster for the 2013 film by Dean Obeidallah and Negin Farsad.