Elective Courses

A photo of palm trees at the University of Miami Coral Gables campus. A photo of palm trees at the University of Miami Coral Gables campus.

MALS Program Electives

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  • MLS 611 - Studies in the Ancient World: Rome and Its Friendly Kings: Judea and Nabataea

    Rome's Eastern Frontier was a continual problem, with a series of misfortunes and failures. Augustus implemented a series of buffer kingdoms on the Eastern Frontier as a defensive strategy. This course will pursue these policies and practices by investigating two of the better known of these client kingdoms, the Herodian kings of Judea and the Nabataean kings at Petra in Arabia. The literary sources and archaeological remains (regional settlements and sanctuaries in particular) will be emphasized, as well as a comparison of their similarities and differences, and their fortunes and fate under Roman rule. 

    *Enrollment limited to 7 MALS students.

  • MLS 611 - Vampires in Folklore, Fiction and Film

    Why exactly is it that the notion of the vampire so captures out imagination? Whence this obsessive interest in such an extraordinary and macabre tradition? What do these remarkable intersections of actual history, folklore, high literary art, and popular culture tell us about the human condition today?

    This course examines the lore of the vampire, from early traditional sources, through Twilight and True Blood, to the latest vampire books and movies, by way of Bram Stoker's immortal Dracula and Anne Rice's immensely popular Vampire Chronicles. The connection between literary sources and cinema will be highlighted. 

    The goals of this course include:

    • Get a deeper understanding of one of the most fascinating aspects of current popular culture.
    • Inquire into major issues such as: "What does it mean to be human?" "What are the implications of death?"
    • Learn to watch movies critically, and to develop an aesthetics of screen media.
    • Gain a nuanced sense of cultures other than those encountered in America, and the principal values that are shared across all cultures.

  • MLS 612 - Race Relations in Contemporary America

    This course examines the dynamics of racial inequality in contemporary America. It examines, specifically, (1) theoretical perspectives that explain racial disparities and inequality across a variety of institutional contexts including the labor market, schools, and residence, (2) the nature of ideologies that justify this inequality, and (3) how theory inform social policy to rectify inequality.

  • MLS 621 - From Page to Stage

    The Outsider in Shakespeare - Shakespeare's influence on the English speaking world and for all humanity cannot be overestimated. His insights about the human condition still resonate centuries after he wrote his plays. Through the examination of two of his best known works - Othello and The Merchant of Venice - the course will focus on the nature of the outsider in society. The fear and misunderstanding generated by the alien in the closed culture of Elizabethan times seems as relevant today as it did 400 years ago. Transported by these two plays, the class will enter Shakespeare's world and observe how it is mirrored by our own. Class work will include a combination of literary and dramatic analysis and synthesis, the study of several video versions of Othello and The Merchant of Venice, and selected prepared readings from Shakespearean sonnets, and scenes from these plays using the reading techniques introduced in class. Specific topics will include: Shakespeare's language, themes, and usage; his dramatic and literary structure; the interconnectedness of dramatic elements found in Shakespeare; and the Elizabethan world - intellectually and socially. 

    *Enrollment limited to 15 students.

  • MLS 621 - Utopian and Dystopian Literature

    This seminar looks at utopian writings that describe ideal societies; at the anti-utopian works that satirize the idea of utopia; and at dystopias that portray the utopian dream as a nightmare. After an overview of major early utopian works by such authors as Plato, Thomas More, Francis Bacon, and Jonathan Swift we will focus on writings from the late 19th century on. In discussing the novels, we will keep in mind both the historical contexts in which they were written and the way they each respond to, and reshape, utopia as a literary genre. 

  • MLS 625 - Age of Augustus

    When Caesar adopted Gaius Octavius, he brought about the transition from Republic to Empire in Rome, and the Augustan Principate. The Age of Augustus saw revolutionary changes that transformed Rome, Romanized the provinces, and witnessed an unequalled era of peace and prosperity across the Mediterranean world. This course will track these developments between 27 BCE and 68 CE, from Augustus to Neo, by analysis of the major sources, films, and a survey of the archaeological remains for the early empire. 

  • MLS 625 - Southern Africa from Pre-Settlement to Nelson Mandela

    Nelson Mandela epitomizes the resistance of the people of South Africa against apartheid. This course takes up the theme of resistance to discrimination and apartheid in South Africa. It examines South African history at four critical junctures: the early contact with Europeans, the Mfecane, the introduction of apartheid, and the activities of the African National Congress and the people of Southern Africa in the overthrow of apartheid. First, we shall examine Southern African society before the arrival of the Dutch in 1652. Second, we shall analyze the establishment of the Dutch settlement and the relations between Africans and settlers in the context of the settler expansion inland and the appropriation of the lands of various peoples of Southern Africa. The next segment will look at the discovery of gold and diamond at the Witwatersrand and Kimberly respectively and the implications for South Africans, especially in terms of the mechanics of the system and African responses. We shall lay emphasis on the internal struggles and external pressures that helped in the collapse of apartheid and the release of Nelson Mandela to become the president of a multi-racial South African society.

  • MLS 631 - Global Cultures: Religions, Communications, and Security

    The course will provide an overview of world religions and cultures as a backdrop of effective communication for international professionals. The study of comparative religions and cultures will make students aware of special challenges in international and intercultural communication and the role of mass media in international relations. The course will be team taught bringing together a group of experts on different religions and cultures as well as media. 

  • MLS 696 & MLS 697 - Directed Readings

    A Directed Readings course allows you to work independently with a MALS professor, researching a topic of your choice. The Director may be the advisor for all Directed Readings in Religious Studies. For any other topic, you must find a professor in that field that is willing to act as your advisor.

    Only students with a 3.0 GPA or higher will be able to enroll in a Directed Readings course. In order to register for the course, you will need to submit a 2-page proposal along with a bibliography of 10 academic sources by May 6th. Proposals must be sent to the MALS office before registering. 

    The final paper must be a minimum of 15 pages, and be submitted to both the professor and the MALS office on the last day of the semester. Hard copies only will be accepted. 

    *Students are allowed two directed readings courses during their studies in the program.

  • MLS 799 - Romanticism: From Gothic Novels to Horror Film

    Romanticism can be seen as a rejection of the precepts of order, calm, harmony, balance, idealization, and rationality that typified Classicism in the 18th-century. Romanticism emphasized the individual, the subjective, the irrational, the imaginative, the emotional and the transcendental. Among the characteristics of Romanticism were a new view of the artist as a creator with an emphasis on imagination as a gateway to a spiritual truth and a predilection for the exotic, the remote, the mysterious, the weird, the occult, the monstrous, the diseased, and even the satanic. This seminar looks at Romanticism from the "dark side" of Art: Goya, Turner, Poe, Shelly and Stoker to the present. Topics will include Goya, the gothic novels of Shelly and Stoker and Poe's short stories. At the end of the seminar the student will comprehend how early 19th century thinking led to the horror film of today and apply a critical analysis of the evolution and rise of scaring us to death as entertainment.

  • MLS 799 - Seminar in Visual Thinking

    A graduate seminar introducing a variety of critical and analytical methods, from formalism to deconstruction. The class is designed to expand the knowledge of students in the areas of critical theory, esthetics, media theory, psychology and politics. With a concentration focus on expanding the vocabulary of thinking and talking about art, television, film and media within the plethora of ism's (Modernism, Post-Modernism, Feminism, etc.). The Goal of the class is for the student to able to view and understand image function as sign and metaphor from a variety of theoretical positions. The class will view and discuss paintings, photography, film advertising, television and computer as an analytical background for value, sign and structural systems. 

  • MLS 799 - War & Propaganda

    A graduate seminar exploring how War & Propaganda are depicted in art, film and media. The celebration and condemnation of war and violence has been explored by artist since the beginning of recorded history. The class will concentrate on the function and obsession with these topics in art and film. The goal fro this class is for the student to be able to analyze how different cultures view war, preparing for war and the aftermath of occupation and/or withdrawal.

  • Research in Residence - MALS Director

    Students needing extra time to complete their thesis may register for a Research in Residence course for 0 credit hours.