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Summer 2020 Session

The MALS program is delighted to offer a summer session. Courses will start the day after Memorial Day on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic all summer courses will be offered online.


Wednesdays, 5:30 – 8:00 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Tanya Agathocleous (
First Class Starts: 5/27/2020
Last Class: 7/8/2020


This course is designed to help students with the process of writing, researching and working towards completing a thesis or capstone project. As indicated by the course's title, the course is primarily run as a workshop with students sharing and commenting on writing in different stages of development. There will also be readings and discussions on the nature of academic discourse and how writing and research methods differ according to academic disciplines, thus replicating the department's interdisciplinary ethos. We will also work on writing strategies for different stages of the thesis-writing process.  
Students in all stages of their thesis and capstone projects are encouraged to take the course. 

 If you would like to sign up for the thesis writing course, permission of the department is required. To express your interest in taking this course, please fill in this form. This is a 3-credit course and it is not a substitute for MALS 79000.


MALS 78500 – American Icons (ONLINE COURSE)
Mondays & Thursdays, 6:00 – 8:00 pm, 3 credits, Prof. David Humphries (
First Class Starts: 5/26/2020
Last Class: 7/2/2020


This course will focus on a series of American icons as a way to explore broader issues in American Studies.  As a starting point, we will look at what makes the appeal of these icons so enduring as shared cultural touchstones and consider how such icons have recently been canonized, in a sense, in mainstream venues like PBS’s American Experience and the American Icon series presented by the radio program, Studio 360.  These popular venues often serve as useful distillations of multiple viewpoints, drawing on creative artists and practitioners from related fields as well as academic experts and others who speak to the reactions and cultural expectations of contemporary audiences. We will then recast these American icons in wider and more pointed critical and conceptual frameworks. We will look at how these icons bring together different social tensions and contradictions even as they often recast familiar narratives, and we will consider different critical approaches while also questioning the limitations that arise from any methodology that takes as its starting point a singular artifact. Along the way, we will also use these icons to pursue inquiries into other cultural phenomenon and debates, such as the rise of modern celebrity; the creation of youth culture and fashion culture; the impact of new kinds of media and technology; the origins and uses of particular genres, like the protest song, the summer blockbuster, reality t.v., and social media influencers; complex performances of race and gender; notions of class that can too easily be reduced to consumerism and corporate structures; and seemingly inevitable questions of American exceptionalism and transnational influences. As the course progresses, we will bring together our collective interests to make connections among generally recognized American icons and those icons that may be emerging from our uniquely digital and disruptive age.   


MALS 78500 – Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Climate Change (ONLINE COURSE)
Thursdays, 6:00 – 8:30 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Kaitlin Mondello (
Start Date: 7/9/2020
End Date: 8/13/20

“The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not,”  
– 16-year old climate activist Greta Thunberg at the UN Climate Action Summit, 9/20/19.  

While we will meet synchronously once a week, the remainder of the work for the course will be done asynchronously on the CUNY Academic Commons.
This course will study a range of academic, activist and artistic responses to the current climate crisis. We will attend to the rhetorical devices and modes employed across texts and media on the subject, from activism to apathy to denial. The goal of the course is to explore the intersections of the economic, political, scientific, cultural and emotional dimensions of climate change. From this broad study, we will examine the key barriers to action at the international, national and personal levels.  

The course is designed to be interdisciplinary, as well as to venture into public discourse, precisely because climate change is a crisis that exceeds traditional boundaries in its immediacy and extent. Course texts include academic work in the humanities, social sciences and sciences; short- and long-form scientific journalism aimed at a popular audience; and the new genre of “cli-fi” (climate fiction). We will take a cultural studies approach that includes the study of film, advertising, and the use of art in activism. 

Students will help to build a course web site on the CUNY Academic Commons as an Open Educational Resource (OER) called “The Rhetoric(s) of Climate Change,” as they write digitally and publicly for the course blog. From the broad survey offered in this course, students will choose one aspect of most interest to them to research further for the course site. The instructor will help connect students with local climate activist organizations and events that students may choose to blog about. We will analyze our own rhetoric(s) as we build and write for the course site, with particular attention to possible interchanges between academic and public discourse on the subject.  

MALS 78500 – Queer Academics: Where and to What Queer Theory Can Apply (ONLINE COURSE)
Tuesdays & Thursdays, 6:00 – 9:45 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Mark McBeth (
First Class: 5/26/2020
Last Class: 6/18/2020

(Cross-listed with WSCP 81000)

Introductory Video 

Queer Theory has gained a reputation of abstract thinking that doesn't actually do anything except theorize the non-normative systems that often thwart Queer energies. It allegedly doesn't perform much more than academic navel gazing.  However, in this course, we will read, write, research and perform how this seemingly esoteric theory-bound mindset has both informed activist work and infiltrated the academic labors that intellectuals do (and how they attempt to make a difference with it).   

Starting with histories of the early homophile assimilationists and moving through the "Gay Is Good" liberationists and then eventually arriving at the AIDS activism and Queer movements, we will investigate how these "homosexual" evolutions have influenced and advanced Queer thinking that has both left us in a sort of status of homonormativity, yet potentially offered other moments of Queer creative escape and revitalization. Looking back at archival documents of early 20th-century movements as well as updating our knowledge about current activism, this course wanders and wonders through the conundrums of 20th to 21st century Queer intellectual labors, activism, and outcomes.  Where have we been? Where are we now?  Where do we want to be?   

The course will rely on founding scholars (i.e., Sedgwick, Warner), delve into more updated iterations (i.e., Halberstam, Muñoz, Marcus), and search for who's out there (i.e., we'll search together).  A three-week course will offer an intense overview and foresight of Queer theory, but rely on the non-normative insights and energies of those who plan to participate in it.  Rather than produce normative seminar papers in this short intensive course, students will produce Queer performances of their intellectual labor in the course.   
In the early 1990s, the professor of this course took a course with Eve Sedgwick, entitled "Queer Performativity."  It changed his life and Queer thinking of the world. As a nostalgic view of this course, he would like to replicate some of the Queer energies that happened at that historical moment and see how 21st-century students can replicate and advance the objectives of that course of one of our Queer founders.  

MALS 78500 – Introduction to Race and Ethnicity (ONLINE COURSE)
Mondays & Wednesdays, 6:00 – 9:00 pm, 3 credits, Prof. Nathalie Etoke (
First Class Starts: 5/27/2020
Last Class: 6/29/2020

Focusing on the longue durée of imperialism since 1492 and  accounting for the consequences of the  Native American genocide,  racial slavery, colonialism, historical violence and  the ongoing struggles for social justice and freedom, this course  looks  at the ways in which white supremacy  creates racial  boundaries.  We will analyze  the relationship between race and power  to show how it shapes citizenship and American  identity.  Throughout the course, you  will expand your critical thinking and reflection skills, make meaningful connections between race and everyday experience, develop a personal understanding of how race interacts with larger social and historical forces. In this course, we will draw from the fields of Sociology, Ethnic Studies and Cultural Studies to explore the meanings of race, racism, and racial justice.  
We will address the following questions: 

What does it mean to study race and ethnicity? 
How have conversations about race changed over the last few years?  

How is the idea of racial hierarchy woven into the fabric of The United States of America?  

How does it shape our daily life and our sense of self?  

How does it structure inequality in our society? 

What are the social and historical processes that have shaped our understandings of race and ethnicity?  
Learning Outcomes 
By the end of this course, students should be able to: 

  • Explain the difference between race and ethnicity. 

  • Think critically about their own racial position, recognize and appreciate racial experiences that differ from their own, and explain the significance of racism in today’s world. 

  • Describe how issues of race and ethnicity have shaped American institutions, laws, and practices over time. 

  • Identify and evaluate the strategies each author uses to make her/his argument as well as the theoretical claims they present. 

  • Critically analyze race and ethnicity in news media.