arts & letters
featured classes - fall 2016

View the entire schedule of upcoming Southern Miss classes.

history 485

black studies 301

One of the most iconic and yet most often misunderstood figures in all of Japanese history is that of the samurai. Using primary sources and literary works in translation as well as the competing perspectives of historians, this class will trace the evolution of the concept of samurai and the people labeled samurai through Japanese history, focusing on Japan’s medieval and early modern periods. These were eras during which samurai transformed from servants of the state to rulers of the realm and lay the foundation for Japan’s modern transformations. The figure of the samurai is inextricably linked to violence and warfare. Because conflicts generate paper trails, the study of warfare can illuminate larger social and cultural issues in history. As samurai developed systems of lordship and governance, they steadily transformed Japanese state and society. However, the term samurai was also a label of status claimed by merchants, pirates, ninja, and farmers, both male and female. A study of samurai thus also provides entrance into the society and culture of Japan and the samurai, however misrepresented and romanticized, remain powerful symbols of Japanese culture around the world. Using primary and secondary materials this course will explore the relationship between myth and reality with respect to the samurai.


italian 101

For more information visit Foreign Languages and Literatures, or contact Professor Luisa Baez.

Though the scope of black studies is broad, this course will examine closely the culture and history of African Americans and the black diaspora using a multidisciplinary approach for critical inquiry. We will survey the development of black studies as an academic discipline, from its student-activist origins of the 1960s to the present. Students will be given a substantive introduction to the discipline in subject areas covering African civilization, slavery and colonialization, political movements, religion, economics, sociology, media, psychology and black aesthetics (i.e. literature, art, music, and dance). A theoretical concern for identity constructions (e.g. race, gender, class, and sexuality) will also be central to our studies. Overall, BLKS 301 will serve as a required, foundational course for the black studies minor to launch the exploration of other related courses covering black experiences. This course is also open to students of any major and/or minor concentration.


art 360

Learn basic techniques for making sculpture. During the semester you will learn basic wood shop, metal working (welding and fabrication) and casting, either iron or aluminum. You’ll work in a professional art studio environment and learn about art while mastering important tool and material skills you can use the rest of your life! No experience necessary. Space is limited.

Art 360- H001 #15659 (Art majors and minors select Art 361 #2416)

history 482

In the early 1900s, the communists were a small minority on the radical fringe of the trans-Atlantic socialist movement. Half a century later, communism was an international movement that ruled over more than a third of the world’s population. In this course, we will examine communism from its origins as a radical critique of industrial capitalism to its emergence as a global socio-political system. We will look at a political movement that promised a non-exploitative path to industrial progress, eliminated illiteracy through mass education, equalized gender opportunities and income inequalities, achieved enviable scientific accomplishments and instituted a generous system of state-supported social welfare. On the other hand, we will also look at a political system that slaughtered, sequestered and starved to death millions of its citizens in the service of its utopian ideology, instituted draconian forms of information control and artistic censorship and sacrificed the living standards of its citizens to military modernization. In this class, in short, we will look at all sides of the international communist movement — both good and bad. We will also look at the communist world from a global perspective from Eastern Europe, Africa and East Asia to the Americas, paying special attention to the diversities and differences that marked the communist movement in countries as diverse as the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Yugoslavia and Cambodia. Topics to be explored include: the rise of international communism, collapse and continuity in the communist world, communism as a non-capitalist model of economic development, communism and genocide, communism and gender equality, communism and environmental degradation, and communism and anti-communism in American and European life.

history 416/516

anthropology 342

This course is designed to introduce the student to human osteology and its use in forensic settings. In the first portion, the students will learn to identify the human skeleton, including fragmentary remains. The middle portion will discuss interpretation of remains, including determination of age, sex, race, individual identification, and trauma. The final portion will cover applications of this information in forensic analysis, such as crime scene recovery and time since death, as well as its presentation to law enforcement agencies. Students will learn a variety of analytical methods in hands-on laboratory exercises.  They will then be asked to apply them in two case studies, one adult and one juvenile.  There will also be a mock crime scene in which skeletal remains are excavated.

religion 335

From the late 1930s through the mid-1940s, people of all sexes, ages, backgrounds, and regions of the world, were gripped by the dangers, deprivations, and duties that accompanied a “total war.” Millions took on new roles and responsibilities on the home and battle fronts, and endured the horrors of aerial bombardment, occupation, and genocide. At the same time, the war inspired remarkable acts of compassion and feats of heroism. The effects of this global conflict were profound and enduring, and more than seventy years later it continues to fascinate historians and the general public alike.


This course will survey the history of the Second World War, with attention being paid to social, cultural, political, and military contexts and perspectives. We will examine a wide array of primary and secondary material, including scholarly writing, diaries and memoirs, novels, public papers, photographs, music, and film.  An over-arching goal of the course will be to get you to question established truths, deviating from a vision of warfare that highlights winners and losers. Rather, we will consider the impact and trauma of global war in a more holistic sense, considering different nations and social groups, popular culture and everyday life, and victims and perpetrators on all sides of the battlefield.

english 345

Approaching the assigned readings in terms of literary criticism and history, this course will provide a survey of children’s and young adult literature from the eighteenth century to the present by examining key texts, authors, and genres.  We will study the history of literature for youth and consider what this history suggests about changing conceptualizations of childhood and adolescence, and we will practice engaging in the literary analysis of children’s and young adult literature.  We also will identify some of the key conventions of these texts and discuss how children’s and young adult literature can be used to think about issues of audience, reception, aesthetics, censorship, complexity, gender, race, imperialism, education, development, and sexuality.

A study of the major themes and history of the Christian religion.



history 481

Do you love blood-thirsty pagan barbarians? Then take a history class to learn about the Scandinavian Vikings through mythology, material culture, saga literature, and conversions to Christianity.

sociology 101

SOC 101 is designed to introduce you to sociology—the systematic study of human relations and society. Sociologists aim to understand why people do what they do, how their attitudes and actions change based upon social context, and why society works the way it does.  Topics covered in this course may include crime, healthcare, inequalities, and culture.

english 454

history 310

This course is designed to introduce students to the social, cultural, and political history of Latin America from pre-Columbian times to the present. The course will focus on three themes of fundamental importance to the region: (1) the challenge of political stability and economic growth, (2) the relationship between Latin America and other regions and (3) the effects of racial, socioeconomic, and gender inequality in the region. Each unit will begin with a broad overview of the region during a specific time period before focusing on a single country case study. Throughout the semester, students will be exposed to music, film excerpts, paintings, poetry and other non-traditional primary sources in order to understand the cultural history of Latin America.


english 400

This course will examine why major modernist writers define social and interpersonal problems in their works only to leave them unresolved.  It will also explore how and why formal and stylistic innovation, or the modernist need to "make it new," must compensate for thematic irresolution.  Writers covered include Wyndham Lewis, Rebecca West, T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, Kay Boyle, and Samuel Beckett.


 Book List:


  • The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway
  • Process, Boyle
  • Aesthetics and Politics, Adorno et al
  • Dialectic of Enlightenment, Horkheimer & Adorno
  • The Waste Land, Prufrock and Other Poems, Eliot
  • Collected Poems and Plays, Lewis
  • Endgame and Act Without Words, Beckett

religion 424

Do religious healing practices really work? Why are why not? Are these even the right questions to ask?  To answer these questions, in this course we probe a variety of forms of religious healing as well as Western psychological and anthropological theories of healing. From these building blocks, we create a dialogue in which we better understand how religious healing practices may or may not be effective while we also study how religious healing may inform psychological and anthropological theories. In so doing we not only discover new ways of looking at the world, we also have a lot of fun exploring psychic phenomena and other such things.


philosophy 460/560

What would YOU do to change the world? Do we need a new world order? Topics Include:  World Poverty, Immigration,   Destruction of Ecosystems, Globalism,  Overpopulation, Water & Food, NGOs, Strengthening the United Nations. Sign up on SOAR, Philosophy 460/560, under “Contemporary Issues.” For more information, please contact Dr. Michael DeArmey at

english 203H

Lights! Camera! Action!  This year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, and this survey will look not only at his plays but also at as much background information as possible so that we can understand his period, his language, and his craft. Included in our extravaganza will be some film clips and other media resources to help us understand this author's genius.


english 611

Since the 1970s, much of southern literature has been characterized as gritty, minimalist, violent, provocative, grotesque: in novels, short fiction, and memoirs, we see a version of Dirty Realism focusing on rural working-class whites leading hardscrabble lives, wryly called “Grit Lit.”  Initial practitioners of Grit Lit—besides the Holy Trinity of Harry, Barry, and Larry—included Dorothy Allison, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Cormac McCarthy.  In addition to these writers, we will look at more recent works by authors like Ann Pancake, Janisse Ray, and Jesmyn Ward, as well as examining the literary foundations of Grit Lit: Southwestern Humor and the Southern Gothic.  Required components of the course, aside from regular and substantive class participation, will include presentations and an article-length seminar essay.  We will supplement our reading with essays from various theoretical approaches.


Possible texts include:


Dorothy Allison, Bastard Out of Carolina (1992)

Larry Brown, Big Bad Love (1990)

Erskine Caldwell, Tobacco Road (1932)

Harry Crews, A Feast of Snakes (1976)

Barry Hannah, Airships (1978)

Bobbie Ann Mason, Shiloh and Other Stories (1982)

Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (1985)

Toni Morrison, Sula (1973)

Flannery O’Conner, A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories (1955)

Ann Pancake, Strange As this Weather Has Been (2007)

Janisse Ray, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood (1999)

Karen Russell, Swamplandia! (2011)

Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones (2011)



history 370

Yes, this is indeed a course on the history of the great state of Mississippi.  Come and gain a fuller understanding of your state, its triumphs and tragedies, successes and challenges, from Native American settlements to the present day.

anthropology 449/459

Food is a biological necessity, yet it contains multiple cultural and social meanings. It contains cultural symbols, is linked to our memories and identity, holds great political sway, can unite people in community, and divide people by race, class, and ethnicity. The food we eat also has a direct impact on our health and wellbeing (in both the body and mind). This course will explore the many issues surrounding the production, consumption, and distribution of food both locally and globally. Some topics which will be explored include body image, food and social inequality, feminist perspectives on food, the global commodification of food, and the evolution of diet and the relationship between diet and chronic diseases.


sociology 360

This course is designed to introduce students to the fundamental concepts and some of the keys issues surrounding globalization and international development from a sociological perspective. Some believe that globalization holds great promise for improving global stability, democracy, and human rights. Others fear that globalization will bring new forms of oppression and end certain ways of life. Through this course students will learn about the debates surrounding globalization and become acquainted with some of the social issues confronting countries around the world. Students will gain a broad understanding of how the world is increasingly interconnected in terms of politics, economics, culture, gender, and the environment, which will allow them to better comprehend current international events being reported in the media.

Plantations dot the Southern landscape, and they offer an intriguing opportunity to compare them to their counterparts in England: country houses. This course uses the similarity between ‘great houses’ in Britain and the South to explore the relationship between one’s home and one’s personal, social, and national identity. We will read literature from both regions that places houses at the center of various imagined communities, and consider how a house functions as a means of community organization. Questions we’ll consider: What do houses symbolize? Who takes care of them, and with what rewards? We’ll also consider homes that deviate from the ‘great house’ model in order to account for experiences that tend to be eclipsed by a ‘great house’ culture. A series of assignments—from brief analyses to a presentation and a research paper—will hone students’ skills in writing and critical thinking as they investigate homes and houses in both the Old World and the New.


sociology 214

history 478

This course will examine the history of the mid-twentieth century Civil Rights Movement both nationally and locally. As part of this class, we will be taking three Saturday trips to Civil Rights sites around Mississippi. We will utilize primary and secondary sources to learn about the Movement from the end of World War II through the end of the Black Power Movement. In addition to a few smaller writing assignments, each student will write an original paper about a Civil Rights Movement topic of interest, using primary sources and oral histories, if possible. These final products will add to the historiography of the Movement in Mississippi. This class fulfills an upper level American history major requirement and counts towards the black studies minor, human rights minor, and Southern Studies concentration in the Bachelors of Interdisciplinary Studies degree.

The goal of this course is to give you the tools to look analytically at something we all know very well: the family. We all have intimate experience with our own families, but we do not always see how social, economic, political, and cultural forces shape both our own families and families which are very different from our own. During the course we will look at the family historically to see how the family has changed over time. We will examine the everyday experiences of individuals within families by looking at such things as love, marriage, and parent-child relationships. And, we will take a "macro" view of families to see how families interact with such institutions as the government and the economy. By the end of the course you should have an understanding of how families make decisions about their lives and how outside social forces affect those decisions.

history 333

Course Description This course traces the political, social, and cultural history of Europe over the "long" nineteenth century (1789-1914). During the nineteenth century, European civilization conquered the world, while claiming represent progress, rationality, and freedom. At the same time, European imperialism was premised on violence and racism and continental politics itself concluded the century with the slaughterhouse of World War I. This course traces these contradictions as it explores the ways in which Europe wrestled with both the promises and problems that emerged in the wake of the French and Industrial Revolutions. The course thus raises a fundamental question relevant to today’s politics: are violence, racism, and inequality fundamental or incidental to the kinds of political, social, and cultural relations that developed during the nineteenth century? Topics covered include the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, rise of liberalism and socialism, cultural movements such as Romanticism and modernism, the emergence of nationalism and the nation-state, the 1848 Revolutions, the unification of Germany and Italy, the "Eastern Question," imperialism and racial sciences, changing relations of class, gender, and sexuality, the emergence of mass culture and mass politics, and the origins of World War I.

anthropology 101

Anthropology uses a comparative approach to study humans through all times and places and considers the diverse facets of human experience, from the biological to the cultural.  This provides a broad perspective on what it means to be human.  This course introduces the student to major issues, concepts, perspectives, and methods of anthropology through an exploration of the four sub-disciplines: cultural, linguistic, biological (physical) and archaeological anthropology.

history 349

This course is concerned with the social, political, cultural, and imperial history of modern Britain, from the early eighteenth century through to the present day. Using an array of both primary and secondary sources, we will examine many facets of British society, from high politics to popular culture. We will also consider the impact of Britain’s empire, both at home and throughout the world. Finally, we will look at issues such as race, class, and gender, and attempt to better understand what it meant to be British, in different historical times and spaces.

philosophy 351

This course is designed to enhance students’ reasoning skills. Unlike PHI 253, we do not study a formal, deductive system. Neither does the class presuppose familiarity with formal logic. Instead, we focus on various practical tools geared to assist students in becoming better at reasoning and critical thinking. We study various fallacies and cognitive biases. We examine “real life” arguments to learn to spot various flaws and mistaken inferences. We also practice doing logic games and logical reasoning exercises, such as are found on LSATs, GREs and other standardized tests. Throughout, the emphasis is “applied” and practical. The class is helpful to anyone who is interested in becoming a better thinker, and it is particularly helpful to people who intend to go to law school, graduate school, or other fields in which careful and clear reasoning is important. No prior philosophical training is needed.


english 441

This course will approach the subject of literary theory from the standpoint of creative writers and artists who reflected on their craft and wrote criticism about it. We will read essays by twentieth century authors who span the modern and contemporary period, including Virginia Woolf, Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, Toni Morrison, and David Foster Wallace, among others. This class should appeal to students who write creative and critical work themselves, as it will give you the opportunity to learn from figures who are both practitioners and enthusiasts of art. While we will focus predominantly on literary artists, this course will also test their theories against other modes of art practice including painting, photography, film, and music. To that end, we will read essays written by figures like Andy Warhol, Susan Sontag, French New Wave directors, and pianist Morton Feldman.

french 321

english 469 - gulf coast

Bavardons! Improve your oral and listening skills in French!

On Sunday, 8 February 1601, the Earl of Essex marched on London with the intent to imprison Queen Elizabeth’s closest advisors, whom he viewed as a threat to England.  Perhaps envisioning Essex as Henry Bolingbroke to Queen Elizabeth’s Richard II, political supporters of the rebellion commissioned Shakespeare’s acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, to revive Richard II the day before Essex marched on London. Although the rebellion failed, and Essex was executed shortly thereafter, the unique relationship this historical event posits between publicly performed drama and the politics of popular rebellion serves as the originating inspiration for this course.


Throughout the term, we will explore dramatic representations of social unrest and rebellion in English history plays primarily dating from the 1590s and 1600s.  Continuously interrogating the subversive potential of “popular” plays performed on the early modern stage, we will focus our attention on the historically situated relationship between our various course texts and relevant contemporary social concerns, such as the increasing environmental degradation of London’s built environment and the precariousness of the city’s grain supplies during a period of repeated crop failures.  We will also explore the role of censorship in limiting cultural expression and the relationship between performance and print in the period.  Our texts will include Shakespeare’s 2 Henry VI, Richard II, Coriolanus, and Macbeth, the unattributed Life and Death of Jack Straw, Marlowe’s Edward II, and finally the collaborative play Sir Thomas More.

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