Monday, January 11, 2016


MALAS 600C.02/RWS 744
Prof. Cezar Ornatowski
Mondays 7:00-9:40 pm

Visuality has become a focus of theory and research in a variety of fields (rhetoric, communication, cultural studies, literary, and science studies).  Much of communication today is visual: from images posted on Facebook to the media and to the image-loaded Internet. With the spread of the Internet and of global electronic communication technologies, visuality became the major form of popular political communication (note the ubiquity of the phenomenon of the visual meme) as well as the most manipulated one (since images can be staged, Photoshopped, false captioned, and so on). Visuality has in fact become the major arena of political and cultural “struggle” in the electronic medium. In the realm of epistemology, visualization is a powerful strategy for involving high-level human intelligence in the process of exploring new phenomena. The power of visuality lies in its projection of ”presence”: the sense of “being there” and experiencing something without mediation, and in its ability to directly impact our emotions.

The course will examine a range of visual artifacts (photographs and other images, paintings, videos, and film) from a variety of theoretical and analytic perspectives (rhetorical, cultural, political, literary, and epistemic). Our exploration of the “visual” realm will be conducted from three complementary perspectives:

  • a “semiotic” perspective: the working of the visual sign itself
  • a “systemic” perspective: visuality as a communication system that involves specific technologies, media, and techniques of production, reproduction, manipulation, circulation, and reception
  • The “rhetorical/communication“ perspective that involves practices of seeing and looking, analysis of persuasive effects of visual artifacts, as well as examination of their deployments in politics, culture, art, advertising, knowledge discovery, and so on.

MALAS 600C.01/HIST 527
Prof. Yale Strom
Mondays, 7pm to 9:40

Holocaust in Feature Films (527) will examine the medium of film and how it has been used as a creative tool to confront and help the audience imagine the most unimaginable in terms of facts and figures. The Holocaust has become a metaphor for suffering, a template for the worst horrors ever visited upon mankind in modern times. Films about the Holocaust provide images of smoke, barbed wire, sealed train cars, skeletal bodies, torture, etc. These films help to make clearer why and what happened to millions of people to university students four generations removed from this catastrophe and to understand why genocide still happens in our world today. The class will be taught in three sections: 1. Hitler, Germany and The Final Solution, 2. Jewish and Gentile Responses to the Holocaust, and 3. The Lingering Impact of the Holocaust.

Prof. Kahleel Mohammed
Tuesdays 3:30-6:10pm

Our changing views of sex (and/or sexuality) have impacted our interpretation of sacred texts from antiquity to the present. This advanced course examines some major scriptures and supporting traditional texts through diverse cultures, periods and religious traditions, to show metamorphosis of attitudes, and how such attitudes affect contemporary debates such as LGBTQ issues and same-sex unions. Among the texts we will examine are the Kama Sutra, the Hebrew Bible, the Quran and their ancillary interpretations and oral traditions.

Prof. Maria Rybakova
Thursdays 4 to 6:40pm

The course will examine major works of the 19th and 20th century novels in comparison with their film adaptation by the major figures of world cinema. Each book and its screen version will be discussed in terms of means of expression, structure of the story, and historical accuracy: how are writing and filming similar in the way they give expression to ideas? How does the visuality, present in film, affect our ability to imagine (a quality so important when reading)? Why are we sometimes disappointed by the film version of our favorite book? Could, on the other hand, a film version be better than the original novel? One of the course's aims will be to develop the skills of reading and watching attentively and to stimulate a discussion on literary and visual/cinematographical means of expression. 

MALAS 600A/ PHI 536
Prof. Robert Francescotti
Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:30 to 4:45pm

This course surveys the main theories, arguments, and distinctions in the philosophy of mind. We will read and discuss the works of the major philosophers of mind since the time of Descartes (but mostly in the 20th century). The objective of the course is to provide a strong enough background that you are able to enter graduate seminars in the phil. of mind and to conduct some of your own research in the area.


--David Chalmers (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: Classical
and Contemporary Readings, available at SDSU Bookstore.
A pdf of the anthology is also available on Blackboard.
--A course packet (PHIL. 536, Readings) available at CalCopy.
and from these we will read the following:

  • René Descartes, parts of Meditations and Passions of the Soul
  • Bertrand Russell, “Analogy”
  • Gilbert Ryle, “Descartes’ Myth” and other exceprts from The Concept of Mind
  • Rudolf Carnap, “Psychology in Physical Language”
  • Hilary Putnam, “Brains and Behavior”
  • J.J.C. Smart, “Sensations and Brain Processes”
  • U. T. Place “Is Consciousness a Brain Process?”
  • David Armstrong, “The Causal Theory of the Mind”
  • David Lewis, “Mad Pain and Martian Pain”
  • Ned Block, “Troubles with Functionalism”
  • Alvin Turing, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence”
  • John Searle, “Minds, Brains, and Programs” and “Can Computers Think?”
  • Thomas Nagel, “What is it Like to be a Bat?”
  • Frank Jackson, “Epiphenomenal Qualia”
  • Daniel Dennett, “Intentional Systems” from Brainstorms
  • Paul Churchland, “Eliminative Materialism and the Propositional Attitudes”
  • Daniel Dennett, “Quining Qualia”
  • Joseph Levine, “Materialism and Qualia; The Explanatory Gap”
  • Colin McGinn, “Can We Solve the Mind-Body Problem?”
  • David Chalmers, “Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness”

Your final grade is the percentage of 550 possible points you earn on the following items.

EXAMS (300 pts)
There are three in-class essay exams, each worth 100 points.


At most class meetings, I will assign a question about the readings to be discussed at the following meeting. You are asked to answer the question in one typewritten page, and turn it in at the start of the next class period.

TERM PAPER (150 pts)

12 pages minimum, due by 5 pm, Dec 17th. You will explain and defend your own conclusions regarding one of the main issues discussed in the course.

MALAS 600B/Philosophy 515 
Philosophy of Film
Dr. Mark R. Wheeler
Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:30-5:45pm in COM 206

The main goal of the course is to help you study films from a philosophical perspective.
You will master the major concepts and arguments in the contemporary philosophy of film. I will help you refine your philosophical method. You will display your comprehension of the course materials and methods by means of written work and oral presentations. Each of you shall pursue research into one of the main topics in the contemporary philosophy of film. These topics include: the nature of film, the ontology of films, the authorship of films, narration in films, films and emotions, the politics of films, the epistemology of films, and the logic and temporality of films. Among the philosophical problems we will consider in class are: the differences among the philosophy of film, film theory, film criticism, the history of film; the nature of film and imagery; films worlds and the status of the objects in films; film authorship; cognitive and non- cognitive dimensions of film; film narration, montage, and argument; the spatio-temporality of film; film as a tool for social critique; the relationship between film and reality; and the difference between fiction and nonfiction films.