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CORE 104 Change and the Future

Professor P. Ethington, Department of History >>
Professor O. Harrison, Department of French and Italian>>
Professor S. Lamy, School of International Relations >>



Professor P. Ethington, Department of History

Don Quixote in Los Angeles: 1615-2005

In the age of global cultures and mass media, how do we define ourselves and how do we define others?  This is a course on the history of a global metropolis, and also an opportunity to explore the meaning of history itself.  Our exploration will focus on Los Angeles, built by generations of seekers and dreamers: actors, artists, immigrant workers, investors, inventors, moviemakers, warlords, novelists, spies, U.S. presidents, and charlatans.  Illusion and the harshest reality have continually interacted here, from the creation of Hollywood to the design of rockets to the Moon, Mars, and beyond; from Tarzan to the F-16.  All dimensions of life: gender, class, status, race, culture, power, and the human spirit, have been transformed in the modern era, and global cities like Los Angeles are at the leading edge of these transformations.  

Cervantes first explored the entanglement of illusion and rationality in the modern world.  His Don Quixote is the first comprehensive portrait of the modern self.  In his quest to restore the truths of the past, Don Quixote creates his own identity but is caught in a web of illusions.  The students will embark on a quest as well: to map the ways that world history, as it can be found all around us in the landscape of the present, affects our lives today.  

The course is based on the instructor's forthcoming book, Ghost Metropolis: Los Angeles and the Cartography of Time, 1900-2001.  Students will also read other histories of Los Angeles, and Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra's Don Quixote.  

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.  Don Quixote.  Tran. Burton Raffel.  New York: W.W. Norton, 1999.
William Deverell.  Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of Its Mexican Past.  Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.
Philip K. Dick.  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.  New York: Random House, 1996.
Phil Ethington.  Ghost Metropolis: Los Angeles and the Cartography of Time, 1900-2001. In press.
Karen Tei Yamashita.  Tropic of Orange: A Novel.  Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 1997.

Assigned Screenings will include:
Go West.  Dir. Buster Keaton, 1925.
Blade Runner.  Dir. Ridley Scott, 1982,
The Player.  Dir. Robert Altman, 1992,
A Day Without a Mexican.  Dir. Sergio Arau, 2004.





Professor O. Harrison, Department of French and Italian

Islam and the West

Ten years after the attacks that came to be know as “9/11” and thirty years after Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” thesis first crystallized the new antagonism of the late 20th and early 21st century, it is more urgent than ever to understand the complex history of relations between “the West” (Europe and the United States) and the Muslim world. Going against the grain of received ideas about the incompatibility of Islam and the West, this course will examine the long history of Europe’s interactions with the Muslim world, as well as the presence of Islam and Muslims in the West from the advent of Islam in the seventh century to the present day. We will approach this reciprocal (if unequal) relationship from an historical and thematic perspective, ranging from early Christian myths about Islam and the Crusades to the rich period of convivencia in medieval Spain, and from European colonialism in North Africa and the Middle East to (post)colonial immigration and a post-9/11 world order characterized by new forms of Islamophobia.

“Islam and the West” begins by looking at the place of Islam in the Western media in order to raise several questions that will run throughout the course: What is the genesis of stereotypes about Islam and Muslims? How have debates about Islam in the West evolved? What historical events and socio-cultural changes have shaped the image of Islam that prevails in dominant discourses and popular culture today? Of paramount importance in our investigations will be the seven centuries of Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula (al-Andalus), the European colonization of the Arab world, the mass migrations that began during the colonial era and continue into the present day, and the global war on terror. Studying patterns of migration and the genesis of Europe’s Muslim communities, we will be particularly attentive to specifically anti-Muslim discourses on the continent, comparing them to the later, post-9/11 emergence of Islamophobia in the U.S. and other parts of the Western hemisphere. We conclude the course with the question of women, which is central throughout the history of representations of Islam in the West but gains acute importance during the colonial era, and continues to justify crusades aimed at saving Arab-Muslim women from age-old oppression.


Asad, Talal. On Suicide Bombing. New York: Columbia UP, 2007.
Rushdie, Salman. The Satanic Verses. New York: Vintage, 1998.
Said, Edward. Orientalism. 25th anniversary edition. New York: Vintage, 1994.
Shakespeare. Othello. New York: Bantam Books, 2005.

Course Reader. 




Professor S. Lamy, School of International Relations

Empire and Its Discontents

This course will look at international relations and US foreign policy in the post-Cold War era. With the end of the Cold War, most citizens in the wealthy Northern states thought world leaders would work to establish a New World Order that would provide stability, order and economic opportunities for the entire world.  The majority of the world's population, living in the poorer South or developing world, hoped that the end of bipolarity and the global ideological conflict between the US and the USSR would shift attention to their human security concerns.  The first Gulf War suggested to most of the world that multilateralism and the rule of law would be defining norms in this new world order. To many, this transition was about rethinking the dominant realist paradigm and rethinking the rules of international relations that were established in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia. With the terrorist attacks of 11 September, the second Bush administration ended any hopes of a new world order based on multilateralism and global governance. The Bush Doctrine clearly advocates a more unipolar or hegemonic strategy for US foreign policy and has caused concerns around the world that the US plans on establishing a new empire. The debate about US imperial aspirations and the future of world order is at the center of political discussions around the world. In this seminar, we will join this discussion and critically review the arguments for and against this new US Empire.

The course will be discussion-based and we will explore or inhabit several case studies and we will participate in several problem-based exercises. There will be no traditional exams in this class. Students will asked to present critical reviews of each book read in class and they will write a short essay after each case study. There will be a final problem-based exercise at the end of the course.

Andrew Bacevich.  The New American Militarism.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Niall Ferguson.  Colossus.  New York: Penguin, 2005.
Ann-Marie Slaughter.  A New World Order.  Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 2005.
IDRC.  The Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty: The Responsibility to Protect.

Core 101: Symbols and Conceptual Systems

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Core 102: Culture and Values

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Core 103: Process of Change in Science

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Core 104: Change and the Future

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Core 112 Writing Seminar

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