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Public Affairs


Middle Earth to Middle East: new, unique classes

September 12, 2003

Photo of a young woman raising her hand in classArab representation in the media, Tolkien and the world post-9/11 are just a handful of subjects students are studying this fall.

A new class from the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences "The United States and the World in the 21st Century," grew out of faculty desire to help people understand current international affairs. It's offered 7 to 9 p.m. Thursdays so Bay Area residents can attend and participate in discussions. With a flexibility that's rare in academia, the schedule of topics and speakers can change on short notice to respond to new developments in world affairs.

"This is an effort to help the public and campus community understand this extremely complex post-9/11, post-Iraqi war global situation," says BSS Dean Joel Kassiola. "One of the great consequences of 9/11 is that the average person realizes the world is very small and that we cannot continue in our blissful ignorance and not be affected by international relations."

The class (BSS 277) meets in Humanities Auditorium (Rm. 133). The public is invited to attend on a space-available basis. See the course Web page for more information.

Other interesting or new classes include:

"Arab Representation in U.S. Film & Media" (Ethnic Studies 430)
Lecturer Matthew Shenoda examines representation of peoples from the Arab world by focusing on American films and media. The course will focus on Hollywood as well as news media to better understand how Arabs are viewed by the U.S.

"Post-Colonial Arab & Arab American Identity: Memory & Resistance" (Ethnic Studies 420)
Also taught by Shenoda, the class looks at Arab American identity from a post-colonial historical context, focusing on nationalism, culture, politics, history, poetry, psychoanalysis, post-colonial studies, critical theory and cinema.

"Business of Creative Writing" (Creative Writing 506/806)
The innovative class offers tips on pitching books to publishers, writing grants or starting a small press, online journal or writers' group. It's believed to be one of the first courses of its kind offered by a university writing program. The class was created in response to student demand. "Our students want to have a picture of what their lives will be like when they graduate," said associate professor Robert Glück, an award-winning poet and fiction author who teaches the class. "We have students who have agents already, but they want a better feel for the shape of the industry."

"Adolescence: Social Inequality and Self" (Sociology 500)
This class focuses on young people and their efforts to develop a sense of themselves in the context of such social inequalities as racism, sexism, heterosexism and poverty. The class, taught by Assistant Professor of sociology Jessica Fields, will examine young people in schools, within their families and on the streets and how these factors are social change agents.

"Magic and the Supernatural in Medieval Europe" (History 640)
Students study fantastic creatures and places, with an exploration of miracles, magic, charms, folk traditions, saints and relics. Taught by Assistant Professor of history Jarbel Rodriguez, the course also covers stories of ghosts and vampires and shows how the supernatural played a role in medieval society and what the beliefs reveal about the medieval world.

"The Rhetoric of Terrorism" (Speech and Communication Studies 496)
Professor Joseph Tuman once again addresses world politics and terrorism as a form of rhetorical communication in this four-unit class. Students analyze public discourse on terrorism, from President George W. Bush's speeches after the attacks and Osama bin Laden's video messages to the way average people talk about terrorism. Students also explore how terrorists manipulate the mass media, and, in turn, how the mass media manipulate terrorism. In addition to Sept. 11-related activity, the class explores suicide bombings in Israel and terrorist acts committed by the Ku Klux Klan, Irish Republican Army, Carlos the Jackal and the Tupamoros group in Uruguay.

"'Lord of the Rings' as Epic" (English Language and Literature 630)
Students delve deep beyond the pages of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic, guided by English professor George W. Tuma, who has studied Tolkien's work for more than 20 years and taught English literature at SFSU for 33 years. Tuma, a Tolkien purist, has not seen either "Lord of the Rings" film because he is afraid the films would stray too far from the book. He also notes that Tolkien himself questioned if it was possible to transform the book into a quality movie.

-- Public Affairs


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Last modified September 12, 2003, by the Office of Public Affairs