VLPA Courses




Autumn Quarter 2020 VLPA courses

Class times, locations, fees, and course descriptions may change.  Check the time schedule for updates before enrolling in any course.  Always check your degree audit after registering for courses.

For more VLPA courses, see the Time Schedule search page at:  http://www.washington.edu/students/timeschd/genedinq.html.

African-American Studies

Afram 214 – Introduction to African American Literature (5 credits)
TTh 2:30-4:20
Instructor: Habiba Ibrahim
Diversity credit
Introduction to various genres of African American literature from its beginnings to the present. Emphasizes the cultural and historical context of African American literary expression and its aesthetics criteria. Explores key issues and debates, such as race and racism, inequality, literary form, and canonical acceptance. Offered jointly with ENGL 258.

Afram 220 – African American Film Studies (5 credits)
MW 12:30-2:20
Quiz F, times vary
Instructor: Vincent Schleitwiler
Diversity credit

Examines the history and theory of African American filmmaking, introducing central political and aesthetic debates by way of different cinematic eras, genres, and filmmakers. Focuses primarily on black directors and producers independent and commercial contexts as they confront popular representations of U.S. blackness in their own cinematic practice.

American Indian Studies

AIS 443 – Indigenous Films, Sovereign Visions (5 credits)
TTh 3:30-5:20
Instructor: D. Hart

Explores fiction, documentary, experimental film, and digital media by indigenous artists from around the world. Focuses on personal, political, and cultural expression. Issues include media and sovereignty movements, political economy, language revitalization, the politics of decolonization, and indigenous aesthetics. Offered jointly with COM 443.


Anth 203 – Introduction to Anthropological Linguistics (5 credits)
MW 10:30-12:20
Quiz F, times vary
Instructor: L. Bilaniuk
Linguistic methods and theories used within anthropology. Basic structural features of language; human language and animal communication compared; evidence for the innate nature of language. Language and culture: linguistic relativism, ethnography of communication, sociolinguistics. Language and nationalism, language politics in the United States and elsewhere. Offered jointly with LING 203.

Anth 233 – Language and Society (5 credits)
MWF 8:30-9:20
Quiz Th, times vary
Instructor: Betsy Evans
Diversity credit
Introduces the study of sociolects, the varieties of language that arise from differences in cultural and societal groups, often reflective of power inequalities. Raises awareness of the role that society and the individual play in shaping sociolects via the systematic observation and critical discussion of linguistic phenomena. Offered jointly with COM 233/LING 233.


Arch 150 – Appreciation of Architecture I (3 credits)
TTh 3:30-4:50
Instructor: A. Anderson
Historical survey of global architecture and built environments with reference to environmental, technological, and socio-cultural contexts, from prehistory to 1400. For nonmajors.

Art History

Art H 200 – Art in the Modern Imagination: Athena to Lady Gaga (5 credits)
MTWThF 9:30-10:20
Instructor: Marek Wieczorek
Informs ability to see art as a tool to examine history, ideology, beauty, and ultimately the image-saturated present. Also, to distinguish between historical context and modern projection on artworks. Further, to discover how art transcends its context and still speaks in a language in which people can become literate.

Art H 212 – Chinese Art and Visual Culture (5 credits)
Online course. See time schedule for details.
Instructor: Haicheng Wang
$30 course fee
Surveys the highlights of Chinese visual arts from the Neolithic to the present. Studies jade, bronze, lacquer, silk, Buddhist sculpture, ceramics, calligraphy, painting, architecture, film, and installation art forms at a moment in Chinese history when work in those media was especially innovative and important.

Art H 273 – History of Photography (5 credits)
Online course. See time schedule for details.
Instructor: Kolya Rice
$30 course fee
Survey of photography from its beginnings in the early 19th century to the digital imaging of today. Study photography as an artistic medium, a social text, a technological adventure, and a cultural practice. Key photographers, cultural movements and recurring themes will be explored with close attention to the social and cultural contexts in which photographs were produced, circulated and consumed.

Asian Language and Literatures

Asian 223 – Buddhist Literature (5 credits)
TTh 1:30-3:20
Instructor:  TBA
Introduction to Buddhist literature in India, China, and Japan including biographies, poetry, narratives, ritual manuals, doctrinal treatises, and historical accounts. Attention also given to issues of textual composition, transmission, authorship, audience, context, and function. Taught in English.

Asian 498 – Special Topics: Radical Fictions: Literary Modernism in South Asia, 1930s to 1960s (5 credits)
TTh 1:30-3:20
Instructor: Jennifer Dubrow
This course surveys the development of literary modernism in the context of South Asia, which includes the present-day nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. It offers an introduction to the major thinkers, writers, and centers for literary modernism in colonial and postcolonial South Asia.

We will start with some of the major interventions in new modernist studies and world literature, as well as some recent questioning by postcolonial scholars such as Aamir Mufti. We will then consider the flowering of literary modernism in various languages (Hindi, Urdu, English, and Malayalam), juxtaposing primary texts by authors including Premchand, Rabindranath Tagore, Manto, Nirmal Verma, Agyeya, Arun Kolatkar, Arvind Krishna Malhotra, and O. V. Vijayan, with recent scholarship on the literary and historical contexts of their work and of literary modernism as a whole. Literary modernist movements studied include Premchand and social realism; Tagore and the Bengal School; the Progressive Writers’ Movement; the “New Story” movement in Hindi; the sathottari period in Bombay; and postcolonial Indian theater.

We will also discuss the impact of visual and aural media such as painting, film, and song on literary modernisms in South Asia. This course is ideal for students looking for a literary and historical grounding in global modernist cultures, theories of modernism and world literature, and modern South Asian literatures. Students with a background in related disciplines such as English, comparative literature, art history, history, anthropology, religion, and urban studies are welcome. No experience with South Asia is necessary, and all works will be read in English translation.

Chicano Studies

CHSTU 465 – Contemporary Chicano Literature (5 credits)
MW 1:30-3:20
Instructor: Lauro Flores
Examines one or more problems, themes, and/or figures in the developing body of Chicano literature. Taught in English.


Clas 122 – Gateway to the Ancient Greco-Roman World (5 credits)
MTWThF 2:30-3:20
Instructor: TBA
Add Code required
Diversity credit
Introduction to Greek and Roman ways of understanding and shaping the world. Art, architecture, literature, science, and religion are used to examine ancient ideas about the relationships between man and woman, free person and slave, native and foreigner, civilization and the natural world, mortal and divine.

Clas 320 – Society and Status in Greece and Rome (5 credits)
MTWThF 10:30-11:20
Instructor: D. Kamen
Diversity credit

Examines the societies of ancient Greece and Rome, with a special focus on status, class, and gender. The diversity of human experience is explored through the study of men, women, children, the elderly, slaves, housing, dress, food, sexuality, medicine, death, religion, theater, politics, law, economics, travel, warfare, art, and athletics.


Com 200 – Introduction to Communication (5 credits)
TTh 12:30-2:20
Quiz F, times vary
Instructor: Leilani Nishime
Introduces theories and research in communication. Explores the myriad ways scholars approach fundamental issues of contemporary human communication. Focuses on theories and research of communication (e.g. relational, group, political, cultural, and international). Acts as a gateway to knowledge about the communication discipline.

Com 220 – Intro to Public Speaking (5 credits)
MW 10:30-11:20
Quiz TTh, times vary
Instructor: M. McGarrity
Designed to increase competence in public speaking and the critique of public speaking. Emphasizes choice and organization of material, sound reasoning, audience analysis, and delivery.

Comparative History of Ideas

Chid 250A – Special Topics: The Politics of Weirdness in Comics (5 credits)
TTh 12:30-2:20

Instructor: C. Simpson
This course will tackle a number of recent “weird” comics (aka graphic novels). While weirdness in comics is nothing new, these works are explicit in their exploration of a relationship between formal experimentation and cultural difference and, in some cases, resistance. Our time will be balanced between critical reading and debate about the art and more creative experiments and exercises inspired by our discussions.

Chid 480A – Advanced Special Topics: Ethnographies of Fear & Terror: Monsters, Urban Legends, and Contemporary Myths in the Pacific Northwest (5 credits)
TTh 12:30-2:20
Instructor: Carlos Salazar
Bigfoot=I believe. Contemporary myths can be silly or naïve, but they also explain our societal interactions. With a particular focus on the pacific northwest, this course will study the development and transformation of the concept of fear and terror in contemporary society using elements of monstrosity, urban legends, and contemporary myths. Through the practice of historically reconstructing moments of fear and terror in the 20th and 21st centuries in the forms of theatre, television, literature, radio-dramas, and podcasts, students will engage with how contemporary societies create an “ethos of the scary.”

Cinema and Media Studies

CMS 275 – Perspectives on Visual Culture: Sex, Race, and Power: The Watchmen (5 credits)
WF 10:30-12:20
Instructor: Jose Alaniz
$10 required course fee
An introduction to the study of visual texts such as film, television, comics, or digital media. Focus on the representation of cultural differences including, but not limited to, sexuality, gender, ability, and race. Topics vary.

CMS 320A – Cinema and Nation: Cinemas of South Asia (5 credits)
TTh 2:30-4:20
Instructor: Sudhir Mahadevan
$10 course fee
Open to all students when Period II Registration starts on June 22nd.
Examines the cinema of a particular national, ethnic or cultural group, with films typically shown in the original language with subtitles. Topics reflect themes and trends in the national cinema being studied.

CMS 320A – Cinema and Nation: Italian Cinema (5 credits)
TTh 2:30-4:20
Instructor: Claudio Mazzola

$10 course fee
Examines the cinema of a particular national, ethnic or cultural group, with films typically shown in the original language with subtitles. Topics reflect themes and trends in the national cinema being studied.

Comparative Literature

C Lit 321A - Literature of Americas: Indigenous Poetry of the Americas (5 credits)
MW 12:30-2:20
Instructor: Cynthia Steele
Emphasizes connections between twentieth century literature of the United States and Canada and current literature of Latin America. Emphasizes that, despite obvious differences, much is shared in terms of culture and national sensibility across the two continents.

C Lit 321B - Literature of Americas: Latino Literary Genres (5 credits)
MW 1:30-3:20
Instructor: Monika Kaup
Emphasizes connections between twentieth century literature of the United States and Canada and current literature of Latin America. Emphasizes that, despite obvious differences, much is shared in terms of culture and national sensibility across the two continents.


Engl 256 – Intro to Queer Studies (5 credits)
MW 4:30-6:20pm
Instructor: Stephanie Clare
Writing credit
Diversity credit
No seniors period I (5/8-6/21)
Examines the cultural practices in literature, film, and art that articulate and give meaning to bodies, sexualities, and desires. Teaches critical thinking about identity, power, inequalities, and marginality.

Engl 257 – Asian-American Literature (5 credits)
TTh 9:30-11:20
Instructor: Michelle Liu
Writing credit
Diversity credit
No seniors period I (5/8-6/21)
Examines the emergence of Asian American literature as a response to anti-Asian legislation, cultural images, and American racial formation. Encourages thinking critically about identity, power, inequalities, and experiences of marginality.

Engl 258 – Intro to African American Literature (5 credits)
TTh 2:30-4:20
Instructor: Habiba Ibrahim

Diversity credit
No seniors period I (5/8-6/21)
Introduction to various genres of African American literature from its beginnings to the present. Emphasizes the cultural and historical context of African American literary expression and its aesthetics criteria. Explores key issues and debates, such as race and racism, inequality, literary form, and canonical acceptance. Offered jointly with AFRAM 214.

Engl 259A – Literature and Social Difference (5 credits)
MW 1:30-3:20
Instructor: Annegret Oehme
Writing credit
Diversity credit
No seniors period I (5/8-6/21)
Literary texts are important evidence for social difference (gender, race, class, ethnicity, language, citizenship status, sexuality, ability) in contemporary and historical contexts. Examines texts that encourage and provoke us to ask larger questions about identity, power, privilege, society, and the role of culture in present-day or historical settings.

Engl 357- Jewish American Literature and Culture (5 credits)
MW 9:30-11:20
Instructor: Sasha Senderovich
Diversity credit
Open to all students on 6/22

Examines the literary and cultural production of American Jews from the colonial period to the present time. Considers ways in which American Jews assimilate and resist assimilation while Jewish writers, filmmakers, playwrights, and graphic novelists imitate and alter American life and literature. Offered jointly with JEW ST 357.

Engl 451 – American Writers (5 credits)
TTh 11:30-1:20
Instructor: Habiba Ibrahim
Open to all students on 6/22
Concentration on one writer or a special group of American writers.

Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies

GWSS 451 – Latina Culture (5 credits)
TTh 1:30-3:20
Instructor: M. Habell-Pallan
Explores the expressive culture of Chicana/Mexican American/Latina women in the United States. Cultural and artistic practices in home and in literary, music, film, spoken word, performing and visual arts. Focuses on how Chicana/Latina writers and artists re-envision traditional iconography.

History of Modern Europe

HSTEU 274 – European History and Film from the 1890s to the Present (5 credits)
TTh 10:30-12:20
Quiz F, times vary
Instructor: Jordanna Bailkin

Writing credit
Introduces the histories of world war, the rise and fall of fascism and communism, postwar migrations, the Cold War and decolonization, and the making of the European Community through film. Historical content unified by methodological focus on the social and political function of film.

History of North America

HSTAA 365 – Culture, Politics, and Film in 20th Century America (5 credits)
TTh 12:30-2:20
Instructor: S. Glenn
Diversity credit
Explores relationship between film and twentieth century U.S. cultural, social, and political history. Examines the ways that films responded to, participated in, and helped shape understandings of modernity, national identity, political power, race and ethnic relations, gender, and crises such as economic depression and war.

Jackson School of International Studies: Comparative Religion

Relig 220 – Intro to the New Testament (5 credits)
MW 10:30-12:20
Instructor: M. Williams

Introduction to the writings in the New Testament, their nature and origins as explored in modern scholarly research, and the first decades of the Christian religion.

Jackson School of International Studies: Area Studies

JSIS A 110 – Intro to Russian Culture and Civilization (5 credits)
MTWTh 12:30-1:20
Instructor: B. Henry
Introduction to Russian culture and history from pre-Christian times to the present, as seen through literary texts, music, film, visual art, and historical works. All lectures and written materials in English. No prior knowledge of Russian necessary. Offered jointly with RUSS 110

JSIS A 365 – Luso-Brazilian Cultures (5 credits)
MW 2:30-4:20
Instructor: TBA
Explores cultures of Brazil, Portuguese-speaking Africa, Asia, and Europe within the framework of cultural studies theory. Follows an interdisciplinary approach, drawing from readings, audio files (radio), films and documentaries in history, literature, arts and performances, anthropology, among others. Focuses on selected cultural aspects and countries. Taught in English. Offered jointly with PORT 365.

Jackson School of International Studies: Jewish Studies

Jew St 175 – Popular Film and the Holocaust (5 credits)
MWF 12:30-1:20
TTh 1:00-2:20
Instructor: Richard Block
Diversity credit
Introduces films about the Holocaust with particular emphasis on popular films. Develops the requisite tools for analyzing films, a historical perspective of the Holocaust, and the problems involved in trying to represent a historical event whose tragic dimensions exceed the limits of the imagination. Offered jointly with GERMAN 195.

Landscape Architecture

L Arch 212 – Designing the Future (5 credits)
MWF 10:00-11:20
Instructor: G. Harris
Ecological/environmental instability and resulting social/cultural disruptions make the world in which spatial designers work increasingly uncertain. Lectures and guest speakers explore diverse ways in which design may create more sustainable futures. Course activities, including in-class design exercises, internet research, group discussions, take home projects, etc. encourage synthetic/integrative thinking.


Ling 200 – Intro to Linguistic Thought (5 credits)
MWF 2:30-3:20
Quiz TTh, times vary
Instructor: L. McGarrity
QSR credit
Not open for credit to students who have completed LING 201 or LING 400.
Language as the fundamental characteristic of the human species; diversity and complexity of human languages; phonological and grammatical analysis; dimensions of language use; and language acquisition and historical language change.

Near Eastern Language and Civilization

Near E 101 – Near East Gateway (5 credits)
MW 1:30-3:20
Quiz F, times vary
Instructor: Stephanie Selover
Provides general introduction to the peoples, cultures, and languages of the Near East, both past and present. No previous knowledge of the Near East required.

Near E 287 – The Near East in Song (2 credits)
WF 12:30-1:20

Instructor: Naomi Sokoloff

Surveys popular song at it has shaped modern culture and identity in the near East. Topics vary. May be repeated for credit if the student has not previously studied the same topic with the same instructor. All texts in English; no previous knowledge of other languages required. Credit/no-credit only.

Near E 334 – Culture of the Arab World (5 credits)
T 1:30-3:20
Instructor: Hussein Elkhafaifi
General survey of the linguistic, geographical, historical, social, religious, and cultural aspects of the modern Arab world, including the Arabic language, family, and the Arab experience in the United States. Examines Arab American relations, the role of the past and of social change, and Arab art and music.

Near E 337 – Egyptian Cinema (5 credits)
TTH 6:00-7:50pm
Instructor: Terri DeYoung

History and development of Egyptian cinema. Examines a range of topics, including: the transition to sound, the differentiation into film genres, the nationalization of the film industry in the 1960s, the role of the director as auteur, and the recovery of the Egyptian film industry after 2000.


Phil 102 – Contemporary Moral Problems (5 credits)
MWF 1:30-2:20
Quiz TTh, times vary
Instructor: Michael Blake
Philosophical consideration of some of the main moral problems of modern society and civilization, such as abortion, euthanasia, war, and capital punishment. Topics vary.

Phil 149 – Existentialism and Film (5credits)
MW 10:00-11:20
Quiz Th, times vary
Instructor: Ian Schnee
What makes life worth living? Is morality just a convenient fiction? What is the nature of the human condition? Is God dead, or just playing hard to get? Investigates the works of several existentialist philosophers, including Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Beauvoir, and uses their works to interpret and analyze the philosophical content of angst-ridden cinema of the French New Wave and Hollywood film noir. Recommended: None.

Phil 242 – Medical Ethics (5 credits)
TTh 11:30-12:50
Quiz MW, times vary
Instructor: Sara Goering
Writing credit
Introduction to ethics, primarily for first- and second-year students. Emphasizes philosophical thinking and writing through an in-depth study of philosophical issues arising in the practice of medicine. Examines the issues of medical ethics from a patient's point of view.


ROMN 420 – Romania Transformed (5 credits)
TTh 2:30-4:20
Instructor: O. Baraboi
Explores Eastern and Western artistic trends and ideologies in Romanian literature and culture during the last 100 years. Investigates contributions to surrealism, dadaism, theatre of the absurd, and practices of resistance against communism as well as women's roles in forging a post-Soviet identity. Taught in English.


Russ 340/C Lit 362A – Russia’s Big Book: Dostoevsky’s Demons
WF 1:30-3:20
Instructor: Jose Alaniz
Fyodor Dostoevsky’s 1872 satirical novel Demons (Бесы, formerly known in English as The Possessed) takes on a theme quite relevant to our own time: extreme political polarization and its consequences. The novel deploys comedy and tragedy in the story of a small town beset by young revolutionaries who want to topple the social order. The author charts the appeal of political nihilism, as well its psychosocial aftermath as compromise dissolves, norms corrode, and violence erupts.

In this course we will spend ten weeks with Demons, exploring its sources and themes, as well as its author’s views on a rapidly modernizing 19th-century Russia. We will consider the novel’s place in Dostoevsky’s oeuvre, as well as in Russian and world literature/culture. And we will be doing all this during the climax of the 2020 US presidential race!

More generally, this course will provide a grasp of the key issues, socioreligious debates and political trends of the era in which the novel was written, an appreciation for how authors speak to their readers across the centuries, and the challenge of reading one of the greatest literary achievements of all time. All readings in English.

Scandinavian Studies

Scand 100 – Intro to Scandinavian Culture (5 credits)
TTh 12:30-2:20
Instructor: Olivia Gunn

The Scandinavian experience from the Viking Age to the present day; the background for contemporary Scandinavian democracy, with major emphasis on the cultural, political, and religious development of the Scandinavian countries.

Scand 200 – Scandinavia Today (5 credits)
MW 1:30-3:20
Instructor: Christine Ingebritsen

Examines the distinctive policies, institutions, and social norms, and cultures of contemporary Scandinavian societies. Topics include: the development of a "middle way" between capitalism and socialism, the welfare state, social policy, Scandinavia in the international system, and contemporary debates about market deregulation and immigration. Course uses examples from policy debate and culture as objects of study.

Scand 345 – Baltic Cultures (5 credits)
TTh 12:30-2:20
Instructor: G. Smidchens
Cultures and peoples of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Baltic literature, music, art, and film in social and historical context. Traditional contacts with Scandinavia and Central and East Europe. Offered jointly with JSIS A 345.

Slavic Languages and Literatures

Slavic 175/C Lit 200B – Slavic Text and Its Context: World Literature and the Nobel Prize (3 credits)
T 11:30-1:20
Quiz Th, times vary
Instructor: Gordana Crnkovic
This course offers a grand tour of world literature as seen through the writings of Nobel Prize winners. Each year, it features a different group of authors from a range of countries, languages, and traditions. In Autumn 2020, we will read selections from Herman Hesse (Switzerland, 1946 laureate), Pablo Neruda (Chile, 1971), Heinrich Böll (Germany, 1972), Joseph Brodsky (Russia and USA, 1987), José Saramago (Portugal, 1998), Derek Walcott (Saint Lucia, 1992 ), Oe Kenzaburo (Japan, 1995), and Svetlana Alexievich (Belarus, 2015). Along the way, this team-taught course also provides a unique view of the many language and literature departments and disciplines at UW, including Asian, Classics, English, Germanics, Slavic, and Spanish and Portuguese, as well as Comparative Literature and Cinema and Media studies. Lectures by faculty from each unit will explore wide-ranging questions of literature and the politics of prizes. Who wins? (Who doesn’t?) And why? What does that tell us about literature and about the world in which we live? Assignments include online discussion posts and quizzes in section. 3 credits (for "credit or no credit"). Please note: Comp. Lit 200B and Slavic 175 are two sections of the same class. If one is full, please enroll in the other.