The essential requirement of a great university is a faculty of exceptional quality. Duke University's international reputation for excellence rests on the scholarship of gifted, dedicated educators. From this reservoir of talented professors, the MALS program attracts the very best.

The appeal to faculty of teaching MALS seminars is threefold. The interdisciplinary character of the courses permits non-traditional approaches to their subject matter. MALS courses offer faculty the opportunity to interact in a classroom setting with highly motivated students. And the maturity of the students, their ability to bring to the subject at hand a wide range of personal and professional experiences, is a substantial asset in these broadly synthetic courses.

MALS offers a variety of intellectual opportunities to its students by offering five to seven different MALS seminars each term. Students can expect that some seminars will be repeated ever other year. Described below are several courses that typify the variety and breadth of the seminars offered in the MALS program, along with a short introduction of the faculty member who teaches each course.

See below for a full listing of MALS faculty.


For three centuries, the plantation was a central institution in the lives of black and white Southerners. What kind of human communities emerged and evolved over time, as the plantation boomed expansively before the Civil War, fragmented into tenancy and sharecropping after Emancipation, and mechanized with the advent of the New Deal? Through an examination of historical accounts, autobiographies, folklore studies, novels, and oral histories, this course explores the legacy of the Southern plantation.

Sydney Nathans, Professor of History, received the Duke Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award. He edited the five-volume series, The Way We Lived in North Carolina, and in 1983 wrote The Quest for Progress, a social history of the state from 1870 to 1920. Since 1980 his research has focused on the two-century-long history of blacks and whites connected with the Bennehan-Cameron Plantation, which began in eighteenth-century piedmont North Carolina and which embraced communities in North Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi by the nineteenth century.


In the year 1905 Albert Einstein published three scientific papers that overturned the world of science. In his later life he was the best known living scientist, commanding attention not only for his science but also for his views on politics, pacifism, zionism, and philosophy. This course explores Einstein's world: the man, his science, his opinions, and his influence. The science itself is a principal focus, but the course also considers his life and non-scientific activities in the cultural context of his times.

Richard Palmer joined the Duke Physics faculty in 1977. His research on the theory of disorder in solids, liquids, and other "complex systems" has been published in many scientific journals and is known worldwide. Professor Palmer's interest in the cultural dimensions of science has been stimulated by studying philosophy while a student at Cambridge University and by teaching "Physics for Poets" to Duke undergraduates.


This course focuses on the age of transition between medieval and modern society. It traces the way in which leading thinkers and artists of the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries, intent on returning for guidance to the classical and Christian antecedents of their experience, brought into being creative principles which have dominated Western European culture down to the present. Since intellectual and artistic developments cannot be separated from the environment in which they occurred, they are considered within the economic, political and social milieu of Renaissance and Reformation Europe.

Ron Witt specializes in Renaissance History. He has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies. Professor Witt authored two books on Italian humanism and co- authored three volumes devoted to the humanities. In 1981 he received the Alumni Undergraduate Teaching Award at Duke.


Nature surrounds, supports and sometimes destroys us. But what is Nature and what is our place in it? It is an essential characteristic of human nature to pose these questions. This course examines them as they have been addressed by religious thinkers, philosophers, scientists, and artists during the course of our heritage, Western civilization, from ancient times to the present. The three themes that structure the course are: the comprehension of Nature, the response to Nature and the apprehension of the human relationship to Nature.

Seymour Mauskopf, Professor of History, teaches the history of science at Duke, where he founded and served as first Director of the Program in Science, Technology and Human Values. His research explores subjects as diverse as the science and technology of munitions and the history of parapsychology.


How can we make sense of the changes that have occurred in Eastern Europe? What have these changes meant for the lives of people? Can a single model of capitalism and democracy work? What are the prospects for the future of Russia, the Baltics, and the Balkans? In order to explore these questions, this course draws upon ideas and materials from history, economics, law, sociology, comparative development, and political science. Participants examine how changes in markets and democracy affect state-owned enterprises, and review the normative roles of the World Bank, IMF, and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The capstone of the course centers on policy and value issues from the points-of-view of western institutions, governments, and peoples and their East European counterparts.

Kenneth Spenner is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, and also directs the Markets and Management Studies Certificate Program for Duke undergraduates. Prior to coming to Duke in 1984, he did social research in the private sector and co-hosted a weekly TV talk show on the side. He has recently completed a sabbatical year in Bulgaria and Russia under the Senior Fulbright Fellowship Program. Technology, work and careers are his areas of expertise; his current interests are in market transitions and organizational ecology.


Although culture has long been a concern of anthropologists, Cultural Studies is a relatively new academic field that focuses primarily on First World cultural forms as they relate to global systems of production and consumption. Because we live our social relationships in culture, culture provides a site for confronting and unraveling the intertwined relationships among race, class and gender in the context of the overarching question of commodification. This course examines a sampling of popular culture forms and practices from a theoretical and an ethnographic point of view. Students read and discuss critical essays pertaining to pop music and MTV, shopping malls, toy cultures, women's popular fiction, and the relationship between intellectuals and society. Students also do field work and keep a journal of notes documenting their observations in a variety of venues. In this way, students develop ways of putting practical observations of everyday cultural practices together with theoretical accounts.

Susan Willis is Associate Professor of English at Duke University. She is the author of Specifying, a book on American black women writers, and is currently working on a comparative study of Southern and Caribbean writing that is based on the centrality of the plantation to the regions' history. Her work in popular culture focuses on daily-life social practice and includes articles on children's toys, and supermarkets.


Most people recognize a categorical distinction between human beings and beasts. In modern America, the animal-human boundary is the dividing line between persons and property, between responsible individuals with rights and duties, and objects that can be made into soap, lampshades, and sandwiches. Throughout the history of Western thought, philosophers and theologians have sought to justify this boundary by pointing either to the wishes of the Creator or to supposedly unique psychological characteristics of our species, including linguistic capacity, self-awareness, and free will. Through readings and discussion, participants evaluate the reality and significance of these and other supposed differences between people and beasts, with particular attention to the implications of Darwinian evolutionary theory.

Matt Cartmill has been teaching biological anthropology and anatomy at Duke since 1969. He has published technical papers on primate and human evolution in Nature, Science, and other scientific journals, as well as more popular articles in American Scientist and Natural History. A winner of the Golden Apple Award for excellence in basic science teaching in Duke's School of Medicine, he is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a former Guggenheim Fellow, and a member of the Scientific Advisory Council of the L. S. B. Leakey Foundation. He is currently Managing Editor of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. In 1993, Professor Cartmill received the University Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award.


Plato's allegory of the Cave and the biblical book of Job, with which this course begins, and Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams, with which it concludes, exemplify the re-evaluation, rearrangement, and reconstruction of human experience. The course investigates the motives and techniques by which intellectuals and artists challenge and dismantle conventional understandings of human values and aspirations, discover and describe alternate realities, and explore the ethical, transforming impact of entering other worlds. Examples are drawn from the philosophy, history and psychology of Western art, from the scientific study of alternate states of consciousness, and from world literature.

Kalman Bland has taught at Duke since 1973 and served as Chair of the Department of Religion for 1981 to 1986. His research and publications focus on various aspects of medieval Jewish and Islamic philosophy and mysticism, as well as on the history of biblical interpretation in Jewish literature. Since 1981, he has served on the editorial board of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion.


This course explores how dilemmas of development are produced as countries adopt distinctive strategies to meet the challenges of economic growth, and equitable distribution of goods and services in society, political legitimacy, and international competitiveness in the contemporary era. The geographical emphasis will be on the three different parts of the world that are currently in the midst of profound changes: the United States, East Asia (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore), and Latin America (Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina). The topics covered include: the relationship between economic development and the type of political regime; the influence of different cultural contexts; variations in the sequence and timing of development strategies; the role of transnational corporations; and the social bases of international competitiveness (e.g., education, ethnicity, kinship, gender, and class).

Gary Gereffi, Professor of Sociology, does interdisciplinary research that focuses on transnational corporations in developing societies. He has served as a consultant for a variety of international and national organizations, including the United Nations Center on Transnational Corporations, the Pan American Health Organization, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. He is the author of numerous articles and a book entitled THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY AND DEPENDENCY IN THE THIRD WORLD (1983).


Marriage, a fascinating institution in its own right, is unquestionably also a central feature of American life. Almost all Americans marry, many remarry multiple times, and most invest considerable effort in making their marriages lasting, shared, fulfilling ones in line with American ideas about what constitutes a good, successful, and happy marriage. While economic and social factors such as the gendered division of labor or class mobility certainly inform and shape American marriage practices, these considerations are overlain and largely disguised by our cultural model of how marriage should be. What makes this ideal of marriage so compelling? This is the central question addressed in the course. The answer is sought in the way our understanding of marriage incorporates and replays powerful American themes: love, work and success, autonomy and dependency, self-realization, and the dichotomization of gender. Marriage is used as a window on these dimensions of American culture and as a case study for considering the motivating properties of culture more generally. The way in which the cultural ideal embodies, distorts and/or silences economic and social aspects of marriage is also considered. The historical antecedents and contemporary variants of this cultural model are explored.

Naomi Quinn became chair of Duke's Department of Cultural Anthropology in 1989, and she was recently elected President of the Society for Psychological Anthropology. Professor Quinn has conducted research in west Africa, and has an enduring interest in the nature of culture. Currently, she is at work on a book about America's cultural model of marriage.


This course links recent Western literature to such specifically modern phenomena as 19th century opera and the emergence of a new visual language in Expressionist painting. As a way of structuring mind, art and society, modernity is dominated by withdrawal of the divine principle, the crumbling of social hierarchies, and the investment of new dignity in humankind as the sole source of knowledge, history, and the possibility of meaning. This course explores the contradictory fusions of critical consciousness and visionary darkness in Flaubert, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Baudelaire, Kafka, Brecht, Borges and other essential voices of Western culture since the French Revolution.

James Rolleston joined the Duke faculty in 1975 and was appointed Chairman of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literature in 1991. He has published books on Rilke and Kafka. His continuing quest for a unified perspective is evident in such articles as "Nietzsche, Expressionism and Modern Poetics" (1980) and "The Urge for Synthesis: Benn, Brecht and the Poetics of the 1950's" (1980).


The following 74 MALS faculty representing 35 departments and programs at Duke have taught in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program.

Art: Caroline Bruzelius, Annabel Wharton
Biochemistry: Irwin Fridovich
Biological Anthropology: Matt Cartmill, Kathleen Smith
Botany: Mark Bush, Norm Christensen, Brent Mishler, Richard Searles
Canadian Studies: Ted Davidson
Chemistry: Pelham Wilder
Classical Studies: Mary Boatwright, Peter Burian, Diskin Clay
Continuing Education: Judith Ruderman
Cultural Anthropology: Wendy Luttrell, Naomi Quinn, Claudia Strauss
Dance: Jane Desmond
Divinity: Stanley Hauerwas, Stuart Henry
Economics: Neil deMarchi, Craufurd Goodwin
Engineering: Aarne Vesilind
English: Louis Budd, John Clum, Leigh DeNeef, Robert Gleckner, Melissa Malouf, Susan Willis
Geology: Alan Boudreau, Jeff Karson
Germanic Languages: James Rolleston
The Graduate School: Jacqueline Looney
History: Jan Ewald, Dan James, Alex Keysarr, Warren Lerner, Sy Mauskopf, Martin Miller,
Sydney Nathans, Harold Parker, William Reddy, Alex Roland, Thomas Robisheaux,
Ronald Witt
Immunology: Andrew Balber
Liberal Studies: Diane Sasson
Literature: Jan Radway
Medical Sociology: Erdman Palmore
Medicine: Peter English
Neurobiology: Nell Cant
Music: Tom Brothers, Tilman Seebass, Larry Todd
Philosophy: Robert Brandon
Physics: Richard G. Palmer
Political Science: John Aldrich, Sheridan Johns, Peter Lange, Timothy Lomperis, David Paletz
Psychology: Irving Alexander
Public Policy Studies: William Ascher
Religion: Kalman Bland, Bruce Lawrence, Dale Martin
Romance Languages: Philip Stewart
Sociology: Gary Gereffi, Angela O'Rand, Ken Spenner, Ed Tiryakian
Women's Studies Program: Linda Frankel
Zoology: Steven Vogel, Peter Klopfer

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Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
138 Social Sciences Building
Duke University
Box 90095
Durham, NC 27708-0095
(919) 684-3222 FAX (919) 681-8905

Revised May 16, 1997