Advising Appointment Update

In alignment with the campus directives regarding the precautions surrounding COVID-19, the Languages and Literatures academic advising offices are now physically closed.  Our Advisors remain available and will be offering academic advising appointments to students through zoom, phone call, or email.  Once you have scheduled your appointment in the online appointment system, your advisor will reach out to you via email with instructions on how to connect with them using zoom, phone call, or email. Resource FAQ for Students

HUM 001. How to be a Critic: "Music" (2 units)
CRN 93210 | D. Kern Holoman | W 4:10-6:00P | 66 Roessler

Note: HUM 1 can be repeated one time for credit if topic differs.

Course Description: This class considers music criticism and journalism as a fundamental component of the transactions that unite composer, performer, and public. Through case studies and individual and group exercises, we will try to develop techniques and vocabularies that can be used to engage repertoires from Beethoven to the Beatles--maybe even to (J.) Bieber. The underlying notion is that civilized discourse in the humanities is in the public interest.

We will doubtless find ourselves confronting current economics (strikes and lockdowns in Minnesota, Atlanta, and at the Metropolitan Opera), ethics (questions of antisemitism in a recent opera by the California composer John Adams; objections to an artist's weight or mode of dress; intellectual property and copyright), cultural politics and diplomacy (music as “the international language”; touring for peace-making; the West-East Divan Orchestra of Jews and Muslims); discrimination real or imagined (women conductors, African-Americans in classical music); globalization of the world's musics.

Where and how, we will ask, can the “music appreciation racket,” as it was once called, and music criticism be harnessed to the public good? What will effectively replace traditional music criticism after its abandonment by newspapers and magazines?

Readings from great critics of the past (George Bernard Shaw, Virgil Thomson, David Cairns, Joseph Kerman, Michael Steinberg) and present (Anne Midgette at the Washington Post, Alex Ross at the New Yorker). In-class discussion of selected audio and video excerpts; one or more Mondavi Center “field trips.” Individual and group exercises in critique by blog and other e-posts; two short written pieces.

Prerequisite: None.

GE credit (Old): Arts & Humanities.
GE credit (New): Arts & Humanities.

Format: Lecture - 2 hours


  • Required texts and sound files will be posted online


  • D. Kern Holoman, The Orchestra: A Very Short Introduction  (Oxford University Press, 2013)
  • D. Kern Holoman, Writing about Music [3rd Edition]  (University of California Press, 2014)

About the Instructor: D. Kern Holoman is a Professor in the Department of Music.

HUM 002A. "Motherhood in Western Culture and History" (4 units)
CRN 77926 | Jenny Kaminer | TR 12:10-1:30P | 202 Wellman

Note: HUM 2A can be repeated one time for credit if topic differs.

Course Description: How has the “good” or “bad” mother been defined in Western cultures? How has this definition evolved as a result of historical, philosophical, and cultural shifts? Is a bond between mother and child biologically predetermined or culturally dictated? Is the maternal instinct myth or reality? This course will explore the answers to these questions in works of fiction and nonfiction by scholars, philosophers, novelists, poets, and artists. We will chart the development of Western maternal mythology and discuss how it continues to inform our perceptions of motherhood in the contemporary era.

During the first half of the course, readings will center on the history of motherhood in the West, from the era B.C. to the twenty-first century. In the second half of the term, our attention will turn to the contemporary experience of motherhood, as relayed in works of fiction, nonfiction, and film. In particular, we will focus on potential conflicts between maternity and sexuality and maternity and creativity, and how these conflicts are explored in the writings of mothers themselves. Then, using Russia as an example, we will consider the relationship between motherhood and the state. We will analyze how the maternal figure — which occupied a unique and hallowed position in Russian culture — was co-opted by the Soviet government. Next, we will examine one of the most enduring maternal myths, that of Medea (the paradigmatic ‘bad’ mother). How does contemporary society continue to imagine the malevolent mother? Finally, we will briefly consider how technological advances may impact the future of maternity. During our reading during the second half of the course, we will continue to reflect upon how centuries-old maternal myths still influence cultural representations of motherhood.

Grading - Midterm exam, final paper, and final exam.

Prerequisite: None.

GE credit (Old): Arts & Humanities.
GE credit (New): Arts & Humanities, World Cultures, and Writing Experience.

Format: Lecture - 3 hours; Extensive Writing.


  • Shari Thurer, Myths of Motherhood: How Culture Reinvents the Good Mother  (Penguin Books, 1995)

About the Instructor: Jenny Kaminer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of German and Russian.

HUM 015. Language and Identity (4 units)
CRN 77928 | Carlee Arnett | TR 9:00-10:20A | 202 Wellman

Course Description: In this course, we will establish a working definition of ‘identity’ from the perspective of linguistics.  We will discuss the connection between the construction of social identity and language use within the context of the United States.  We will examine how discourse is structured to shape the identity of various ethnic groups, e.g. Black Americans, Native Americans or regional/social groups.  Language is a social tool for marking allegiances and it is one that we perform daily as members of a socially and culturally diverse society.  We will also examine common language myths and evaluate language stereotypes and attitudes reflected in books, film, newspapers, television, advertisements, etc.

Prerequisite: None.

GE credit (Old): Arts & Humanities or Social Science, Diversity and Writing Experience.
GE credit (New): Arts & Humanities or Social Science and Writing Experience.

Format: Lecture/Discussion - 3 hours; Extensive Writing.


  • Language in the USA, edited by Edward Finegan and John Rickford  (Cambridge University Press, 2004)

About the Instructor: Carlee Arnett is an Associate Professor in the Department of German and Russian.

HUM 144. Marx, Nietzsche, Freud (4 units)       Cross-listed with German 144
CRN 93218 | Sven Erik Rose | TR 10:30-11:50A | 2016 Haring

Course Description: The esteemed French philosopher Paul Ricoeur famously characterized the triumvirate of modernist master-thinkers Karl Marx (1818-1883), Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), and Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) in terms of a “hermeneutics of suspicion.” By this Ricoeur meant that Marx, Nietzsche and Freud, each in his own way, are all modern detectives of sorts: they look at what is happening on the surface of things as so many dissembling fictions that individuals and societies perpetuate in order to keep hidden various kinds of unsettling "deep" truths that actually structure our desires and morals, our culture and politics, our identities and consciousness, our very sense of who we are. In this course we will explore the ways that Marx, Nietzsche and Freud each develop modes of analysis to unveil the deeper, latent meanings and forces that they understood to reside behind or beneath our consciousness (or false consciousness).

According to Marx, the social structure in capitalist societies appears to be "natural," and thus ineluctable, but is in fact an effect of historically contingent production forces and the specific--and changeable--relations between people that the capitalist systems of production engenders. One of the chief obstacles that Marx identifies as standing in the way of revealing the true secrets of the capitalist world is how what he memorably calls "commodity fetishism" creates a powerfully seductive optical illusion that makes it exceedingly difficult for us to understand how the world we live in actually works. One of Marx's goals is to try to break this spell.

In his genealogy of modern moral conscience, Nietzsche diagnoses Judeo-Christian values as merely the deformed and "unhealthy" response of the weak to the experience of being dominated by the strong. While the strong do not need to resort to specious moral values, the weak do, for morality allows them to wage war by other means. They "triumph" in their goodness, even as they are defeated in terms of a real contest of strength and power. In this way, Nietzsche purports to discover the "will to power" as the true force that drives human culture, even as what he saw as his own "decadent" culture has resorted to elaborate and convoluted strategies to dissemble this fundamental truth. For Nietzsche, the very way we understand ourselves to be moral beings keeps us from seeing the truths that moral values work to keep hidden.

Freud’s “detective work” is legendary: his case studies read like detective novels, as do his later mythic genealogies of modern civilization. Without question, Freud's claims to diagnostic mastery are at their most hubristic in The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901), in which he interprets the seemingly slightest and most banal gestures and slips of the tongue as windows onto the workings of the unconscious and its teeming and unruly desires. Freud invented psychoanalysis to try, like Marx and Nietzsche, to develop techniques for negotiating the thorny problem that the things our very consciousness tells us are true about ourselves are in fact distortions of radically different realities. Psychoanalysis refuses to take consciousness at face value and searches for ways to glimpse and analyze the workings of the unconscious.

Prerequisite: None.

GE credit (Old): Arts & Humanities and Writing Experience.
GE credit (New): Arts & Humanities and World Cultures.

Format: Lecture/Discussion - 3 hours; Term Paper.


  • Friedrich Nietzsche, Basic Writings of Nietzsche, translated by Walter Kauffman  (Modern Library, 2000)
  • Sigmund Freud, The Freud Reader, edited by Peter Gay  (W.W. Norton & Company, 1995)
  • Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Marx-Engels Reader [2nd Edition], edited by Robert C. Tucker  (W.W. Norton & Company, 1978)

About the Instructor: Sven-Erik Rose is an Assistant Professor in the Department of German and Russian.