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Seminar for M.A. in the Humanities Mount St.

Marys College, Los Angeles

Cultural Dissent: Gandhi, Merton, King, and Sor Juana de la Cruz

HUM289CS, Fall 2011 Dr. Michael Heim

Topic: Cultural dissent in 2011 brought non-violent populations to the streets of the
Middle East and toppled governments. These revolutions took inspiration and strategies from Mahatma Gandhi who led Indias 20th-century revolution. Gandhi also influenced the 1960s protests in the United States through the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. and through the writings of Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk. Merton also spearheaded the ecumenical movement including the study of Islam. Gandhi, Merton, and King were all compelling wordsmiths. Their female counterpart in another era was the Mexican nun and poet Sor Juana de la Cruz who eloquently defended womens freedom of expression during the Spanish Inquisition. These figures Gandhi, Merton, King, and Sor Juana provoke reflection on the spirituality behind cultural dissent. We will also study contemporary groups that piped Gandhis ideas into the 2011 revolutions: Gene Sharp, the National Democratic Institute, and the International Republican Institute.

Seminar objective is to study the spirituality, ideals, and writing styles of four
cultural dissenters and to trace their influence.

Main readings:

Hind Swaraj and other Writings, by M.K. Gandhi, published by Cambridge

University Press, ISBN: 0521146 Page 1

A Thomas Merton Reader, edited by Thomas P. McDonnell, published by Image

Books, ISBN: 0385032927 (also online as electronic text)

Merton & Sufism: The Untold Story: A Complete Compendium, edited by Rob
Baker et al. ISBN: 1887752072

I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches, by Martin Luther King, Jr., published
by Harper, ISBN: 0062505521

The Answer / La Respuesta including a selection of poems, by Sor Juana Ines

de la Cruz, bilingual edition by Arenal and Powell, published by City University of New York, ISBN: 1558610774

Along with these essays, speeches, and poems we will also draw on Internet resources and films such as Gandhi, The Great Silence, and numerous video documentary clips. Our six meetings will focus on the spirituality of dissent. The goal of the seminar is for participants to produce individual understandings of how the spirituality of these writers supported their courage to dissent. Final projects might include a paper about spirituality and dissent, a series of poems or short stories that dramatize the question of dissent. As part of the MSMC Humanities Program, the seminar will develop critical and interdisciplinary analytical skills: You will analyze milestones in history and politics; you will learn a variety of research methods to compare critical arguments about these writers; you will develop your communication skills by giving presentations in class based on group discussions and by peer-reviewing class projects.

Grades: Grading is based on attendance (required), participation

in seminar discussions and presentations, one written exam, weekly postings online (in class and off-campus), and on the final project. A mid-term grade is assigned at Meeting 4 when the project proposal is due. Grids for grading papers and reviewing peer work are handed out at Meeting 3. Final grades are sent after the last meeting (6) and the final project materials are returned at student request, in a self-addressed stamped envelope provided by students at the last meeting. Page 2

The final grade is determined by performance in five areas:

Attendance / Participation in live Discussions = 100 points Weekly online work (5 x 20) (done in-class and prior to each meeting) = 100 Exam on readings (10 short questions + close reading) = 100 points Project Proposal / Thesis (due Thursday before Meeting 4) = 50 Final Project (due meeting 6) = 150 points

Mid-term Grades are assigned at Meeting 4 and then final grades, including the mid-term and final project grades, are sent after the sixth and last meeting.
Grade Scale
Over 470 points = A 451-470 points = A436-450 points = B+ 421-435 points = B 401-420 points = B386-400 points = C+ 371-385 points = C 351-370 points = C300-350 points = D Below 300 points = F

Attendance: Attendance at meetings is mandatory. One absence lowers the grade by 50

points (out of 500). More than one absence is grounds for failure in the seminar. Excused absences require medical documentation. Late arrivals might be counted as absences. A sign-in sheet is circulated during the first 5 minutes of each meeting and online after lunch. Attendance also requires bringing assigned texts and notes to meetings each week. To receive credit for attendance, you will also be expected to participate with appropriate comments, questions, and attentiveness. To participate fully, you must come to class prepared, having studied the material and thought about the discussions, with materials and books in hand. Note: there may be filming of student presentations or final projects as well as online posting of selected student material: your permission will be assumed unless you mention to the instructor that you wish to opt out. There is no penalty for opting out.

Final Projects: The final project consists of a prospectus, a first

draft or sketch, a tentative outline or plan, and a final version. Projects identify, explain, and defend a thesis about the spirituality of dissent that you have personally developed over the weeks based on seminar readings and discussions. Alternate media projects (other than writing or in addition to writing) are discussed with the seminar leader at meeting 3 including agreed criteria for successful completion. The final

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project must include at least one version that has been revised as well as a final version. You should be prepared to submit a folder of draft materials, including peer reviews along with the final version. An academic paper project should be 15-20 pages (double spaced, standard margins, footnotes, MLA format). Art works require a 5-page artists statement that includes notes and bibliography. Final essays must be in MLA format (double-spaced, with page numbers, footnotes rather than end notes). Because this is a graduate seminar, expect to use at least two footnotes per page. Final workspace folder should include: pre-writing page(s), idea drafts, first submitted draft, peer/revised draft, and peer comments / reactions.
Submit work on time. Biweekly assignments will lose points if they are not submitted on time. Get used to completing assignments a day or two prior to due date. Biweekly online submissions are time-stamped by computer so please become an early bird. Each biweekly contribution is due the Thursday noon before the next class meeting. Academic Honesty Academic dishonesty includes plagiarism. Plagiarism is the deliberate copying of someone elses work, and taking credit for that work. It is possible to copy only one sentence or a few key phrases from another source and be guilty of plagiarism. Credit your sources when using others ideas. Please see Mount St. Marys College Policy in the Graduate Student Handbook (p. 43) on academic honesty. If plagiarism is suspected on any written work, the instructor submits the essay in question to for checking. This website checks submitted work against a database of several billion pages of archived essays from students, paper mills, essay websites, databases of professional writing, and billions of web pages to look for matching words, phrases and language patterns. If the essay is found to be plagiarized, the student will receive a failing grade for the assignment. We will discuss proper citation practices in class. See especially the Academic Freedom Policy in the MSMC Graduate Student Handbook (p.41); Grade Appeals (p. 49); and Student Rights and Responsibilities (p. 55). Students and facultys freedom of speech is constitutionally protected, so they are free to take reasoned exception to the data or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinionand allow the same freedom for others. See Student Handbook(s) for further discussion. MSMC, in compliance with state and federal laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of disability. If you are a student with a documented disability or special need, please see the Director of Learning Assistance Programs at the campus in question to make arrangements for classroom accommodations. Additional disability related information and policies are stated in the Student Handbook.

Meeting 1: Overview: Cultural dissent in recent political revolutions: spirituality and cultural leadership; monks and nuns making history; the similarities in the four writers we discuss. First presentations are done in class. Meeting 2: The struggle for Indias independence: the place of spirituality in Gandhis writings; his dissent from modern culture; his cultural critique in Hind Saraj; the assassination of Gandhi by an

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alternate understanding of history. Contemporary champions stand up for Gandhis non-violent revolution; Gene Sharp; the NDI and the IRI; Tunis, Egypt, and others. Meeting 3: Thomas Mertons fame and his autobiography in Seven-Storey Mountain; later writings and the change of tone in Seeds of Contemplation; poems, paintings, and later studies of Islam and Zen Buddhism; ecumenical dialogue and the Vietnam War, Conjectures of a Guilty By-Stander; the monk and his prophetic role toward church and state. Prospectus for final projects are due. Meeting 4: Presentation and discussion of project proposals. Martin Luther King Jr. and the prophetic tradition: ministry and social protest; the Personalist movement and the beloved community of Josiah Royce; MLK versus the Black Panther movement; the great speeches and their legacy into the Obama years. Meeting 5: The conditions in Mexico during the Spanish Inquisition: Sor Juana as intellectual and scholar; poetry and protest; the authority of the bishops and the tone of her Response; the biblical scholarship in Sor Juanas defense of womens rights; her silence and her public proclamation to remain silent; the power of silence as protest. Meeting 6: Contrasts and Comparisons: Final presentations are shared and discussed.

For Meeting 1: Before the first meeting, a page of prompts about readings and themes will arrive in your InBox. Choose two topics you can relate to and e-mail your two choices to the instructor ( one week before our first meeting. One of your topics will be confirmed for research and you should prepare an informative 10-minute class presentation on that topic for meeting 1.

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