Upcoming Courses

Spring 2024

LBS 720
Languages of the Carolinas

In this course, students explore how language, identity, and place interrelate and tell us about who we are and how we build community. Through reflective examination of the languages and dialects spoken across North and South Carolina (from the coast to the mountains), the class considers differences in language variation and use, learns about the history of Carolina communities, and listens to the stories of local inhabitants, both past and present. We will read research from leading scholars on the Carolinas and engage in critical discussion on issues related to linguistic diversity, the connections between identity and speech, and geographic and social factors that impact our lives. Throughout the term, students are expected to engage in hands-on analyses of language data, including gathering their own data.

About Your Professor
Jonothan Smart, Ph.D.
is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the English Department. Professor Smart’s background is in linguistics and he currently serves as a core member of the linguistics program faculty at WFU.  Prior to his academic interest in language variation, he had been interested in local dialects and languages. Professor Smart’s family is local to the Carolinas, with members living in several different regions in the two states. Beyond that, he is a strong supporter of positive, intentional celebration of linguistic diversity as a means to challenge linguistic-based prejudices (as championed by Walt Wolfram at NCSU/Duke). He enjoys encouraging and increasing students’ appreciation of how connected language, identity, and community are.

LBS 723
Human Rights in Theory and Practice

What are human rights? Where do they come from? Who possesses them? How are they universal? Are they enforceable?
This interdisciplinary course critically examines the idea of human rights. We will focus on theories of human rights: their historical and philosophical origins, their impact on politics and international law, and their value as a field of inquiry. We will then examine the practice of human rights: their impact on democracy, the environment, social movements, religion, etc., as well as their power to promote humanitarian intervention and prevent genocide. By the end of the course, students will grasp the key debates and perspectives within the field of human rights, thus equipping them to uphold the university’s motto, Pro Humanitate (For Humanity).

About Your Professor
Joseph Ross, Ph.D received his Ph.D. in American history from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) in 2018, an M.A. in European history, also from UNCG, in 2007, and a B.A. in History and Philosophy from Western Carolina University in 2005.
His research focuses on the history of war crimes trials, international human rights law, and ideas. His most recent project examines a group of Americans who participated in the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial from 1945-46 and how that experience shaped their views on human rights at home and abroad. Ross began teaching college history courses in 2007 and enjoys showing his students how the past is relevant to the present.

LBS 725
Examining the Psychopath in Literature, Film, and Television

This course investigates representations of the psychopath – a person who feels no remorse and manipulates others, often to violent ends – in American, British, and German literature, film, and television, from the origins of the term in nineteenth-century Europe to our contemporary American obsession with fictional killers and real-life wolves of Wall Street. Why is Western culture so fascinated by psychopathy, and how is it employed metaphorically in fiction and popular culture? Is our society, as Jon Ronson posits, defined by “maddest edges”?

About Your Professor
Molly Knight, Ph.D. received her PhD from Duke University in 2011 and began working at Wake Forest the same year. In her teaching and extracurricular work, she seeks to inspire her students to become engaged and critical consumers of culture both familiar and foreign.

Her research focuses on masculinities in 20th and 21st century German literature, film, and culture.  She has published articles on masculine identity formation in novels by Christian Kracht and Benjamin Lebert, and on psychopathic masculinity in Michael Haneke’s Funny Games.  Her current research projects deal with psychopathy in German and American popular culture, as well as gender trouble in post-89 representations of East Germany. In her free time, Molly enjoys a good ghost story and quality time with her many pets.


If you have questions about the Liberal Arts Studies M.A. program, please contact us so we can help you!

April Strader Bullin
Program Assistant
Liberal Arts Studies M.A./Lifelong Learning