MLAS Course Roster

 

Fall 2009 Courses

 

MLAS 260-36

James Joyce & the Best Novel of the 20th Century

Instructor: Professor Roy Gottfried
Location: 200 Benson Hall
Days and Time: Monday evenings 6:30- 9:00
First class: August 31st

Course Description:
Always considered a high modernist of extreme difficulty and obscurity, James Joyce nevertheless has continued to be influential and widely read. This status has been confirmed by a reader’s poll where his Ulysses was voted the most important novel of the twentieth century. In every decade since his works began to attract interest, Joyce has been the premier model and the focus of differing, even contradictory critical attitudes.

Joyce was seen as a foremost practitioner of modernism and now is considered a practitioner of postmodernism. He was considered a writer of universal scope, displaying cosmopolitan interest; he is viewed an Irish writer reacting to British Imperialism. He was treated as a mythmaker for modern life; he is seen as the minute recorder of the material culture of the modern era. He began writing in a style of scrupulous exactness and ended by writing in confusing obscurantism that seems even today to prefigure the cybernetic future of communication.

This course will examine the manifold, if paradoxical, status of Joyce by scrutinizing his major work; at the same time it will consider the historical and cultural influences on him and the various critical receptions to him over the last seventy years.

We will read Joyce’s collection of short stories, Dubliners, as a prelude to a thorough reading of Ulysses, and if time permits, a short look at selections of Finnegans Wake. Although his texts seem to be impersonal and distant, he was a highly autobiographical writer, so as a consequence we will read his biography and selections of his letters. We will examine critical trends and cultural developments all in an attempt to explore the confusions, attitudes, and positions of the modern era..

Because Joyce’s corpus is a compendium of twentieth-century modes of thought, reading it should best be a collective and collaborative endeavor. To this end, the course will be an interactive seminar, wherein each student will bring his or her personal interests and professional expertise to weekly discussions.

Course Instructor:
Professor Gottfried is the author of four books on Joyce, the most recent Joyce’s Misbelief (2007) and one awarded the southeastern Modern Language Association Book Prize of 1995. He joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1975, after taking his graduate degrees from Brown University and Yale University. He has taught courses in Modern British Literature, Modern Irish Literature, a survey of British Poetry, and the Bible in Literature. He also serves as the University Marshall at Commencement.

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MLAS 260-82

The History of Fashion, Sex, and Propaganda

Instructor: Professor Alexandra Sargent
Location: 203 Neely Auditorium
Days and Time: Thursday evenings 6:00- 8:30
First class: September 3rd

Course Syllabus: Read the full syllabus PDF

Course Description:
“The History of Fashion: Sex and Propaganda” is a study of fashion’s connection to fine art and architecture. Aristocratic trend-setters like Nefertiti, Elizabeth I, Louis XIV, Madame Pompadour, Napoleon I, Queen Victoria, and a host of other fascinating personas, used clothing and accessories symbolically (and theatrically) to influence people and to glorify themselves and their era. Studying period silhouettes, fabric, and the treatment of the human form, we will investigate the history of clothing design and how it has been used for sex, propaganda, and representation of other aspects of an age. For the final project, students will create visual timelines, choosing images from a number of periods to show how the development of any civilization can be understood by what it was wearing.

Course Instructor:
Alexandra Sargent holds an MFA in Costume Design from Northwestern University. She is the designer and costume shop manager for the Vanderbilt University Theatre Department where she teaches Costume Design, Costume Technology, and The History of Fashion. Alex has worked as a freelance costume designer for theatre and dance, and has taught at Middlebury College, The University of North Carolina at Wilmington, The International Academy of Design and Technology, and Vanderbilt University. Collaborating with students to find connections between fashion and art history, and analyzing how fashion is used in bold and meaningful ways for story telling in theatre and film, has been an exciting and rewarding exploration.

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MLAS 270-22

Urban Growth and Public Policy

Instructor: Professor Malcolm Getz
Location: 117 Calhoun Hall
Days and Time: Tuesdays, 6:30-9:00
First class: September 1st

Course Syllabus: Read the full syllabus PDF

Course Description:
Why do cities grow, how do they change, what is the role of government? We will use the tools of modern economics to explore how cities affect consumer welfare. We will analyze the location decisions of households and firms and explore the fiscal choices facing local governments.

Students will be expected to read ahead, speak engagingly in class, write concise essays, assume an active role in shaping their course, and support each other’s efforts to understand the issues.

Because most of us live in urban settings, the issues in this course are of considerable current interest. Students will be expected to read a good newspaper (e. g. New York Times) and, in class and in essays, relate the economic theories to the current public discussion of housing, commuter transportation, schools, crime, and property taxes.

Course Instructor:
Mr. Getz has been a faculty member in economics at Vanderbilt since 1973. He was Director of the Jean and Alexander Heard Library (1984-94) and Associate Provost for Information Services and Technology (1985-94). He is the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Economics (1996- ). An award winning teacher, he has authored three research monographs, two textbooks, and 40 essays on issues in libraries. He earned his BA in economics from Williams College in 1967, and his PhD in economics from Yale University in 1973. Mr. Getz won the Jeffrey Nordhaus Prize for Teaching in the College of Arts and Science in 1998, the Ernest A. Jones Prize for Faculty Advising in1998, and the Madison Sarratt Prize for Undergraduate Teaching at Vanderbilt in 2000.

Mr. Getz's recent writing addresses economic issues in electronic publishing. One essay describes the adoption of innovations in higher education. His most recent book, Investing in College, is shrewd and sensible, an invaluable resource and a beacon of sanity for college-bound students and the families who support them. His new textbook, e.stat for business and economics, is published by South-Western College Publishing, 2001.

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MLAS 260-81

Listening to Films

Instructor: Professor Stan Link
Location: Blair 2192
Days and Time: Tuesdays, 6:30-9:00
First class: September 1st

Course Syllabus: Read the full syllabus PDF

Course Description:
Although we commonly say that we “watch a movie,” this course begins from the premise that hearing is as vital to the experience of cinema as the eye. Film’s presentation of music, sounds, and human voices may often be heard as elaborating on the image, dialogue, and story.

But sound also has its own work to do in our interpretation of events, and its own way of doing it. By closely examining and analyzing excerpts from dozens of classic and recent films this class will put the entire soundtrack in the foreground of “watching.” Our immediate goal will be to understand how listening reveals and constructs characters, deepens locations, unfolds time, guides the eye, interprets dramatic events, and stimulates emotional responses, etc. Ultimately, however, the course also aims at highlighting the ear’s contribution to our experience of our own lives in a world that may, in fact, only appear to be driven by images.

Course Instructor:
STAN LINK
Associate Professor of the Philosophy and Analysis of Music
B.M. (Oberlin); M.F.A. (Princeton); Ph.D. (Princeton)

Additional Studies: Vienna Hochschule für Musik. Composition studies with Steve Mackey, Claudio Spies, Louis Andriessen, Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, Richard Hoffmann, and Ed Miller. Computer music with Paul Lansky. Acoustic and electro-acoustic music programmed in the U.S., Europe, and Australia, including Electronic Music Midwest, Third Practice Festival, Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the U. S., NWEAMO, and the American Music Week in Sofia. Recipient: ASCAP composition prize, Charlotte Elizabeth Proctor Fellowship, La Trobe Central Starter Grant, Associate Artist at Atlantic Center for the Arts, Wellesley Composers Conference Fellowship, NCSU Arts Now commission. Musical publications by Ariadne Verlag in Vienna. Papers delivered at Screen, Connecticut College Biennial Symposium on Art and Technology, International Association for the Study of Popular Music, UCSB Digital Arts Week, Society for American Music, American Musicological Society South Central, and others. Scholarly publications in Perspectives of New Music, Music Theory Spectrum, Mikropolyphonie, and American Music. Member of faculty: La Trobe University, Australia, 1995-1998, University of Illinois, 1998. Blair School since 1999.

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MLAS 290-03

The History of New Orleans

Instructor: Professor Daniel Usner
Location: Buttrick 205
Days and Time: Tuesday, 6:30-9:00
First Class: September 1st

This Core Seminar is required of all newly admitted MLAS students and any students admitted in Fall 2007 and thereafter who have not yet completed a Core Seminar . Those students admitted for the 2009-2010 Academic Year will follow a 30 credit- hour degree requirement, which entails the Core Seminar as one of their initial courses and the Capstone Seminar as one of the final courses in the program. Other MLAS students may enroll in this course contingent upon sufficient space.

Course Description:
Perhaps more than for any other city in the United States, the history of New Orleans demonstrates the complex interaction between urban societies and natural environments over the last three centuries. The destruction and despair following Hurricane Katrina brought New Orleans to the forefront of public debates over both social and environmental policies, making the Crescent City’s condition and location significant issues over night. This course will raise new questions about its history in light of the post-Katrina disaster and reconstruction. From its creation as a French colonial town in 1718 to its current crisis as a severely damaged American metropolis, New Orleans has experienced both advantages and disadvantages in its location. To appreciate what is truly unique about the city, we will explore how its diverse residents have interacted so creatively with their natural environment. To comprehend the hazards posed by natural forces, we will also scrutinize government policies that manage commerce, urban growth, industrial development, flood control, and emergency response.

Course Instructor:
Holland M. McTyeire Professor of History and former chair of the history department, Daniel Usner has devoted most of his research and writing to the Gulf Coastal South. His publications include Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in a Frontier Exchange Economy: The Lower Mississippi Valley before 1783 (University of North Carolina Press, 1992), American Indians in the Lower Mississippi Valley: Social and Economic Histories (University of Nebraska Press, 1998), and Indian Work: Language and Livelihood in Native American History (Harvard University Press, 2009). A native New Orleanian with close personal and professional ties to the Crescent City, Usner has plenty of experience teaching about south Louisiana. Before joining Vanderbilt’s faculty, he led Cornell University alumni on several study tours of New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, he offered a multidisciplinary course about New Orleans to Vanderbilt undergraduates in the spring of 2006.

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MLAS 270-35

The War in Iraq

Instructor: Professor Katherine Carroll
Location: 117 Calhoun Hall
Days and Time: Tuesdays, 6:30- 9:00
First class: September 1st

Course Syllabus: Read the full syllabus PDF

Course Description:
The War in Iraq will examine various aspects of the conflict from its beginning to the present including Iraqi history and culture, US military organization and operations, and politics (Iraqi, American, and international). This course will cover many topics, but its guiding theme will be the experience of the US military on the ground in Iraq. What challenges has the military faced in Iraq? How has the military as an organization addressed these challenges? Students should leave the course with a better understanding of both Iraqi society and the US military.

Course Instructor:
Katherine Blue Carroll is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science with special interests in democratization, foreign policy, and the US military. Her doctorate is from the University of Virginia and her undergraduate degree is from Indiana University. At Vanderbilt she teaches courses on Middle East Politics, Comparative Politics, and Terrorism, and she has previously taught a course on Middle East Politics in the MLAS program. She has just returned from a year in Iraq where she served as a cultural advisor to three Brigade Commanders in Baghdad.

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