MLAS Course Roster


Fall 2014 Courses

MLAS 260 11

American Icons and Monuments

Instructor:  Vivien Fryd
Days and Time: Mondays, 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Course Description:

This course will examine icons and monuments in American visual art and culture. Why are certain images of people, historical events, and/or national symbols revered in the U.S. and renowned throughout the world? What do they say about national identity, historical memory, or political ideologies? How do they convey a common set of ideals and values that creates an overarching sense of unity and identity in American society? Conversely, how and why do different social groups contest certain monuments? The course is not a survey but instead an in-depth analysis of specific icons and monuments. Some topics: the U.S. Capitol Building, Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, Nashville’s Parthenon, Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jordan.

Course Instructor:

Vivien Green Fryd is Professor in the Department of the History of Art at Vanderbilt University. She has published Art and Empire: The Politics of Ethnicity in the U.S. Capitol, 1815–1860 and Art and the Crisis of Marriage: Georgia O’Keeffe and Edward Hopper. She has published articles on a variety of topics and artists, including nineteenth-century American sculpture, Benjamin West, Thomas Hart Benton, Faith Ringgold, and Kara Walker. She is currently completing a book manuscript, “Against Our Will”: Representing Sexual Trauma in American Art, 1970-2006 and starting research on another book: “’Trauma Writing’: Henry Ries’s Photographs of Berlin, 1946-2004.”





MLAS 260 13

The Political, Ancient and Modern

Instructor:  Michael Hodges
Days and Time: Wednesdays from 6:00 to 9:00 pm
Dates: August 25 – December 8

Course Description:

It is not biologically possible for human beings to live in individual isolation for at birth none of us are capable of maintaining life.  Even as adults human beings are not self-sufficient, at least, if we are to arise above the animal.  But if we need each other, on what terms should our interactions take place?  On what conditions should civil society proceed?  Specifically what is the relation between individual “rights” and social welfare?  And what relations should obtain between the governed and those who govern?  These fundamental questions of social and political philosophy will be examined by way of a careful reading of authors from the ancient and modern periods.

Text:  Political Philosophy: The Essential Texts   Ed. Stephen Cahn  This is available in the Bookstore.  There will be a couple of other things to read that will be posted on OAK.

Schedule of Readings:

August 27 -  Introduction Plato’s Republic  
Sept 3 - Plato
Sept 10 - Aristotle  The Ethics and Politics
Sept 17, 24 -  Hobbes  Leviathan
Oct 1, 3 - Locke Second Treatise  Declaration of Independence, Rights of Man, Constitution
 Oct 15 -  Marx  Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844
Oct 22, 29 - J.S. Mill  Utilitarianism,  On Liberty, Subjection of Women
Nov 5 -  William James  “The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life.”
Nov 12 - Rawls  A Theory of Justice
Nov 19 -  Habermas
Dec 3 - Virginia Held 
Dec 10 - Dinner at my house and final meeting.

Course Instructor:

Professor Michael Hodges received his Ph.D. at the University of Virginia in 1967 and after a brief stop at the University of Tennessee has been at Vanderbilt for over 42 years.  He was Chair of the Department of Philosophy for 9 years and is currently Director of Undergraduate Studies.  He has published two books--one with co-author John Lachs and many articles on subjects in American Philosophy, Wittgenstein, Philosophy of Mind and the Philosophy of Religion. This is the fifth time that he has taught in the MLAS program which he finds one of the most rewarding teaching experiences in his career.

More Information:






MLAS 260 12

Music in Contemporary Fiction

Instructor:  Stan Link
Days and Time: Thursdays from 6:00 to 9:00 pm
Dates:  August 25 – December 8

Course Description:

Music is never without a context, can never fully exist as an absolute, free of circumstances. Whether personal, social, historical or political, it is always part of some other “story.” This course begins by taking that idea at face value and considers music as it appears in literature. Whether functioning at its periphery or as a central theme, music frequently serves as a driving force in fiction. However, since text does not include its own “soundtrack,” music’s role in literature can rarely be direct. That is, music is almost never simply itself. It almost unavoidably serves instead as symbol, characterization, atmosphere, setting, pivotal event, and so on. At times, music can almost become a character of its own. And further, music’s ability to contribute in that regard almost entirely depends on the reader’s own experiences and knowledge of it, making it a site of interaction and imagination that must go deeper than the words on the page if it is to speak clearly. How does music “sound” when we simply read about it? In the absence of an actual musical experience, the question becomes not only “what does it mean?” but also “how does it mean?” In fiction, music must remain present even in the absence of its most immediate pleasures. It becomes literary rather than literal. Instead of considering this as a deficit, however, this course will examine the way that literature’s uses for music make it a site of tremendous interaction and imagination for the reader. The lack of sound becomes an invitation for readers to author a significant part of the story they are reading. Encountering music within and by way of text, we become performers, authors, composers and listeners.

Course instructor:

Stan Link is Associate Professor of Composition, Philosophy and Analysis of Music at Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music. A composer of acoustic and electro-acoustic music ranging from an African drum ballet to sonic landscapes and ghost stories, his works are performed on stages and in headphones across the U.S., in Europe, and Australia. His solo compact disk of electro-acoustic meditations of time, In Amber Shadows, appears on the Albany Records label. Other music, pots, pans, whispers, plinks and plucks can be heard in compilations on the Albany, Vox Novus, Capstone, Pa's Fiddle, and Art Trail labels. Along with music composition and theory, he teaches interdisciplinary courses on music, art, and film. Also an active scholar, Stan has numerous publications on a wide range of topics that includes noise, silence, film music and sound, musical representations of psychopathology, digital aesthetics, and cinematic horror. With degrees from Princeton and Oberlin, Stan feels at least somewhat prepared for his current work on the musical lives of nerds, geeks and other misfits.