MLAS Course Roster

Spring 2010 Courses


MLAS 270 36

The United States and the World Economy

Instructor: Andrea Maneschi
Location: Calhoun Hall 423
Days and Time: Thursdays, 5:30- 8:00
First class: January 21

This course is an option for those students following the MLAS Certificate in History.

Course Description:
International economics is divided into two parts: the “real” side, which discusses comparative advantage, reciprocal demand, reasons for trade and factor movements, commercial policy, economic integration; and the “monetary” side, consisting of the market for foreign exchange, the exchange rate, the balance of payments, the causes of the trade deficit, the international monetary system, the pros and cons of fixed and flexible exchange rates. The real side is an application of microeconomics to open economies, the monetary side an application of macroeconomics.

This course focuses mainly on the “real” trade and factor movement side of international economics, and how it affects the U.S. and other countries (especially less developed countries), the gains from trade and factor movements, and how trade policies affect economic welfare. It also pays some attention to the balance of payments and exchange rate issues facing the U.S. economy. Another focus of attention will be the welfare implications of economic integration (free trade areas and customs unions) as represented by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the European Union (EU). The relationship between trade and economic development is also investigated.

Course Instructor:
Professor Andrea Maneschi is Professor of Economics at Vanderbilt University. He received the B.A. degree in Engineering Science at Oxford University in 1958 and the Ph.D. degree in Political Economy at Johns Hopkins University in 1964. He taught at Yale University and at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and was a visiting professor at the University of Milan, Italy, and the University of Sydney, Australia. He teaches courses in international trade, the history of economic thought, and a freshman writing seminar on Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. He combined his interests in international trade and the history of economic thought when he wrote Comparative Advantage in International Trade: A Historical Perspective (Edward Elgar, 1998), which explores the origin and evolution of one of the key concepts of international economic theory and policy, the principle of comparative advantage. He has published many articles on international trade, economic development, and the history of economic thought.



MLAS 260 83

Competing Conceptions of Justice: The Israeli- Palestinian Conflict

Instructor: Idit Dobbs- Weinstein
Location: Furman Hall 109
Days and Time: Wednesdays, 6:30- 9:00
First class: January 20

This course is the sixth course in the MLAS Certificate in Ethics series. Enrollment priority will be given to those continuing students in the ethics certificate program, with others allowed into the course contingent upon available space.

Course Description:
It is generally assumed that in all cases of ethical and political conflict there is a right and wrong position, a clear distinction between justice and injustice.  Through a careful examination of the history and present circumstances of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict this course will bring to light the fact that, in most cases of ethical and political strife, we are facing conflicting conceptions of justice sustained by significantly different world views.
In order to address the challenges posed by such conflicts we shall first read selections from philosophical classics, such as Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Niccomachean Ethics, that have shaped subsequent discussions of justice, especially since the most important Arab and Jewish philosophers share this common philosophical heritage and defend it on the same grounds against the religious dogmatism that seeks to foreclose philosophical discussion. Second, we shall consider contemporary philosophical discussions of the ethics and politics of the Middle East and evaluate them in the light of both classical theory and the current situation.
Course Instructor:
Professor Dobbs-Weinstein's research areas include: Aristotle, Medieval Jewish, Arabic and Christian Philosophy, Spinoza, Political Philosophy, Philosophy of History, and Critical Theory (especially Adorno and Benjamin)  Professor Dobbs-Weinstein's current historical project involves the critical examination of dominant modes of interpreting Aristotle's De Anima and Metaphysics and the recovery of an alternate materialist Aristotelian tradition occluded by them. Her political project involves a radical critique of teleology and of the theologico-political dialectics of hope and fear in the shadow of Auschwitz.



MLAS 260 38

The Poetry of Robert Frost

Instructor: Mark Jarman
Location: Benson Hall 200
Days and Time: Tuesdays, 6:30 – 9:00
First class: January 19

This course is an option for those students following the MLAS Certificate in Creative Arts.

Course Description:

When, in the early 1950's, the critic Lionel Trilling referred publicly to Robert Frost as a terrifying poet, Frost and many of his admirers were outraged, but his cover as a poetic Will Rogers was blown. Those who understood Frost's achievement knew Trilling was trying to make a place for him as a major modern poet. The critic Randall Jarrell also saw the difference between the public Frost, an enormously popular figure during his lifetime, whom Jarrell called “the greatest Robert Frost in captivity,” and the Horatian master of metaphor that Jarrell considered second only to the great German poet Rainier Maria Rilke in this century. In this seminar we will try to consider both Frosts, the public performer who achieved his greatest notoriety when he read a poem at President Kennedy's inauguration, and the literary artist, whose poetry is central to American literature. The seminar will concentrate on Robert Frost's poetry, his poetic theory, his formative reading, his life, and his place in American literature as a modernist and as a link between American poetry and the tradition of English verse. We will consider how Frost appropriated and responded to the poetry of English Romantics like William Wordsworth and John Keats. We will try to see how his work relates to such recognized figures of modern poetry as Wallace Stevens, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams. We will also examine Frost's relationship to poets he considered his rivals, like Edwin Arlington Robinson, Amy Lowell, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edgar Lee Masters, and Carl Sandburg. We will look at Frost's own sense of the American poetic tradition embodied in Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and, most importantly for Frost, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Frost, the philosophical poet with strong but often disguised religious beliefs, will be an important issue. We will discuss his reading of Ralph Waldo Emerson and William James and the influence of his mother's religious teaching. We will also evaluate Frost's continuing influence on American poetry as well as the controversy surrounding his first biography.

Our text will be Robert Frost: Collected Poems, Prose, & Plays, from The Library of America. A class presentation and a paper will be required.

Course Instructor:
Professor Jarman joined the faculty of the Department of English at Vanderbilt University in 1983. In 1998 he was presented the Lenore Marshal Poetry Award for his book, Questions for Ecclesiastes, at the annual meeting of the Academy of American Poets. He has won numerous awards, including grants from the National Endowment for Arts and a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He is Centennial Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing.




MLAS 290 04

Caribbean History

Instructor: Frank Robinson
Location: Buttrick Hall 206
Days and Time: Wednesdays, 6:30- 9:00
First class: January 20

This Core Seminar is required of all newly admitted MLAS students. Those students admitted after Fall 2007 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, which can also fulfill the MLAS Certificate in History.

Course Description:
The modern Caribbean states represent a unique and challenging experience in world history. Since the beginning of the European invasion of the Americas in 1492, the Caribbean region has alternated between the center and periphery of international affairs. Shaped historically by the experiences of slavery, colonialism, and economic dependency, the Caribbean has produced societies starkly different from any other region of the world.

This core seminar examines how the region developed its special qualities and how its peculiar history helped fashion the contemporary Caribbean with all its problems and its possibilities. The story of the Caribbean encompasses everything from vast economic booms and disastrous busts to epidemics, wars, and revolutions. Main themes in the course will include the legacy of slavery and the plantation system, the development of modern political systems, the Cuban revolution and its global implications, nationalist politics in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the ambivalent identity of Puerto Rico, politics and economics in the Commonwealth Caribbean, and the sometimes contentious relations between the Caribbean Basin and the United States.

Course Instructor:
W. Frank Robinson is an Assistant Professor of History and the Associate Director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt University. He teaches courses in Latin American and Caribbean history that cover both the colonial and national periods including the history of the Iberian Atlantic empires, modern Latin America, Central America, and the contemporary Caribbean. His research interests include twentieth century political and social movements, nationalism and populism, and Caribbean Diaspora communities. Professor Robinson recently participated in the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute titled “Slaves, Soldiers, Rebels: Currents of Black Resistance in the Tropical Atlantic, 1760-1888” at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Grants and fellowships from the IIE Fulbright Program, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Defense Education Act Title VI have helped fund his studies, research, and writing. He is currently completing a manuscript that examines twentieth century Panamanian political history.



MLAS 260 84

History of French Film

Instructor: Lynn Ramey
Location: Furman 207
Days and Time: Wednesdays, 6:30- 9:00
First class: January 20

This course is an option for those students following the Creative Arts or History MLAS Certificate.

Course Description:
This class is an overview of cinema in France, from its origins to today.  We will note the important role French inventors played in creating the first moving pictures, as well as the particular social and political structures that have historically played a role in the French film industry.  The class will focus on directors whose work made significant contributions to the corpus of French cinema, and we will explore various movements in film, including poetic realism and New Wave.  The films are subtitled in English, and all reading are in English (though they are also available in French, if desired).
Required texts: Alan Singerman, French Cinema (English) (Focus Publishing), also available in French, and Rémi Lanzoni, French Cinema (Continuum)
Recommended text: David Bordwell and Kristen Thompson, Film Art: An Introduction (NY: McGraw Hill); and a reader of photocopied articles available through Blackboard.
Films can be seen at home, in the language lab, or often in the main library (media center). You cannot remove the films from the language lab or library.  Students will be able to stream the videos from the OAK site.
Grades for the course will be determined as follows:

  • 30% Paper one. 
  • 40% Final paper or project.
  • 30% Class participation, including posting reactions to films online through OAK (must post BEFORE class), coming prepared to class, and participating in discussions in an informed way.

 all assignments to be done before that day's class





 1 - Introduction

  Invention of Motion Pictures

Lumière shorts and Méliès Voyage dans la lune/Voyage to the Moon

[Recommended: Film Art, chap 1]; viewer's guide pages 1-16; French Cinema (Singerman) pp. 1-6, Lanzoni pp. 1-38.

 2 – Surrealism

Un Chien Andalou/An Andalusian Dog (Buñuel/Dali), A Propos de Nice/About Nice (Vigo), Zéro de Conduite/Zero for Conduct (Vigo)

[Film Art, chap 2]; French Cinema, pp. 39-54; surrealist.pdf, Lanzoni pp. 39-52.

 3 – Golden Age

Crime de M. Lange/Crime of M. Lange (Renoir)

[Film Art, chap 3]; lange.pdf, Lanzoni pp. 53-72.

 4 – Poetic Realism

Le Jour se lève/Daybreak (Carné)

[Film Art, chap 4]; French Cinema, pp. 121-137; daybreak.pdf, Lanzoni pp. 73-102.

 5 – Renoir and between-war France

La règle du jeu/Rules of the Game (Renoir)

[Film Art, chap 5]; bazin.pdf and bazin montage.pdf; French Cinema, pp. 97-119, Lanzoni pp. 103-111.

 6 - Occupation Cinema

Les Visiteurs du soir/The Devil’s Envoys (Carné)

[Film Art, chap 6]; troubadourism.pdf, Lanzoni pp. 111-142.

 7 - Post-war 50s

Les Diaboliques (Clouzot)

[Film Art, chap 7]; diaboliques.pdf, Lanzoni pp. 143-194.

 8 - Comedy

Les vacances de M. Hulot/M. Hulot’s Holiday (Tati)

French Cinema, pp. 189-204; hulot.pdf

 9 - The French New Wave I

400 coups/400 Blows (Truffaut)

[Film Art, chap 8]; French Cinema, pp. 233-252; 400 blows.pdf, Lanzoni pp. 195-244.

 10 - The French New Wave II

A bout de souffle/Breathless (Godard)

[Film Art, chap 9]; French Cinema pp. 271-288; breathless.pdf; godard and women.pdf

 11 - Outside the Wave

Cléo de 5 à 7/Cleo from 5 to 7 (Varda)

[Film Art, chap 10]; cleo.pdf

 12 - May '68 and its aftermath

L’amour l’après-midi/Chloe in the Afternoon (Rohmer)

French Cinema, chap 6; chloe.pdf, Lanzoni pp. 245-297

 13 - 1980s

Diva (Beineix)

French Cinema, chap 7; diva.pdf, Lanzoni pp. 298-348.

 14 - New Genres, New Directions

La cité des enfants perdus (Jeunet and Caro)

French Cinema, chap 8; enfants.pdf, Lanzoni pp. 349-418.

Course Instructor:
I am Associate Professor of French and Chair of the Department of French and Italian.  In 2007-2008, I served as director of the Program in Film Studies.  I teach courses on French film and pre-modern French literature.
My interest in French culture and literature stems from a study abroad experience I had as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania.  Tired of classes and school in general, I went on the only study abroad program available to engineers, which happened to be in Compiègne, France.  I returned to Penn to finish dual degrees in French (which I loved) and engineering (practical). Having experienced the excitement of living in a different culture, I joined the Peace Corps upon graduation, and the next two years found me in Fiji, teaching math and science and living through a military coup. In the end, I opted for what I loved and decided to go to grad school to learn more. My years in France and Fiji forced me to think about interactions between different ethnic groups and cultures, and cultural interaction between Christians and Muslims in the Middle Ages became the topic of my dissertation.  
I published Christian, Saracen, and Genre in Medieval French Literature in 2001 and Race, Class, and Gender in "Medieval" Cinema in 2007, and I have published numerous articles on various aspects of medieval literature and French film.
My teaching style is interactive and largely informal. Students in my classes are encouraged to seek out their own interests and apply them to the language and literature work we do as a class. Group work plays a large role in our in-class work, and I also encourage cooperative learning outside the classroom.




MLAS 280 04

Theories of the Universe

Instructor: David Weintraub
Location: Buttrick Hall 205
Days and Time: Mondays, 6:30-9:00
First class: January 18

This course is an option for those students following the MLAS Certificate in History.

Course Description:
In January 1610, Galileo Galilei pointed his telescope to the sky and made some remarkable discoveries. He published those discoveries in March, 1610, in his book Siderius Nuncius (The Sidereal Messenger). This book led directly to the condemnation of the heliocentric theory of Copernicus, to a sentence of life in prison for Galileo by the Inquisition, and to the schism between science and religion that continues to fracture our society. So what's the big deal with such a little book? This book led to the unraveling of long-held views of the universe that for two thousand years had tied philosophy, science, politics, and religion together. And why does this matter? Because our theory for understanding the universe matters a whole lot. According to British author and critic G.K. Chesterton, "[T]here are some people, nevertheless -- and I am one of them -- who think that the most practical and important thing about a man is still his view of the universe... We think the question is not whether the theory of the cosmos affects matters, but whether, in the long run, anything else affects them."

In the end, both conceptually and literally, this course is about the trial of Galileo by the Roman Inquisition (the Congregation of the Holy Office) in 1633. In order to understand why Galileo was put on trial and so that we can discuss and evaluate both the cases for the prosecution and for the defense, we must understand Galileo's astronomy and why his astronomy was an issue for the Roman Catholic Church. To understand Galileo's astronomy, we will review ideas in astronomy from pre-history, the Babylonians, the early and classical Greeks (including Plato and Aristotle), and the Romans (Ptolemy); we then need to look at progress (if any) made in astronomy in the first millenium of the Common Era, debates in physics in the late Middle Ages, and the breakthrough cosmological ideas of Copernicus, Tycho, and Kepler in the 16th and 17th centuries. To understand the relationship between Galileo's astronomy and early seventeenth century Roman Catholic theology, we must understand the Church's position on science, which in 1633 was largely based on Thomas Aquinas' interpretations of Aristotle and in part on Saint Augustine's Neo-Platonism. To understand the Aristotelian and Neo-Platonic underpinnings of medieval Catholic theology, we must examine the Aristotelian and Platonic roots themselves and follow their connections into physics and astronomy. Ultimately, this course is about astronomy, philosophy, theology, and epistemology.


  1. a selection of on-line readings from Aristotle's Physics and On the Heave
    and from Plato's Allegory of the Cave and Timaeus
  2. The Galileo Affair: A Documentary History, Maurice A. Finocchiaro
  3. Galileo's Daughter, Dava Sobel
  4. Siderius Nuncius, Galileo Galilei
  5. The Church and Galileo, Ernan McMullin

Course Instructor:
David Weintraub is a Professor of Astronomy and the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Director of the Program in the Communication of Science and Technology. Prior to joining the faculty at Vanderbilt in 1991, he earned his B.S. at Yale, his Ph.D. at UCLA, and was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Florida. He is the author of Is Pluto a Planet? (2006, 2009) and the forthcoming How Old is the Universe? (2010), both from Princeton University Press, as well as more than 60 research journal publications.

Weintraub's research interests are focused on questions involving how planets form and whether the formation and existence of planets is something that is normal or unusual around other stars. For his research he has used telescopes in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Massachusettes, New Mexico, Wyoming, Spain and Chile as well as orbiting telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Infrared Telescope, and Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Weintraub was awarded the Chancellor’s Cup in 2001 (for the Vanderbilt faculty member 'who has made the greatest contribution outside the classroom to undergraduate student-faculty relations in the recent past'), the Jeffrey Nordhaus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in the College of Arts & Science in 2003, the Chancellor’s Award for Research in 2005, and the Thomas Jefferson Award in 2009 ("for distinguished service to Vanderbilt through extraordinary contributions as a member of the faculty in the councils and government of the University").