MLAS Course Roster

Spring 2011 Courses


MLAS 260 64

Music, Gender, and Sexuality

Instructor:  Melanie Lowe
Location: 2133 Blair
Days and Time: Tuesday 7:00- 9:30
First class: January 18

Course Description:
In this course, we will explore gender and sexuality in Western music, both art and vernacular traditions.  We will consider such topics as musical constructions of masculinity, feminity and sexuality, the preformance of gender, feminist theory, feminist music criticism, issues of gender in music theory, queer theory, castrati, “deviant” sexualities in music, and music as sexual politics.  The course will be run as a seminar.  The main "work" will be our lively and richly textured discussions of weekly reading and listening assignments.  For each reading and listening assignment I will provide a set of questions/issues to consider in preparation for the in-class discussion.  For three of the reading assignments there will be an accompanying writing assignment in the form of a response essay.  Throughout the semester, students in this class will keep a weekly journal (one entry per week) of thoughts, reactions, ideas, questions etc. about issues, music, topics we discuss in class and/or anything else that’s related to the course in some (tangible) way.  Sometimes I'll set a specific question to think and write about; other times the entry will be free reflection.  There will also be one final project, to be presented to the class during the last class meeting.  

Course Instructor:
Melanie Lowe is Associate Professor of Musicology and Chair of the Department of Musicology and Ethnomusicology at the Blair School of Music.  She is also affiliated faculty in Vanderbilt's Programs in American Studies and Women's and Gender Studies.  Prof. Lowe is the author of Pleasure and Meaning in the Classical Symphony and numerous journal articles on both classical and popular music.  Winner of many teaching awards, including the Madison Sarratt Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Prof. Lowe teaches core music history courses on Western music in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Baroque, and the Classic eras, along with topical seminars on such varied topics as Mozart and Beethoven, music and American politics, and gender and sexuality in music.




MLAS 260 56

Don Quixote and the Development
of the Novel

Instructor:  Edward Friedman
Location: 209 Furman
Days and Time: Tuesdays 6:30 – 9:00
First class: January 18

Course Description:
In conceiving Don Quixote, which starts out as parody,Miguel de Cervantes came upon the idea that madness could be humorous. In this case, his knight errant (or errant knight) suffers from a literature-induced malady that brings readers, writers, and fiction-making into the frame. Don Quixote, accompanied by his somewhat reluctant squire Sancho Panza, has the best of intentions, if not the most practical of agendas. His anachronistic plan and his eccentricities give the exploits a special cast. Don Quixote ultimately shares the stage with the author himself, who undertakes adventures of his own.

At the beginning of the seventeenth century, when Cervantes published Don Quixote, the novel was not only new but was in the process of inventing itself. Cervantes breaks away from the idealism of chivalric, pastoral, and sentimental romance, as he helps to develop narrative realism. At the same time, he moves in an entirely different direction, by calling attention to the process of composition. Don Quixote announces itself as a “true history,” but its fictional devices clearly show through. Spanish society is on display, but so are the literary forms of the day, to be acknowledged and often satirized. Don Quixote is, thus, a novel and a theory of the novel, brilliantly comic but profound, as well. It serves as a type of template for future novels and, accordingly, for future experiments, as texts engage and challenge tradition. Don Quixote will be the centerpiece of the seminar, along with examples of experimental fiction from the twentieth century.



MLAS 260 56 / Spring 2011 / Tuesdays 6:30-9:00

Edward Friedman                 
(615) 665-1683

Topics will include

  • precursors of the novel
  • the development of narrative realism
  • Don Quixote:  realism and metafiction (self-conscious narrative)
  • laughter and the bases of humor
  • the feminine presence and absence in literature
  • the construct of intertextuality (interrelations among texts)
  • eighteenth- and nineteenth-century realism in England, France, and Spain
  • responses to realism and naturalism: the modern and the postmodern
  • narrative perspective and the play of point of view
  • gender and point of view
  • the concept of the experimental novel
  • variations on the experimental theme
  • representational and non-representational forms of art
  • the pictorial arts and film as narrative


Selected short stories

Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (trans. Edith Grossman)

Miguel de Unamuno, Mist (trans. Warner Fite)

Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

Paul Auster, City of Glass [not graphic version]

Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Selected critical studies


There will be a reading assignment and a short writing exercise for each class. The seminar sessions will depend heavily on group dialogue. The final evaluation will be based on the written exercises (75%) and participation (25%). The works in Spanish will be read in translation.



Week 1             Introduction: narrative fiction; Don Quixote:
                              text and context

Week 2             Short stories

Week 3             Don Quixote, Part One                Prologue – Chapter 27                       

Week 4            Don Quixote, Part One                Chapters 28 – 52                                    

Week 5             Carroll B. Johnson, Don Quixote: The Quest for
                              Modern Fiction
, chs. 1-4

                              Essay on Part One

Week 6             Don Quixote, Part Two                Prologue – Chapter 28

Week 7             Don Quixote, Part Two                Chapters 29 – 58

Week 8            Don Quixote                Chapters 59 – 74

Week 9            Carroll B. Johnson, Don Quixote: The Quest for
                              Modern Fiction
, chs. 5-8

                              Selected criticism

Essay on Part Two

Week 10             Mist

Week 11            The Bluest Eye

Week 12             City of Glass

Week 13            The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

                                Synthesis and tentative conclusions

Week 14             The Purple Rose of Cairo


Course Instructor:
Edward Friedman (Ph.D., Johns Hopkins) teaches early modern Spanish literature, comparative literature, and theory at Vanderbilt, and he especially enjoys having the opportunity to include Don Quixote,in English and in Spanish, in his classes. His research has focused on Cervantes, the picaresque novel, women’s voices in fiction, and sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spanish theater, but he also works on contemporary narrative and drama. His most recent book is Cervantes in the Middle: Realism and Reality in the Spanish Novel (2006). He is editor of the journal Bulletin of the Comediantes and from 2001-2004 served as president of the Cervantes Society of America.



MLAS 290 05

Terrorism (core seminar)

Instructor:  Katherine Carroll
Location:      Calhoun 219
Days and Time: Wednesday,  7:00 -9:30
First class: January 19

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.

Course Description:
This course is an overview of terrorism as a political science puzzle. Throughout the semester, the main questions to which most of our discussions and readings will relate will be 1) Why or under what conditions do non-state groups turn to terrorism and, to a lesser extent, 2) How should states respond to terrorism? By the end of the semester you should be able to speak and write critically about the various answers that scholars, policymakers, the law enforcement community, and terrorists themselves have given to these questions.  Our readings will focus on case studies of specific terrorist groups as well as the literature produced by sociologists, political scientists, and historians dealing with terrorism as a global phenomenon.  


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.



MLAS 260 88

Afropop and Global Identity

Instructor:  Greg Barz
Location:  Buttrick Hall 316
Days and Time: Wednesday, 7:00- 9:30

First class: January 19

Course Description:
The goals of this seminar on Afropop include increasing our awareness of the social, political, and artistic worlds from which Afropop emerges, both within Africa and in Europe and North America. In many ways, African popular musicians assume critical roles in the social and cultural history of Africa, yet Afropop remains a uniquely syncretic African art form. Thus, our analysis of Afropop as an art form will necessarily take into account the position of history, politics, religion, and colonization in 20th-century African cultural history. This analysis will afford seminar participants a thorough understanding of and appreciation for Afropop, its roots, and the artists who create the music. We will develop a historical survey of the unique development of modern Afropop from its origins as an syncretic dance/art form that will include topics such as Cuban retentions, the synthesis of African and European styles, Blues, Soukous, Kwasa Kwasa, Samba, Highlife, Palm Wine, Jùjú, Fuji Garbage, Taarab, Bubblegum, Marabi, and the contemporary return to earlier styles.

Although basically non-specialized in approach, the fundamentals of Afropop as a cultural expression and as a performance genre will be discussed and demonstrated. Afropop is essentially an oral/aural form of expression and communication, and therefore a substantial amount of time will be spent listening to, discussing, and experiencing recorded examples of “classic” Afropop and the artists who have created it. The development of refined listening skills, the ability to evaluate and analyze Afropop performance, and the ability to identify historical influences are major components of the course.

Course Instructor:
Gregory Barz is associate professor of ethnomusicology in the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, with appointments in Anthropology and the Divinity school. He is the producer of the recent Grammy-nominated album, Singing for Life: Songs of Hope, Healing, and HIV/AIDS in Uganda that draws on his field recordings of the music of HIV-positive women’s groups in East Africa. His research is supported by a senior research fellowship with the Fulbright African AIDS Research Program. His recent research involves documenting the role of music in contemporary reconciliation efforts in post-genocide Rwanda genocide. He is author of 9 books and CDs including most recently, The Culture of AIDS in Africa: Hope and Healing in Music and the Arts with Oxford University Press. He has been a Franklin Fellow in global citizenship in Switzerland and just completed two years of work in central Africa, producing a documentary film, Inanga, focusing on music in post-genocide Rwanda.



MLAS 340 02

Capstone Workshop

Instructor:  Michael Hodges
Location: Furman 109
Days and Time: Wednesday 6:30 – 9:00
First class: January 19

Course Description:
The aim of this class is to help each student develop a capstone project that will be read and orally examined by a committee of three including Michael Hodges, Martin Rapisarda and a chosen expert in the field.  To this end a good deal of time will be left for independent research, consultation with experts and writing.  At the beginning we will consider some writings that exemplify different ways of getting at a problem.

capstone works

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 39 years.  He was Chair of the Department of Philosophy for 9 year 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 fourth time that he has taught in the MLAS program which he finds one of the most rewarding teaching experiences in his career.



MLAS 260 89

Poetry, Memory, and Autobiography:
A Creative Writing Workshop

Instructor:  Kate Daniels
Location: Buttrick Hall 316
Days and Time: Monday 6:30 – 9:00
First class: January 24

Course Description:
In a short, but important essay, Robert Penn Warren described poetry as “a kind of unconscious autobiography.”  What is a poem, he mused, “but a hazardous attempt at self-understanding?  It is the deepest part of autobiography.”  In this seminar, we will explore this idea through the writing of poems, and the reading of prose by poets on the art and craft of poetry – especially as they focus on the origins of poetry in personal experience, the transformation of experience into memory, and the rendering of memory into poetry through the medium of language.  In addition to poems written by class members, we will hear from visiting writers, attend poetry readings, and read several individual volumes of poetry.  The aim of our efforts and investigations will be to connect the understanding of one’s personal creative process with intensified study of the humanities, and a deeper appreciation of the history of poetry in the English language. 

The seminar will operate as a workshop with class time divided between intensive discussion of student poems, the readings, and presentation of craft issues.  A workshop is a joint effort of all members.  For this reason, one half of the grade for the class will be pegged to participation in class.  Preparation for each week – in addition to writing poems and in the journal – will include any assigned reading, along with the close reading and annotation of the texts of student poems. 

Students need not be experienced creative writers to enroll, but are expected to have a basic understanding of poetry, and appreciation of the art form.

Brief essays:  “Preface to the Second Edition of Lyrical Ballads,” William Wordsworth

“Creative Writers and Day-dreaming,” and “A Note Upon the Mystic Writing Pad,” Sigmund Freud

‘’A Room of One’s Own,” Virginia Woolf

“Poetry is a Kind of Unconscious Autobiography,” Robert Penn Warren

Books:   The Writer on Her Work, Janet Sternberg, editor

The Triggering Town, Richard Hugo

Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing, Margaret Atwood

Selections of poems: by poets appearing in the Vanderbilt Visiting Writers Series: Bobby Rogers, Mark Jarman, Jericho Brown, Ciaran Cason, and Frank Bidart.


8 original poems, or the equivalent in a longer piece or sequence, plus revisions

Process note on each poem, submitted by email, to instructor only

Written responses to each poem presented by fellow students for workshop discussion  

1 oral presentation

Attendance at three of the poetry readings in the Visiting Writers series, followed by brief response papers.

A semester-long writing response journal

Attendance at two private conferences with the instructor

Participation in class discussion

Final project: preparation of a portfolio of the semester’s work based on the revised versions of the eight poems, featuring excerpts from the writing response journal, plus other materials.


50% written work

50% participation (class discussion, oral presentation, attendance at readings and conferences with instructor)


Regarding your original poems:  Dates will be assigned in advance for poem discussions.  The week before your poem is due, email a finished copy of it to the entire class, and the instructor.  You should also email your process note to the instructor only at that time.

Regarding the poems of others: Print out the poems to be discussed in the upcoming workshop before class.  Read and ruminate on each poem, and write comments, suggestions, revisions, etc. directly onto the poem.  Be sure your name is on the poem. 

Also prepare a brief, typewritten response to the poem overall, and bring two hard copies of it to class: one for the student, and one for the instructor.

In workshop, the poet will read his or her poem aloud to the group when called upon, and then remain silent for the duration of the discussion.  At the conclusion of the discussion, each poet may ask questions or comment on anything that has been said if he or she wishes to do so.  It is not necessary.

When we have reached the end of the discussion of a poem, the rest of the class will give the poet their marked-up copy of his or her poem, along with a copy of the poem response.  At this time, each student will also give the instructor a copy of the response.

Please be sure that your name appears on all hard and electronic copies of poems, responses, etc.  


Schedule of Class Meetings:

Monday night workshops:

(Note: Monday January 17 is MLK, Jr. Day.  No classes on Vanderbilt campus.)

January 24, 31.

February 7, 14, 21, 28.

March 14, 21, 28

April 4, 11, 18, 25


Thursday night poetry readings:

January 20: Jericho Brown

February 10: Bobby Rogers

February 17: Mark Jarman

April 7: Ciaran Carson

April 14: Frank Bidart


All readings begin at 7 pm, and last for about one hour.

Students enrolled in the class are asked to attend at least three of these events.


Course Instructor:
Kate Daniels is author of three volumes of poetry, including The Niobe Poems and her most recent work, Four Testimonies: Poems. Her first volume, The White Wave was awarded the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize for Poetry.   She has her M.F.A. from Columbia University .  She has won the James Dickey Prize for Poetry from Five Points: A Journal of Literature and Art and the Louisiana Literature Prize for Poetry from Southeastern Louisiana University . Her poems have been anthologized in a number of publications and have appeared in journals such as American Poetry Review, Critical Quarterly, and the Southern Review.   She has also edited a volume of poems by Muriel Rukeyser and co-edited the book Of Solitude and Silence: Writings on Robert Bly.