MLAS Course Roster

Summer 2011 Courses

* See individual course descriptions for first class meeting date and place.

MLAS 260 70:

Sculpture: Found and Fabricated

Instructor: Michael Aurbach
Location: Studio Arts Building
Days and Time: Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
First class: Tuesday, June 7

Course Description:
Found and Fabricated is a course that uses a thematic approach to the study of assemblage (additive processes). The class does not require previous experience with studio art. Projects require students to incorporate personal belief systems (something of an anthropological approach). Students will be introduced to basic fabrication processes.

Students will NOT know their grade throughout the course unless they are working at a C- level or below. This might drive you crazy at first but you will come to understand why.

10% of grade


Class participation (critiques) and cleaning up



First project (lure)



Second project (personal baggage)

Attendance will be taken each class period. On your third absence you will drop one full letter grade. Four absences will lead to a drop of two letter grades (and so on). It is important that you come to class on time and be prepared to work at the beginning of the period. Only notes from the dean's office will serve as excused absences. A pattern of coming to class late and/or leaving early can lead to a reduction in your grade.

Safety is always a major issue in art classes. Common sense and common courtesy are required. DO NOT WEAR FOOTWEAR THAT EXPOSES YOUR TOES. If you have not had a tetanus shot in ten years, you might consider getting another.

Materials: No Text, Combination lock
Studio: 322-8437
Shop: 322-8610

Course Instructor:
Michael Aurbach is a Professor of Art who teaches sculpture and drawing at Vanderbilt University. His socially inspired works have been exhibited throughout the United States and for more than two decades Aurbach's sculpture addressed issues related to death, identity, and the plight of socially disenfranchised groups. Much of his recent work serves as commentary on academia, secrecy and institutional behavior.

As a student at the University of Kansas, Aurbach earned a BA in Biology, a BSJ from the William Allen White School of Journalism, a BFA in Studio Art, and the MA in the History of Art. He received the MFA in Sculpture at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He has received numerous grants and awards. The National Endowment for the Arts, the Southern Arts Federation, the Tennessee Arts Commission, Art Matters Inc., the Puffin Foundation, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, and Vanderbilt University are among the institutions and foundations that have provided support for his work. In 1995, Aurbach was honored with the Southeastern College Art Conference Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement.

Aurbach's work has been included in more than 200 exhibitions of which 75 have been solo shows. The Bernice Steinbaum Gallery in New York, the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, the Wichita Art Museum, the Indianapolis Art Center, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Kansas are among the institutions that have hosted one-person shows. In 2001, following a national competition, Aurbach was honored with the inaugural exhibition of contemporary art at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville. He has lectured at more than 230 colleges, museums, and cultural institutions.

Reviews and articles about Aurbach's work have appeared in Sculpture, Art in America, Metalsmith, World Sculpture News, Art Papers, The New Art Examiner, and numerous textbooks and newspapers.

Aurbach is a past president of the College Art Association, the world's largest organization of visual arts professionals.

MLAS 260 90:

Socrates, Plato, and The Good Life

Instructor: Robert Talisse
Days and Time: Mondays, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m
First class: Monday, June 6

Course Description:
Plato wrote philosophical dialogues in which a main character, Socrates, engages with a wide range of interlocutors about questions concerning the good life. Famously, Socrates contends that "Theunexamined life is not worth living." But Socrates also advances stranger claims like, "Philosophy is practice for death"; "It is better to suffer harm than commit harm"; "No one ever does wrong knowingly"; "I know that I know nothing"; "The body is the prison of the soul"; "Next to Tyranny, Democracy is the worst kind of society"; and (a personal favorite) "Philosophers should rule as kings." Socrates was executed by the Athenians in 399 BCE, in large part for publicly defending claims such as these. In this course, we will read and discuss several of Plato's dialogues. We will begin with the dialogues surrounding Socrates' trial and execution (Apology, Euthyphro, Crito, Phaedo); then we will read a few dialogues especially aimed at questions concerning virtue (Meno, Euthydemus) and then we will read Plato's masterpiece on justice and the good life, The Republic. Throughout the course, we will have ample occasion to reflect on the question of whether the Athenians were right to have executed Socrates. We will also ask ourselves whether Plato and Socrates have any important insights into the nature of justice, virtue, obligation, courage, and the like. But the central question which will loom persistently is the Socraticquestion, "How ought we to live?"

Course Instructor:
Robert Talisse is Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt. His primary areas of research are social and political philosophy, ethics, and democratic theory. Accordingly, his main publications and teaching duties lie in those areas. However, he decided to become a philosopher after taking a course in Plato as an undergraduate, and so he sustains serious side-interests in classical Greek philosophy.

MLAS 260 91:

Early Medicine & Culture: From Aristotle to the Enlightenment

Instructor: Holly Tucker
Location: Buttrick 112
Days and Time: Wednesdays, 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m
First class: Wednesday, June 8

Course Description:
How did medical practitioners and the lay public understand health, healing, disease, and the body before the advent of "science"? This course will trace medical theory, practice, and controversies surrounding the book from Antiquity to the Enlightenment of the 18th century. Among the topics we will discuss:

  • Early Medical Education and Practitioners
  • Anatomy and Dissection
  • Surgeons, Surgery and Therapeutics
  • Mind, Body and Soul
  • Plague and Public Health
  • Childbirth, Midwifery and Embryology

Course readings will be made available online. We will also use the following textbooks to ground our early discussions:

Roy Porter, Blood & Guts: A Short History of Medicine
Nancy G. Siraisi, Medieval & Early Renaissance Medicine: An Introduction to Knowledge and Practice

Each student will have an opportunity to "specialize" in an aspect of early medicine that interests them most, including (but not limited to) the following: surgery, epidemiology, early neurology, midwifery, and embryological theory.

There will be three written assignments. The first will be a book review of a core text in their area of their specialization. The second, an early draft of a research paper accompanied by an annotated bibliography. Students will meet individually, twice, with the course instructor to discuss their project. The final assignment will consist of a 15 page research paper on their topic of interest.

Course Instructor:
Holly Tucker teaches in the Department of French & Italian and the Center for Medicine, Health and Society. Her first book, PREGNANT FICTIONS, focused on 17th and 18th century childbirth and embryology in France. Her most recent book, BLOOD WORK: A TALE OF MEDICINE AND MURDER IN THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION, was published this spring. You can read more the book, and Tucker's work, here: