Maymester On-Campus
2014 Summer Sessions at Vanderbilt

Summer Sessions


AMER 100W: Food for Thought: American Foodways

Professor Susan Kevra

To paraphrase Brillat-Savarin, "you are what you eat." In this course, food will be the focal point of our study of America. We will examine food and eating practices in America to gain an understanding of American history and values through our complicated relationship with food. Our studies will involve not only historical works, but literature and film, and contemporary and local issues, right here in Nashville.

The course will begin with a brief appetizer, during which we'll read what great American writers have to say about their relationship to food and how it defines us as Americans. We will move on to look at the role of food in early American history, how the Americas lured Europeans, as a kind of New World paradise, one with promises of plenty, but also nightmarish visions of cannibals. Films like Chaplin's "The Gold Rush" will allow us to consider food scarcity whilst works of fiction will provide insights into food and its relationship to gender, class and race. We will also examine contemporary food challenges in the US, drawing extensively from Schlosser's Fast Food Nation and Kinsolver's Animal, Miracle, Vegetable. Students will prepare a meal together made of locally available produce and we will visit a Nashville CSA. And the course will conclude with a Symposium on American Foodways, during which students will present research on a topic of their choosing.

Credits: 3 Credit Hours. AMER 100W is listed as (US) in Axle

For more information: susan.kevra@Vanderbilt.Edu

Back to top


AMER 240 01: Topics in American Studies: Baseball in American Life

Professor Oppenheimer

Baseball has often been viewed as a metaphor for American life. Why has baseball captured the imagination of so many diverse Americans? In particular, many of our finest twentieth-century writers have employed baseball as the vehicle for storytelling and essays about American life. This class explores the role of baseball in American life through the study of baseball fiction and “real baseball” as presented in short stories, novels, history, biography, data analysis, and film. The class explores the links between baseball fiction and actual events, baseball as a vehicle of social mobility in American society, the struggles of baseball players to be heroic on and off the field, and using baseball as a vehicle for understanding qualitative and quantitative approaches to measuring merit.

Credits: 3 credit hours. AMER 240 01 is listed as (SBS) credit in AXLE

For more information:

Back to top


ASTR 122: Introduction to Observational Astronomy 

Professor Teets

Topics of discussion and/or observation projects include properties of and phases of the Moon, light, optics, telescopes, CCD cameras, operation of telescopes, motions of the sky, Kepler's laws, and properties of stars, nebulae, and galaxies. Taught entirely at Dyer Observatory using the 24" telescope, on-site 8" telescopes, and remotely-operated telescopes. Satisfies the AXLE lab science requirement. Students who have earned credit for 102 or 205 will earn one credit hour for this course. Students who have earned credit for 103 will earn three credit hours for this course. Students who have earned credit for 103 and either 102 or 205 will earn no credit hours for this course.

Credits: 4 Credit Hours. ASTR 122 is list as (MNS) in AXLE

For more information: william.k.teets@Vanderbilt.Edu

Back to top


Bsci 290: Biodiversity 

Professor Dr. Amanda Benson

Over 5 million species thrive in amazingly diverse habitats on our earth ranging from the extreme freezing cold of the poles to the lush warmth of the tropics. But, few people realize that Tennessee is a hot spot of biodiversity. This course will address these key questions by examining the fundamental concepts of biodiversity, evolution, and conservation biology. The laboratory will be exploring nature reserves close to Vanderbilt, we will hunt for fossils, explore cedar glades, hike the diverse the forests and go to the zoo.

Credits: This is for science AXLE lab credit

For more information:

Back to top


ENGL 268B: America on Film: Performance and Culture: Film performance in the Construction of identity and Gender, Social Meaning and Narrative, Public Image and Influence in America

Professor Sam Girgus

Acting provides a key to the meaning and significance of film. At the same time, the photographic image, editing, and cinematography transform the nature of acting in film. By achieving a special "aura" in film, actors embody and project cultural values, conflicts, and contradictions. The course contrasts actors in terms of cultural values, acting styles, gender roles, personality types such as John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart; Brando and Eva Marie Saint; Bogart and Lauren Bacall; Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift; Paul Newman, George C. Scott, Tom Cruise; Saint and Cary Grant; Brad Pitt and Robert Redford; Denzel Washington and Will Smith; Gwyneth Paltrow and Cameron Diaz; George Clooney and Matt Damon; Julia Roberts and Sharon Stone. It also discusses the special relationship between actors and directors such as Brando and Kazan, DeNiro and Scorsese, Diane Keaton, Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, Washington and Lee. The course compares classic Hollywood acting with the "Method" of the Actors Studio. While studying actors and performance, students write short papers, reviews, and longer, creative "Docuscripts."

Credits: 3 credit hours. ENGL 268 B is listed as History & Culture of the US (US) credit in AXLE

For more information:

Back to top


ECON 224: Russia in the World Economy

Professor Victor Supyan

Trade, finance, labor markets, income, and economic growth following the introduction of a market economy.
Energy, manufacturing, and education sectors. Politics, government, and social change. Fiscal, monetary, and exchange rate policies.

Prerequisite: 100 and 101.

Credits: 3 Credit Hours. ECON 224 is list as (SBS) credit in AXLE

For more information:

Back to top

FILM 227W: Screenwriting Techniques of screenwriting

Professor Jonathan Waters

This course focuses on the foundations of writing for the screen. Students will read/watch a variety of screenplays and films throughout the course of the semester with the goal of analyzing and understanding different aspects of what makes the screenplays work. There will also be several writing assignments that focus on developing ideas, story structure, character construction, and dialogue throughout the semester. By the end of the course, the goal is for students to utilize these writing exercises in order to help them complete several short screenplays, while also beginning a feature length screenplay as well.

Credits: 3 Credit Hours. FILM 227W is list as (HCA) credit in AXLE

For more information: j.waters@Vanderbilt.Edu

Back to top


HIST 135: Western Civilization to 1700

Jeremy DeWaal

This course will begin with Greek and Roman civilization, exploring their art, philosophy, and history as a foundation of Western civilization. Moving through the Middle Ages, its towering cathedrals and feudal order, the course will turn to the cultural flowering of the Renaissance. Further looking at the shattered religious order in the wake of the Reformation, the course concludes with the religious wars and the rise of absolutism at the end of the seventeenth century.

Credits: 3 credit hours. HIST 135 is listed as (INT) credit in AXLE

For more information:  jeremy.j.dewaal@Vanderbilt.Edu 

Back to top


HIST 176: Christianity and Cultural Revolutions: A Brief History

Professor Paul Lim

A survey of Christianity and its cultural impact and influence in their mutual relation of transformation. From its origins to the present. Jewish origins; continual search for and struggle over the boundaries of orthodoxy and heterodoxy; split between East and West in polity and politics; the long-term consequences of the Reformations in the early modern period; the birth of modernity and its impact on Christianity; globalization, immigration and their collective cultural impact on Christianity.

Credits: 3 credit hours. HIST 176 is listed as (HCA) credit in AXLE.
For more information:

Back to top


JAPN 200A: Introductory Modern Japanese 1

Professor Michiru Lowe

This course is designed for students with little or no background in Japanese. By practicing all four skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening), we will acquire beginning level communicative competence in the Japanese language. We will learn how to greet others and introduce ourselves in Japanese, how to talk about daily routines and use demonstratives to explain where things are.  We will also practice writing hiragana and katakana.  A range of in and out of class assignments including a speech, pair work, and listening homework will provide opportunities to practice Japanese in realistic settings. No credit for students who have earned credit for 201 or a more advanced Japanese language course.

Credits: 3 Credit Hours. JAPN 200A (No AXLE credit)

For more information: michiru.i.lowe@Vanderbilt.Edu

Back to top



Lindsey Andrews, PhD, Senior Lecturer in Medicine, Health, and Society

This course focuses on the meaning of disease, health, disability, embodiment, and treatment in cultural representations. We will pay particular attention to representations of madness in film, poetry, fiction, visual and sonic arts, and popular culture (e.g. television shows, internet memes, and advertisements). Students will learn analytical approaches from the critical humanities including history, interpretive social sciences, and visual and literary studies.


  • How is medical knowledge translated into popular narratives and perceptions?
  • How do cultural narratives inform medical practice?
  • How do stories and images influence how we value medicalized bodies and experiences?

In addition to poetry, fiction, and secondary texts, students will view and analyze film and television shows. Possibilities include:

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Suddenly, Last Summer
Twelve Monkeys
Girl, Interrupted
The Snake Pit
Shutter Island
Rachel Getting Married
Requiem for Dream
Every Little Thing
A Dangerous Method
In Treatment
American Horror Story

Credits: 3 credit hours. MHS 248 is listed as (HCA) credit in AXLE

For more information:

Back to top


PSCI 283: Washington: A Shining City on a Hill…or Sin City?

Roy Neel, Adjunct Professor of Political Science and a Washington “Former”

“You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog.”
- Harry S. Truman

The course will be an intensive examination of how money, power, politics, and perceived image shape the work of the nation’s Capital.  We will explore the players, the poseurs, the money men, the socialites, the insiders and the outsiders: how Washington works and plays, its insecurities and hypocrisies, relationships real and phony.

 We will explore the culture that operates under the headlines about elections and public policy, a culture that nonetheless exercises great influence in the country’s business.  In particular, we will look at how much of what passes for status and power in the city is actually the perception of status and power, fueled by the explosion of media old and new, and the new influence of money.

“The only difference between Las Vegas and Washington, D.C. is that at least Vegas has the decency to admit the town is full of hookers and crooks.”
― Glenn Beck

We will see how the much-criticized revolving door between government service and lucrative private sector jobs has become critical for the efficient operation of federal affairs, but at the same time has created wide spread corruption, petty and great.

The principal text for the course will be This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral, Plus Plenty of Valet Parking, by Mark Lefkowich; and other readings from The Lobbyists, by Jeff Birnbaum, Capitol Punishment, by Jack Abramoff, and articles from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post.

We will review television shows and movies that portray the Washington culture, including House of Cards, Veep, West Wing, Scandal, and Alpha House.

Classes will often include a call-in from a prominent Washington figures - former and current Congressmen and Senators, journalists, lobbyists, socialites, with an opportunity for the class to question these players.

There will be one paper of approximately ten pages, several brief quizzes, and a special project that will require research and outreach to the Washington community.

Credits: 3 credit hours

For more information:  roy.c.neeley@Vanderbilt.Edu

Back to top


RLST 101: Encountering Religious Diversity

Professor Dianna Bell

As an underpinning for friendships and rivalries, political ideologies, diet and fashion choices, celebrations and holidays, the so-called “clash of civilizations,” and the hapless butt of jokes, it is easy to recognize the ongoing significance of religion in today’s world.  But how well do well do you actually understand the world’s varied religions?

This course will introduce students to a selection of religious traditions by surveying their historical formulations alongside their contemporary practice.  In this class we will cover Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Australian indigenous religion while especially considering the basic beliefs and history, sources of authority, and contemporary observance within each tradition.  We will also explore major theories of religion in order to understand and appreciate the how scholars approach religion as an academic study.  

Credits: 3 credit hours. RLST 101 is listed as Humanities & Creative Arts (HCA) credit in AXLE

For more information:

Back to top


SOC 234: Prison Life

Professor Rosevelt Noble

The American prison system has gone through many changes since the founding of our country.  As such, this course begins with a historical consideration of the origins of imprisonment in America by examining the underlying philosophies of official sanctions offered by the state.  Following the exploration into the history of corrections, we will assess current contextual, political, and ideological issues plaguing corrections in America.  In addition, through field trips to local correctional facilities and guest speakers, this course incorporates practical experience in efforts to facilitate a deeper understanding of the dynamics involved in the American prison system.     

Credits: 3 credit hours. SOC 234 is listed as (SBS) credit in AXL

For more information:


Back to top

SPAN 203: Introduction to Spanish and Spanish American Literatures

Professor Cynthia Wasick

Critical reading and methods of literary analysis. Selections cover all genres in several periods.
The course is conducted entirely in Spanish. Prerequisite: SPAN 201W and SPAN 202.

Educational Goals

  • Develop reading skills necessary to appreciate works of literature in Spanish in the major literary genres: narrative, drama, and poetry
  • Further improve oral communication skills through a discussion of literary Spanish using appropriate critical concepts and terminology
  • Produce well-argued essays of literary analysis of works in various literary genres that reflect a full understanding of the text or texts in question and communicate sophisticated concepts in a formal and grammatically correct Spanish
  • Develop a deeper understanding of the cultures of Spanish-speaking countries by examining the socio-historical context of a variety of works of literature from various literary periods

Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this course students will be able to:

  • use a high degree of linguistic accuracy in both oral and written communication
  • understand and apply a variety of key concepts of literary analysis in Spanish
  • discuss at a sophisticated level a variety of works of literature in Spanish
  • produce well-conceived, well organized, and well written essays of literary analysis on a variety of works of literature in Spanish
  • identify a variety of Spanish and Spanish American authors in their socio-historical context

Modes of Teaching and Learning

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Lecture/discussion
  • Videos, audio recordings

Grade Determinants

  • 3 written examinations
  • 3 critical essays (3 three-page)
  • daily written assignments
  • assessment of participation/discussion

Credits: 3 credit hours.SPAN 203 is listed as Humanities & the Creative Arts (HCA) credit in AXLE

For more information:

Back to top


Spanish 292: Images of the Feminine in Spanish Cinema (1975-2000)

The course counts for the major in European Studies, Film Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies

Professor Andre Zamora

One of the most outstanding features of the Spanish national cinema in the last quarter of the 20th century, basically since Francisco Franco’s death, was the overwhelming abundance and importance of women’s stories, or more precisely, stories about women written, directed, and told compulsively by men (Pedro Almodóvar, Alejandro Amenábar, Fernando Trueba, Carlos Saura, Víctor Erice, etc). This course is an exploration of this cinematographic obsession with the feminine subject, object, gender, genre, and sex. Some of the main characters in this myriad cinematic stories on women are the mother, the housewife, the girl, the lover, the angel, the monster, the hooker, the daughter, the researcher, the witch, the killer, the sister, and the porn-star. Among the intentions, functions, or consequences of all theses images of the feminine, the course pays special attention to their role in the depictions of, discussions on, and proposals for national identity throughout the last years of the dictatorship, the transition to democracy, and the consolidation of the new political system in Spain. In fact, the course might work as a case study on the topic of the importance of film in national identity building, placing a special emphasis on the use of women’s images towards that end The course will be organized around two parallel axes: chronology (the historical evolution of the filmic representation of women against the political, social, and cultural developments in Spain) and thematics (the different articulations of women as images of the nation throughout this period).

We will see ten movies in class, one every other session. The last hour of these movie sessions as well as the entire next class will be dedicated to analysis, discussions, oral presentations and lectures.

I will distribute and assign at least one critical article, in English, per movie. Furthermore, the movies will be shown in Spanish with, almost always yellow, English subtitles. These are the movies and some of the topics that will be covered:

The students will take a midterm exam and a final They will also deliver two brief oral presentations per week and will write a six-page final paper. Class participation will constitute a very important component of the final grade.  The class will be conducted in English (unless it consists entirely of Spanish majors and minors, in which case it will be conducted in Spanish). The written assignments and exams can be done in English or Spanish, but those who want the class to count toward Spanish major or minor must do them in Spanish.

Note: Class taught in English with subtitled movies

Credits: 3 credit hours. SPAN 292 is listed as (P) credit in AXLE

For more information:  andres.zamora@Vanderbilt.Edu 

Back to top


Theater 219: Acting I 

Professor Jon W. Hallquist 

The actor’s role in the theatre with emphasis on acting as artistic self-expression through improvisation and development of performance skills. Elements of Stanislavky’s System will be introduced through periodic readings and daily class exercises that include relaxation, trust, concentration, imagination, and sense memory techniques. Students will culminate their investigation into the acting process by preparing an audition monologue and a scene for performance. 

This course will enhance self-expression, performance, and leadership. For students entering a variety of careers, this course will help build confidence, presence, and creativity: key elements of leadership on the job. 

Credits: 3 credit hours. THTR 219 is listed as Humanities & Creative Arts (HCA) credit in AXLE

For more information:

Back to top