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Maymester On-Campus Course Listings

On-line registration is March 27th to May 8th.  Classes begin May 8th and end June 2nd.  See the summer sessions calendar for additional important dates.


2017 Maymester on-campus courses


HART 2625. French Art in the Age of Impressionism.

INSTRUCTOR:  Prof. Kevin D. Murphy, Andrew W. Mellon Chair in the Humanities, Prof. and Chair, Dept. of History of Art.


French painting, sculpture, and drawing in its social, political, aesthetic, academic, and

spiritual context from 1848 to 1886 will be the main focus of the course, although the international development of Impressionism will also be addressed. Thus, works in the collection of the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery (such as the painting by Childe Hassam, above left) will be directly examined. The Social Realism of Daumier and Courbet; Manet and Aesthetic Realism; Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Degas, Morisot, and Impressionism; and the rise of Neo- and Post-Impressionism

with Seurat and van Gogh will all be discussed. No credit will be given for students who have earned credit for 1500W or 4960-01 offered fall 2015. [3] (INT)


JAPN 1011            Elementary Japanese I 

Instructor:   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.You will be qualified to move on to JAPN 1012 in the fall semester after taking this course.


AMER 3890-01:

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 3890-01 is listed as (SBS) credit in AXLE

For more information:


ANTH       2375 Making Racism Visible


#racism: Media and Civil Rights from MLK to BLM and Beyond

INSTRUCTOR:  Sophie Bjork-James

Course Description:  Through films, visits to civil rights museums, field trips to organizations fighting racism, and guest lectures we will analyze the various ways that print and social media are used to change perspectives and policies about race and racism. The course encourages students to develop intellectual tools to understand and navigate the media saturated contemporary world that we live in. To this end, students will be tasked with analyzing media produced about racial justice movements and producing their own original multimedia projects.

The class will culminate in a three-day fieldtrip to museums documenting historic locations from Civil Rights activities in Alabama. We will tour the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma, and the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery. We will collectively analyze how these historical struggles are represented and how they speak to contemporary racial justice issues.

Students will contribute knowledge gained through these experiences to the broader Vanderbilt community by producing short video papers to be shared online.

Possible films we will watch: Selma, The Thirteenth, Loving, Eyes on the Prize, Birth of a Nation, A Good Day to Die, Dear White People, Fruitvale Station, Freedom Summer, Viva la Causa.

Image credits:

Black lives matter

By The All-Nite Images -, CC BY-SA 2.0,


By Pax Ahimsa Gethen - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,


ASTR 3890   Special Topics in Astronomy   “Preparing for the 2017 Total Eclipse”

Instructor: Susan G. Stewart, PhD. 

Course Description: Study the dynamics of the Sun-Earth-Moon system and the solar system from physical and historical perspectives to fully appreciate significance of upcoming total eclipse of August 2017 which will pass through Nashville. The class will investigate eclipses and planetary transits through interactive demonstrations. A rare treat will be to learn celestial navigation and practice the method using Sun measurements to find geographical location. The class will visit Vanderbilt’s Dyer Observatory for daytime solar observations and also monitor sunspots from the telescopes on campus while investigating solar structure and features.

 The class will make a full day trip to NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL to hear from MSFC solar researchers about their upcoming plans to study the solar corona during the 2017 eclipse. We will also visit with a NASA expert on eclipse photography before spending the afternoon on a private tour of the US Space and Rocket Center. On campus, we will learn about Vanderbilt’s participation in the NASA’s High Altitude Balloon experiment which will involve a research payload from Vanderbilt during the 2017 eclipse.

There will also be an investigation of the broader impacts of eclipse phenomena. We will explore the field of Archeoastronomy to uncover how celestial motions and eclipses influenced historical structures. We will investigate the significance which eclipses have had in culture throughout the Americas. A study of animal behavior during eclipses and other astronomical phenomena will be undertaken as well. The class will feature several guest speakers on campus including experts in Latin American Studies and Anthropology.


ASTR 1210           Intro Observational Astronomy

Instructor:   William Teets

Course description: Intro to Observational Astronomy enables students to learn more about our place in the universe through different types of observational techniques and to see for themselves just what is out there.

The course has several goals: 1) introduce students to the different types of technologies and equipment that astronomers use to learn about the universe including telescopes, CCD cameras, spectrometers, etc.; 2) help students gain an understanding of the motions of the sky and how to locate objects; 3) enable students to make virtual, naked-eye, and telescopic observations of planets, stars of various types, nebula, and galaxies; and 4) educate students about the fundamental concepts of astrophysics that enable astronomers to learn about these objects.  After completing the course students will have a better understanding of the fundamental aspects of astronomy, such as what causes moon phases, as well as an understanding of more advanced subjects, such as how astronomers determine the interior structure of stars.

Each evening students are shuttled from main campus to Dyer Observatory, a satellite campus located on one of the highest hilltops in the Nashville/Brentwood area, and then shuttled back to main campus at the end of the night.  Classes start off each evening with a lecture on the topic(s) of the night to provide essential background material; afterwards, the class switches to a more hands-on demonstration/observation mode.  Students will be using a number of telescopes and astronomical equipment during the class, including the 24” Seyfert Telescope housed at Dyer Observatory, portable telescopes assembled and operated by the class each night, and robotic telescopes. The more rural locale of Dyer Observatory provides darker skies, permitting students to not only have better viewing conditions for acquiring data but to also observe by eye many of the objects that they are learning about.

Students are not required to have a prerequisite knowledge of astronomy. This course 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.


ENGL 3695        America on Film 


Instructor:   Sam Girgus                                                                           

Course Description:  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."


ENGL 3720: Narrative, Cognition, and Scientific Explanations of Storytelling

Instructor :   Elizabeth Covington

Course Description:   Why do humans tell stories? In this course, we will engage with a number of scientific theories attempting to explain the human drive to create narratives. In particular, we will engage with cognitive theories of storytelling and the literature that has emerged to tease, test, or challenge our cognitive abilities. This course will ask students to engage in the greater Nashville community, explore different kinds of storytelling across different populations, and conduct group projects that explore and expand the role of class, economics, race, and gender in the cognitive drive to produce narratives. All students must be prepared to take frequent field trips around the Nashville area.


MHS 1920  Politics of Health

INSTRUCTOR: Celina Callahan-Kapoor