Fall Semester Offers Special Topics Courses

Posted: April 13, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Probst

Spring has barely begun, but it’s already time to start thinking about the fall semester. The new Schedule of Classes is out, and students are making their selections. With so many courses offered at Mason, there’s something to pique each student’s intellectual curiosity.

Following are highlights of a few special topics courses offered in anthropology, history and women’s studies this fall.

Margaret Yocom, associate professor in the English Department, will teach ANTH 399 Folklore of the Americas, which is cross-listed in English.

“This course will focus on student discussion, with students telling other students about traditions they practice or used to practice. It is interesting to hear about all the choices we make about the traditions we practice or leave behind,” says Yocom.

According to Yocom, the class will consist of projects in which students interview family, friends or others about traditions of interest to them. Many of the student papers will then be housed in the Northern Virginia Folklife Archive.

Prerequisites are ANTH 114 and 60 credit hours or permission of the instructor.

Richard Norton Smith, scholar in residence in the School of Public Policy and the Department of History and Art History, is teaching HIST 389 Forty-two Men: The Personal Presidency from Washington to Bush.

“The course will provide an intimate portrait of each of the president’s lives within the context of the time period in which they lived. I hope to be able to encourage students to personalize and humanize the past and institutions so that it becomes relevant and accessible to them,” says Smith.

Sean Takats, research assistant professor at the Center for History and New Media in the Department of History and Art History, will teach HIST 388 History of Taste, which is cross-listed in Art History.

This course introduces students to the ways in which taste has evolved beginning in the early 1500s to the mid 19th century in Europe. Students will be able to recognize where modern ideas of consumption come from. Students will examine food, drink, furniture, clothing and items such as umbrellas — things that were relatively new to the people of the time period, says Takats.

“Changing taste was something very new to people who lived in the 18th century, and students will be able to understand how taste drives consumer culture,” says Takats.

Paula Gilbert, professor of French in the Modern and Classical Languages Department who is also on the Women’s Studies faculty, will teach WMST 300 Women Who Kill this fall.

“For many reasons, our society at large does not seem to accept the ‘reality’ that women can have feelings of anger, aggression and violence. This course will allow us to read, view and discuss issues of female violence — in theory, the real world and the representation world of fiction, film and popular culture,” says Gilbert.

A prerequisite for the course is WMST 200 or permission of the instructor.

According to Gilbert, students will be considering theoretical works that attempt to explain female violence, as compared to male violence, and how others see it. The course will examine events in real life and works of fiction.

“The class is about helping people understand why some women act on their feelings and perpetrate violent crimes that are usually the result of numerous issues,” says Gilbert.

The complete fall 2007 Schedule of Classes is available on PatriotWeb.

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