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Current Roster

Spring 2018 MLAS Course Roster
MLAS 6100-01: Representations of Women & Images of the Nation
MLAS 7340-02: Capstone Workshop
MLAS 6300-46: The United States and the Vietnam War
MLAS 6100-02: Ethics

Spring 2018

 Classes Start Tuesday, 1/16/2018 and classes end Monday, 4/23/2018

MLAS 6100-01: Representations of Women & Images of the Nation 

Instructor: Prof. Andres Zamora

Location:  Furman Hall room 209

Days and Time: Thurs., 6pm-8:30pm

Dates:  1/18/2018 to 4/19/2018

One of the most outstanding features of the Spanish national cinema in the last quarter of the 20th century, basically from Francisco Franco’s death to the beginning of the new millennium, 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, et al). This course is an exploration of the cinematographic obsession with the feminine subject, object, gender, genre, and sex. Some of the main characters in these myriad cinematic stories about 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 these images of the feminine, the course pays special attention to their role in the depiction 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 fourteen movies, the first one in class and the rest outside of class. The movies will be available to students on Virtual Cinema, a feature of Brightspace provided by the Center for Second Language Studies. Each class will be dedicated to the analysis and discussion of one film.  For each movie I will also assign a set of readings--articles, reviews, book excerpts, etc.—which will be also posted on Brightspace.  There will be ten short weekly writing assignments and two five-page essays as well. Class discussions constitute one of the most important components of the seminar.

Professor Zamora is a native from Spain whose research falls into five overlapping areas of interest: the trends, patterns and evolution of Spanish Cinema; the poetics of the narrative genre in the Spanish nineteenth and twentieth-century novel; the rhetoric of ideological discourses in Spain from the eighteenth century to the present; the tropological use of the body, particularly through sex and scatology; and the cultural trade between Spain and Latin America as a major element in the construction of their respective identities.  He has published numerous articles on those topics as well as the books El doble silencio del eunuco.  Poéticas sexuales de la novela realista según Clarín (1999) and Featuring Post-national Spain. Film Essays (Liverpool University Press 2016) In his last book he explores how a considerable number of Spanish films released after the end of the dictatorship have been involved in the task of essaying the nation, that is, of attempting to make it or make it over, of trying to reshape a national identity inexorably dictated by General Francisco Franco up to his death in 1975. In 2001 Dr. Zamora received the Jeffrey Nordhaus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in the College of Arts and Sciences. He is Professor of Spanish and European Studies and Vice Chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Vanderbilt University. 


  MLAS 7340-02: Capstone Workshop

 Instructor: Prof. Cecelia Tichi

Location: Buttrick Hall 112 

Days and Time: Tuesdays, 6pm-9pm   

Dates: 1/16/2018 to 4/17/2018

The MLAS capstone course is designed to support each student’s individually-selected topic, to assist in shaping the parameters of the topic, to guide the research necessary for successful exploration of the chosen topic, and to assist in bringing the capstone project to a successful conclusion. Each student will be expected to seek a secondary advisor,  a Vanderbilt faculty member whose expertise is central to the chosen topic and who can be consulted as the student’s work proceeds. Our work together as a group will operate as a community of learners, each taking an interest in the work of colleagues and providing counsel along the term. We will become familiar with—and supportive of—the work of each member of the Capstone community.  (Note: the group will meet weekly initially but by consensus will dedicate certain scheduled evenings to individual research. The instructor will be available for assistance.)

Prof. Cecelia Tichi’s classroom work and publications span American literature, the technologies of the gear-and-girder and television eras, country music, the reformist “muckraker” journalism, and other topics in the US Gilded Age and Progressive Era. She has published mystery fiction, and her stage play was produced in 2016.  Her most recent book is Jack London: a Writer’s Fight for a better America.


MLAS 6300-46:  The United States and the Vietnam War

Instructor: Prof. Thomas Schwartz

Location: Benson Hall 200

Days and Time: Wednesdays, 6pm-8:30pm

Dates: 1/17/2018 to 4/18/2018

“From its very beginning the Vietnam War divided Americans.” So wrote the historian Gary Hess in a recent treatment of the war, reflecting the argument that the Vietnam War was similar to the American Civil War in the way it divided and polarized American society.  As if to underscore this point, the famous documentary film maker Ken Burns recently premiered on PBS a 10part, 18 hour treatment of the war, comparable to his Civil War documentary.   This course will examine the history of America's involvement with Vietnam, an involvement which began with a limited commitment to the French war effort in the late 1940s and escalated into a full-scale American war in 1965.  Readings will focus on the reasons for the growing American involvement, the question of military strategy, and the Vietnamese response to intervention.  The course will also consider such questions as the role of the media, the impact of the antiwar movement, and the war's overall effect on American society.  Finally, we will consider the defeat of the American effort in Vietnam, its consequences and legacies, and the many and varied ways in which the Vietnam experience has influenced and affected America’s more recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thomas Alan Schwartz is a historian of the foreign relations of the United States, with related interests in Modern European history and the history of international relations. He is the author of America’s Germany: John J. McCloy and the Federal Republic of Germany (Harvard, 1991), which was translated into German, Die Atlantik Brücke (Ullstein, 1992).  This book received the Stuart Bernath Book Prize of the Society of American Foreign Relations, and the Harry S. Truman Book Award, given by the Truman Presidential Library. He is also the author of Lyndon Johnson and Europe: In the Shadow of Vietnam (Harvard, 2003), which examined the Johnson Administration’s policy toward Europe and assessed the impact of the war in Vietnam on its other foreign policy objectives. He is the co-editor with Matthias Schulz of The Strained Alliance: U.S.-European Relations from Nixon to Carter , (Cambridge University Press, 2009). He is finishing a study of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger tentatively entitled, ‘Henry Kissinger and American Power.”

Professor Schwartz has held fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, the German Historical Society, the Norwegian Nobel Institute, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Center for the Study of European Integration. He has served as President of the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations. He served on the United States Department of State’s Historical Advisory Committee as the representative of the Organization of American Historians from 2005-2008. Professor Schwartz has also received The Madison Sarratt Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2013.


 MLAS 6100-02: Ethics

Instructor: Prof. Robert Talisse

Location: Furman Hall 109

Days and Time: Mondays, 6pm-8:30pm 

Dates: 1/22/2018 to 4/23/2018

What if you could prevent a murder by telling a lie?  What if you could save a life by stealing a car?  What if you could save five lives by committing one murder?  What if you knew you could get away with that murder by telling a well-constructed lie?  Would it be wrong to commit the murder?  Would it matter if the five you save were close friends, and the one murdered were a cranky stranger?  What kind of person would you be were you to murder one to save five others?  Can a bad person be happy?  Attempts to give coherent and systematic answers to questions like the ones above have resulted in rival theories of morality, each offering different views of what is morally good, worthwhile, permissible, obligatory, and praiseworthy.  In this course, we will critically examine the most influential of these theories. Through careful study of key primary texts supplemented with contemporary articles, students will explore the landscape of philosophical theorizing about morality, develop critical thinking and dialectical skills, and evaluate their own moral commitments.

Robert B. Talisse is W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Vanderbilt Philosophy Department.  He specializes in political philosophy and ethics, with focus on democracy and moral disagreement.  He is the author of over 100 scholarly articles, a dozen books, and is a regular contributor to the blog 3 Quarks Daily.  He is currently writing a book about moral tragedy and regret, tentatively titled Moral Imperfection: A Defense