Five classes to consider before drop-add ends

It’s drop-add season, a time of excitement, occasional indecision and the freedom to steer the semester ahead in any direction. 

The Chronicle has compiled a list of Spring 2021 classes in disciplines ranging from Information Science and Studies to Cultural Anthropology to spice up your spring course load before drop-add ends Feb. 2. These courses are still open on DukeHub as of Jan. 27.

Pleasure Quarters to Tokyo Pop

Taught by Gennifer Weisenfeld

MW 3:30 - 4:45 p.m.

Course Credits: ARTHIST 432S, VMS 432S (CCI, EI, R, ALP, CZ)

This course dives into the vibrant culture of the Japanese capital, covering themes such as sexuality, censorship, spectacle, satire, tourism, the supernatural and the Asian experience of modernity. Other topics include eroticism, kabuki theater and sumo wrestling. 

The namesake of the course, the “pleasure quarters”—the red light district for licensed prostitution—are also covered. 

For their final assignment, students will curate their own museum exhibitions. 

“The Ackland Museum at UNC-Chapel Hill has kindly offered to host a live virtual visit to their print study room,” wrote Gennifer Weisenfeld, professor in the department of art, art history and visual studies, in an email.

She added that taking advantage of Zoom, she has invited five of the “premiere scholars and curators in the field to join us in conversation about their work, which we will be reading and viewing.” 

“It will be an incredible opportunity to engage living scholarship and to learn about the production of knowledge from an insider’s perspective,” she wrote.

White People

Taught by James Lorand Matory

Th 3:30 - 6:00 p.m.

Course Credits: CULANTH 305S, HISTORY 385S, AAAS 347S, RIGHTS 305S (CCI, R, CZ, SS)

Throughout this course, students will examine the history, ideologies and psychology of white supremacy in the United States. 

They will investigate ideas of prestige and dominance, and look at ethno-racial categories such as Native Americans; Asians; Latinos; white ethnics; and poor whites, whose worth is measured by their degree of success at differentiating themselves from African Americans, according to James Lorand Matory, Lawrence Richardson distinguished professor of cultural anthropology.

“Through immigration law, the census, craniometry, and intermarriage, a whole series of groups has been assimilated into rights-bearing whiteness over time,” Matory wrote in an email. “Please note that, at least until the Trump era, most Mexican immigrants—who are, by far, the largest immigrant population in the country—considered themselves white.”

Art of the Interview

Taught by Barry Yeoman

Tu 12 - 2:30 p.m.

Course Credits: PJMS 364S, PUBPOL 364S, DOCST 364S (R, W)

This practical course aims to provide aspiring journalists—and anyone interested in the journalistic process—with the skills and knowledge needed to develop their craft. 

This semester’s thematic focus will be on justice and power. Students will have the opportunity to interview activists, community members, and those who hold economic and political power. According to Barry Yeoman, a freelance journalist and visiting lecturer at Duke, this course has historically attracted students from a variety of majors.

“The interview is what makes journalism human,” Yeoman wrote in an email. “At a time when we are all tethered to our devices, the interview is a reminder that we are the sum total of our stories, and the best of journalism (or other documentary work) tells those stories in the service of something bigger.”

Introduction to Digital Humanities

Taught by Victoria E Szabo

TuTh 10:15 - 11:30 a.m.

Course Credits: ISS 222D, CMAC 222D, VMS 203D (STS, ALP, CZ)

This is an interdisciplinary course covering a field that is growing in the wake of technological advancements. It is fundamentally an overview of how digital media and computation are intersecting with the study, display, and creation of art, literature, history, philosophy, media and culture today. With numerous tools and practices to learn, Digital Humanities is relevant today in a wide variety of fields and majors.

“We want to survey the field and empower students to understand how they can contribute, whether as scholars, developers, critics, or some combination of all of these. All are welcome,” Victoria Szabo, research professor of art, art history and visual studies, wrote in an email.

English Literature of the Romantic Period

Taught by Catherine Ji Won Lee

TuTh 3:30 - 4:45 p.m.

Course Credits: ENGLISH 245 (ALP)

Through timeless texts such as Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and Jane Austen’s “Emma,” students in this class will chart a course through the Romantic ideals of revolution and progress. 

Subjectivity and liberty, two concepts that circulate widely in our day, will be key elements to consider, and the literature of the Romantic Period will in fact “be a toolkit for students as they continue to inhabit and navigate our confounding historical present,” according to English doctoral candidate Catherine Ji Won Lee. 

“I've been told that my choice to include the Haitian Revolution in my course is something of an unusual but timely choice,” Lee wrote in an email. “I never learned about the Haitian Revolution until recently either, so this will be something of an adventure both for myself and the students.”


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