Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878

Spring scheduling: Our picks

The fast approach of spring registration means the return of students scrambling to schedule advising appointments, and trying to figure out how to fill their cluster and integration requirements in the least painful way possible. Amid the flurry of appointments, it can sometimes be difficult to decide what’s worth taking. Here are our Editorial Board’s picks for interesting and worthwhile classes.

Topics in Politics: American Elections and Voting Behavior

L32 Pol Sci 336 01

TR, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Anyone who has made a Facebook status about this year’s election needs to take this class. The class itself is interesting but, more importantly, very relevant. You’ll learn about concepts that’ll help enhance your knowledge of the electoral system of which you are a part. Most students at Wash. U. have the right to vote, but do you know how that right works? While I have not taken the class with the new professor, it is easily the best class I have taken in my time here. Plus, in the spring, you’ll have the whole 2012 election to analyze. –Georgie Morvis

Earth and the Environment

L19 EPSc 201

TR, 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

Skemer’s a good professor (although I had it with Jen Smith), and it’s a class that isn’t too difficult for non-science majors that want to get in an NS distribution requirement. Also, the labs are super-goofy; we put antacids in Diet Dr. Pepper to simulate the effects of climate change on the ocean. –Leah Kucera

Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

L48 Anthro 160B 02

MWF, 1 p.m.-2 p.m.

I took this class in the spring of my freshman year and think it is the best I have taken so far. The structure is simple, the teaching is tremendous and the tests are fair. The material is not overly complicated and is easily relatable to real-life situations and problems. There is also a steady stream of videos and photos, so the class can be fun even if you don’t enjoy the material as much as I did. Nothing against the first section of the class at 9 a.m., but I took it with Professor Geoff Childs, who teaches section two, and thought he was a fantastic lecturer. –Sahil Patel

Kill Assessment: An Investigation into Death, Genocide and other forms of Violence

L48 Anthro 3691

TR, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

If the course title brings to mind visions of your depressed self sitting inside a room discussing the life of a child soldier or the torture victims of Argentina’s military dictatorship, you are only half-right. But don’t let that image discourage you from taking this class. The professor, Derek Pardue, is extremely insightful and looks past common manifestations of violence into its more subtle quotidian forms. The content is sometimes emotionally heavy, but the amount of reading is quite light, and it serves as a great introductory anthropology class. Usually an interactive lecture, the class flies by with a teacher whose stoner-esque qualities make for a contemplative discussion. His background in Brazilian hip-hop is only a bonus, so be prepared for a sick soundtrack to some of your classes as well. –Alana Hauser

Homeric Archaeology

L08 Classics 3301

MW, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Don’t let the fact that this is an art history/archaeology course discourage you. The coursework is far from insurmountable, and if watching slides bores you, there’s an added twist: the eccentric professor believes he has found ancient Ithaca, as well as Odysseus’ palace, and he believes the academic community is suppressing his work. It gets better. He’ll tell you all semester that he will, eventually, reveal his evidence to you. At the end of the semester, after weeks of listening to him talk up his evidence and deride academia, he will. And when he does, in the immortal words of Samuel L. Jackson: hold onto your butts. –Matt Curtis

Chinese Civilization

L03 East Asia 227C

MWF, 10 a.m.-11 a.m.

There’s been a lot of political blustering about China these days, but what do you actually know about the cultural, political and economic history of the country? If your only exposure to China is dim sum and kitschy pictures of Chairman Mao, you should check out this course. What could have been a dry history course is enlivened by a focus on primary source documents and different facets of Chinese culture. Everything from poetry to politics is covered. You also have the bonus of being taught by Professor Robert Hegel, who is knowledgeable and genuinely cares about his students. Stopping by his office hours is always a pleasure. –Natalie Villalon

Introduction to Animating in Three Dimensions

F20 ART 136J

TR, 1 p.m.-4 p.m.

Only getting three credits for six hours of class per week may seem daunting if you’re not used to art school studios, but this class will make you respect just what it takes to make a Pixar film—and get you started on your own animated short. The crash course in Autodesk Maya, the software used to make “South Park” and “Happy Feet,” teaches you the basics of how to model sets and characters, add textures, render scenes and more. If you’re interested in video game development or just love animated films—and are willing to spend six hours a week in the Kemper Museum’s basement—this could be the class for you. –Michael Tabb

Fiction Writing 1

L13 E Comp 221

MW or TR, multiple times

Not an English major? Not a problem. Taking the University’s introduction to fiction gives writers of every level the opportunity to extend themselves beyond the normal writing routine of analysis, analysis and more analysis. By the end of the semester, you will have a minimum of two polished stories, and it’s nice to be able to have a product of your work from a semester other than a spiral full of lecture notes or files on your laptop that you’ll never look at again. On top of these perks, the workload in most sections of Fiction 1 is manageable, so you’ll be able to enjoy your adventure outside of your comfort zone instead of stressing about homework. –Hannah Lustman

Fiction Writing: The Short-Short, Sudden Fiction, and Microfiction

L13 E Comp 323

TR, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. or 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m.

If the prospect of describing a course in 100 words or fewer piques your intrigue, consider exploring the wonders of short-form fiction in this English composition class taught by the fantastic David Schuman next semester. Schuman, a 2007 Pushcart Prize winner whose work has appeared in such journals as Conjunctions and The Missouri Review, will teach two sections of the class in the spring. You’ll read and write stories ranging from 10 to 1,000 words, critique said works and engage in regular workshopping. When writing these short-form stories, though, remember it’s not the size of the piece that counts; it’s how you use it. –John Schmidt

Aviya Lanis | STUDENT LIFE

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Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878