Staff editorial: Fall 2019 class recommendations

It is that time of the year again. The semester is shockingly over halfway finished, and students need to start thinking about what courses they are going to be taking next semester. Shifting through all of the courses that Washington University offers can feel overwhelming; there are a lot of requirements you have to fulfill as a student and even more professors and courses of which you have never heard. Sources like Rate My Professor tend to be either lacking or overly biased, while course descriptions do not always tell you everything that you would like to know about prospective classes. Students’ best resources for choosing classes can often be other students. Our Editorial Board has gathered a list of courses we recommend in order to provide a reference for those struggling to fill their registration worksheet. We hope that we have chosen a diverse set of courses that will appeal to the student body.

Topics in Hispanic Cultures: Making Latin America Popular

M-W 1:00-2:30

As a Latin American Studies major, I feel obligated to plug this incredible class on Latin American popular culture. With a small class size, you can explore topics of Latin American popular culture in Spanish. Join your peers in discussing phenomena of popular culture like “Despacito,” soccer, populism and more. Only take this class if you have completed Spanish 308 or if you feel comfortable discussing advanced academic topics in Spanish

— Elena Quinones, Editor-in-Chief

History of Western Art, Architecture and Design

T-R 11:30-1:00

This class got me to think differently about the world around us. Dr. Wallace—a world-renowned Michelangelo scholar—always found clever ways to engage the class, relating seemingly disparate topics like vault arches and paintings of French picnics to modern life. The course’s pinnacle was a paper where we compared a statue from the St. Louis Art Museum to a statue on campus. Instead of doing research, we were tasked with focusing solely on what we saw. The paper encouraged me to take a step back from life’s perpetual hustle to appreciate art. Whether you are a pre-med looking for a fun way to satisfy your humanities requirement or are just trying to sound like you know something at museums, this class is a solid bet.

— Matthew Friedman, Senior Sports Editor

Urban Economics

M-W 4:00-5:30

I’ve really enjoyed all of my economics courses at Wash. U., but none more than Urban Economics. In Urban Economics you learn about land distribution, land pricing, the factors that lead to the formation of cities and a cost-benefit analysis of urban transportation. You even cover Zipf’s law, an empirical rule that states that the population of a city is proportional to its rank in terms of population. If you ever wanted to know why cities form and why they have the makeup that they do, Urban Economics is a class you should take.

— Josh Zucker, Associate Editor

Introduction to Linguistics

M-W-F 2:00-3:00, M-W-F 10:00-11:00, T-R 4:00-5:30

Linguistics isn’t a widely-known subject. In fact, when I tell people it’s my second major, I usually get a reaction along the lines of “Oh cool!” followed seconds later by, “So what is that?” Introduction to Linguistics was (obviously) the first linguistics class I took, and it answers the “So what is linguistics?” question. It allowed me to really explore a field of study I knew nothing about, as well as offered a glimpse at many of the various subfields in linguistics. The professors in the department are exceptional, and all the different ways linguistics allows people to study and understand language is not only extremely interesting, but also eye-opening. If you like thinking about things you use literally every single day in new ways, I highly recommend trying out this class, even if it is the only class you take in the department, or just to fulfill social sciences requirements.

— Quincy Schmechel, Director of Special Projects

Latin America: Nation, Ethnicity and Social Conflict

M-W 11:30-1:00

I took this class to fulfill my Social Differentiation requirement while also hoping to fill in some of the massive holes in knowledge my pre-college education had left in regards to cultures and history outside of the United States and Europe. The professor (Sanchez Prado, but many call him Nacho) remains one of my favorite professors at Wash. U.; he is exceptionally passionate and knowledgeable about the course material, but also shows a genuine interest in his students and their takeaways from the class. I recommend this class to really everyone. If you want to broaden your knowledge of other cultures and want a class that is accessible for all students regardless of major or prior knowledge, take this one.

— Lauren Alley, Managing Editor

First-Year Seminar: The Literary Life

M-W-F 2:00-3:00

This wasn’t a class I was going to take. My advisor told me to take it upon entering my first semester of college, and to be honest, I was not excited. The more time I spent in the class, though, the more I grew to love it. The Literary Life was a great introduction to college and especially to the English department. We read a wide variety of literature from poetry to fiction to nonfiction, and as the semester progressed, we started to write our own. This class introduced me to workshopping, something that is (for a first-year student lacking confidence in their creative writing) incredibly hit or miss. The mostly participation-based structure of the class helped me improve as a writer without worrying about putting out a perfect product on the first try. If you are looking to explore the English department, this is a good place to start. (This is a first year seminar and thus only available to freshmen.)

— Isabella Neubauer, Senior Cadenza Editor and Copy Chief

A History of African-American Theater

T-R 4:00-5:30

As a die-hard theater kid, I thoroughly enjoyed this class. The majority (actually all) of mainstream theater is what can be considered “white theater”, in that it primarily focuses on narratives that minority groups do not relate to and that are not representative of their experiences. A History of African-American Theater, taught by Ron Himes, founder of The Black Rep, taught me about a sect of theater that I am ashamed to say I knew very little about, and I’m almost completely positive that most of Wash. U.’s campus knows very little about it as well.

— Sabrina Spence, Senior Cadenza Editor and Social Media Director

Introduction to Psychology

M-W-F 10:00-11:00, 2:00-3:00

If you’ve ever struggled with classes that didn’t feel practical to take, Introduction to Psychology is the perfect cure. This is a class about you: how you became able to think and talk and feel things, how your brain filters the chaos of life through attention and memory systems, and yes, the studies of personality and mental disorders that we commonly associate with psychology. Even if you never enroll in another psychology course—although taking Introduction to Psychology opens you up to dozens of other interesting classes—you will benefit from learning scientifically-proven strategies for studying and test-taking, ways to recognize and correct your biases and irrational thoughts, and the crucial importance of getting eight hours of sleep. Besides, as course instructor Dr. Randall Larsen put it, Introduction to Psychology is a “greatest hits course,” touching on the most important research without forcing you to memorize any details unless you choose to explore them.

— Jonah Goldberg, Copy Chief

Fiction Writing 1

M-W 10:00-11:30, 11:30-1:00, 1:00-2:30 4-5:30; T-R- 10:00-11:30, 11:30-1:00 and 1:00-2:30

Whether you write every day or have never even considered creating a story before, Fiction Writing 1 will dramatically improve your writing skills. You’ll learn how to generate ideas, structure your pieces and develop your own personal voice and style. The reading assignments are always interesting and inspire your own work. This class is a great opportunity to be creative and acquire skills that will help you with all forms of writing. I personally recommend Professor Martin Riker, but I’ve heard great things about the entire Writing department.

— Jaden Satenstein, Senior Scene Editor

Research in the Contemporary Academic Library: Prison Education Project Research Partnership

T 5:30-8:00

This course allows students to participate in the University’s Prison Education Project at the undergraduate level. Because of a lack of access to research resources on site, enrolled students respond to research requests on a range of subjects from students currently in the Prison Education Project. While this class reinforces good research skills and introduces interesting political theory, it offers so much more than just that. We get to put ideals of equal access to education into practice in a way few other opportunities on this campus provide. If you have the space to take this class, you won’t be disappointed.

— Emma Baker, Managing Editor

Creative Nonfiction Writing 1

T-R 10:00-11:30, 11:30-1:00, 1:00-2:30; M-W 10:00-11:30, 8:30-10:00

Creative Nonfiction Writing is the most practical class that I’ve taken at Wash. U. Whether it’s writing personal essays for applications, essays for other classes, or just extraneous writings, learning to write creative nonfiction better is useful. The MFA candidates who teach it are fantastic and give great feedback (shout out to Gwen Niekamp). The pieces you read for it are riveting. Whether you’re interested in writing or not, there is something for you to get out of this class.

— Dorian DeBose, Senior Sports Editor

Philosophy of Medicine

T-R 1:00-2:30

As a pre-med, this class really resonated with me, although it is beneficial to everyone. It not only allowed for a break from STEM courses, but it also allowed me to think about medicine (and the healthcare field in general) from a new perspective. The course focuses on asking questions about controversial topics in healthcare, such as whether obesity should be considered a disease and what the right age to get a mammogram is. The answers to these questions are important because they determine how we treat patients, which ultimately has a large impact on society. Logistically, the course is manageable, with the grade consisting mostly of participation, debates and essays.

— Kya Vaughn, Senior Forum Editor

Understanding Racial Inequality in the Contemporary US

T-R 1:00-2:30

I may be a little biased because this class solidified my choice to declare a sociology major and is taught by my major advisor, but I would definitely recommend adding it to your schedule for next year if you can. An introductory sociology class, it chronicles race relations between black and white people in America from the early 20th century to the present day. The class gives an honest and saddening history of institutionalized racism in the United States, and, though it was a lot to take in, I left the class feeling like maybe, in some small way, I could improve the country’s present and future.

— Jordan Coley, Director of Diversity Initiatives

Music of the 1960s

T-R 1:00-2:30

If you are a music history nerd like me, this is the perfect class to take. It’s a great opportunity to learn about the different music trends of the 1960s. And if you are expecting just a basic Bob Dylan and Beatles class, then you are in for a big surprise. This class covers everything from rock ‘n’ roll to the Soviet thaw all the way to Egyptian classical and folk. It’s a great way to be exposed to different countries’ styles of music, all framed around a very dynamic decade for music history.

— Tyler Sabloff, Senior Forum Editor

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening as Washington University returns to campus.

Subscribe