Students gathered around a table studying.

New and Noteworthy

New and Noteworthy

With classes starting Sept. 8, Williams Today took a look at some of the courses being offered for the first time this academic year. Based on professors’ descriptions from the course catalog, here are just a few that caught our eye. 

From Red Riding Hood to Autobahn: German Forests in Literature, Culture and Economy

Reading 19th-century German texts such as Grimms’ fairy tales and Droste-Hülshoff’s Judenbuche, as well as more recent poetry and novels, Susanne Fuchs, visiting assistant professor of German, will explore with her students idealized imagery of the forest and how they stand in stark contrast to the woods’ predominantly economic and embattled role in German society. The syllabus includes an ecologist-led field trip to learn the history of de- and reforestation in the Berkshires region. 

Hearing Through Seeing: Music and Visuality

In this seminar-style course taught by Marjorie Hirsch, Class of 1924 Professor of Music, students will study how sound and sight often converge when listening to music. Whether watching musicians perform, seeing patterns of notes and rhythms on the musical score, looking at album artwork, or observing moving images on screens in films, music videos and video games, this course will shine light on the myriad ways that “seeing” mediates our experience of hearing, making and understanding music. 

Mapping Anti-Bias Education

How are various biases and identities shaped in childhood? And what are some of the contemporary hesitations and challenges around implementing anti-bias education for educators, families and children? AnneMarie McClain, visiting assistant professor of education and Africana studies, and her students will examine these questions and explore approaches and possibilities for anti-bias education across children’s ecosystems. Students will also propose innovative recommendations for research and practice that have the potential to yield positive outcomes for children today.

Campaigns and Elections

The people’s choice of their representatives is the most fundamental of democratic processes in the United States. Matthew Tokeshi, assistant professor of political science, and 20 students will examine factors that shape election outcomes such as the state of the economy, partisanship, ideology and social identities, with a special focus on race, interest groups, media and the candidates themselves. 

“You Do You!” The Ethics and Politics of Personal Authenticity

We are often told that to discover and become your “true self” is seen as essential if we are to live a healthy and fulfilling life—and to fully realize what it means to be human in the deepest sense. With Zaid Adhami, assistant professor of religion, junior and senior religion majors in this seminar-style course will examine the ideal and imperative of personal authenticity from 

several angles, including historical, cultural and religious. It will also ask questions that confront a variety of ethical-political critiques of authentic selfhood.

Technologies of Friendship

Throughout time, friendships have always been mediated, from written letters to texting and social media. In this tutorial, led by Ezra Feldman, visiting assistant professor of English, students will examine how writers across centuries have described the tools and technologies of friendship. Reading works of fiction, journalism and scholarship across disciplines, they’ll ask common and important questions about how friendships are mediated today. 

The Mathematics of Sports

Bridging his love of numbers across disciplines, Steven Miller, professor of mathematics, will use sports as a springboard to study applications of mathematics, especially in gathering data to build and test models and develop predictive statistics. The approximately 35 students in this upper-level course will “do the math” using examples drawn from baseball, basketball, cross country, football, hockey, soccer, track, as well as those chosen by the class. 

Suckers and Scammers

What are some of the psychological processes and mechanisms employed by scammers, and also those who fall for such schemes? Using research from scientific journals and subdisciplines of psychology, as well as books and films that depict well-publicized recent scams and scammers such as Bad Blood, The Rachel Divide and The Talented Mr. Madoff, Susan Engel, senior lecturer in psychology and the Class of 1959 Director of Program in Teaching, and her students will discuss what these cases might have in common. They’ll also look at studies that illuminate unique features of each situation.