Keep it Classy: A Review of the Spring Quarter Curriculum

Our Blog Editor chooses some of the best conversation starters to bring up for a laugh over dinner… until you find out your friends take these classes.

With Spring Quarter fast approaching, it seemed appropriate to cobble together an overview of the classes being offered here. I painstakingly reviewed all 3,540 classes, so on the off chance this does not encapsulate everything Stanford has to offer, I’m sure I’ll be able to answer all your questions about classes. Without further ado, a complete guide to Spring Quarter class offerings.

SPECLANG 192C – Beginning Kazakh, Third Quarter (Alma Kunanbaeva, 3 units)

Insert Borat joke here.

PWR2DH – Writing & Rhetoric 2:  Me and My iPod: The Rhetoric of Identity (Donna Hunter, 4 units)

The latest in a long line of courses with deceptively “hip” titles designed to trick students into signing up. Don’t fall for this, kids.

PWR1GCW – Writing & Rhetoric 1:  The Unreasonable Man: The Rhetoric of Outrage (Alexander Nazzari Di & Calabiana Willan, 4 units)

Thinking about this class makes me so mad I can’t even put it into words. Let’s just move on.

PUBLPOL183 – Philanthropy and Social Innovation (Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, 2 units)

As it turns out, philanthropy is easier to do when your dad is John Arrillaga, and your husband, Mark Andreessen, may be a billionaire as well. You never know when that tidbit of wisdom may come in handy.

PHIL106 – Ancient Skepticism (Christopher Bobonich, 4 units)

Nothing personal, I just remain skeptical this class is any good, and will do so until irrefutable proof to the contrary emerges.

MS&E254 – The Ethical Analyst (Ronald Howard, 1-3 units)

Though it is exciting that Ron Howard is evidently teaching classes at Stanford (finally!), I do have to object to this one on the grounds that I am pretty sure “The Ethical Analyst” is the name of CBS’s latest primetime drama.

ME14N – How Stuff Is Made (Staff, 3 units)

Like, totally.

ME207 – Negotiation (Stan Christensen, 3 units)

Here’s the thing about this class: enrollment is limited to 50 students. That means that if you are able to talk your way into it, you do not really need to take a class on negotiation, but if you get rejected, you could probably use a refresher on the topic. The incentives are all misaligned here.

MATH240 – Topics in Financial Mathematics: Fixed Income Models (Antoine Toussaint, 3 units)

Proposed subtitle: don’t worry, you’re not getting any Social Security anyway.

LAW499 – Intellectual Property: Trade Secrets (Staff, 3 units)

It’s never a good sign if a class’ name makes you wonder whether or not it is legal.

PHIL266 – Probability: Ten Great Ideas About Chance (Brian Skyrms & Persi Draconis)

Odds are two of these ideas are great, three mediocre and five terrible.

HUMBIO86Q – Love as a Force for Social Change (Anne Murray, 3 units)

This one wins the “If I Could Teach the World to Sing” Award for the most ridiculous hippie-inspired course name.

HISTORY42 – Darwin in the History of Life (Robert Proctor, 3 units)

This class started as one unit, but in order to avoid extinction it has since evolved two more.

HISTORY6N – Utopia: History of Nowhere Land (Laura Stokes, 4 units)

This class promises to take place on a cloud made out of cotton candy and “unicorn saddle” is listed as one of the required course materials. Make of that what you will.

GSBGEN349 – Introduction to the Politics of Education (Eric Bettinger, 4 units)

I’m pretty sure the professor just sits around complaining about he didn’t get tenured and how that is, “Totally bogus, man.”

GES40N – Diamonds (Wendy Mao, 3 units)

I’d recommend this highly for any gentlemen trying to meet women, and if not, hopefully you can learn how to formulate diamonds are an evil, exploitive scheme, which is why you have a moral objection to buying them.

GERGEN122Q – The Culture of Pessimism in 19th- and 20th-Century Europe (Adrian Daub, 3-5 units)

There’s still room to sign up, but you should hurry—enrollment is already half empty.

FEMST140B – Making of the Modern Woman: Robots, Aliens & the Feminine in Science Fiction (Staff, 5 units)

Traditionally men avoid the Feminist Studies department as if it were a rabid hyena carrying the black plague, but perhaps the addition of robots and aliens will attract them. Or scare off the women—either way.

EFSLANG696 – Understanding American Humor (Staff, 1-3 units)

To my English as a Foreign Language friends: don’t bother, it’s not worth it.

DRAMA122P – Our Country’s Good (Amy Freed & Ciara Murphy, 2-9 units)

Yeah, it is. USA! USA! USA!

CTL190 – Persuasive Speaking (Staff, 3 units)

I’m going to pass until convinced otherwise.

CS73N – Business on the Information Highways (Avron Barr, Shirley Tessler & Gio Wiederhold, 3 units)

I don’t think my grandpa even uses the term “Information Highways” anymore, which leads me to question their technical expertise.

COMPLIT364 – Style (David Miller & Franco Moretti, 5 units)

This is the one where you learn how to smoke, drink cocktails, read Esquire and make constant references to “broads” while wearing a zoot suit and fedora. Highly recommended.

CLASSGEN35 – Becoming Like God: An Introduction to Greek Ethical Philosophy (Andrea Nightingale, 3-5 units)

If learning to smite mortals is your thing.

Jordan Carr ’11 apparently doesn’t need letters of recommendation.

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