The post-internship blues were setting in when we let our fingers do the schlepping through the 1997-98 Course Catalog. Initially charmed by overused quotation marks and the inscrutable difference between a conference course and a proseminar, we soon despaired after sitting through page upon page of dreary course titles. But here and there are a few humdingers-courses whose names and blurbs make the heart race and palms sweat.
To that end, we compiled a short list of the only classes worthy of your attention in the coming year, and honored them appropriately. Following are the Smug Editorialist's Awards for CUEmmunity Service.
The Harry R. Lewis '68 Happy Hour Award: to "History 1902: Alcohol in Sub-Saharan Africa," in which Emmanuel K. Akyeampong surveys prime spring break destinations for typically-teetotaling Cantabridgians.
The Conspiracy Theory Award: to Shlomo Z. Sternberg's "Math 128: Lie Algebras," which proves just what we in the humanities been saying all along. We have our doubts about that geometry thing, too.
The Everything I Needed To Know I Learned From the Course Catalog Award: to "Philosophy 161r: Topics in Metaphysics," in which Derek Parfit, of Oxford's All Souls College, tells his flock "why the universe exists." Coming next year: "Philosophy 666: The Apocalypse: Where, When and what You Need to Face It." Runner Up: Goran Ekstrom's "ESPP 90B: Preparing for Natural Disasters." Maybe they should co-teach.
The Don't Tell Goldhagen Award: to Mark Walker's "History of Science 129v: Nazi Physics," in which the 10,000 men of Harvard learn to be Hitler's Willing Electrocutioners.
The Course Least Likely to Help You at a Final Club Award: to John Huehnergard's "Aramaic B: Targumic Aramaic," which promises "basic grammar of the Targum Onqelos." Whatever-as if we didn't learn all that crap in first grade.
The Dionne Warwick Award goes to Harvard's very own psychic friend, Sidney Verba '53, for "Government 90tc: How Americans Think and Act."
Along the same lines, we also have to give out the Visitor-From-the Future Award, which goes twice over to John Stilgoe for "VES 160: Modernization in the Visual U.S. Environment, 1890-2035" and "VES 167: Adventure and Fantasy Simulation, 1871-2036." The latter course gets special recognition for kinkiest title (barely edging Econ 1030: Delay of Gratification).
The IOP-Meets-the Advocate Award: to "Eng 253: Game Theory and The Novel: Austen and James." Really turns the screw on disciplinary integrity, eh?
The Foregone Conclusion Award: to Charles V. Willie's "Af-Am 193w: Contribution of Black Colleges to Higher Education in the United States." Willie also finished dead last in the highly contested Vaguest Course Title category (a.k.a. the Social Studies Prize).
The Most Euphemistic Course Title Award: To "Music 167br: Composition in the Digital Electronic Medium," in which techno guru Ivan Tcherepmin expostulates on how to "drop bass" and "git bizzy." DJ Tcherepmin also gets props for giving his prerequisite the same name. (Ecstasy may be purchased at the Coop at a low, low price.)
The I' a Big Fat Nerd Award is earned by "Physics 125: Widely Applied Physics" which claims to "apply elementary physics to real things" (like women).
The Least Ambitious Course Title Award goes to William M. Todd's "Slavic 158: Some Versions of Russian Pastoral." Todd plans to follow the next year with "A Couple More Versions."
The And-Bonnie-Honig-Didn't-Get-Tenure? Award: to "Psych 1052: Rediscovering the Mind," in which tenured Professor Ken Nakayama explains to us just what President Rudenstine was thinking.
As we wind down our awards presentation, we'd like to offer some advice for our hep-cat profs. Ditch buzz phrases such as "politics of identity" or "in postmodern thought." Don't use more than one set of quotation marks per blurb. Take a lesson in candor from Professor Willie.
But don't be afraid to be creative. Puns are always in order, as demonstrated by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's "Women's Studies 124: Pens and Needles: Needlework in History and Literature." Pretty punny.
And don't forget to add a light sprinkling of substance. Happy blurbing.
Benjamin W. Hulse '99 and Jal D. Mehta '99, a Crimson editor, look forward to taking these award-winning courses.