3* Classes at Swarthmore that Have Made a Lasting Impression on Me

*Out of Many

Race, Gender, Class & Environment with the passionate Professor Giovanna DiChiro

I took this course my freshman spring (2018). I often refer to this course when invoking it, as the course that counts (or could count) as everything. This is a good thing! This course is eligible for Sociology/Anthropology, Environmental Studies, English, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Black Studies. This was a super helpful class because as a freshman, I still had no idea what I wanted to study. My interests were everywhere and I had yet to narrow it down. It seemed every class I took became a new possibility. I ended up deciding to have the course count towards my anthropology major, but at the time I could see myself doing Environmental Studies and Black Studies in particular. Not only did this class give me flexibility in this way, but the nature of the class itself was interdisciplinary. In this course we read nine different books, all of which provided a different style of writing, subject, identity of author, etc. My favorite of these books was Ruth Ozeki’s “My Year of Meats” (1998) and Jamaica Kincaid’s “A Small Place” (1988). This class was essential in my growth as a critical thinker, but also as an engaged reader. This class required empathy in a way that not all classes do. It invited a level of openness and vulnerability which I appreciated.

Drugs & Governmentality with the tenacious Professor Christopher Fraga

I took this course my sophomore fall (2019). In addition to being an anthropology course, it also can be taken for Latin America & Latino Studies as well as the Global Studies programs. Although this was not my first course eligible to taken for anthropology credit, it was the course—and was taught by the professor—which solidified my Anthropology major and my love of the subject. Professor Fraga became one of my closest mentors and advocates at Swarthmore and our office hours conversations about my frustrations with my lack of direction, the readings, and anything else going on in my life gave me the courage to be fearless in my academic and non-academic pursuits. I chose Fraga as my advisor for these reasons as well as his own fearless teaching/leading methods. In this course of about 30 people, we discussed, challenged and debated among each other the origins, practices, and labelling of drug consumption and government ascription. We considered coffee, chocolate, sugar and birth control among others, and when he could, Professor Fraga brought in (legal) food samples to give us an experiential understanding to connect to our texts.

What is Cultural Studies? with the electric Professor Bakirathi Mani

I took this course my sophomore spring (2019). In addition to being an English credit, the class was also eligible for Interpretation Theory and Gender & Sexuality Studies. I did not originally register for this class, but after feeling like another course I was signed up for wasn’t a good fit, I looked to my friends for guidance to replace it. My friend, Naomi, was registered for the class and knowing my interests in fashion, dance, and museum culture sent me the syllabus, suggested I come to the next class—since these are the topics covered—and decide if I wanted to enroll. Naomi and I partnered on our final project and considered the topic of contemporary hip hop, representation in dance and the capturing of both on social media. My experience in this course and my way to it (thanks Naomi!), revealed a couple of things to me. One, that I really enjoy studying visual and sensory culture and how identity and power structures interact with these labels. Two, DEFINITELY USE ADD-DROP! But honestly, my first year and a half of Swat I did not have the confidence to switch classes and email prospective professors. It truly is a great tool to find unexpected favorite classes.

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