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Classy Classes: Eight Great Archeological Sites in Europe

In six years of teaching CLASSICS21Q: Eight Great Archeological Sites in Europe, Classics professor Michael Shanks said he has regularly received more than 100 applications for the 14 available spots in this introductory seminar.

The class introduces students to the field of archeology and incorporates lessons on art history and anthropology with questions about ancient society.

“The class uses archeology really as a way of looking at the world,” Shanks said. “It is a very creative space that archeology offers for all of us.”

One of the big selling points for CLASSICS21Q — and the reason Yale Goldberg ’17 applied for the course — is that it covers the PWR2 writing and rhetoric requirement for sophomores.

However, even students like Goldberg, whose application was incentivized by the PWR2 requirement, have found the experience of taking the course captivating.

“[Professor Shanks is] very energetic and really cares about archeology,” Goldberg said. “He actually does archeology, so he has a lot of cool experiences to share.”

For SunMi Lee ’17, who was denied enrollment last spring and was able to enroll in the course this year, the introsem offered an opportunity to learn about a topic not covered in any of her other classes.

“I believe only taking classes that are directly related to your discipline of study could narrow your perspective,” Lee said.

Although Classics21Q is already offered in the fall and spring, directors of Stanford’s Introductory Seminar program have asked Shanks to start teaching his course three times a year to accommodate the growing demands of students interested in enrolling, Shanks said.

Shanks, however, does not plan to increase the class’s frequency.

“There is only so much you can do,” he said.

In the meantime, Shanks’ selection process for the 14 seats available in his course includes looking at students’ interest, background and rank of preference in addition to abiding by the regulated guidelines in place by the Stanford Introductory Seminar program administration.

For CLASSICS21Q, preference is given to sophomores and students who have not previously taken an introductory seminar class. However,there are no other qualifications necessary for students interested in taking the class and the whole selection process is designed to be as fair as possible to all students.

Shanks assured that the class is beneficial for students of all backgrounds and interests.

“The classics material … is just the environment, the space, the materials through which we tackle these broader matters of writing, representation and audiovisual representation,” Shanks said. “Interest in Greco-Roman antiquity is not fading by any means … because it’s such rich material to think about bigger issues.”

Every Monday, The Stanford Daily will be spotlighting a unique, popular or otherwise interesting course for a recurring series called Classy Classes.

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