Sherman Ave Presents: Best Winter Quarter Distros 2014, Sweet 16

7 Nov

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32 distros entered. Only 16 survived the critical gaze of our voters to advance to the division semifinals in the vaunted Distro of the Quarter 2K14 challenge, sponsored by Klondike®!

Despite Ancient Athens: Democracy, Drama, and Civilization pulling off a MAJOR upset against Introduction to the Hebrew Bible, the first round of matchups featured relatively little drama for the higher-seeded distribution courses, almost all of whom easily dispensed with their opening challengers. Comparative Slavery vs. Introduction to Moral Philosophy was a nail-biter down to the final seconds, while Introduction to Modernism fended off a last-minute charge by Gender and Sexuality in 20th Century Italian Culture to win by a single vote. Now it’s on to the Sweet 16, whose matchups promise to foster far more student discussion than any of these actual classes.

Sherman Ave expert analysis and selected CTEC highlights are provided below to ensure that our voters remain well-informed. As always, feel free to send any wisdom or anecdotes our way at Voting for the Round of 16 closes tomorrow at midnight!


[1] Asian LC 390: The Dao of Sex: Sexuality in China, Past and Present
CTEC Highlights: Unfortunately, because this class has never been offered and it will be Professor Paola Zamperini’s first class at Northwestern since visiting from our safety school Amherst College, The Dao of Sex has yet to accrue any CTECs. If it did, however, have CTECs, we assumed they’d read something like: “Feng shui? More like FUCK shui, amirite!?” “Unlike sex and Daoism, this class was neither ineffable nor spiritual,” and “I don’t know, maybe I’m just not as into foot-binding as I thought, I guess.”

[4] GNDR ST 374: Cyberqueer
CTEC Highlights: “Interesting and somewhat insane course… probably most fulfilling if you’re a major in internet, gender or sexuality studies.” “If it sways you, [the professor’s] dog is adorable and he visits sometimes.”

Analysis: Cyberqueer looked much more prepared to go far in the tournament in its opening matchup against Intro to 20th Century American Lit than Dao of Sex seemed against a Dickens course harboring some great expectations. Internet Studies majors everywhere may be taking a break from PornHub to bring home an upset.

[3] ART HIST 255: Introduction to Modernism
CTEC Highlights: “GREAT CLASS! PROF COPELAND IS A BOSSSSSSSSSSS AND WILL DEF NOT LOSE YOUR ATTENTION IN LECTURE!” “The professor is a disgrace to this school’s name. DO NOT TAKE WITH COPELAND. He is the most incompetent, unintelligible professor I have ever had.”

[2] ENGLISH 213: Introduction to Fiction
CTEC Highlights: “Really. Why are you still reading this CTEC? Go find another class.” “This class isn’t too bad if you’re looking for a literature distro.”

Analysis: It took all Intro to Modernism had to beat out Gender and Sexuality in 20th Century Italian Culture by just one vote. While Intro to Modernism’s CTECs were a rollercoaster of emotion, Fiction captured the ambivalent vote. Look for Modernism to grapple with Fiction like it’s Hemingway in a bullfight or something.


[1] MATH 110: Introduction to Mathematics I
CTEC Highlights: ”Very manageable Formal Studies distro who either don’t like/want to do math or those who haven’t taken a math class in a few years!” “Definitely the easiest math class at NU.”

[4] STAT 202: Introduction to Statistics
CTEC Highlights: ”Easy course. Definitely take it if you need a formal studies distro.” “It was overall a great distro class for me.”

Analysis: A marquee matchup of two classes that teach basic math to students who fled the scary prospect of academic rigor for the comforting confines of sociology and journalism, both courses play to each other’s strengths. Can Intro to Math repeat its dominant performance over Structure of Serbian & Croatian? Can Intro to Stats get out of Psych Stats’ shadow? Does either class have mandatory attendance?


[3] PSYCH 201: Statistical Methods in Psychology
CTEC Highlights: “Gorvine is great and it’s pretty easy. Plus he wears great sweaters!” “ If you’re going to take stats for psych, TAKE IT WITH [GORVINE]!! He also wears cool vests.”

[2] MATH 202: Finite Mathematics
CTEC Highlights:”Don’t overestimate yourself in this course but still a good option for a formal studies distro if math isnt your strong suit.” “This class kinda sucks. It feels like simple math and then it screws you over.”

Analysis: Despite its limits and bounds, Finite Mathematics looked strong against the Integral Calculus of One Variable Functions “Fighting Newtons.” But never underestimate the power of a great sweatervest.


[1] SOC 211: Food and Society: An Introduction
CTEC Highlights: Although Thistle has never taught this course specifically, highlights from her CTECs for similar classes include, “I did indeed gain knowledge on what is in the food I eat, and will be more conscious of it as I develop my diet and nutrition.” (informative!) “Since I came in not expecting to be taking about the evils of corn all day, this was not the class I thought I signed up for. There were some engaging moments but mostly it’s kind of just a forum for people who think they’re more environmentally conscious than you to flaunt it and try to out-environmental each other.”

[5] AF AM ST 342: Comparative Slavery
CTEC Highlights: “Easily one of the top 3 courses I’ve taken at Northwestern.” “I wish every class at Northwestern was taught with this degree of thoughtfulness and tailoring to the students. Professor Bryant and his course are gems at Northwestern.”

Analysis: Always be wary of the untested course. While Food and Society sounds informative and delicious, Bryant’s proven record as a cool bro could give him the edge over a bunch of eco-terrorists here, despite still recovering from a bruising 3-vote victory over Intro to Moral Philosophy.

[3] POLI SCI 201: Introduction to Political Theory
CTEC Highlights: With no instructor listed yet for this class, the perennial favorite could be in jeopardy of losing its luster. Here’s what previous students with other professors have said: “Boring class, not necessary to attend all lectures are read straight of the slide shows.” “This class is a good class, but THE GRADING IS WAY TOO SUBJECTIVE. I hated the fact that your entire grade is based off of a TA, and it is by no means an easy A.” YEAH, FUCK THE TAs. Stop ruining trivia night at Nevin’s for the rest of us.

[7] CLASSICS 211: Ancient Athens: Democracy, Drama, and Civilization
CTEC Highlights: “There is a ton of complicated reading – Thucydides might make you want to tear your eyes out.” “Wallace is excitable, opinionated, and occasionally ridiculous (he once described Plato as “a honey-tongued devil” in class), but above all else he cares about what he is teaching, and this class is fantastic because of it.”

Analysis: Although Intro to Political Theory usually draws hordes of freshman poli sci who haven’t discovered SESP yet, the lack of a professor certainly makes the class less appealing. Wallace’s proven track record in Ancient Athens could be a big draw.


[1] BIOL SCI 104: Plant-People Interactions

[4] ASTRON 101: Modern Cosmology
CTEC Highlights: “This is the best distribution class you can find at Northwestern. Don’t hesitate, take this class. I would probably say it is the best class I have taken in my two years here.” “This course was absolutely amazing. I friend of mine, who took this class in the past, told me that, after taking this class, he would lay in bed and just think about how beautiful life and creation are. Seriously, this course will warp your perspective on the Universe in a way that is both wistful and enthralling.”

Analysis: Modern Cosmology provides the opportunity to show up to a lecture on dark matter stoned, but you get to meet athletes in Plant-People Interactions.This one’s a total tossup.

[3] MAT SCI 201: Principles and the Properties of Materials
CTEC Highlights: “Materials science is a pretty interesting topic, but if you’re taking 201 it’s probably not your major. This class can be really interesting if you choose to take it seriously. If not, it’s just another blow off class.” “Boring, but a decent proffessor. No one showed up to class.”

[2] ANTHRO 213: Human Origins
CTEC Highlights: “Nopeee. Nopeeee. Definitely the class i did the worst in at nu so far, even though i studied and did everything. the only saving grace was the labs. if not for labs, i def wouldve gotten an F.” “This class made me love science and evolution!”

Analysis: The natural science distro is really a no-win situation. It may be best here to go for the class that seems most pregameable.

Blaise Bernard and Evander Jones

One Response to “Sherman Ave Presents: Best Winter Quarter Distros 2014, Sweet 16”


  1. Elite 8 | Sherman Ave Presents: Best Winter Quarter Distros 2014 | Sherman Ave - November 10, 2013

    […] the polls closed for the round of 16, the Elite 8 in Sherman Ave’s Distro of the Quarter 2K14 challenge–sponsored by […]

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