Students are flocking to HISTORY 199M: “Intro to French History” this quarter, thanks to the amazing creativity expressed by its teaching team. Professor Doug Westman of the history department was more than excited to adapt to pandemic conditions, and he has welcomed the transition to Zoom with vision and confidence. Logging into Westman’s weekly Zoom lectures, it is immediately apparent what makes the long-bearded professor’s classes so special. Behind his head lies not just a blank wall or an empty office, but a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower.
“My wife made me get a smartphone back in 2018,” Professor Westman explained with a chuckle. “I’ve never been a technology guy. But, after taking the University’s required Zoom introduction course, I am prepared to rock my students’ socks off!”
Westman has mastered the art of Zoom’s “virtual backgrounds,” a novel feature he claims to have learned about from a student. Every week, he surprises his class with a new “virtual background.” During his first lecture of the quarter, Westman welcomed students from atop a flaming Notre-Dame Cathedral.
“You could see the shock on their faces,” Westman grinned, “as they tried to figure out if I was really balanced on top of a smoking spire! I made quite an entrance.”
Westman has received complaints about a few of his more avant-garde “virtual backgrounds.” Claire Schmitter ’22, a history major and member of Westman’s class, expressed her discomfort to The Daily.
“His class on the French Revolution was a little unsettling,” she said. “He was just cheerfully going on and on in front of a graphic depiction of Marie-Antoinette’s beheading.”
“Zoom is just such an immersive experience!” Westman exclaimed. “I really took the students with me through history. It was like we were right there in the trenches.”
“Oh yeah, he spent like 10 minutes trying to line up his head so it looked like he was being guillotined,” Schmitter said. “We were supposed to be the revolutionaries, so he made us put up the little clapping reaction afterwards and type ‘Eat the rich’ in the chat.”
Westman is excited about the future of the class: “I’m an optimist, you know? I think this online quarter is going to be great. You know, History 199M is a pretty apt title for the class. We’re just one step away from being the 200M class! Get it? Like Zoom? Ha ha!”
Editor’s Note: This article is purely satirical and fictitious. All attributions in this article are not genuine and this story should be read in the context of pure entertainment only.
Contact Anna Mistele at amistele ‘at’ stanford.edu.