The Good, The Bad… The Cannibals – 10 Unique College Classes
You’ve heard the jokes about Underwater Basket-weaving 101, but the truth is that times are changing and so are college courses. Sure, the classics are still there – English Lit, History, Calculus – but here are 10 unusual classes that are trying to keep things interesting.
Philosophy and Star Trek
Trekkies take note: This class entails watching Star Trek, reading excerpts from great philosophers and answering questions like:
- Is time travel possible?
- Could we be brains in vats?
- What is the relation between a person’s mind and his functioning brain?
- Is Data a person?
- Am I really getting credit to watch TV?
Students learn histories of identification in Latin America through stories of cannibalism using ethnography, documents, film, and essays. Come on an empty stomach.
Shopping: Desire, Compulsion and Consumption
Think of this as Shopaholics Anonymous for credit … COLLEGE credit, that is. This course focuses on the experience of shopping, including: the manufacturing of desire; critiques of advertising; and comparative and historical analysis contrasting the experience of shopping in traditional bazaars and contemporary malls. Leave your shoe fetish at home.
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN
Daytime Serials: Family and Social Roles
If you’re not doing it already, get college credit for analyzing themes and characters on the soaps and prime-time programs and deciphering the impact these portrayals have on roles in the family and in the workplace. Extra credit for writing about characters that come back from the dead or have an evil twin.
UNIVERSITY OF IOWA
The American Vacation
Students learn how American families’ race, class, gender and varying backgrounds shape their vacation experiences. Why are weekends, holidays, and vacations invested with cultural significance? No references to Chevy Chase movies allowed.
The Road Movie
From “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and “Easy Rider” to “Thelma and Louise” and “Natural Born Killers,” this course studies the relationship between transients and society, good vs. evil, criminality and honesty, and innocence vs. experience. Roger Ebert would give this class two thumbs up.
CENTRE COLLEGE IN DANVILLE, KENTUCKY
Art of Walking
Students read literature by famous walkers like Kant and Nietzsche and go for neighborhood strolls with their professor and his dog. Discussions focus on the relationship between descriptions of the sublime and the ancient habit of walking, hiking and pilgrimage. Hikes focus on the thrill of getting out of that stuffy classroom. And, you’ll get some exercise too.
Happy Girl/Broken Wing: Martina McBride As Text
Participants study singer Martina McBride’s performances, both on albums and in videos, to “gain a deeper appreciation of how McBride uses her voice to convey a woman’s experience artfully and in its entire dimension, from heartbreak to gratitude, from personal fulfillment to social and political commitment.” Taught by the president of Martina McBride’s fan club.
Cloning, cosmetic surgery, the Osbournes, artificial intelligence, identity theft, reality TV. Our culture is fascinated with everything fake and this class tries to understand why. Class visits by a detective, a journalist and experts on art forgery and counterfeiting. Students are required to complete a 15-page paper on an example of contemporary faking. A+ if you add irony by purchasing your paper off the Internet. (Just kidding.)
LANE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Ghost Hunting 101
Six weeks of classroom instruction on how to invite and document paranormal manifestations are followed by a search for paranormal activity using cameras, electromagnetic field detectors, temperature probes and tape recorders. Currently a noncredit class, but don’t let THAT scare you away.
THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA
Examining American Idol Through Musical Critique
The class will watch the show twice a week and devise its own system for rating contestants. Students will learn the history of different musical styles used as Idol themes, such as Motown and Broadway. The final project will be a paper on who should win and why.