This semester, the University of Virginia is offering a brand new English course — an introduction to argumentative essay writing called GaGa for Gaga. The teacher explains that the class is “exploring how identity is challenged by gender and sexuality and how Lady Gaga confronts this challenge.” And then, you know, they all write essays. . .
It’s just the newest example of college course mash-ups — when lowbrow pop culture and high-cost higher education collide. What other rather ridiculous-sounding courses are out there in the hallowed halls of academia? We’re so glad you asked . . .
- Topics in Comparative Media: American Pro-Wrestling: explores “the cultural history and media industry surrounding the masculine drama of professional wrestling.” Course description adds: “Students may have previous knowledge of wrestling but are not required to, nor are they required to be a fan (although it is certainly not discouraged, either).” (MIT)
- Psychology of Facebook: “The goal of this class is to make students experts on this topic, especially as it relates to persuasion in social networks.” One requirement: students must join the class Facebook group. (Stanford University)
- Learning from YouTube: “the first class entirely about, and primarily occurring on YouTube;” students not only watch YouTube videos, they also disccuss YouTube’s significance AND have to upload their own project. (We’re exhausted thinking about it…) (Pitzer College)
- Caddyshack 101: Lessons from the Coolest Sports Movie Ever Made: “uses the classic golf film as a springboard for discussing issues such as the dangers of social-class stereotyping, the growth of American sports gambling, the advancement of catchphrases in language, and the importance of civility and etiquette.” (Lynn University)
- Elvis as Anthology: Elvis Presley’s “relationship to African American history, social change, and aesthetics . . . artists who inspired him and whom he inspired.” (University of Iowa)
- The Science of Harry Potter: honors seminar that “examines the magical events in J.K. Rowling’s books and explains them through the basic principles of physics.” No lab work required. (Frostburg State University)
- Far Side Entomology: “At its core, [this course] is about insect systematics and how they interact with human” — with Gary Larson’s cartoons used to launch talking points (Oregon State University)