Wouldn’t you love to take a class whose curriculum is based solely off your passion for alcohol, or the addictive joy you get out of Facebook? If you choose the right school, then perhaps your dream will come true. Until then, here are some of the craziest classes offered for real credit at some of our country’s finest higher-education institutions. Like this article we ran last year, “‘Is This REALLY a Class?!’: The Craziest Classes Offered at America’s Colleges” this year’s edition tracked down a whole new set of odd, outrageous, and out-there courses offered at schools across the country.
Elon University, “Business of NASCAR”
If you’ve ever been curious about how much dough NASCAR pulls in each year, or how it feels to hit 150 MPH on a track, look no further than Elon’s winter-term “Business of NASCAR” class. Students learn the history and business aspects of the sport, travel to races and ride alongside drivers, and even design their own derby racecar. Elon student Meg Anderson’s review on The Pendulum’s (Elon’s student newspaper) website said: “I absolutely loved the Business of NASCAR class. Before taking the class I knew nothing about the world of NASCAR, and by the end of January I had learned to love the sport!” Think it teaches you how to snag a hot NASCAR BF?
Bowdoin College, “Tolkien’s Middle Ages”
For Lord of the Rings fans this is the ideal class – you get to learn Tolkien’s works and his fantastical world inside out. But be cautioned – this is for enthusiasts of the novels, not the Peter Jackson movies (although they crop up in the course as well). You never know—one day J.R.R. Tolkien might have as many classes dedicated to his literature as Shakespeare does!
Bowdoin College, “The Souls of Animals”
This course examines sides of the argument about whether animals feel and think, have souls, or are capable of moral action. One of the world’s unanswerable questions, I suppose… Either way, this class creates quite a stir among students, spawning heated debates between hunters and their PETA member classmates.
University of Illinois at Chicago, “Race, Class and Gender” (aka “Porn Studies”)
Paige Gillig, a U Illinois-Chicago student who took the course last year, says of this deceptively-named course, “The whole year all of our time was devoted to learning about porn... and how race, class and gender is affected by porn. We read articles called ‘The Porning of America’ and ‘Would You Like Porn with that Burger?’ My teacher said she originally wanted to name the class ‘Porn Studies’ but the administration wouldn't let her do that because too many people would be trying to sign up for that class. It was crazy.”
Colorado State University, “Folk Religion”
According to the CSU course book entry, the class will study “European folk beliefs and their carry-over into America; ghosts, vampires, trolls, elves, saints, rituals, witchcraft, sorcery, and folk cures.” CSU junior Wendy Huber says: “I’m excited to take folk religion because we get to study cool and interesting things that you normally wouldn’t get to study in a class...Plus I’m nerdy enough to be super excited to learn about vampires and werewolves.” Think Robert Pattinson will do a guest lecture?
Georgetown University, “Philosophy and Star Trek”
The course catalog entry for the class asserts that Star Trek is very philosophical: “What better way to learn philosophy than to watch Star Trek, read philosophy, and hash it all out in class? In conjunction with watching Star Trek, we will read excerpts from the writings of great philosophers, extract key concepts and arguments, and then analyze those arguments.” If only all philosophy classes fell into relatable pop culture categories.
University of Wisconsin at Madison, “The Vampire in Literature and Cinema”
This class explores the history of vampire legends around the world, from folklore to literary and cinematic variations. Students look at vampires in the media, from the original Draculato today’s Twilight craze. “Since the problematic image of the vampire vacillates between the real and the imaginary, this will be a truly interdisciplinary course, spanning analysis drawn from medical anthropology to the discussions on literary and cinematic representations of the ancient creature of horror.” I wonder if the class has added vegetarian vampires that sparkle into the ‘modern myths’ section…
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Race and Identity in American Literature: Keepin' it Real Fake”
What does it mean to act black, white, privileged, or underprivileged? That’s one question tackled by this MIT class, according to the course description. “This course explores the ways in which various American artists view race and class as performed or performable identities.” The class delves into the reasons musicians in America desire to ‘act their race’ and live up to expectations and stereotypes set for them.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Topics in Comparative Media: American Pro Wrestling”
MIT’s course entry says: “This class will explore the cultural history and media industry surrounding the masculine drama of professional wrestling. Beginning with wrestling's roots in sport and carnival, the class examines how new technologies and changes in television led to evolution for pro wrestling style and promotion, and how shifts in wrestling characters demonstrate changes in the depiction of American masculinity.” Potential students need not be wrestling aficionados, but WWE fans are certainly encouraged!
Western State College, “Conspiracy Theories”
This class explores the arguments and counterarguments behind some of our nation’s skeptics (also known as conspiracy theorists). “We spent the whole time looking up the most out-there theories like Nazis running DIA (Denver Int. Airport), secret bunkers, etc., arguing as if they were real, then refuting,” said Western State senior Niki Derosia. “It was good fun, and a pretty easy English credit.”
Which class has the biggest reputation at your school for the most peculiar curriculum? Have you ever taken a class so beyond the norm you couldn’t help but LOVE it? Tell us in the Comments section!
Bowdoin College ‘Tolkien’s Middle Ages’ Course Description
Bowdoin College ‘The Souls of Animals’ Course Description
Paige Gillig, University of Illinois at Chicago
Wendy Huber, Colorado State 2012
Colorado State University General Catalog
Georgetown University Course Catalog
University of Wisconsin-Madison Visual Culture course list
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Course entry
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Course entry
Niki Derosia, Western State 2011