My last semester at UMass is officially halfway over, so I’m taking a walk down memory lane and looking back at the 30+ college classes I’ve taken and figuring out which were my favorite. Here’s a final list of the courses that I think were the best at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
ENGLISH 373: American Indian Literature
This might just be my favorite class and I’m only halfway through it. I really like the readings the course covers and the teacher, Professor Frazier, is amazing. Some of the readings cover history and others are memoirs by Native American authors. We just read the memoir Dog Flowers which I totally recommend. The class is informative, engaging, and there’s some personal writing involved as well. Poetry is up next in the course, so here’s to hoping that’s great, too!
ENGLISH 354: Creative Writing
I took this course my sophomore year and it was one of my favorites because of the teacher, Professor Saeed, and the people in the class. It’s a workshop class — and sharing original short stories can be so nerve-wracking — but everyone gave nice feedback that was constructive. I really liked reading other people’s stories and there were some incredible ones. What I enjoyed most about the class was that it was about writing for improvement, and it wasn’t focused on working for an A. Writing is so subjective and to just be able to put something out that’s creative and not focused on what I thought someone else would want to hear was a great change of pace. We also read a little bit and one of the books was called Ghachar Ghochar, which I still remember years later. This class really helped me be more okay with sharing my work, and I would recommend it to anyone hoping to become a better writer.
Creative Production: Communication Design (EXCHANGE 003)
Okay, so technically this isn’t a UMass class. I took this class my sophomore year as an exchange student at the University of Sussex in England and loved it. It was graphic design and the teacher, Professor Duff, showed us so many different types of graphic art, like glitch. We created projects using Adobe programs like InDesign which reminded me of being on my high school yearbook staff. It was a really fun class, and I learned a lot without it feeling like dreaded homework.
COMM 297FA: ST-Spirit&Stories: Folklore/Alc
My experience with this class is probably a little different since I took it virtually during COVID-19. That being said, it was one of the best ones I took in a year online. The professor had made podcasts covering the material, so I listened to all the lectures while chopping up fruits and vegetables at my job in the supermarket. Podcasts were a great format, and listening to the history of all these different types of alcohol was really interesting. We learned the history of how beverages were made (Did you know beer came to be because it ferments naturally?), and the mythology behind each beverage. What you see is what you get for this class.
ENGLISH 492D: S-Children’s Literature
I’m still in this class too, and I like it because of the content. When I think of children’s literature I go to Dr. Seuss, but the books here are mostly Victorian Era books like Alice in Wonderland, The Princess and the Goblin, and The Water-Babies. Peter Pan, Treasure Island, The Secret Garden, and The Wind in the Willows are to be read later in the semester. I like how I can read some classic fairy tales and also some new ones I’m not familiar with.
COMP-LIT 131: Brave New World
If you told me when I took this class I would mark it down as a favorite, I wouldn’t believe it. It moved at a rigorous pace for a Gen-Ed. There were seven books in total, and some movies, and some of the books are dystopian/utopian classics that should be read. Books like Brave New World, 1984, and The Handmaid’s Tale were on the syllabus and there were some weirder ones thrown in there, too. The books aren’t necessarily ones I would read during my free time, but they were funky, and there was definitely a lot to get out of them.
I know a lot of these classes fall under the English umbrella, but whether you’re an English major or someone looking for an interesting UMass class to take, definitely check these ones out!