UNC SCHOOL OF THE ARTS
HUM 2710: Murder as a Fine Art
Yes, this humanities course at UNC School of the Arts is actually called that. The course description is a little less interesting, explaining that the class is a study of the murder-mystery genre that will discuss “the criminal as artist, the detective persona” and, most intriguingly, “the cultural significance of the murder mystery’s popularity.” How many people who grabbed trashy, murder-mystery beach reads this summer considered themselves consumers of fine art, and did they ponder the deeper societal implications of the genre’s popularity while brushing sand off their toes?
HUM 2111: Paths to the Present: History of Suburbia
“Many of us grew up in a suburban neighborhood,” begins the presumptuous class description, which is likely great insight into the composition of the student body at UNCSA. But the course sounds fascinating: “This course examines the historical foundations for the suburb… the suburban ideal and its representation in popular culture including advertisements, novels, movies and television.” Few things could be more important than teaching kids from the ’burbs how such places came to be and forcing them to think about the cultural values that shape such enclaves, and really we’d all benefit from such an exploration.
MAT 1200: Foundations of Finance
There are plenty of cool classes at this arts-based school — such as The Art of Making a Difference: Documentary & Community Involvement — but Foundations of Finance is the kind of course that my peers at Guilford College all wished we’d taken when graduation arrived. Most of us could probably still use it. “Among the topics studied are uses and abuses of percentages, simple and compound interest, compound interest for interest paid n times per year, continuous compounding, savings plans, total and annual returns, types of investments, loan basics, credit card debt and fixed rate options, and mortgages,” the description reads.
ENG 1200: Writing About Popular Culture: Toys
Uh, yeah. This class is all about toys, and their “significance and implications.” Seems like students can almost minor in examining their suburban childhood here. “Material might include poetry and fiction such as Sandra Cisneros’ Barbie-Q, artworks like The Nutcracker, non-fiction and documentaries, movies such as Barry Levinson’s Toys and, of course, Toy Story and field research.” Field research? Sign us up.
WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY
ENG 318: Culture and the Sitcom
All those years of watching back episodes of “The Brady Bunch” and “Cheers” pay off in this English class, which calls the situational comedy “one of the oldest and most ubiquitous forms of television programming.”
HST 348: Samurai and Geisha: Fact, Film and Fiction
Two of the more notorious castes in Japanese history come under scrutiny in this history class that overlaps with the Japanese Studies Department. Using contemporary and classic film, ancient fiction and primary sources, “the course considers how Japanese and Western historians, novelists and filmmakers have portrayed the two groups and by implication Japan and its history in the modern period.”
MUS 185: John Cage: Works and Thought
John Cage was an American composer of the avant garde, sort of the Andy Warhol of postmodern classical music — one of his most famous pieces, 4’33”, requires that the musicians hold their instruments in silence for 4 minutes and 33 seconds. This music class is a study of his music, poetry, art and philosophy.
WGS 100: RAD: Rape Aggression Defense
This intro-level class from the Women’s and Gender Studies Department trains college first-years “basic physical self-defense tactics and risk reduction and avoidance,” with required readings on the research of violence against women. It’s a pass/fail.
WINSTON-SALEM STATE UNIVERSITY
LLS 301: Blame it on the Boogie: Exploring the Music and Health Connection
WSSU has the best class names. This one delves into the physical effects of listening to music. “You will participate in music activities and review research to discover the effect music has on social behaviors, physical condition and ways of thinking,” the course description reads. It culminates with a lab.
MSM 1301: Introduction to Motorsports
It may seem counterintuitive for Winston-Salem’s HBCU to have a motorsports major, seeing as the sport appeals largely to white guys. But the program has access to the track at Bowman Gray Stadium, where the university football teams also plays, and has been matriculating graduates for more than a decade. This intro-level course covers the history of the sport, classifications and governing bodies, its economic impact and industry-specific literature.
LLS 1315: Pop Culture
The class description says it all: “You have now been transformed into junior editors at the Acme Publishing Corporation. You will create one of four Pop Culture magazines for one of the decades including the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and the 2000s. Your magazine will cover topics such as iconography, notable biographies, popular advertisements, politics, current events of the period and entertainment.”
LLS 1337: Oh No She Didn’t: An Exploration of the Negative and Stereotypical Behaviors of Black Females
This class busts the stereotype of the “eye-rolling, neck-twirling, finger-pointing, loud-talking, ‘ghetto fabulous’ creatures” portrayed in literature, film and media for generations, examines the
mythos of the strong black woman and adds historical perspective. “The seminar explores the rationale behind the labels and what truly defines a black woman,” the course catalog says.
SOC 3347: Deviant Behavior
More of a study than a how-to guide, this sociology class “examines the relationship between deviance, conformity and social control” in an attempt to understand the label. “An attempt will be made to dispel the belief that the roots of deviant behavior can always be understood from racial or inherited qualities of individuals, and rather help students to understand the relationship between social arrangements including religion, government, family patterns, economic conditions, differential association or interactions and deviance,” according to the course description.