NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

College Courses Eclectic, To Say The Least

August 25, 1999

Do parents send their children to college to study television soap operas and horror movies? Probably not. But courses on those and other bizarre themes are being offered at some otherwise prestigious U.S. schools.

  • Many universities offer courses on television shows and the University of Wisconsin even has one devoted to soap operas.
  • Columbia University courses include one on "Issues in Rock Music and Rock Culture," while students at Duke can take a course in "Juggling."
  • The University of Pennsylvania offers "Vampires: The Undead," not to be confused with the University of Chicago's "The Slavic Vampire."
  • Some course titles on other campuses include "Horror and the Historicity of Monstrosity," "The Look of the Perverse" and "The Literature of Sports."

Hot subjects on the modern campus range from food and cooking, to witchcraft, magic, extraterrestrial life, pornography and how disability illuminates society and culture. Under the last category, debates are underway as to whether to include the cultural contributions of the mentally disabled.

According to the National Association of Scholars, only about one-quarter of the University of Chicago's English Department's offerings consist of traditional literature courses. Observers report that the same thing is happening in the school's History Department.

Source: John Leo (U.S. News & World Report), "Credits for the Trashy and the Trivial," Washington Times, August 25, 1999.


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