College classes that deviate from the usual required core classes enrich the imagination. From courses that deal with human suffering by looking at the psychology of Batman to those that introduce students to poetry via the songs of Jewel, offbeat classes can offer you something out of the ordinary and might even make you think in the process.
A Boy Named Harry
When Harry Potter mania seized the globe, it turned millions of people into make-believe wizards and witches of his mythical school, Hogwarts. College courses that tap into this love of the boy wizard might not transport you to Hogwarts, but they do give you a glimpse at some real-life issues through the pages of these magical books by J.K. Rowling. For example, a class at Appalachian State University looks at who and what shapes history using Harry Potter as a guide. Another class at Georgetown University allows students to study medievalism by reading the Potter books and through selected texts from the 12th through 15th centuries.
Linguistics of Elves and Klingons
Languages reveal much about the cultures that speak them, including cultures that never existed except in the pages of a book or on the TV or movie screen. Made-up languages such as the harsh-sounding Klingon from "Star Trek" or the melodic elven language of Quenya from "The Lord of the Rings" series reveal volumes about the peoples who speak them. The University of Texas has offered courses in Klingon and elvish languages. Students coming away from such classes have learned about how man-made languages work and discovered the evolution of ancient languages through the reading of the texts as well as the study of linguistics.
Philosophy Through Science Fiction
Science fiction novels and movies allow audiences to grapple with complex themes such as time travel, the nature of existence and the idea of free will. Philosophy professors at universities such as Oxford and Georgetown have tapped into their students' love of science fiction movies such as "The Matrix" or "Star Trek" and taught their students about the nature of philosophic discussion in the process.
From the undead to the nearly rotted colleges courses at universities such as Columbia College Chicago and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have given students a taste of fantastical creatures. These courses introduce students to the critical theory behind zombies or the evolution of the vampire. Drawing from sources such as Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" or zombie books such as "World War Z," the fantastical creatures that live in popular media get their due before their final exit.
- Appalachian State University: What If Harry Potter Is Real?
- Georgetown University: Knights of Old & Harry Potter
- University of Texas: Invented Languages -- Klingon and Beyond
- University of Texas: Tolkien and the Tongues of Middle Earth
- Georgetown University: Philosophy and Star Trek
- University of Oxford: The Matrix -- An Introduction to Philosophy at Oxford
- University of Wisconsin-Madison: New Course Explores the Ubiquitous Vampire Legend
- Columbia College Chicago: Zombies in Popular Culture
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