College is getting a bad rap these days, and for good reason.
The price tag for University, Inc. is astronomical, sending countless students into a debt spiral of their own design. Many campuses now double as indoctrination centers, where students are taught a singular set of progressive rules. Naysayers and free thinkers alike face discrimination, or worse, for challenging that groupthink.
At least the core subjects taught in these houses of higher learning remain the same. Right?
In many cases, that’s true. Yet there is a wave of new courses that won’t help graduates find a job or gain an invaluable skill. You might crush it at your next Trivial Pursuit game, though.
Yes, we all love pop culture, but do we need to pay through the proverbial nose to learn all of its nuances?
“Literary Contests And Contexts — The Taylor Swift Songbook”
Need to learn every detail about the pop superstar’s love life? Obsessed with Swift’s ruminations on LGBTQ+ culture? This University of Texas course is your salvation. Professor Elizabeth Scala will guide students through Swift’s colorful career, focusing on her literary chops.
“For me, it’s all about form (not just or even primarily about content). We will study Swift’s songs as poems and literary structures.” Scala told the American-Statesman.
The university’s Facebook dove deeper into this critical class, saying it “provides an introduction to literary studies and research methods that uses the songwriting of @taylorswift as the basis for teaching a wide range of skills.”
“Beyonce, Gender And Race”
The University of Copenhagen may seem like an unlikely source for all things Queen Bey, but in 2017 the school unleashed a popular course offering just that.
Students could study the songstress’ lyrics, performances, and music videos, zeroing in on hot-button issues she stirs such as sex, race, and gender.
“One of the goals is to introduce black feminist thought, which is not very well known in Scandinavia,” Professor Erik Steinskog told Denmark’s TV2 in 2017 in the run-up to the course’s debut.
Alas, a recent search of the university’s courses finds “Beyonce” isn’t available for current students.
“Lady Gaga And The Sociology Of Fame”
Professor Mathieu Deflem, a professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina, got his 15 minutes of fame by teaching about the versatile pop star. The syllabus explored Lady Gaga’s career before her transition to the big screen and alliance with future President Joe Biden on sexual assault issues.
Like Madonna before her, Lady Gaga took an active role in her own rise to superstardom, material the professor found illuminating … and worth sharing.
Deflem became overwhelmed by the fame the course brought about, as meta an experience as possible. He ended up teaching it only five times before shifting to other topics. None of that stopped him from penning a book, with the same title as his course, capturing that moment in his career.
“Makin’ Whoopi: Goldberg’s Canon”
Whoopi Goldberg teaches an unofficial course on misinformation five days a week via “The View.” She’s not an official professor, but that doesn’t stop her or her ill-informed peers.
The Oscar winner also inspired her own symposium at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, based primarily on her work prior to joining “The View.”
Professor Charles I. Nero’s “Makin’ Whoopi: Goldberg’s Canon” symposium debuted in 2013, a time before Goldberg’s current “View” work led to a suspension atop her serial obfuscations.
“Surviving The Zombie Apocalypse”
Michigan State University could be the go-to place for George A. Romero fans.
The Pittsburgh filmmaker’s career is synonymous with zombie films, and his legacy is alive and well via this cagey online course. The syllabus has real-world applications, at least for those expecting modern culture will collapse sooner than later.
And people are paying attention. The course grabbed headlines courtesy of Bill Maher and Conan O’Brien, and should a zombie outbreak actually occur, its alumni may lead humanity to a brighter future.
“Arguing With Judge Judy: Popular ‘Logic’ On TV Judge Shows”
This intro course at the University of California, Berkeley, the former home for free speech advocacy, examines a specific realm of modern TV. Shows like “The People’s Court” and “Judge Judy” anchor instruction designed to reveal common courtroom techniques.
One aspect of the course will feel all too familiar for anyone who ever battled an online troll.
“A fascinating aspect of TV judge shows from a rhetorical point of view is the number of arguments made by the litigants that are utterly illogical, or are perversions of standard logic, and yet are used over and over again,” according to the Berkeley web site.
“South Park And Contemporary Social Issues”
Professor Cartman would like to speak with you after class…
Comedy Central’s iconic and famously balanced series spawned a McDaniel College course. The Maryland institution explored how the series, from creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, use humor to navigate sticky public issues like immigration and terrorism.
“Using historical and contemporary texts, theories, and concepts from sociology and philosophy, this course will address issues such as race, gender, sexuality, consumerism, and many more,” the syllabus from the 2014-15 academic year read.
The course sprung to life in 2009 but is no longer available for curious students.
“Science Fiction Or Real Science? The Physics Of Star Trek”
Course founder Dr. Philip Kesten leaned on his appreciation for the ‘60s series by exploring its real-world potential for warp drives, phasers, and more. Even non-Trekkies were invited to sample the course, which also caught the attention of the greater “Star Trek” universe.
“What I’m trying to do is motivate some piece of science from Star Trek, and what I tell the students is that we’re going to peel back the layers bit by bit by bit. It’s a very different approach to one I would take in, say, an introductory physics class, where you start with a basic principle and develop one piece after the other,” Kesten told StarTrek.com about his academic goals.
Christian Toto is an award-winning journalist, movie critic and editor of HollywoodInToto.com. He previously served as associate editor with Breitbart News’ Big Hollywood. Follow him at @HollywoodInToto.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.