Written by stylist.co.uk
An education in the bizarre and obscure
Forget wading through English Lit or Ancient History – if you want to have a whale of a time at university, there are certain courses that stand out from the crowd. With news that a dedicated Gelato University has opened in Italy, Stylist has delved into the prospecti of universities and colleges the world over to uncover other unique and offbeat courses on offer. From the rigorous study of David Beckham to the existential meaning of fat, here are 10 courses that may not get you a job, but would definitely make for entertaining lectures…
Picture credits: Rex Features and 20th Century Fox
1. SIMPSONS AND PHILOSOPHY
Touted as a “fairly rigorous” course, this two-unit class at the prestiguous University of California at Berkeley examines the hit cartoon series through the eyes of Nietzsche, Plato and more – asking weighty questions such as what does Homer’s infamous D’ohutterance really say about his existential self? Is Marge’s volumous hair life-affirming or a symbol of the degradation of society? Or so we imagine…
2. DAVID BECKHAM
This 12-week module at Staffordshire University was offered as part of the BA in Sports, Media and Culture, and included heavyweight topics such as Beck’s ever-evolving hairstyles, the state of his marriage to Posh and his status “as the object of a great many fantasies.” That’s certainly one text book we’d enjoy leafing through.
3. ZOMBIE STUDIES
We enjoy a good zombie movie as much as the next person, but if you really have a thing for animated corpses, head to theUniversity of Baltimore where a dedicated course allows students to “get ready for a zombie apocalypse” by writing horror scripts, watching zombie flicks and drawing storyboards of their ideal monster movies. Gold star for the killer idea.
4. THE PHALLUS COURSE
Yes, really. Offered by the department of critical theory and social justice at Los Angeles’ liberal Occidental College, this indepth study program explores “feminist and queer takings-on of the phallus.” Topics include “the relation between the phallus and the penis … and the relation of the phallus and fetishism.” That’s your dinner party conversation sorted, then.
5. FAT STUDIES
The term ‘chewing the fat’ takes on a whole new meaning with this course offered by George Washington University in the US. The class examines concepts of fatness and obesity through the realm of film, literature, anthropology and history, throwing the “cultural baggage” of overweight people firmly into the spotlight.
6. ARGUING WITH JUDGE JUDY
If you find yourself screaming at the TV at the sheer injustice ofJudge Judy and the like, it’s time to enrol at the University of California, where Arguing With Judge Judy: Popular ‘Logic’ On TV Shows will allow a channel for your frustrations. The course picks apart popular logical fallacies on reality TV shows, examining why the small-screen audiences decide on the concepts of social justice that they do. Sadly, it hasn’t got as far as Jeremy Kyle yet but where there’s life, there’s hope.
7. LADY GAGA AND THE SOCIOLOGY OF FAME
In no small boast to the star’s ego, Lady Gaga has been awarded her very own degree course at the University of South Carolina. Run by what sounds suspiciously like a Gaga groupie masquerading as a college tutor (Professor Mathieu Deflem has been to see the singer in concert 30 times), the unit gets students to “engage in sound and substantiated scholarly thinking” on Gaga’s meteoric rise to fame. Then they all dance in the lecture theatre aisles to her greatest hits (or so we like to think).
8. HARRY POTTER AND THE AGE OF ILLUSION
If you’re a muggle who wants to be a wizard, prepare for a disappointment. The Harry Potter and the Age of Illusion module, available as part of the BA in Education Studies at Durham University, doesn’t teach spells and Quidditch – instead the series of 22 lectures and 11 seminars looks at how JK Rowling’s novels reflect prejudice and citizenship in modern society. Not quite as thrilling as Hogwart’s, but a good excuse to re-visit the books.
9. UNDERWATER BASKET WEAVING
Contrary to what the name suggests, you don’t need a diver’s license to enrol on this module. Offered at a range of universities in the US, including the Reed College of Portland and the University of California, it involves crafting baskets by dipping them in water and letting them soak. Recently, the term ‘underwater basket weaving’ has come into usage to refer to a course that’s deemed to be worthless – which we’re sure holders of the qualification appreciate.
10. MAPLE SYRUP MAKING
Want to impress your friends with your very own handmade maple syrup? Then it’s time to give the Maple Syrup: The Real Thing course at the Alfred University in New York a whirl. As well as learning the history of syrup production, students get to rustle up their own brand of the sweet stuff, for a life skill never to be forgotten. Yum.
Bonus: Water drop falling in front of an MC Escher sketch, I took this pic