America’s elite colleges offer plenty of ridiculous courses. Many are taught by hilariously leftist professors straight out of central casting. Other classes transcend politics and exist on their own fabulous plane of stupidity. Many of them cost a ton of money.
For The Daily Caller’s list of pathetic college classes for 2015, the course descriptions are reprinted here exactly as they appear in the colleges’ course manuals.
Brown University, English: On Being Bored. “This course explores texts/films that represent and formally express states of non-productivity or non-desire. Beginning with the Enlightenment and romantic periods, we will reflect on narratives with neither progress nor plot, characters that resist characterization, and poems that deny assertion and revelation. Authors include: Kleist, Kant, Rousseau, Coleridge, de Quincey, Keats, Blanchot, Levinas, Beckett, Ashbery, Schuyler.” Total cost for a year at Brown: $65,380.
University of Pennsylvania, English: Wasting Time On The Internet. “We spend our lives in front of screens, mostly wasting time: checking social media, watching cat videos, chatting, and shopping. What if these activities — clicking, SMSing, status-updating, and random surfing — were used as raw material for creating compelling and emotional works of literature? Could we reconstruct our autobiography using only Facebook? Could we write a great novella by plundering our Twitter feed? Could we reframe the internet as the greatest poem ever written? Using our laptops and a wifi connection as our only materials, this class will focus on the alchemical recuperation of aimless surfing into substantial works of literature. Students will be required to stare at the screen for three hours, only interacting through chat rooms, bots, social media and listservs. To bolster our practice, we’ll explore the long history of the recuperation of boredom and time-wasting through critical texts about affect theory, ASMR, situationism and everyday life by thinkers such as Guy Debord, Mary Kelly Erving Goffman, Betty Friedan, Raymond Williams, John Cage, Georges Perec, Michel de Certeau, Henri Lefevbre, Trin Minh-ha, Stuart Hall, Sianne Ngai, Siegfried Kracauer and others. Distraction, multi-tasking, and aimless drifting is mandatory.” Total cost for a year at Penn: $66,800.
Oberlin College, Contemporary American Studies: How to Win a Beauty Pageant: Race, Gender, Culture, and U.S. National Identity. “This course examines US beauty pageants from the 1920s to the present. Our aim will be to analyze pageantry as a unique site for the interplay of race,gender, class, sexuality, and nation. We will learn about cultural studies methodology, including close reading, cultural history, critical discourse analysis, and ethnography, and use those methods to understand the changing identity of the US over time. This course includes a field visit to a pageant in Ohio.” Total cost for a year at Oberlin: $66,174.
Cornell University, Physical Education: Tree Climbing. “Whether you are a rain forest canopy researcher, an arborist, or just a kid at heart, everyone loves to climb trees. Recall the excitement and your sense of adventure when you first crawled into the branches to look inside a bird’s nest. Then you swung from limb to limb without a thought of ropes and harnesses. But what about that big tree down the street you always wanted to climb, but couldn’t reach the first branch? Cornell Outdoor Education’s Tree Climbing course will teach you how to get up into the canopy of any tree, to move around, even to climb from one tree to another without touching the ground. This course will teach you how to use ropes and technical climbing gear to reach the top of any tree, to move around, and even to climb from tree to tree without returning to the ground. All equipment is included in the course fee.” Total cost for a year at Cornell: $64,164.
Occidental College, Critical Theory & Social Justice: Stupidity. “Stupidity is neither ignorance nor organicity, but rather, a corollary of knowing and an element of normalcy, the double of intelligence rather than its opposite. It is an artifact of our nature as finite beings and one of the most powerful determinants of human destiny. Stupidity is always the name of the Other, and it is the sign of the feminine. This course in Critical Psychology follows the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, Gilles Deleuze, and most recently, Avital Ronell, in a philosophical examination of those operations and technologies that we conduct in order to render ourselves uncomprehending. Stupidity, which has been evicted from the philosophical premises and dumbed down by psychometric psychology, has returned in the postmodern discourse against Nation, Self, and Truth and makes itself felt in political life ranging from the presidency to Beavis and Butthead.” Total cost for a year at Occidental: $63,194.
Pitzer College, Asian American Studies: Tattoos, Piercing, and Body Adornment. “This course Introduces students to various body modification practices, with particular focus on regional developments in Asia, Pacific, and America. Key issues include: identity and community formation, agency, power, and social control; colonialism and post-colonialism; cultural property and appropriation; global circulations of bodies, aesthetics, and labor.” Total cost for a year at Pitzer: $63,880.
Rutgers University–New Brunswick, Women’s and Gender Studies: Women, Culture, and Society: Pop Culture Politics. “In this class we will analyze mainstream U.S. media and discuss everything Pop Culture from memes to advertising, music videos, TV shows, news, sports and reality TV: What are we being told to believe? We will talk about ideas as trivialized (and political) as sex, love, war and freedom; and we will explore how the field of gender studies can transform our understandings of knowledge, power, history and -ultimately- what we’ve come to call society. Yup! You guessed it. This will not be your everyday class. There will be no papers and no final, so active participation is key. We will read a little and watch lots of media –for example, check out Beyoncé’s awesome video Grown Woman, AXE’s 2014 Super Bowl Commercial, and Shit Girls Say to inquire what it means to stop for a minute, look around, and ask ‘why.'” Total cost for a year at Rutgers for New Jersey residents: $29,875.
Georgia State University, English: Kanye Versus Everbody! [sic] “Kanye West has been talking your head off. Over the past several years especially, the variously prolific rapper has been waxing poetic, making a series of public proclamations and postulations regarding aspects of his own aesthetic genius and the plight of the black creative mind today—all while tussling with paparazzi (literally and figuratively) in an effort to be accurately understood. The designer and defender of his own celebrity, Kanye expresses an intellectual stance and an extreme sense of agency that arguably exemplify the critical perspective of our latest generation of public thinkers. But where does this conversation about cultural production and artistic temperament actually begin? And where is the discourse heading?” Total cost for a year at Georgia State for Georgia residents: $24,448.
University of Iowa, American Studies: The American Vacation. “Vacations are more serious events than you might think. One hundred years ago a vacation might have been beyond your grasp – now we take them for granted. Explore Coney Island, Atlantic City, Lake Okoboji, Yellowstone, Disney World and more.” Total cost for a year at Georgia State for Iowa residents: $21,010.
These courses are very real courses which occurred in 2014 and thus barely, technically evade TheDC’s self-imposed time constraint.
Skidmore College, Sociology: The Sociology of Miley Cyrus: Race, Class, Gender, and Media (Summer 2014). “From Disney tween to twerking machine, Miley Cyrus has grown up in the public eye, trying on and discarding very different identities onscreen and off. She provides rich examples for analyzing aspects of intersectional identities and media representation, including: The rise of the Disney Princess; gender stratification and the hyper-commodification of childhood; transitions to Disney stars as they age (see Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and more); Allies and appropriation; uses of culture across race, class, and gender; bisexuality, queerness and the female body. Ongoing media frenzy focused on Miley Cyrus’s public image, music and body highlights the ways in which intersectional identities are shaped by pop culture and mass media. In this special topics course, we will explore core issues of intersectionality theory, looking at race, class, and gender, as well as issues of taking feminist critique of media, using Miley as a lens though which to explore sociological thinking about identity entertainment, media, and fame.” Total cost for a year at Skidmore: $62,042.
Tufts University, ‘Experimental College’: Demystifying the Hipster. “The hipster is a devisive [SIC] cultural figure that elicits both envy and outrage, and some argue that it has run its course—but what exactly is (or was) the hipster? Are hipsters part of a counter-culture, or are they just another marketing niche in the mainstream? How can we tell the difference? In this course, students will interrogate contemporary writing—both academic and popular—that claims to define the hipster, examining these arguments alongside exemplary cultural texts that have warranted the hipster label. We will focus on film, fiction, fashion, and music (among other genres and media) produced in the last twenty years, connecting these contemporary examples to a longer history of the hipster that dates back to Norman Mailer’s seminal 1957 essay, “The White Negro: Superficial Reflections on the Hipster.” Over the course of the semester, students will develop their own canon of hipster art. Students will become critics and sociologists of today’s hipster culture as they explore how hipster identity reflects larger cultural anxiety.” Total cost for a year at Skidmore: $65,900.
University of California, San Francisco, Online course: Abortion: Quality Care and Public Health Implications. “In this six-week course, over twenty faculty from various institutions and multiple disciplines will place abortion within the context of public health and fill in the gaps left by its exclusion from mainstream curricula in health professions. Each week’s lectures will incorporate the stories of women who seek abortion in order to better portray abortion significance and rationale. Other topics will include a brief history of abortion, the clinical aspects of medication and procedural abortions in and after the first trimester, an overview of patient-centered abortion-care, the basics of abortion counseling, the professional obligations of health care practitioners to ensure that women have access to safe abortion care, and the maze of restrictions that make safe abortion care inaccessible to many women. In addition to video lectures, there will be weekly quizzes, peer assessments, and optional additional content and reading for learners who want to explore the topic further.” This course is an online course from Coursera.
(Photo credits: YouTube screenshot/Brown University, YouTube screenshot/University of Pennsylvania, YouTube screenshot/Oberlin College, YouTube screenshot/Cornell University, Creative Commons/The Port of Authority, YouTube screenshot/Pitzer College, YouTube screenshot/FEMA, public domain, YouTube screenshot/University of Iowa, Getty Images/Ethan Miller, Getty Images, Adam Berry)