Thursday, September 8, 2011

Elementary, my dear geek!

Semesters are finally starting at colleges across the country this week and with it comes new classes and fulfilling the wonderful general education requirements. For my history major, I'm taking The Age of Samurai and Europe 1914-1945. For my Anthropology minor, I was able to get into a class on Explorers and Anthropologists where I'm going to be doing a project on representations of explorers and adventurers in popular culture. (Cue *Dun duh dun duhhhhh*) Transylvania University (where I attended college) has a history of offering some pretty awesome classes. There have been Foundations of Liberal Arts (Freshman writing and composition) courses on Appalachian stereotypes, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. I took a course on comedy called Laughing Matters. Some classes have even studied ghost hunting! Pretty awesome stuff. Transy isn't the only university to teach some pretty interesting and geeky classes. Check out a list after the break!

Philosophy of Star Trek (Georgetown)
I. Is time travel possible? Could you go back and kill your grandmother? What is time?
II. What is the relation between your mind and your brain--are they separate items or identical? Can persons survive death? Could a machine someday think? Is Data a person?
III. What is a person? Must you have the same body to be you? Same memories? When do we have one person, and when do we have two (think of the episodes where people "split" or "fuse")?
IV. Do you have free will, or are you determined by the laws of nature to do exactly what you wind up doing (while believing you have free will)? Or both? What is freewill?

Theory and History of Video Games (Swarthmore)
Historical, cultural, and formal perspectives on video games, tracing their emergence as new medium, big business, and social force.

Biology of Jurassic Park (Hood)
Even though they are extinct, dinosaurs can serve as models to understand many biological principles, including patterns of biodiversity, evolution, extinction, community ecology, homeostasis and behavior. To understand these principles, we will answer questions such as: How many species of dinosaurs were there? Are birds really dinosaurs? Did dinosaurs show parental care? Were dinosaurs “warm-blooded” or “cold-blooded?”

Zombies in Popular Media (Columbia College)
This course explores the history, significance, and representation of the zombie as a figure in horror and fantasy texts. We will pursue an intense schedule, using critical theory to think about zombies as they appear in literature, comics, and films. Our daily readings and discussion will focus on critical evaluation and reflection about the zombie trope, and your final project will ask you to integrate these ideas in a project within your discipline.

Invented Languages: Klingon and Beyond (University of Texas at Austin)
Why would anyone want to learn Klingon? Who really speaks Esperanto, anyway? Could there ever be a language based entirely on musical scales? Using constructed/invented languages as a vehicle, we will try to answer these questions as we discuss current ideas about linguistic theory, especially ideas surrounding the interaction of language and society. For example, what is it about the structure of Klingon that makes it look so "alien"? What was it about early 20th century Europe that spawned so many so-called "universal" languages? Can a language be inherently sexist? We will consider constructed/invented languages from a variety of viewpoints, such as languages created as fictional plot-devices, for philosophical debates, to serve an international function, and languages created for private fun. We won t be learning any one language specifically, but we will be learning about the art, ideas, and goals behind invented languages using diverse sources from literature, the internet, films, video games, and other aspects of popular culture.

Have you taken a geeky or cool college class? Let us know in the comments!

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