Now for something completely different. Did you know that you can take a class called “OutKast And The Rise of the Hip-Hop South” at Georgia’s Armstrong State University? Taught by Professor Regina Bradley, the course focuses on Andre 3000’s ideas about the “south and southerness”. This isn’t Bradley’s first foray into pop culture and the south, as she has taught quite a few courses that blend the two. The class has even received Andre 3000’s seal of approval, as he told Creative Loafing,“This is just super dope.”
As strange as an OutKast studies class sounds, it’s nowhere near as odd as some of the other pop culture studies courses that have been offered. Classes have focused on everything from “The Simpsons” to Harry Potter to even Miley Cyrus. Quite a few of the class descriptions actually make me want to go back to college (shout out to Avenue Q!). Here are a few of the most enticing classes that have been offered:
Ironically, #SelfieCourse isn’t a photography or social media marketing course -- it’s a writing class. Offered at the University of Southern California, #SelfieCourse has students take selfies and then reflect on them. Even though the main focus isn’t the art of the selfie (it’s the psychology behind them), I bet you would still be able to take some savage selfies by the end of the course.
Beyoncé has certainly been engulfed in controversy -- and has actually been quite political. This course, offered at Rutgers, explores how Queen Bey can be seen as a “progressive, feminist, and even queer” figure. To explore how Beyoncé is essentially a kick-ass feminist, you will watch her music videos and analyze the lyrics of her songs, as well as read about the black feminist struggle in the U.S. If you need proof that Beyoncé “Run(s) the World”, then this class is for you.
California Here We Come: "The O.C." & Self-Aware Culture of 21st Century America
Ironically not offered at a college in Southern California (the course was offered at Duke University), this course delves into the world’s obsession with hyperbolic California culture. In addition to studying episodes of “The O.C.”, you will also investigate episodes of “Laguna Beach” and “The Real Housewives of Orange County”, as well as listening to and analyzing “indie California music” (so...basically Red Hot Chili Peppers). If you’re ready for a gnarly ride, then it’s worth riding this wave, dude.
The Physics of "Star Trek"
No Star Wars fans allowed -- this is solely for the Trekkies. If you’ve ever wondered how Scottie manages to beam up Captain Kirk, then you need to enroll in this course. Taught at Santa Clara University, The Physics of "Star Trek" combines the sci-fi elements of the show alongside Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein’s physics.
While I would like to take all of these courses, there are a few courses I would one day like to teach (as I am a teacher and write about pop culture, I think my classes would be pretty awesome-possum):
“Game of Thrones” and the War of the Roses: An In-Depth Exploration
“Game of Thrones” is arguably one of television’s most popular shows (and let us not forget the impressive book series it’s based on, A Song of Ice and Fire). Although the show is entirely fictional (sadly enough, dragons have never existed throughout history), much of it is actually based on England’s 15th century War of the Roses. The bloody feud lasted over three decades between the royal houses of York and Lancaster (Lancaster... sounds a bit like Lannister, no?). Considering how bloody the War of the Roses and “Game of Thrones” were (well, are), there is no way this class would be boring. Between all the discussions of political intrigue, deadly warfare, and incest, this class would, without a doubt, be the most epic history class ever taught.
“The Simpsons”, “South Park”, Swift, and Twain: A Survey of Satire
I actually currently teach “The Simpsons”, Jonathan Swift, and Mark Twain to my AP courses, as all three are brilliant satirists (while I would like to teach “South Park", it’s not exactly school appropriate). The history of satire is quite fascinating, particularly when one takes into consideration culture, societal, political, and economical changes. Satire is one of the most powerful tools used to critique society, and considering our current political climate, a class on satire would be more useful now than ever.
Which pop culture obsession would you like to take a class about?