Queer monsters, lesbian land, the history of hipsters: The 9 most bizarre university courses being offered this semester

Have you ever wondered what our future generations are being taught within the classrooms of our prestigious institutions of higher learning? 

Well, you're in luck. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) has compiled a list of the most ridiculous college courses offered on campuses nationwide and it's not pretty. 

ACTA’s “What Will They Learn” research reveals courses are focusing on “queer” horror monsters, hipster history and extraterrestrial intelligence. But hey, at least underwater basket weaving is not on the list. 

Here are some of the most ridiculous courses being offered. 

1. Course: Queer Horror

University: Clark University

From Frankenstein to Freddy Krueger, the horror monster has thrilled and terrified horror fans for decades. What the general audience might not recognize is how the monster embodies society’s anxieties, particularly those involving sexuality and gender. In this class, we will analyze a selection of horror novels and films, paying attention to how the monsters are “coded” as queer, exploring how the monsters are representations of popular culture’s changing views on queerness, and considering how and why the queer monster has evolved over the decades. We will also consider how a queer audience might have responded to these movies


2. Course: Disabling Desire: The Erotics of Impairment in Literature and Film

University: Brown University

By alternately demonizing, sentimentalizing, and fetishizing the disabled body throughout modern history, has Western society misrepresented the erotic desires of the physically impaired? Could these desires, if represented, in turn disable "normal" desire?


3. Course: The Wisdom of the Simpsons (and the End of Western Civilization)

University: Bellevue University

This course uses the television program, The Simpsons, to ask basic questions about the meaning of human life, about society, and about contemporary values. 


4. Course: Liberal Arts of the Living Dead

University: Bridgewater College

The Liberal Arts of the Living Dead will examine zombies through the lens of the liberal arts to better understand ourselves and our society. What drives our fascination with the thought of a zombie plague? What can zombies teach us about our responsibilities as citizens (Is it my duty to report myself to the authorities if I know I’m bitten?) and our ethical view of the world (I know that’s not my grandma anymore, so why can’t I shoot her?). In effect, what can we learn about living from the undead?


5. Course: iAm My iPod

University: Dominican University

This course examines the interplay between technology and identity development, particularly in today’s culture. Whether it is the iPod and what your music collection has to say about who you are and what you find meaningful, email, IM, the personal computer, cell phones, video games, or applications like mySpace and Facebook, technology plays an important role in how we define ourselves and how we relate to others. This seminar also looks at the popular culture of various decades, as captured through technological media as well as written sources, and examines the influence these media and writings have exerted on the “collective identity development” of each affected generation.


6. Course: SexyBack: Sex and Text in the US

University: Hobart & William Smith

How do we talk about sex? Why do we talk about it? Why don't we talk about it? How can we account for the attraction and repulsion that sex talk holds for us? Popular culture in the US is frequently described as being saturated with sex. Critics accuse popular media of shamelessly promoting sex, which is assumed to be the cause for a host of social and moral problems. But if sex is a part of who we are and what we do as humans, what makes it so shameful? What are acceptable and unacceptable ways to talk about sex? And what makes them so? These questions drive our inquiry as we attempt to speak about the unspeakable. In this writing-intensive course, we learn to understand better and interpret the complex web of language practices that comprise popular discourse on sex and sexuality. We work from the assumption that sex and sexuality are simultaneously creations of biology, psychology, sociology and perhaps most importantly of language, and we will keep this assumption at the forefront of our inquiry as we uncover the links between bodies, behaviors, attitudes, mores, and language.


7. Course: Hippies to Holy Rollers: the Cults and Communes of Oregon

University: Willamette University

Oregon, like several other states, has a long history of communal groups settling here.  Land was plentiful and cheap and the state’s isolation meant that those groups could live how they pleased, out of the watchful eyes of the rest of society. This class will investigate several well-known Oregon cults/religious groups such as the Holy Rollers, the Rajneeshees, and the Aurora Colony. We will also look at some of Oregon communes and worker cooperatives such as Alpha farm, Breitenbush, and the Lesbian Lands. Some of the questions that will guide us are: What is Utopia and can it be achieved? What is the difference between a commune and a cult? Is brainwashing real? 


8. Course: Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Where Are They

University: University of Georgia

Musing on the possibility of extraterrestrial (ET) intelligence in the vast universe is an interesting experience that most of us have had at least once in our lifetime. Most daydreams on ET do not pass the stage of simple abstraction because of lacking relevant knowledge and information. With this seminar course, students will (1) acquire basic knowledge about requirements for life in the universe; (2) estimate the probability of ET civilizations in our galaxy; (3) predict the success or failure of the on-going SETI program and actively participate in the debate on SETI; (4) understand the Fermi Paradox and possible solutions to the paradox; (5) critically evaluate UFO sightings, government cover-ups, and other similar hoaxes; (6) eventually become much more learned about the subject so that he/she can act as a main intellectual figure in any future ET dialogues they may have in the future. The course will not have exams; however, students are asked to make two presentations (about 4 minutes long each) and to submit 4-5 reports (a half page long each). 


9. Course: "I Listened to that Song before it was Popular:" Historicizing the Hipster 

University: Wake Forest University

This course investigates the history of the hipster in American life. It uses a number of cultural  artifacts in diverse formats – such as film, literature, songs, advertisements, and visual art — to reveal how the many predecessors of the present-day hipster critiqued American mainstream culture during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As we analyze how counterculture critiques shaped U.S. social history, we will collectively assess the tensions in the United States over the composition of American identities. We will garner a greater understanding of the fears and anxieties with American life including the ways in which consumerism and counterculture have combined in our present moment to produce the image of the hipster.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter @CalebBonham