MU offers unconventional classes

Classes about wizards and rappers give students a new look on their favorite topics.

Students constructing their schedules can include unconventional elective courses, which may both satisfy credit requirements and interest them.

Religious Studies 2240: Harry Potter, Magic and Religion

This course goes deeper inside the world of everyone’s favorite boy wizard, taking an analytical look at the books we all remember consuming in mass quantities a decade ago.

Professor Signe Cohen, a self-proclaimed Ravenclaw, has taught the class for five years.

“I think students are interested in the class because they are always thinking about and analyzing things going on in popular culture, and this class offers them an opportunity to go deeper than your average superficial chat,” Cohen said.

The students are instructed to read each of the seven books over the course of the semester, to fuel in-class discussion about the way the magic in the books ties to topics such as religion and mythology. Cohen said references to Greek, Nordic and Celtic mythology as well as Biblical parallels are discussed.

English 2169: Jay-Z and Kanye West

Another unusual class is focused on the analysis of a different facet of pop culture: the music of icons Kanye West and Jay-Z.

Technically an English course, this class swaps out the novels, poems and essays for the lyrics of the two artists’ songs.

Professor Andrew Hoberek has taught the class for two semesters and lists his favorite Kanye West song as “All Falls Down” and his favorite Jay-Z track as “Dirt off Your Shoulder.”

“Students that take the class tend to come in already being interested in the subject, which makes it easier for them to really connect with the material,” Hoberek said. “Even if they are normally reluctant to participate in class discussions, here they would be more inclined because they already have the knowledge.”

Class normally consists of students listening to the artists’ songs or watching their music videos and then discussing meanings and themes as interpreted.

Peace Studies 1150/Rural Sociology 1150: The Amish Community

Students in this class study the culture of one of the longest-standing populations in the U.S.

This course is a verified credit-buster, covering behavioral studies, humanities and writing intensive requirements.

Professor Caroline Brock said she finds herself teaching students from two different spectrums.

“The class is composed of students who both come from Missouri that are exposed to the Amish firsthand in their small towns, and also urban students who have seen the reality shows and media coverage on the culture that has exploded in recent years,” Brock said.

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