One Year After Woman Gets Masters In The Beatles, We Hunt Down Most Bizarre College Music Courses
A year ago today, Mary-Lu Zahalan-Kennedy of Ontario became the first person in the world to earn a master's degree in The Beatles. I'm not quite sure what she's doing now, but I do know she could probably kick anyone's ass in Beatles trivia.
photo via torontolife.com
This little anniversary of her graduation got me thinking: What kinds of crazy music courses are popping up at colleges and universities across the US? Even with the economy in the shitter and tuition costs rising, students are still lining up to take classes like Philosophy and Star Trek and Zombies in Popular Media. But we'll save those for Art Attack. This is a music blog.
At Texas State, I took Sociology of Popular Music, which was a welcome break between Logic and Calculus, and others were offered like History of the Blues, History of Country Music and History of Mexican American Music in the Southwest. Today, however, I was on the hunt for more unorthodox courses, the super-weird and random ones, and found some real gems. While they probably won't help you get a job (unless you plan on writing scores for video games), they might help you dominate the music categories during Geeks Who Drink.
The Class: Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame
Where: University of South Carolina
The gamecocks love Gaga. According to the course overview, the class "focuses on societal elements in the rise of Lady Gaga's popularity to her global status as a pop music icon. The central objective of this course, then, is to unravel some of the sociologically relevant dimensions of the fame of Lady Gaga." No extra points given for coming to class in
photo via tiptoptens.com an egg a vessel.
The Class: The Textual Appeal of Tupac Shakur
Where: University of Washington
This course "explores the literary-historical influences present in the work of late poet and hip hop artist Tupac Shakur"... and seeks to "situate Tupac's thinking about race, culture, economics and national belonging within a larger historical framework." Instructor Georgia Roberts, who got the idea while teaching a course on hip-hop, said "I wanted to show students there is something to be gained from taking a closer look at why so many people consume a figure like Tupac and why he is important." Students read texts like Sun Tzu's The Art of War, Machiavelli's The Prince, and excerpts from some of Shakespeare's works and the Bible to get a better understanding of Shakur's art and inspiration.
The Class: The Music of Radiohead
Where: Syracuse University
This Summer class is described in the catalog as "an exploration of the music of one of the most influential rock bands of the past decade. In-depth study of Radiohead's music; historical and cultural influences surrounding it." A former student posted, on his personal blog, his experience in the class, complete with notes, audio excerpts from the first day of lecture and his final paper. This sounds like a pretty interesting class, but then, I might be wrong. Ugh. Sorry.
photo via musicroom.it
The Class: Changing Times: The Music and Lyrics of Bob Dylan
Where: Willamette University
Unlike Dylan's lyrics, the lectures are quite clear. Dylan's musical career is examined at length in this writing intensive course on the singer-songwriter, musician and poet. It seeks to "raise pertinent questions about how artists create and what connections exist between an artist's work and the society and times in which s/he lives through reading, careful listening to his music, and engaging in critical reflection on his lyrics."
The Class: Elvis as Anthology
Where: University of Iowa
Elvis lives!...in the English building at the University of Iowa. In this English course, students learn about The King, his music, films, his cultural influence, specifically his relationship to African American history. Professor Peter Nazareth says it's no blow-off course. Students have to write three ten page essays or a final thirty page paper before receiving full credit. I can just imagine all the curled lips and "Thank you, thank you very much" -es that go on in that classroom.