5 unique courses for spring semester [Part 1]

With spring registration on the horizon, choosing the right class to satisfy a requirement or complete your schedule can be tough. For the next two weeks, Connect2Mason will be providing brief lists of interesting courses to help round out your schedule.

1) Appalachian Folklore (English 415/591)

This course will examine the creation of American folk culture from the perspective of both the elite groups who romanticize it and the legitimate body of tradition that makes up the Appalachian way of life. Students will address questions such as how the popular image of Appalachia in film, literature, and political rhetoric have supported the domination of this culture, how the popular perception of the region compares to its actual culture, and how the belief in a romanticized Appalachia has affected the region’s use of natural resources. 

This course also includes an optional field study in a small West Virginia town where students will observe local customs, conduct ethnographic interviews, and participate in local events. The field study is worth one credit, and students must be registered for English 415/591 to be eligible to participate.

2) Global Networked Youth Culture (Sociology 395, 004)

Today’s youth live in a world of networking and communication unprecedented in human history. This course will introduce the study of digital youth culture, with an emphasis on the “globalizing forces at work as young people engage and consume new media and technology.”  Students will also examine how the Internet has changed the role of youth activists in a political context through social networking and media and how youth utilize these communicative innovations to “negotiate a range of global forces, technological innovations, varied cultural and market contexts, and changing national circumstances.”

3) Lying About the Past: Hoaxes, Plagiarism, and Falsifying History (History 389, 009)   

Throughout history, hoaxes and falsifications have fooled people into believing things that did not actually happen. In this course, students will examine famous historical hoaxes and the people who created them, as well as why they succeeded or failed. Students will also contemplate plagiarism, and the effect it has had on the understanding of history. Halfway through the semester, however, the course will shift its focus and members of the class will work together to create their own historical hoax, which will be spread through the population at the end of the semester to see if anyone is actually fooled.    

4) Religion, Fantasy, and Imagination (Religion 330, 001)

Much of modern fantasy is based on concepts and mythology found in various religions. This course will examine selected works from various authors, including C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and J.K. Rowling and how they explore concepts such as redemption and salvation, conflict between good and evil, the supernatural, and the inhabitants of parallel universes.

5) Special Topics in Philosophy: Philosophy of Film (Philosophy 391-001)

The medium of film has played a major role in artistic and literary expression since its beginnings a century ago. In this course, students will examine the philosophical aspects of film, from the medium’s beginnings with the controversial Birth of a Nation, through various technological advancements such as the advent of talking pictures and later, color. Students will investigate how each of these advancements further complicates the understanding of information that can be portrayed by a filmmaker. This course will not look at films intentionally presenting a philosophical argument, choosing instead to focus how philosophy emerges from within the narrative and filmmaking techniques.


photo by Chicago Art Department via Creative Commons license

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