For the first time ever, I will admit that my title might be a tad hyperbolic. I just graduated from college and although I miss it deeply, almost nothing could convince me to go back at the moment. I think the best argument that could be made would be to take some awesomely geeky classes that I wouldn't mind doing the homework for.
So here's a list of just the few of many college courses offered to feed your fandom's academic side.
British Culture and Harry Potter - CSU San Marcos
If you grew up fascinated by the magical world of Harry Potter, this program is for you! Through a combination of travel, experiential learning and academic investigation, this course will explore the locations that inspired the Harry Potter novels and films.
Traveling around the UK and seeing the Harry Potter sites? Yes! Although the program is offered to students from other schools, and even non-students, I feel like I couldn't take three weeks off work and drop $4,900 on academic credits I don't need without getting in trouble. Wait can I? *checks with boss* No, no I can't.
But if anyone else can, they're still accepting applications for the summer 2015 program.
Philosophy and Star Trek - Georgetown University
Star Trek is very philosophical. What better way, then, to do philosophy, but to watch Star Trek, read philosophy and hash it all out in class (and on Blackboard)? That’s the plan. This course will center on topics in metaphysics that come up again and again in Star Trek. In conjunction with watching Star Trek, we will read excerpts from the writings of great philosophers, extract key concepts and arguments and then analyze those arguments.
I could get very into this. I'm not even a huge Trekkie but my love of science fiction and socratic seminars might make this a top contender for my "favorite college courses I'll always regret not taking" list.
110 Biology of Jurassic Park - Hood College
Even though they are extinct, dinosaurs can serve as models to understand many biologi- cal principles, including patterns of biodiversity, evolution, extinction, community ecology, homeostasis and behavior. To understand these principles, we will answer questions such as: How many species of dinosaurs were there? Are birds really dinosaurs? Did dinosaurs show parental care? Were dinosaurs “warm-blooded” or “cold-blooded?”
Alright, this one seems like a trap. They lure you in with the promise of all the awesomeness of Jurassic Park and then BAM! Science. Science-d right in the face.
Elvish, the Language of Lord of the Rings - University of Wisconsin
For those interested in chatting it up with Legolas and Thranduil, look no further than this course taught by the leading expert in Sindarin (the official term for elvish)
I imagine that this would cover most colleges' language requirements. I'm not saying that Tolkien's fictional language is more useful than an actual language. But I am saying that I would probably use it just as much, if not more.
Exploring Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Portland State University
Over seven years ago, after 144 episodes, Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended its run on television. The show started out with a group of high school outsiders fighting monsters every week and by the end they had saved the world. However, Buffy wasn’t just about fighting monsters. Critics and academics have praised and argued about the show’s feminist stance, political views, production, and the real life metaphors behind the monsters. In this class we will examine these aspects of Buffy along with its pop culture significance, the role of fans, comparative monster literature, and some television history.
I. Love. Buffy. Not only would I totally ace this course, but I could probably teach it. You can expect my application for a tenured position any day now, Portland State University.
Star Wars: A Complete Saga? - University of N. Carolina, Wilmington
...This course focuses on examining Star Wars as a mythological saga as well as a cultural phenomenon. Keeping the course title in mind, we will read literature that supplements the events of the films and even continues the story beyond episode VI, The Return of the Jedi, and consider whether there is need or room for another Star Wars film. We will also consider if the “prequels” completed the saga in such a way that someone who has never seen any of the films, could, in fact, sit down and watch the films in the chronological order of the Star Wars universe (from episode I, The Phantom Menace, to episode VI, The Return of the Jedi), instead of watching them in the chronological order of the releases (IV – VI first, then I – III). Finally, we will also consider our course title from the viewpoint of cultural studies, studying various materials discussing and analyzing Star Wars and its legacy to film-making, the entertainment industry, and contemporary global culture.
I can think of a couple people off the top of my head that need to take this course. Not because they don't understand the Star Wars saga, but because they need a legitimate reason to write a really long research paper on their current stance on the subject.
Media Genres: Media Marvels - University of Baltimore
A new University of Baltimore course, to be offered in the 2015 spring semester, will scrutinize the intricately plotted world of Marvel films—the Iron Man, Thor and Captain America series, characters from the Avengers, and now The Guardians of the Galaxy movie, which is widely expected to be the highest grossing film of 2014. The course, "Media Genres: Media Marvels," will examine how Marvel's series of interconnected films and television shows, plus related media and comic book sources and Joseph Campbell's monomyth of the "hero's journey," offer important insights into modern culture. The course is believed to be the first of its kind in the country.
This course may be the first of its kind in the country, but I certainly hope that it's not the last. What a cool idea! What better way to captivate the minds of young students than to tie in a cultural phenomenon like the MCU?
Philosophy in The Twilight Zone - Indiana State University
This course will examine process of ethical decision making through reflection and discussion of philosophical dilemmas presented on the Twilight Zone television show. Ethics is not merely what is good or what bad, virtue and vice, but often requires decisions of the greater good or lesser evil. The course will introduce students to great thinkers in the field of moral philosophy and explore topics such as honesty, loyalty, love, and faithfulness, as well as narcissism, prejudice, and vanity.
This course is clearly for the very deep students. And also like the edgy, cool deep students. You know the ones who are like, "Hey, let's go see a movie." Then they somehow wrangle you into a foreign documentary film festival when you really just wanted to see the new Hunger Games.
Understanding the Whedonesque – Emerson College
This course will use the career of Joss Whedon to introduce students to the variety of positions in the entertainment industry and their potential for fulfilling and creative work. Whedon’s career spans the many production lines in the American Dream Factory: TV series staff writer, script doctor, film screenwriter, TV creator in a wide variety of genres, Internet series creator, comic book writer and creator, niche genre film director, and blockbuster filmmaker. By examining his work at various stages, students will better understand auteur theory, modern industrial entertainment production, and artistic production across media.
Yes! Let's talk more about the total enigma that is Joss Whedon. How does he create all of these amazing worlds through so many mediums? Who has the time? That really is something that I'd be interested in learning.
Sherlock, James, Harry: Transmedia Characters - UPenn
[This course] will examine the texts and contexts surrounding three icons of British masculinity: Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, and Harry Potter. While each of these figures was born in text, all three rapidly went "transmedia," appearing in on stage, and in magazines, movies, television, comics, video games, theme parks, and across the internet. Each also has the ability to conjure up an entire literary, historical, and cultural milieu: Victorian London, Europe during the Cold War, and the Great Britain of New Labour. We will study various theories of adaptation as we follow these characters' transmedia adventures; we will consider them as astonishingly successful representations of masculinity and nation that have been exported around the world. Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, and Harry Potter are characters that millions of people have become invested in, and through them, we can examine what kind of stories become meaningful and powerful at particular moments—and why.
Again, a really fascinating topic. The prevalence of these characters is something we've all noticed, I'm sure. But the reason behind it is still pretty unclear. What is it about Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, and Harry Potter that makes them able to transcend their genres, mediums, and time periods? Please, someone take this course and let me know.
Sadly, some of these classes are no longer offered (which is a damn travesty if you ask me), but I figure the Moviepilot community of writers and readers is pretty well-versed in all things fandom. I might go as far as to call some of you guys experts!
If we wanted to, we could probably teach a fair amount of these classes. Anyone want to launch a Kickstarter campaign for MPU (Moviepilot University)? I volunteer to be the Dean, the President, and the mascot. That classic higher education triple threat. Let's get cracking, guys. We're going back to school.