NPR On Weird College Courses

, Deborah Lambert, Leave a comment

Even National Public Radio (NPR) occasionally realizes that some college courses are straight from la-la land.

A recent report from the Protojournalist mentions an unusual offering in the area of Mythology and Folklore at Harvard called Maledicta, which is described as “an academic exploration of ritualized verbal abuse,” according to a report in the Protojournalist.

Students taking this class apparently examine “international traditions of vituperation and cursing in their folkloristic, historical and sociological settings.” Not only that, “they learn about practices including Turkish verbal duels, Scottish flyting and African-American “dozens.”

Rutgers University also proves it is no slouch in the arena of the unusual, by offering a course in the Women’s and Gender Studies department called Politicizing Beyonce.” Lecturer Ken Allred says he created the course because he believes that Beyonce is not only attempting to create a grand narrative around her persona,” but she is also an “agent of social change.”

And what about “The History of Surfing,” offered by the University of North Carolina, Wilmington? History Department chairman Paul Townend defends the academic worthiness of the course, saying that “there are very rich themes: the non-Western history of surfing as a practice, the transmittal of the practice to America and the West, the connections to American counterculture, the commodification of surfing over time.”

In conclusion, Townend says the course is “a gateway for getting students to see how historians think, study about culture, cultural interactions and exchanges, and change over time. They get a good exposure to a range of different sources — oral histories, films, and objects as well as more traditional written sources.”