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Courses to spice up your fall schedule - The Pitt News

The Pitt News

Courses to spice up your fall schedule

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(TPN file illustration)

(TPN file illustration)

(TPN file illustration)

By Maggie Durwald, Opinions Editor

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Classes are tough and scheduling can be a nightmare — once in a while, it’s best to take a course that will distract you from the rest of your boring schedule. Whether you’re still looking for a course to fulfill a gen-ed requirement or decided you need to tweak your schedule so you can get out of that 8 a.m. lecture, here’s a list of 10 quirky, interesting courses offered this fall semester.

Russian Fairy Tales

A highly popular class, Russian Fairy Tales examines works of this genre as a way of exploring Russian tradition and thought. The course uses different approaches in analyzing the tales, such as psychoanalysis, Marxism, sociology, structuralism and feminism. It’s a good choice for those looking for a refreshing twist on literary analysis — understanding the Cyrillic alphabet is not necessary.

Enjoy Performances

If you’re interested in concerts, sports, video games, religious proceedings and more — or if you just like to be entertained — you should consider getting on the waitlist for this course. It fulfills an arts gen ed requirement and explores aspects of the human brain, history, culture and body that want to be entertained. This course might be a good way to find out why you can’t stop watching Netflix.

Harry Potter: Blood, Power, Culture

Professor McGonagall may not teach this class, but it’s definitely still worth enrollment. Another popular offering, the Harry Potter class examines the characters, story arc and world construction of J.K. Rowling’s popular children’s fantasy series through the lenses of culture and universal experience. It studies race, gender, politics, love, death, heroism and many more themes found throughout the books. The course also examines the social and political activism the series ignited and the plethora of fan fiction and social media hubbub that has taken off following their publication.

Magic, Witchcraft, and the Supernatural Body

In the same vein, this course discusses questions of magical possibility, focusing on examples from India, Tibet and China. It asks questions that explore human experience and what is possible or impossible — can we live forever? Can we travel through time? Can we talk to animals? It’s a bit more heavy-handed than Harry Potter, but those who enjoy such tough topics can fulfill cross-cultural awareness and social science gen eds with this course.

Brazil

Many students don’t get the opportunity to learn about Brazil, despite it being the largest country in South America and the world’s third-largest democracy. Rather than continue in ignorance, you could learn all about its history, culture, politics and other factors that will allow it to play an important role in the 21st century — and maybe fulfill a cross-cultural awareness, historical analysis or specific geographic region gen ed while you’re at it.

Household Archaeology

A unique course offered by the Department of Anthropology, Household Archaeology covers the definition of a household and the diverse organization of households across cultures. It also discusses the relationship between the household and society. If you currently or previously lived in a household of any kind, or if this just interests you, you’d better rush to sign up this fall — the class is only offered every two years.

Galactic and Extragalactic Astronomy

If astronomy is more your thing, take this course and learn about our own galaxy, the Milky Way, as well as other galaxies and how they’re formed. You’ll also learn about their relation to supermassive black holes — if that sounds heavenly, sign up!

Death and Healthcare Professions

This class deals with America’s denial of death as reality in many sectors of society and the economy. It explores the way Americans think of dying as compared to citizens of other cultures around the world and makes connections to the field of healthcare and others. It could be a good class if you’re looking to have an existential crisis about your own mortality.

Introduction to French-Speaking Canada

Many French classes focus exclusively on the history, language and culture of France. This class covers all of these topics as they pertain to the oft-forgotten province of Quebec and other French-speaking portions of Canada. It’s open to first-years at all levels of French proficiency and includes a weekend excursion to Montreal. Ooh la la!

American Childhoods Since 1865

Reconnect with your inner child (or your great-great-grandparents’ inner children) as you study changes in the way Americans have experienced childhood from the end of the Civil War to present day. This class explores race, gender, class and sexuality as factors that influence youth and also explains how government, medicine and education have forced various ideals of childhood. Unfortunately, this class doesn’t cover how to play classic children’s games of the 1800s, like marbles or jacks.

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Courses to spice up your fall schedule