Via Inside Higher Ed, the Boston Globe says that faculty at local colleges and universities are sexing up their course titles. So, at Boston College, “German Literature of the High Middle Ages” becomes “Knights, Castles, and Dragons,” Middlebury College’s Economics Department now offers “Economics of Sin,” and at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst one can enroll in “The Light Fantastic: Wonders of Biology Under the Microscope.” Why the outburst of creativity this year?
“The dean’s office monitors enrollment, and humanities tend to suffer,’’ said Nicolas de Warren, philosophy professor at Wellesley College who is coteaching The Stars and the Sages: Philosophy and the Cosmos. “With such a rich offering of courses, there’s a kind of competition, and titles that speak immediately to students can make a difference.’’
Those of us who teach at large, allegedly “public” universities probably don’t have a problem with getting the butts in the seats this year–my classes remain mysteriously full of apparently attentive students, for some reason, although I’m doing everything in my power to drive them away. But, let’s have some fun, shall we? In the comments below, list a class you have taught or have taken as a student, and come up with a more enticing name for it. Pretty much all of my classes can be called “Sex and Violence in Early America,” or “Captivity, Rape and Concubinage,” which are indeed interesting–and incredibly depressing–topics. (Still, my students wouldn’t believe how my field has changed in the past 20 years, since the cultural studies revolution. They would probably roll over and die if they had to read the same cliometrically-driven charts-and-graphs filled articles on the hard-core social and economic history of colonial America that I had to read in college in the 1980s!)
Although summer is unofficially over now, and we have to put away our white shoes and purses, give it your best shot! Rename your course here!