Eccentric electives

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Photo credit: Jian Bautista

In need of some electives but don’t want to stress over intense coursework? In the past, UAA has offered unique selected topic courses in multiple subjects, such as a J.K. Rowling English course, Disney and history of animation history course and a cheese and wine pairing culinary course, all of which can count as required elective credits.

For the upcoming spring semester, there are more unusual, yet fun, selected topic courses offered to start 2018 on a good foot.

English major, Antionette Street, has completed several selected topic courses in the past. Street has completed a few English selected topics courses, where she studied Shakespeare and pop culture, J.R.R. Tolkien and language and gender. In addition, Street has also completed a cheese and wine pairing class, offered through the culinary department, and an honors class titled “Saving the World with Ishmael.”

Street encourages students to try classes they normally would not think of enrolling in.

“Do it. You have the first two weeks to decide if you’re going to stay in the class… If you’re in college for the long haul, have fun. You need to have something to break up the monotony of taking labor-intensive classes,” Street said.

Cheese and wine pairing will be offered again this semester, looking into the history and culture of different cheeses and wines. Students must be 21 or older by the start of class to enroll. Another tasty selected topic course offered in the culinary arts department is one which will dive into the world of preparing Indian cuisine. Both courses are listed as separate sections of CA 490.

In the English department, ENGL 429, major authors course, will study the works of Jennifer Egan and Jonathan Lethem, both contemporary writers who have published several books individually.

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David Stevenson, who has taught another major authors course on Don Delillo previously, will teach next semester’s Egan and Lethem course.

“We’re all trying to choose work that we think is important and that students are going to like. Both of these writers both really change it up in their works ? they try to do something different in their books,” Stevenson said. “What I hope for is [engagement] in the act of reading and [to] show them writers they might not have known before.”

Stevenson’s class will be a reading and discussion course through exploring Egan and Lethem’s work. His class still has room for more students, with 17 spots open as of publication.

The Honors College will offer the selected topic course “Why People Believe Weird Things” under HNRS 292. The class will discuss some popular superstitions and what make humans still believe in them. An anthropology class, ANTH 490, “Drugs and Culture” will discuss widespread and culture-bound drugs and its cultural contexts. Both classes still have spots open.

For movie and history buffs, the “Great American Western” history course will be offered, HIST 244, taught by Ronald Crawford on the Eagle River campus.

Crawford’s class is what he calls a “survey of films.” He shows multiple films throughout the semester that relate the subject of the course and discusses the history behind it. For next semester’s course, his class will look at western films from “The Lone Ranger” to “The Revenant.”

Crawford has covered a wide range of history topic courses in the past that study films, including genres from Disney, Alfred Hitchcock and comedy. Crawford is currently wrapping up this semester’s science-fiction course. He has not taught the Great American Western class in around ten years.

“We’re going to go back to when Hollywood started and why westerns were popular back then, how they developed, who the major stars and directors were, plots and stories, and even television westerns. We’re also going to look at how they create a myth about the American West. Is it really history? Probably not, but it’s what people around the world are seeing,” Crawford said.

There are still plenty of spots open in Crawford’s class, as of publication.

Selected topic courses are a great way to learn more about a certain topic that may not be discussed in detail in other standard classes, nor would be considered conventional to students.

“I’m graduating soon and with all the classes I’ve taken, I’ve had a really beneficial education. [These classes] may seem non-standard or not traditional, but they build skills in you,” Street said.

Registration is ongoing until the add-drop deadline in late January.