12 unusual, unexpected and interesting classes offered at UNC Charlotte

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I recently graduated from UNC Charlotte, and it’s just now sinking in that I won’t be taking classes next fall. There are some classes I certainly won’t miss (anything in the mathematics department), but whenever I had a spot for an elective, I knew how to pick ‘em.

If your college years are behind you, and the thought of taking classes bores you to tears, think again. Even though I’m not registering, I still scoured the fall 2016 course list to look for some promising classes. Here’s a list of 12 that sound more entertaining than you might expect. 

If you feel like watching movies

Rate My Professor New American Film Maker class

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Zorro: The Legendary Outlaw in History and Popular Film

Because most of next year’s graduating class was born in or before 1994, the name Zorro likely conjures up images on Antonio Banderas and not much else. Professor Dean Hoffman aims to change that. He’s fascinated with the dynamic between crime and legitimate society and how we tend to glorify outlaws. It’s no wonder why he also teaches the next class on the list.

The Mob Cinema of Martin Scorsese

Sure, you’ll probably have to write a few papers, but who can argue with being assigned to watch “Goodfellas” and “The Departed”?

New American Film Makers

For those who aren’t down with the black and white classics or foreign cinema, this class focuses solely on American filmmakers from the ‘80s onward. Take it from someone who has been through this class — Will Davis knows his stuff, and you’ll watch some great movies (“Memento” and “Fargo” are personal favorites). But fair warning, you’ll also likely see some warped, unsettling stuff (Harmony Korine’s “Gummo,” for instance). 

If you’re into challenging gender norms

Rate My Professor Girl to Goddess class

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From Girl to Goddess: Journey of the Heroine

Shannon Bauerle teaches all of the classes in this category. She has a knack for coming up with interesting courses. This particular course covers female protagonists in literature and film, looking for underlying patterns in society.

Disney: Gender, Race and Empire

I’ve noticed some people feel personally offended when you try to point out that Disney movies aren’t always promoting the most progressive ideas. I mean, what’s up with women always needing to be rescued? But according to Bauerle, “Many students come in with an absolute adoration of Disney but they leave the class with a more critical approach to those works and its impact on society.” 

Demented, Demonic, Divine: Possessing the Female

This class explores “how gender influenced ways the body has been used, displaced, and possessed in circumstances like the European Witch Trials, slavery, and certain religious traditions including Vodou/Voodoo and Christianity.” 

I create courses that give students the opportunity to apply feminist theory to different aspects of culture and critically analyze works for themes surrounding gender, religion, race, and class,” says Bauerle. “These types of classes keep the students more personally vested and interested in the subject matter as I require them to expand their worldviews and even go a bit out of their comfort zones.”

If you’re into life’s bigger questions

Rate My Professor Why God Lies

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Religion, Culture, and Dinosaurs

If the success of last summer’s “Jurassic World” is any indication, dinosaurs are still kind of a big deal. This course explores that phenomenon, talking about how dinosaurs in pop culture symbolize “contemporary human issues like religion, science, culture, race, nationalism, sex and gender.” Who knew those giant lizards could be so deep?

Why God Lies: The Deity of the Hebrew Bible

Though it looks controversial at first glance, professor Barbara Thiede makes her case with evidence straight from the source text. “The deity says one thing and does another, changes opinion and intention, puts lying spirits into the mouths of prophets, commands and then retracts the commandment, and makes statements that do not get fulfilled,” says Thiede. “Texts show the deity obfuscating, fibbing, grumbling, mumbling, and bumbling—even, in a couple of cases, seeming to outright lie.”

Religion and Film: Superheroes and Villains

It’s religious studies through the lens of Batman and other comic book characters. Now that sounds like a church I’d actually be willing to wake up on Sunday morning for.

If you’re into politics

Tricky Dick: Richard Nixon, Poker, and Politics

I never knew that Nixon was apparently a darn good card player—probably because I never thought to ask. But I can’t help but be fascinated when professor Martin Harris takes this fact and proceeds to turn his presidential career into the most beautiful poker analogy. The course description describes the Nixon presidency as “a career full of bold gambles and stealthy ‘tricks’ that earned him huge wins before concluding with the failed bluff of Watergate and historic fold when resigning the presidency.” I’m all in.

Big Data Privacy, Ethics & Governance

If you need evidence that UNC Charlotte course curriculums are evolving to keep up with the times, here you go. We’re living in the post-Snowden era, and it shows. Here’s hoping required reading will include stories like the father who found out his daughter was pregnant due to a Target mailer suggesting baby items based on her buying habits.

Rock, Power and Politics: The Influence of Rock Music on Modern American Politics

Any opportunity to slip a little music into a course curriculum is a positive in my book. Just think how many fewer students would know about our country’s legislative process if it weren’t for that bill sittin’ there on Capitol Hill. But Schoolhouse Rock can’t tackle everything, so this class will focus on issues like the civil rights movement, the countercultural movement, the women’s movement, and public response to American foreign policy and military actions.

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