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Outrageous Offerings: Top Five Worst Classes of Spring 2013 Semester

Perusing class schedules at universities across the nation illustrates that legitimate courses of study can be found among the hallowed halls of higher education, but there’s plenty of fringe, questionable, biased or pointless classes peppered throughout. Here’s a look at some of the most extreme examples of that from this spring’s course catalogs:

Sibling Sex

University of Missouri: Sibling Incest in Theory and Literature

This women’s studies/humanities class delves into “the positioning of the incest taboo at the border of nature and culture, or science and the humanities,” its course description states. It will “consider the way incest functions to establish or to upset identity in the context of national, religious, racial, and familial structures.” Underscoring that, it will “examine the deployment of erotic desire, love, and sympathy as political, economic, and textual strategies, and analyze the gender dynamics involved in such deployment.” Bottom line: it’s a ridiculous compilation of academic gobbledygook that ultimately seeks to defend and normalize incest as commonplace and acceptable.

Communist Manifesto

Harvard University: Aesthetics, Erotics, and Ethics

Ever wonder what universities teach tomorrow’s church leaders? Look no further than Harvard University’s divinity school, which offers its studentsAesthetics, Erotics, and Ethics.” The class starts with a study of two Marxist philosophers who argued religion has been replaced with the love of art and sexuality. Additional philosophers who believed similarly to Karl Marx are slated to be extolled in the class. So Marx, an atheist who called religion an “opium of the people” and whose writings led to the foundation of most of the modern world’s heartless communist regimes, is held up by Harvard Divinity School as a role model? Sounds about right. Meanwhile, the class in question will “pay particular attention to the ways religion, or its absence, has shaped aesthetic and erotic experiences in modernity and beyond.” Short answer: moral absolutes are out the window and relativity reigns.

Halloween 101

Columbia University: Magic, Witchcraft and Modernity

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this course, according to its description, is its “journey through uncanny convergences and apparitional events that are at once sensual, yet ghostly.” Sensual yet ghostly? Come again? Shaking that off for the moment, the class also investigates magic, witchcraft and spirit mediums “in the shadow of technology, industry, and rational science” as well as “case studies on witchcraft, spirit possession, shamanism, and other forms of magic as healing.” This is what passes for an anthropology class nowadays. Parents duly warned.

Books and Environmentalism, Hollywood Style

University of Arkansas at Little Rock: Film as Literature

Does the idea of students learning about literature and the environment from Hollywood movies strike anyone else as a very bad idea? Enter “Film as Literature,” which aims “to bring a different take to contemporary film by studying them from an environmentalist perspective,” according to an article in the school’s campus newspaper. “For a long time I’ve been wanting to teach a class about environmental disaster cinema, ranging from trashy 1950s movies about nuclear fallout to more recent climate-change movies like ‘The Day After Tomorrow,’ ” the class instructor told The Forum student newspaper. “I’m planning to teach it as Environmental Film Genres, and get in some of those films.” Tuition payments subsidized by tax dollars hard at work, folks.

Mommy Porn

American University: 50 Shades Trilogy

Rough sex? Check. Bondage? Check. Riding crop, handcuffs and silver balls? Check, check and check. American University’s contemporary American culture course will focus on the best-selling soft porn phenomenon “50 Shades of Grey,” a gripping three-book series, no less. Those who wonder why people increasingly view college as worthless need look no further.

Which course do you think is the worst? Cast your vote in the comment section below!


Jennifer Kabbany is Assistant Editor of The College Fix.

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IMAGE: Cellar Door Films/Flickr


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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.