13 July 2006

unusual college courses

unusual college courses

While taking Claire and the dog for a walk, Laurel and I got talking about courses we took in college. It turns out she took some rather unusual courses: "Basic Movement," "Archery & Orienteering," and "Square & Folk Dancing."

The last two helped fulfilled her Physical Education requirements which, in addition to a general course, required an individual activity (archery and orienteering) and a group activity (dancing). Archery sounds kind of cool, but wandering around with a map and compass trying to find a coordinate doesn't really grab me.

"Basic Movement" apparently was a theater course that required wearing a unitard to every class and engaging in various sorts of exercises, such as play fighting and fencing. They also got to make masks.

The unusual courses I took were, well, somewhat less unusual, I suppose.

I took a semester of Anglo-Saxon (or "Old English," the language in which Beowulf was written), which required working through a grammar text and purchasing an Anglo-Saxon dictionary. As a final project I translated three previously untranslated medieval homilies, taken from some photocopies of a manuscript in the Bodelian Library in Oxford.

Later, I took a course in "Proletarian Literature," which involved an array of literature from the end of the 19th century and the first several decades of the 20th century. Much of the literature involved themes of populism, the labor movement, and various kinds of political efforts (socialist, syndicalist, anarchist, etc.), both rural and industrial, ranging from Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio and dos Passos's USA to collections of poetry and advocacy journalism.

I also completed coursework for a Jewish Studies minor. In addition to a couple years of Hebrew, I took classes on Jewish folklore in the Foklore Department, involving significant amounts of Midrash and Kabbalah, and one on medieval Jewish literature, including Maimonides, Judah Ha-Levi, and Judeo-Arabic love poetry from Moorish occupied Spain.

So, what interesting and unusual courses did you take in college as an undergraduate?