Looking for something to study? Try something more unusual
If you thought that learning about zombies at university was somewhat off-beat (see my last post), here are some other academic courses you might consider.
1. The Simpsons and Philosophy. This is taught in a special programme at the University of California, Berkeley. Here’s the course synopsis:
‘The purpose of The Simpsons and Philosophy DeCal is to provide students with a unique introductory look into a number of varied academic areas of interest using The Simpsons as a tool for further understanding. From philosophy to religion, from science to politics, students will explore a number of different world views and how The Simpsons engages in such discourses. By taking this class, students will come to appreciate how The Simpsons can lead to better understanding of, well, pretty much everything.’
2. The Science of Harry Potter. This is offered at Frostburg State University in Maryland, and ‘examines the magical events in J.K. Rowling’s books and explains them through the basic principles of physics.’
3. Philosophy and Star Trek. You can take this at Georgetown University. This course is ‘an introduction to certain topics in metaphysics and epistemology philosophy, centered around major philosophical questions that come up again and again in Star Trek.’
So what should we say about these and other similar programmes? Are they just rubbish? Are they examples of popular culture undermining genuine scholarship? Or are these legitimate examples of academic analysis and critique? In fact, should we study popular culture to understand more about society?