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And you thought Brandeis courses were weird…

By John Krisch

Section: News

January 19, 2007

When you told your parents that you were taking Keeping Stress in Check, DDR, and Conspiracy Theory in American Culture, your parents were probably not too pleased. Brandeis is a liberal insitution – with a wide range of academic subjects, exploring a wide range of issues from a wide range of angles.

Yet, you can tell them that at least you are not taking some of these courses. They are rated “America's Most Bizarre and Politically Correct College Courses” or more commonly refered to as The Dirty Dozen, by the Young America's Foundation. Here are some of the courses cited:

1) The Phallus – Occidental College. The syllabus states the following: “A survey of theories of the phallus from Freud and Lacan through feminist and queer takings-on of the phallus. Topics include the relation between the phallus and the penis, the meaning of the phallus, phallologocentrism, the lesbian phallus, the Jewish phallus, the Latino phallus, and the relation of the phallus and fetishism.”

4) Adultery Novel – University of Pennsylvania. The syllabus states that: “The course examines a series of 19C and 20C novels (and a few short stories) about adultery, film adaptations of several of these novels, and several adultery films in their own right. Students will apply various critical approaches in order to place adultery into its aesthetic, social and cultural context, including: sociological descriptions of modernity, Marxist examinations of family as a social and economic institution, Freudian/ Psychoanalytic interpretations of family life and transgressive sexuality, and Feminist work on the construction of gender.”

Other notable courses included Johns Hopkins University's Mail Order Brides: Understanding the Phillipines in Southeast Asian Context, Cornell University's Cyberfeminism, and Swarthmore College's Nonviolent Responses to Terrorism. An honorable mentions was bestowed to Cornell University's Sex, Rugs, Salt & Coal course, which asks the questions “Why are “oriental” rugs collector's items? How did we come to keep salt shakers on our dinner tables?” and “Is prostitution really “the oldest profession?”

Brandeis did not make the top twelve, but there is always next year. Occidental College took the title, placing twice in the top twelve.

The University of Sioux Falls' dating course, “Finding dates worth keeping,” did not make the list, because USF is beginning this course in February. According to the Associated Press, the class will discuss “infatuation and when it's best to break up.”

“Some people may think it's a slack course, but I think they'll come out with something that changes their lives,” instructor Laurie Chaplin said. Chaplin is a licensed therapist and a relationships counselor.

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