Spring 2011 course title superlatives: the intriguing, the entertaining and the plain old douchey

Pre-registration can be stressful (who wants to get up that early?) but it can also be entertaining. If you can’t get into your favorite classes, you can at least make fun of their names, right?

Sometimes we wonder how professors come up with course titles. Can’t you just see them at their desks, thumb-twiddling and thinking, “This may not be the most straightforward or descriptive, but at least it’s the [insert superlative here; read on for examples].”

Most alliterative
ANTH1540: “Power, Profit, and Pillage: The Rise and Fall of Trading Kingdoms in Asia”
AFRI1020D: “Race, Rights, Rebellion”
AFRI0760B: “Raggae, Rastafari and Revolution”

Most ambitious
PHIL0990T: “Paradox and Infinity”
HIST0971A: “The Holy Grail and the Historian’s Quest for the Truth”

Hardest to convince parents to spend tuition on (AKA most fun)
CLAS1750L: “Erotic Desire in the Premodern Mediterranean”
VISA1800Q: “Experimental Musical Instrument Design”

Most Brown-Stereotypical
EDUC1430: “The Psychology of Race, Class, and Gender”
MCM0901A: “Unruly Crossings: Queerness, Race and Globalization”

Most potentially biased against Harvard
HIST0940A/EDUC0850: “History of Intercollegiate Athletics”

Most strikingly identical twins
CLPS1800: “Language Processing” and CLPS1389: “Topics in Language Processing”
CLPS1820: “Language and the Brain” and CLPS0800 “Language and the Mind” *
*unless you’re a Cartesian dualist

Most strikingly identical triplets!
SOC0010: “Perspectives on Society,” SOC2090: “Culture and Social Structure” and SOC2270: “The Structures of Social Inequality” *
*A total of 32 Spring 2011 courses have the word “culture” in their names; 11 use “society.”

Most nightmare-inducing
AMCV1611M: “Trauma and the Shame of the Unspeakable: The Holocaust, Slavery, and Childhood Sexual Abuse”
LITR1150W: “Clown Aesthetics”

Most reminiscent of a “Magic School Bus” video
PHYS0120: “Adventures in Nanoworld”

Most meta
CLPS1590: “Visualizing Vision”

Most self-referential
ETHN1990H: “What is Ethnic Studies?”

Most epic
ENGL0200Z: “Utterable Failures: Unworkability in Modern and Postmodern Writing”

Most oddly specific
AFRI1020C: “The Afro-Luso-Brazilian Triangle”

ARCH1770: “Grave Matters: The Archaeology of Death, Decay, and Discovery”

Most repetitiously repetitive and repeating; most morbid
MUSC1660: “Death and Dying”

Worst influence on students
ENGL0600L: “The Simple Art of Murder”
ENGL1760V: “Lying, Cheating, and Stealing”

Most jarring, superfluous household metaphors
ENGL0201A: “Dirty Laundry: Privacy, Paranoia, and Performance in 20th-Century American Fiction”
ENGL1180M: “Special Delivery: Letters and Diaries”

Most unwarranted use of quotation marks without actually quoting anyone
COLT1812H: ” ‘Women’s Literary Make-up’: Mirrors, Maquillage and the Tenth Muse” *
*See more such superfluities at the “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks

Most … huh?
PHIL0010: “The Place of Persons”
ENGL0200W: “Wolf Like Me: Retroviral Anxiety in American Literature”
VISA1800A: “Accessorizing Painting: The Exalted Surface”
MUSC0650: “Javanese Gamelan”

Please note that this post is not devaluing these courses in any way. Happy pre-registration!

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