Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Would you take this course?

I have applied to Smith college this year and, while my notification isn't until April, I am still very excited to learn more about a place that I may or may not live in for four years. So, when I went for my interview, I checked out the coursebook. Look at this class that I found that was offered to juniors and seniors in this year's spring semester. Emphasis via italics is mine.
The sack of Rome by Visigoths in CE 410 was an event recieved throughout the Roman world as the end of civilization. In subsequent centuries, the adjective “Gothic” became a “floating signifier,” a term of abuse or praise denoting everything from an exquisite style of high medieval art and architecture to the macabre novels of the 18th and 19th centuries to a contemporary form of youth culture adopting dark, satanic or apocalyptic themes. We will explore Goth’s cultural identity as it was formed in reaction to and emulation of roman values and ideals, and how that identity was transformed through time.
I don't quite know how I feel about this class being offered. Of course, if I had thought to take a picture of the coursebook your worries and mine might be assuaged a little. Why? That damn book was thick enough to beat gophers to death with (if you were planning on beating gophers to death and didn't feel like dirtying your spade, that is!) Why does that matter? Well, it means that the school can afford to offer a vast wealth of classes and, chances are, fewer students would take a class just to fill the credit, especially for one as specific as this. Then, perhaps, you could meet some people actually interested in the subject.



Of course, the implication of the course is that someone, somewhere (meaning the professor of this course) is teaching their students that modern Goth culture is related to Satanism. Now, while there is nothing wrong with Satanism, most Goths and Satanists would agree that the two groups of people are not related, though some individuals might belong to both circles. If the professor were open for discussion and allowed the students a chance to participate and dispel some rumors, that would probably be very excellent. After all, first hand testimony can have a big impact on some people's feelings about certain groups. Not that it will necessarily, but it certainly can.

Personally, I would find the information fascinating and I might not mind playing the class's pet Goth to prod with questions for a little while. However, I might tire of it eventually simply because I want to learn in a college class, not spread my own knowledge. Maybe I'll feel differently when I have a bit of credibility to me (which hopefully becoming a college junior will give me) but I wouldn't hold my breath.

So, gentle reader, would you take this class?


  • Yes, I would.
  • No, I would not.
  • I'd have to think about it

10 comments:

  1. I can't believe that such lies are part of a class :/ It's really sad... Hope at least they're open to change their minds.

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  2. Well, the course description says "dark, satanic OR apocolyptic themes" so I think they might be implying this is ONE way a goth MIGHT embrace 'gothdome'. I'm not agreeing with the wording here, they could have done a better job with that. It seems that might be just one element of the current form "goth" has taken on that they may discuss in the class. It would be a good class for a sociology or anthropology major, someone who can look at different cultures (or here, subcultures) with a very objective eye. I'm curious what department this is taught in? If its anthropology or some sort.... I would take it. It would probably be a lot of fun. And, if the professor wasn't a goth, you could always enlighten them on a few things. ;)

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    1. Maybe they're using "satanism" as a hook to get more students to enter (it does have a certain dark glamour connotation that might attract people, no?) though I agree with you that the wording is misleading. This class is part of their English Language and Literature department.

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  3. It would be an interesting course. I'm not sure if I would take it, because the professor's misconceptions might be set in stone.If you couldn't persuade the professor, then your grades might suffer for not having the "correct" answer. :/

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  4. I would take it. And as the "class Goth" one could speak up and correct any misconceptions that the teacher or other students might have about the subculture.

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    1. That's entirely true, though I wonder if that would become tiresome after a while. I have these nightmarish visions of being treated as the go-to encyclopedia for homework help rather than a peer, classmate, and possibly friend.

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  5. 66,6% of your readers would. That's a sign :p

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    1. Now it's up to about 70%! How interesting.

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  6. ....Interesting...I think...It sounds interesting nonetheless, so I think I'd give it a go...

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  7. I'm in the same boat as a few commenters.
    I'd take it and try to use it as yet another way to win over people with a positive reinforcement of Goth.

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