Last Updated: Oct 30, 2012
Halloween is upon us, and though the only treats your students may be interested in are glowing SAT results and big fat acceptance letters, some of them may still have a certain fascination with trickery–ghosts and goblins and things that go bump in the night. Fortunately, many colleges offer unique and quirky courses on a surprising range of fantastical topics, covering everything from Alfred Hitchcock to zombies.
Whether your students have a layman's interest in the supernatural or are simply looking for something to shake up their course load, here's a sampling of some of the creepy classes you can point them toward to satisfy their ghoulish inclinations.
- Victorian Crime – Bowdoin College
This fall, Bowdoin College is offering a course that investigates "social deviancy and criminal types" of the Victorian era, including an examination of "the period's preoccupation with transgressive behavior and crime." Forget the ghosts and vampires–nothing is creepier than real-life bad guys.
- Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse: Catastrophes & Human Behavior – Michigan State University
True, despite a recent surge in popularity, zombies have yet to be proven an actual, imminent threat to society. But in this course at Michigan State University, the "Zombie Apocalypse" is employed as a metaphor to "learn about the nature, scope, and impact of catastrophic events on individuals, families, societies, civilizations, and the Earth itself." In a fun twist, this class even includes a simulated zombie pandemic in which students must learn to function in "Survivor Groups."
- The Vampire in Literature and Film – Harvard Extension School
At Harvard Extension School, this course on vampires discusses the ways in which the mythical beings have "been a useful metaphor for a whole variety of anxieties that are inherent in the age." Whether your students are fans of Bram Stoker's iconic Dracula or Stephenie Meyer's moody Edward Cullen, a class like this is sure to delight their fang-filled fantasies.
- The Films of Alfred Hitchcock – Colorado College
At Colorado College, students can study the work of Hollywood's master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. The course asks the questions, "What do British period films, voyeurism, extensive staircases, and large flocks of birds have in common? And, more importantly, what do they signify?" More than just a long string of "movie days," classes such as this one force students to think critically about what they are watching and, in this case, about how how and why the filmmaker preys on the viewer's psyche.
- The Salem Witch Trials – West Virginia University
Last fall, this Honors course at West Virginia University examined the facts of the Salem witch trials "and how the interpretation has changed based upon the time in which the interpreter lived." Reviewing both scholarly and cultural interpretations of the trials, this class and others like it give students a healthy dose of hocus pocus and some insights into the dangers of groupthink.
- Vampires, Miracles, Ghosts, and God(s): The Supernatural in American Popular Culture – Connecticut College
This Religious Studies course at Connecticut College investigates "how Americans use supernatural and religious beings, events, symbols, and ideas to think about complex issues and identities." A practical analysis of how and why humans believe in the seemingly unbelievable, this is yet another type of class that demands critical thinking while allowing students to explore the allure of the supernatural.
- Biomedical and Forensic Photography specialization – Barry University
For a more hands-on hair-raising experience, students at Barry University can specialize in biomedical and forensic photography. This specialization is for "students with a combined interest in photography, biology, and criminal justice," and it includes a six-month internship at the medical examiner's office in Miami-Dade County (which, ironically, is notable for its role as the backdrop for the dark vigilante drama Dexter).
- Literature of the Supernatural – Pitzer College
This spine-chilling course at Pitzer College seems to have been designed specifically for students who spent their childhood staying up past their bedtime and reading ghost stories by flashlight. The class examines "some of the most famous and eerie specters stalking the pages of literature" and explores "the strange pleasures of feeling afraid and...questions about the presence of the past into the present." After a few nights spent in the company of these twisted tomes, even those with nerves of steel would be hard-pressed to sleep with the lights off.
Creepy classes are one thing. For a truly haunting experience, check out this rundown of Scary Schools where your students can entertain themselves with legendary tales of the supernatural on campus.