Jay-Z has conquered the worlds of music, business, fashion and professional sports. He’s married to Beyonce. He’s about to become a father.
What’s next? Academia.
No, he’s not a professor (yet), but Georgetown University is offering a course this fall called “The Sociology of Hip Hop: Jay-Z.” Taught by author Michael Eric Dyson, the course has a unit on “Hustling Hermeneutics,” according to an article in The Nation. Its 9:30 a.m. start time hasn’t stopped it from garnering 140 students, three times as many students as the typical seminar gets.
As different as the hip-hop and academic worlds may seem, the article adds there are more than 300 hip-hop classes in the U.S., and NYU launched a Hip Hop and Pedagogy Initiative in 2007.
It’s not the only quirky and/or pop-culture-related college course. Here are a few others.
Lady Gaga and the Sociology of The Fame, University of South Carolina
Despite the name — and its hip play on the title of Gaga’s 2008 album “The Fame” — the course may disappoint Gaga fans who want to deepen their obsession while getting college credit. “This is not a course in Lady Gaga but in sociology,” the course overview says, before reiterating, “and it is not a course about Lady Gaga as much as about the culture of the fame as exemplified by the career of Lady Gaga.” There will be “no music or videos.” Sorry, monsters.
Theory and History of Videogames, Swarthmore College
As with Lady Gaga above, many students may find this to be a bait and switch. Swarthmore’s course catalog says the course’s readings and lectures “emphasize multiple methodologies” including anthropology, psychology and “ludology” (the study of games). Fun is not emphasized and is alluded to only in the equivocal and non-committal closer “some opportunities for design and play may be involved.”
Joy of Garbage, Santa Clara University
After grabbing prospective students’ attention with the jarring title, this course is revealed to be a serious look at a key piece of the environmental puzzle: trash. According to its online description, the course “will explore the fates of organic and non-organic detritus, and search for sustainable solutions to waste problems.”
The Mathematics of Infinity from Small to Super-Large, Maharishi University of Management
Maharishi University of Management, in Fairfield, Iowa, was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the giggling guru famous for hosting the Beatles at his ashram in 1968 and for founding Transcendental Meditation. This course may be the first to appeal equally to math geeks and stoners alike, providing “a gentle introduction to the modern history of mathematical infinity through the theory of large cardinals (infinities so large they can’t be proven to exist).” Whoa.
Sleep and Dreams, Stanford University
Taught by one Dr. Dement, this course, a.k.a. Psychology 235, is a Stanford institution in its 41st year. According to the Stanford website, the course addresses “sleep need,” “sleep debt,” sleep disorders and lucid dreaming — and how they affect individuals and society. It also examines “the impact of sleep deprivation … on academic and social life” — a focus possibly related to the fact that “students are encouraged to nap in lecture!” according to past student Shawn Lipinski, 32, of Charlottesville, Va.