Photo by Stacey Axler
Thanks to some unusual course offerings introduced to students this semester, Hood is making a national name for itself.
The college recently made the list of “22 Fascinating and Bizarre College Classes Offered This Semester,” in an online article picked up by CNN.com. Hood was listed as #13 with “Biology of Jurassic Park,” but that is not the only offbeat course offered here.
“A Zombie History of theU.S.,” a course taught by Dr. Jay Driskell, assistant professor of history, was offered for the first time this semester and has created a buzz among students. While the class does capitalize on the popularity of zombies, it also explores significant historical events.
Driskell, a self-proclaimed zombie movie fan, found inspiration for the course after watching George Romero’s classic 1968 zombie movie “Night of the Living Dead” this past summer and noticing that the plot works as a metaphor for race in the South.
“Zombies have been used as cultural metaphors to talk about slavery, imperialism, race, foreign peoples, fears of catastrophe, apocalypse, and armageddon … and those are things I have been interested in for a long time,” Driskell said.
The course features screenings of many popular zombie movies such as “28 Days Later” and “Shaun of the Dead,” but Driskell stressed that the class is not a “fluff course.”
“It’s not just watching movies and fun,” said student Emily Goldstein.
Fellow student Ian Chalmers admitted, “It’s harder than I thought it would be.”
Driskell’s course aims to teach students “the tools of cultural history and our cultural language.” Courses that incorporate pop culture and contemporary trends “are useful in making the liberal arts relevant to things immediately around us,” said Driskell.
There are some downsides to unusual courses, however.
“There is no textbook really for a zombie history of theUnited States,” Driskell said. “I had to go pretty far and wide to find things that would tie this together into a coherent narrative.”
Driskell hopes that the course will be a success and that his students learn something. “It’s been a fun class so far,” he said. “I hope I get the chance to teach the class again. I hope it’s not just trendy.”