Unique courses to take before leaving the 40 Acres

Lisette Oler

Goodbye, swimming pools and lazy mornings. Hello, coffee and lecture halls. As the fall semester kicks off, students will begin the biannual rush to fine-tune their schedules.  While considering what to save or axe, keep these professors and their classes on the radar. The topics of the classes vary, but the energy the professors bring to their classes is the same.

If you enjoy the following topics, you’re sure to love these classes taught by some of  UT’s finest.

Goosebumps and the creeps

With a love of horror and passion for the weird, Elizabeth Richmond-Garza teaches a UGS class entitled “Modernity and the Art of the Uncanny.” It explores the fuel behind our love of creepy things such as vampires, werewolves and nursery rhymes by examining everything from the “Twilight” saga, Salvador Dali, Oscar Wilde and Nine Inch Nails. What’s more? You’ll get a dose of different cultures from 19th century French and Russian to our own and everything in between. If reading and writing about things that go bump in the night sounds like your cup of tea, try to get on that waiting list.

Idiosyncrasies and how to interpret them

Understanding each other is critical, and we cannot live without it, but somehow good communication is one of the hardest things to master. In John Daly’s “Interpersonal Communication Theory” class, he takes on the challenge of teaching students not only how to communicate, but also how to understand how others communicate. The class is large, but the combination of Daly’s enthusiasm and the class’ multi-TA structure mimics the feeling of smaller, more intimate classes. Work is required in this class to succeed, but the end justifies the means when it comes to this class.

Immortality and garlic

Dracula to Angel to Edward — our society is obsessed with vampires. But where do they come from, and what is fact versus fiction? In “The Vampire in Slavic Cultures,” Thomas J. Garza leaves no stone unturned by looking at films, art and literature. Garza encourages students to use Twitter during class and covers topics such as how to kill a vampire, vampires in Russian pop music and even vampire sexuality. This class is full of reading and writing, but is worth the work because of Garza’s deep knowledge on the topic. If this sounds appealing, but doesn’t fit your schedule, Garza previously taught “Russian Fairy Tales” and “Russian Sci-Fi” and might teach them again in the future, so be on the lookout. All of these classes are offered through the Slavic and European Studies department and don’t require any prior knowledge of the Russian language.

Science without confusion

Science classes are not everyone’s idea of fun, and more reluctant students put them off until the last minute. If that sounds familiar, register for John Lassiter’s “Introduction to the Solar System.” The class covers how the earth evolved to support life, the history of planetary exploration and, of course, the scientific method. Lassiter is the type of professor that exudes as much energy as a dying star — without being as dense as a black hole. Beware — if looking for a fall science class, this is not the one, as it is only offered in the spring semester.

Creating and playing

The techy world of video games seems far removed from the realm of liberal arts, but when push comes to shove, video games depend upon storytelling as much as a novel. Sheldon Pacotti, a senior lecturer in the Radio-Television-Film department, teaches “Writing for Interactive Games.” Students have hands-on experience both writing for videogames and learning basic programming. Pacotti, with 10 years of experience in the field of writing and programming, has vast depths of knowledge for any kind of student. The demos built in this class could lead to jobs in the future, or a more pure love of video games. As with Lassiter’s class, this one is only offered in the spring, so put it on a sticky note for registration in November.