One of the most important college goals is to craft the perfect schedule -- a delicate balance between ballbusting Organic Chemistry labs and the 90-minute nap found in any course containing "Postmodern," "Literary" or "Criticism" in its title. From the lowliest junior college to the corridors of the Ivy League, course selection can make or break a semester. With its endowment in a freefall, Harvard has decided to throw a Hail Mary in that direction by offering a new Sociology course with HBO's The Wire as its central text. For all the students wait-listed by the big H or without the proper familial connections to get over the Longfellow Bridge, you can feel content knowing that students in Cambridge are doing exactly what you do every Saturday: Rolling up a gram of mid-grade, watching David Simon's magnum opus and eventually making a Taco Bell run. Only those Crimson losers have to take notes.
But Harvard isn't the first school making use of the idiot box in the classroom. Your proof arrives in today's Movieline Nine.
9. South Park and Political Correctness
Institution: CUNY's Brooklyn College
Department: TV and Radio
Course Description: After watching episodes of the Comedy Central program and completing academic reading assignments, students will participate in lively discussions about the show's relevant topics, including assisted suicide, war and religion, without any concern for offending classmates since all offensive viewpoints have been taken by the show.
8. Daytime Serials: Family and Social Roles
Institution: University of Wisconsin
Department: Family and Consumer Communications
Course Description: Analysis of the themes and characters that populate television's daytime serials and investigation of what impact these portrayals have on women's and men's roles in the family and in the work place. The course will compare and contrast prime-time programs with daytime serials for these themes.
7. Philosophy and Star Trek
Institution: Georgetown University
Course Description: An investigation of the major philosophical questions that come up again and again in Star Trek. Students will watch the television series, read excerpts from the writings of great philosophers, isolate key concepts and then analyze arguments like "Is time travel possible?" and "What is a person?"
Note: Muhlenberg College offers an entry level theology class called The Religions of Star Trek.
6. Introduction to Cultural Studies: The Simpsons
Institution: Rochester Institute of Technology:
Course Description: An introduction to cultural theory and the analysis of popular culture based on The Simpsons. Cultural Studies "readings" of the program will provide insight into some important "real-world" issues relevant to contemporary American life: family, religion, politics and media, to name just a few.
Note: San Jose State offers The Simpsons As Social Science.
5. Chosen: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Institution: Oberlin College
Department: Media and Literature
Course Description: An intellectual reading of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the often underestimated cult hit and landmark program in serialized television. This course will assume basic familiarity with the program, though new viewers are certainly welcome.
4. Topics in Comparative Media: American Pro Wrestling
Institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Department: Comparative Media Studies
Course Description: An exploration of the cultural history and media industry surrounding the masculine drama of professional wrestling. Beginning with wrestling's roots in sport and carnival, the class examines how new technologies and changes in the television industry led to evolution for pro wrestling style and promotion and how shifts in wrestling characters demonstrate changes in the depiction of American masculinity.
3. Management Lessons from The Apprentice
Institution: University of Washington in Seattle
Department: Business Management
Course Description: Using situations from The Apprentice as case studies, the class will discuss basic business concepts that range from first impressions to the delicate nature of work friendships to sex appeal in the office and the art of negotiation. In some cases, students will replicate exercises practiced by Apprentice contestants and attend teleconference lectures by Donald Trump's executive vice president, George Ross.
2. Muppet Magic: Jim Henson's Art
Institution: U.C. Santa Cruz
Department: Theater Arts
Course Description: The artistic and social impact of the Muppets on American puppetry, children's television, and Hollywood film is explored through viewings, guest lectures, and analysis. Henson's legacy in artistic innovation, mainstreaming of puppet theater for adult audiences, and establishment of puppetry in media and marketing are also explored.
1. Arguing with Judge Judy: Popular 'Logic' on TV Judge Shows
Institution: University of California, Berkeley
Course Description: Students in this freshman seminar will evaluate frequent illogical arguments made on popular TV judge shows and learn to identify popular logical fallacies. Example: "When asked 'Did you hit the plaintiff?' respondents often say, 'If I woulda hit him, he'd be dead!' This reply avoids answering 'yes' or 'no' by presenting a perverted form of the logical strategy called 'a fortiori' argument ['from the stronger'] in Latin."