Fall semester features interesting class options

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Photo Credit: Melanie Westfall | Daily Texan Staff

Cramming your schedule full of major requirements is not ideal. Sometimes, you need to break from traditional classes and try something different. Below, The Daily Texan compiled five interesting classes to spice up your schedule. 

Beyoncé Feminism, Rihanna Womanism: Popular Music and Black Feminist Theory 
Professor Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley

Beyoncé’s Lemonade was released in April, and it changed the way Tinsley’s class was run forever.

The course serves as an introduction to black feminist theory. Students study black women’s spirituality, sexuality and political activism, as well as the histories of blues women, religious practices and slavery in the South.

Although it’s a large lecture, Tinsley said students participate in discussion frequently, relating their own experiences to the course material.

“A lot of women of color might say they don’t know a lot about black feminist theory, but what they do know a lot about is Beyoncé,” Tinsley said. “I’ve never had a lecture of 150 people where people don’t only sing along, they raise their hands and speak out about what they have to say.”

Boundaries and Dilemmas 
Professor Sheldon Ekland-Olson 

Boundaries and Dilemmas is a research and writing course that delves into moral dilemmas such as abortion, physician-assisted suicide and other controversial issues not typically brought up in the classroom setting. The work load is heavy but not overwhelming, with daily class discussions that culminate in a 16-20 page paper at the semester’s end. Ekland-Olson said all types of Longhorns typically take this course, from premed students to art majors. 

“This class is a time [students] have to reflect in a safe environment on really contentious issues,” Ekland-Olson said. “[The students] find themselves reexamining their beliefs or stances on many topics.”

Children’s Literature 
Professor Barbara Jansen

Children’s Literature is a blast from the past, featuring a reading list that brings back childhood memories with titles such as “Charlotte’s Web” and “The Giver.” But this class is about more than just nostalgia. The course prepares students to teach those books to kids in K-8 classrooms. 

“I want students to understand how children’s literature can help kids understand themselves, others and the world around them,” Jansen said.

Although the class is geared toward education majors, Jansen said some students enroll in the class as an elective. She encourages students to do so, but cautions that it’s not a blow off class. It’s structured like most courses, with a final exam worth 20 percent and quizzes and online assignments due throughout the semester. 

History of Rock Music 
Professor Stephen Slawek

Who doesn’t want to listen to The Beatles for homework? In Professor Slawek’s History of Rock Music, memorizing the production differences between Magical Mystery Tour and White Album counts as studying. Going to a concert is considered working on an end-of-year project. Contemplating Bob Dylan lyrics is an in-class assignment. Plan II and psychology senior Hava Kane said she enjoyed the class and learned a lot.

“It exposed me to more music, which makes me enjoy my life more,” Kane said.

Slawek starts the course off with 19th century Tin Pan Alley songwriters and goes through the eras of swing and Big Bands, Rockability, Surf Rock, Folk Rock, The British Invasion, Psychedelic Rock, Heavy Metal, Punk and ends the course with Alternative Rock. 

History of the Black Power Movement 
Professor Leonard N. Moore

The syllabus of “History of the Black Power Movement” warns students that they may find some reading materials offensive.

The course delves into themes of group unity and racial pride in the 1960s movement. Although it’s a large lecture course, journalism senior Rachael Malonson  said professor Moore made the class personable and related present-day events to historical ones.

“I’m half African-American, and sometimes I feel like our race isn’t thriving in America,” Malonson said. “[Moore] was in that class to show how successful you are and how capable you are. It doesn’t matter about your background, you can make it.”