Friday, January 12, 2007

Proof That Some Universities Have More Money Than They Need

I ran into this list of "The Dirty Dozen: America’s Most Bizarre and Politically Correct College Courses" over at Young America's Foundation. Just to make that they weren't quoting these course descriptions out of context, I went and visited some of the top twelve, as well as some of the "Dishonorable Mentions."

It is entirely possible that the actual content of some of these courses isn't quite as strange as the course descriptions make them sound--but talk about an effective way to cut yourself off the rest of the society, by making the class you teach sound like you needed therapy, but ended up as a professor instead. Like this one, from UC Berkeley's Women's Studies program (I guess we should be pleased that they didn't spell it Womyn's Studies):
Gender and Women’s Studies 170
Instructor: Susan Stryker
Time/Location: M 2-5/155 Donner Lab
CCN: 32960
This course explores the history of gender diversity in San Francisco from the mid-19th-century through the present, and uses that history to launch theoretical and critical discussions of embodiment, identity, desire, space, event, and time. The course will examine such topics as: implications of U.S. imperialism and colonization for the construction of gender in 19th-century San Francisco’s multicultural, multiracial, and multiethnic milieu; the regulation of gender-variant practices in public space by San Francisco’s Anglo-European elites; circulation of gender-variant cultural knowledges and practices between elite, deviant, and marginal social groups; the emergence of scientific sexology and eugenics, and the proliferation of psychiatrized and pathologized identity categories for gender-variant people; the relationship between police regulation of “vice” subcultures and the historical geography of gender-variant populations in the Tenderloin neighborhood; the emergence of transsexual discourses and embodiment practices in post-World War II San Francisco; the social history of transgender social change movements, beginning with the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot of 1966; the relationship between transgender and gay, lesbian, and bisexual communities; implications of the AIDS/HIV epidemic for transgender populations; and contemporary transgender, queer, genderqueer, and post-queer cultural production and politics. Students will be expected to write a research paper based on original historical research, and to contextualize their topic within a relevant critical debate.
Or Occidental College's Critical Theory and Social Justice Program:

A survey of theories of the phallus from Freud and Lacan through feminist and queer takings-on of the phallus. Topics include the relation between the phallus and the penis, the meaning of the phallus, phallologocentrism, the lesbian phallus, the Jewish phallus, the Latino phallus, and the relation of the phallus and fetishism. Prerequisite: a 200-level CTSJ class. Emphasis topic: Queer Studies.
and this other amazing course from the same program:

A critical examination of theories of performance and performativity with a focus on their contribution to gay and lesbian studies. We trace the history of performativity from speech act theory, through deconstruction, to the queer theories of Judith Butler and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. We also consider lesbian feminist critiques of queer performativity by Sue-Ellen Case and Teresa de Lauretis. We consider ethnographic accounts of cross-gender performances across cultures, including texts by Roger Lancaster, Don Kulick, and Susan Seizer. Prerequisite: a 200-level CTSJ class. Emphasis topic: Queer Studies.
Oh, in case you don't know what all this use of "queer" as an adjective is about--my how, things have changed from my youth, when "queer" was as an insult for homosexuals. Now, it is a term used by homosexuals who take delight in their countercultural strangeness--people who would regard drag queens as way too mainstream and conservative for their tastes.

And this other offering that almost reads like parody, but I'm sure that they are deadly serious about it:

Stupidity is neither ignorance nor organicity, but rather, a corollary of knowing and an element of normalcy, the double of intelligence rather than its opposite. It is an artifact of our nature as finite beings and one of the most powerful determinants of human destiny. Stupidity is always the name of the Other, and it is the sign of the feminine. This course in Critical Psychology follows the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, Gilles Deleuze, and most recently, Avital Ronell, in a philosophical examination of those operations and technologies that we conduct in order to render ourselves uncomprehending. Stupidity, which has been evicted from the philosophical premises and dumbed down by psychometric psychology, has returned in the postmodern discourse against Nation, Self, and Truth and makes itself felt in political life ranging from the presidency to Beevis and Butthead. This course examines stupidity.
(By the way: his name is Beavis. But I guess someone has to prove her stupidity.)

I could go on all day with Occidental College's exercise in bizarre PC rhetoric, but I'll stop with this one:

This course seeks to engage the emergent body of scholarship designated to deconstruct whiteness. It will examine the construction of whiteness in the historic, legal, and economic contexts which have allowed it to function as an enabling condition for privilege and race-based prejudice. Particular attention will be paid to the role of religion and psychology in the construction of whiteness. Texts will include Race Traitor, Critical White Studies, The Invention of the White Race, The Abolition of Whiteness, White Trash, and Even the Rat was White. Prerequisite: a 100-level CTSJ class. Emphasis topic: Critical Race Theory.

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