December 10th, 2011 | University

Top 10 Hottest Classes for Next Semester

Here comes second semester!
Here comes second semester! Photo by Kamaria Greenfield.

It’s the last day of reading week and you’re going crazy rehashing the same lines you’ve been hearing in class for the last 12 weeks. This is difficult, but it will end soon. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. You will go home to your corgis next week, and come January, you will have a perfect new slate of interesting, relevant classes to choose from. For now, here’s 10 of next semester’s “it” classes.

1) Introduction to the History of Art: Renaissance to the Present (HSAR 115, Hu): As you can probably gather from its title, this course is a broad survey of art history in the Western world from the 14th century to the present. You may have trouble finding a seat during shopping period — over 600 students showed up to the first lecture last January — but if you stick around you’ll learn to analyze works of art by the likes of Caravaggio and Andy Warhol. It’s also a reason to get to know the Yale University Art Gallery, and students say professor Alexander Nemerov GRD ’92 is a big draw.

2) Great Big Ideas (CSYC 265): This unconventional course created by the Floating University and taught as a Yale College seminar attracted so much interest this fall that it’s being offered again. The Floating University claims the class imparts “the key takeaways of an entire undergraduate education”; Yale’s OCI description is slightly more conservative and calls it “an introduction to the world’s most important ideas.” Over 12 weeks, students are exposed to 12 different fields — from linguistics to biomedical research to investing — and watch video lectures by experts in those fields. Then they meet for discussion in a seminar setting. This semester, 300 people applied for the class’s 18 spots, but whatever, give it a shot.

3) Literature For Young People (ENGL 358, Hu): We get it, James Joyce is great, but who doesn’t want to read Harry Potter for class? Here’s your chance, Yalies. Taught by Michele Stepto in the English department, this seminar bills itself as “an eclectic approach to stories and storytelling for and by children.” The 19 books on last year’s syllabus included Roald Dahl’s Matilda, E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little (Cross Campus LOVES E.B. White), Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and (of course) some Harry Potter. Indulge your childhood self and read those books you were so sad to leave behind in elementary school. You can take “Virginia Woolf” next year.

4) Great Hoaxes and Fantasies in Archaeology (ANTH 172/ARCG 172, So): How do famous myths about alien encounters, El Dorado or the lost city of Atlantis come about, and how are they used to support nationalism or other political or religious causes? In this course you’ll study “archeological hoaxes, cult theories, and fantasies” with the goal of learning how archeological tools prove them wrong. Plus it was on Gossip Girl, so if you’re a fan you can feel just like Serena van der Woodsen when you’re in lecture.

5) Philosophy and the Science of Human Nature (PSYC 181/CGSC 281/PHIL 181, Hu): A mix of philosophy and cognitive science, this course taught by Tamar Gendler explores how modern research in psychology relates to the philosophical musings of Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche and others. Just like whoa.

6) Sexual Modernity and Censorship in American Film (FILM 444/AMST 136/WGSS 376, Hu): Taught by film studies lecturer Ronald Gregg, this course got high praise from students last spring. You watch romantic comedies by Ernst Lubitsch and Billy Wilder and you talk about how Hollywood films represented modern sexual culture from the 1920s to the 1960s.

7) Observing Earth From Space (G&G 362/EVST 362/ARCG 362, Sc, QR): Do you ever wonder about the technology behind Google Earth? Do you ever turn your head to the heavens and wonder what it’s like out there in space, on such a timeless flight? This course will teach you how to work with satellite imaging software and how those images can be used to answer environmental questions. It’s not for those with only a passing interest, however: prerequisites include two courses in geology and natural science of the environment as well as college-level physics or chemistry. Still cool.

8) Political Psychology (PLSC 201/PSYC 332, So): What goes on in our minds when we form political judgments? For us here at Cross Campus, it’s a profound, incisive analysis of personal economic conditions and the needs of our nation, mixed in with some commentary from Maureen Dowd and the Times’ Sunday Review. This could be the class for you if you ever wonder what cognitive biases shape our political views and what psychology has to say about conformity and authoritarianism (or if you’re an aspiring politician that wants to manipulate and control the hearts and minds of the teeming masses).

9) The Technological World (APHY 110/ENAS 110, Sc, QR): You knew it was coming. For non-science majors, here’s a science and QR course that seems super applicable to everyday life. Professor Victor Henrich looks at the science underlying solar cells, LEDs, computer displays, GPS systems and other technologies we depend on for Garmin and Gchat.

10) Infinity (PHIL 281, Hu): The title pretty much says it all. Study the idea of infinity and, according to the course description, a whole lot of paradoxes: paradoxes of space, time and motion and paradoxes of classes, chances and truth. Sounds like you’ll need a lot of Radiohead to get through this one.