At a certain point, being a Doctor Who fan starts to feel like going to school. All of that backstory to learn, all of those quizzes to test yourself. If Time Lords had been on the curriculum, we would all have got A plusses.
And now a new course at Aquinas College, Stockport, offers exactly that. The 11 weeks of lessons will cover everything about the 50 year old show, from the Doctors themselves to the wider politics. “It’s about both the programme and the society it was shown in,” according to Professor Michael Herbert.
But what if your chosen subject is even more specialist? Don’t worry, there’s plenty more in the pop culture prospectus…
For all you Game of Thrones obsessives out there – and we know there are many – you can step your infatuation up a notch with a Westeros-themed course at the University of Virginia. According to Professor Lisa Woolfork, curator of the course, “One of the goals behind this class was to teach students how the skills that we use to study literature are very useful skills for reading literature and TV in conjunction.
“Game of Thrones is popular, it’s interesting, but it’s also very serious. There are a lot of things in the series that are very weighty, and very meaningful, and can be illuminated through the skills of literary analysis.”
Politicising Beyoncé. Yes, that’s a thing. Rutgers University in New Jersey are offering a study of the Independent Woman as part of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies. She may no longer be a Single Lady, but the former Destiny’s Child singer and queen of the empowering power ballad provides plenty of fodder for students to comb through, from whether her half-naked body is empowering or stereotypical to how she fits in with the likes of Nina Simone and Lady Gaga. And despite the deceptive title, lecturer Kevin Allred insists, “this isn’t a course about Beyoncé’s political engagement or how many times she performed during President Obama’s inauguration weekend.”
With 25 seasons of material, there’s plenty for students at California’s prestigious Berkeley University to get their teeth into should they choose to take The Simpsons and Philosophy module. Because along with the work of Aristotle, Socrates, Nietzsche and, yes, Homer, these undergraduates will also be examining the likes of Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie. But don’t be fooled – this is a proper, serious class looking at the complex human condition and our moral decisions. Although, the set text is “The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D’oh of Homer”. Jealous? Us too. Especially if FXX’s record-breaking 552-episode marathon counts as revision.
Rewind back to 2003 and Staffordshire University announced a course focusing on David Beckham. Not the politicising of Becks, nor his great philosophising. Think more along the lines of his endless haircuts, marriage to Posh and that red card. The 12-week course was available to those studying media studies, sociology or sports science and examined “the rise of football from its folk origins in the 17th century, to the power it’s become and the central place it occupies in British culture, and indeed world culture, today,” according to Professor Ellis Cashmore. So, no keepie-uppies, then?
You know you’re no longer on the Edge of Glory when you’ve got an entire university course based around you. That was certainly the case for Lady Gaga when she became the subject of Lady Gaga and the Sociology of the Fame, taught by Professor Mathieu Deflem at the prestigious University of South Carolina. If you thought this was a labour of love, you might just be right. Deflem has seen Gaga in concert 30 times, although he claims to be looking at the Poker Face hitmaker as a “social phonemenon… this thing out there in society that has 10 million followers on Facebook and six million on Twitter.” That figure’s now 41.7 million, it’s worth noting, thus proving Deflem’s point. Interested? Why not pay a visit to the course’s very own dedicated blog.
Next up, Harry Potter and the Age of Illusion at Durham University. Confession time: I am a graduate of this very course. Yes, we were sorted into houses, our professor wore a gown and we looked at law, family, race – you name it – with regard to Harry Potter. No, sadly we didn’t get to turn mice into matchboxes. Was it good? Bloody fantastic. And the best bit? I got to watch all eight films as revision, all under the pretence of work for the Department of Education Studies.
Once you’ve got a serious degree under your belt, how about a masters course on the Fab Four? If the answer is yes, Liverpool’s Hope University is your place. The MA qualification in The Beatles, Popular Music and Society sees students spend an entire year of their lives learning, reading and writing about John, Paul, George and Ringo, overseen by the university’s head of popular music, Dr Mike Brocken who’s keen to stress this isn’t any old “Mickey Mouse” course. “There have been more than 8,000 books written about The Beatles, but there has never been serious academic study and that is what we are going to address.”
Learn how to Feel the Force with Queen’s University Belfast’s How to Train in the Jedi Way. The UK’s first Jedi course was announced back in 2008 and claimed to teach the “real-life psychological techniques behind Jedi mind tricks,” according to course director Allen Baird, as well as examining the “wider issues behind the Star Wars universe, like balance, destiny, dualism, fatherhood and fascism.” A healthy interest in Star Wars is preferable, although no prior qualifications are required. You will have to provide your own light sabre for the one-day course, though…
Brad and George, Ben and Matt, Bradley and Gerard. They’re just a few of the celeb world’s best-known bromances but none have an entire university course dedicated to their friendship. Kanye West and Jay-Z do, thanks to the University of Missouri’s English department which offers an entire module looking at the pair’s career and works. According to instructor Andrew Hoberek, “these guys are warming up to the level of major poets… They’re very much like painters and novelists in the 20th century, moving beyond the confines of the art form’s boundaries.” And there we were thinking this was just an excuse to watch endless music videos…