Beyond Painting 101
Odd General Ed of the Arts
The coursework during the first few semesters of college seems to drag on and on and on. General Education requirements are simply, well, too general. After all, specializing in a field of our choosing is the reason we decide to further our education. Let’s face it: Journalists aren’t mathematicians and chemists aren’t artists.Nevertheless, there are some GE courses that can be both fun and enriching to all majors. Fine art subjects including art, classics, dance, humanities, music, and theater offer non-majors a chance to be creative and expressive, and to learn something new. Because these are GE courses, however, most non-majors only learn the basics, and never discover that some fine art courses can get a little unusual beyond 101…
TheaterIntroductory theater courses are, of course, helpful to those pursuing a career in acting. Still, classes can be resourceful for those who have no plans to be the next Broadway star, too. For instance, they can help students better their public speaking skills.
Students in the Theater Arts program at UC Santa Cruz learn much more than just the basics of diction and tone, however. Like most theater programs, UCSC offers classes on acting, lighting, and stage production. But unlike most schools, UCSC offers a course on the Muppets. Yes, Kermit the Frog and friends.
In the “Muppet Magic: Jim Henson's Art” course, students learn about the impact Muppets have made on American culture through lectures and viewings. They also get their try at using puppetry, or Muppetry, too. Who knew “Muppet Babies” and “Fraggle Rock” could be so educational?
DanceDance is much more than dance; it is a big part of our culture. Dance is used as a means of art, entertainment, social discourse, fitness, and ritual. Therefore, it makes sense that it is studied in school.
Most colleges offer classes on ballet and modern dance, but have you ever heard of Orissi?
Courses about the dance style Orissi, or sometimes Odissi, are offered at The Evergreen State College in Washington. Students have readings and discussions on the classical dance from India, which “combines both rhythmic movement and expressive mime,” according to Evergreen’s Web site. In addition to classes, traditional and non-traditional Orissi performances are held on campus yearly. Looks like Indian culture has a home in Washington.
What’s more fun than an introductory film class? You just sit back, relax, and watch movies.
Film classes can also be educating, too. The film industry has shaped our thinking in times of war with propaganda, and in times of peace with entertainment. Films make us laugh and cry, and question and wonder. So, many film classes often show motion pictures that epitomize film history like, “Gone with the Wind,” or cultural impact like, “Star Wars.”
Tennessee’s Vanderbilt University offers its Film Studies students even more: Nunchucks and karate. The class “Martial Arts Literature and Film: Traditions and Transformations” covers martial arts fiction from antiquity to the 20th century. Bruce Lee would approve.
There’s something for everyone in the arts. Whether you want to take something about a little known subject for pure knowledge or want to take a random G.E. approved class for mild hilarity, the choice is yours. The arts are out there, do you dare?