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Thu Jan 24, 2013, 08:46 PM

Rice Offers Course on Batman's History, for the Second Time

I have no idea what the tuition is at Rice anymore. $40,000? $45,000? More? Not nearly the "Best Bang for your Buck" it once was - that buck had passed long ago - Rice has, over the past decade, stretched its costs to something approaching Berkeley, U. Chicago, and the Ivies.

The ratings seem to bear out such costs. The school remains top-20; the US News and World Report tells us, time and again, that the students are the happiest things this side of Mickey Mouse. Still, the tuition is enough to make you pity the parents passing through. And then you read that the students at Rice - those engineers, those pre-meds, those policy wonks - are taking classes on, of all things, Batman, and you wonder whether this is simply the largest open-air scam you've ever seen.

"I saw a friend of mine teaching a class on Taiwanese music, and I just thought, nothing's off the table," Jeffrey Tsang, the sophomore professor of "Intro to Batman: The Darkness as Your Ally," told me Wednesday. "I knew that I wanted to try my hand at something, and I wondered what I knew better than most people, and I came up with Batman."

Batman. The Caped Crusader. Gotham's Guardian. Taught to students, by students, at one of the top universities in the nation. This is what higher education has come to. Batman.

Continued at http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/2013/01/rice_offers_course_on_batmans.php .

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 08:57 PM

1. "So you think darkness is your ally! You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it!!!" - Bane

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 08:59 PM

2. I think it's a great idea.

And I doubt that it will be a walk in the park that some would think. I once had an English lit class on "monsters" that everyone expected to be easy. It wasn't. You had to put a great deal of thought into it. Or there was the cinema arts class that sounded easy, just watching movies and writing about them. Ouch! The idea is to find a subject that will interest the students, then challenge them. And I bet this will.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 01:37 PM

3. You scoff, but Batman is an intellectual property that has been published continuously

since 1939 and has earned billions. Maybe it is worth further study.

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Response to FSogol (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 09:47 PM

4. There was no intention to scoff at the course offering.

I am in favor of nearly any program that will motivate people to improve their reading/writing skills. I have no doubt that the course offered by Rice will be very rigorous for the students that decide to register.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Sat Jan 26, 2013, 11:30 PM

5. The Anti-intellectualism runs deep in America, and articles like this pander to it.

Batman is at the least on equal footing with Ovid. Myths are important because what they tell us about ourselves, and the study of myths is important because of what it tells us about the society that generated it.

From a strictly utilitarian viewpoint it would be easy to argue that a study in modern mythologies like batman would have more value then the study of anachronistic "classics."

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Sun Jan 27, 2013, 12:04 AM

6. The gut course at Harvard a half century or so ago was called "Boats."

It was a maritime history class; more reading than pictures. It was a full semester, though, with an actual professor--not a one hour class taught by a sophomore student.

What I would like to know is:

How much do they charge for this one hour class?

How much "credit" does one get--if any? Or does it just check some sort of oddball elective block?

Is the 'student teacher' paid, or does he or she get a rake-off on his or her tuition?

It's pass-fail. Does anyone actually fail?

So MUCH left unreported!!!!!!

As it is, the course falls under the rubric of one of Rice's quirkier - and more popular - academic schematics, which permits students, per an application process, to teach courses of myriad topics. The subject matter has been both pertinent - Cantonese grammar, Sabermetrics - and playful - the history of piracy, the origins of punk rock. And while the program generated certain acrimony during its early years in the mid-Aughts, students have grown accustomed to seeing, taking, and teaching courses on everything from investment banking to modern origami to the inspirations for Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire."

To be sure, this one-hour, pass-fail course remains a ground-level look at the Dark Knight. No assumptions on any familiarity with Chris Nolan's universe. No expectation that you'd read the near-flawless The Long Halloween, or the haunting Arkham Asylum, or any of the Robin-in-briefs chapters of A Death in the Family. No misappropriated Batman tattoos required.

"It's an introduction," Tsang said. "I'm sure there are people out there who are veterans, but I thought that if I can bring something new to the table, if I could go deeper in the discussion, that I could really share something I knew about."


http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/2013/01/rice_offers_course_on_batmans.php

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