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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Spring Semester Course Descriptions on Which My Attendance in the Fall May Have Had Some Influence

ANTH 101
Introduction to Archaeology

Examines how archaeologists gather and use data and how that information is relevant to contemporary society. Any preconceived notion that you will find a dinosaur or a Bigfoot on one of our three field research trips to archaeological sites (the park) is ill-advised. Seriously, you’ll be lucky to even find a bone. Perhaps you didn’t get it the first time—this is mostly a class that deals with charts and data and boring graphs, and even though you do a great impression of Belloq from Raiders, you’re still going to fail. I’m not qualified to speculate on who would win in a fight between a dinosaur and a vampire. No, you’re confused—dinosaurs never breathed fire (although, you’re right, I can’t give you any definitive proof) and I don’t have the time or patience to consider how they could have.

* * *

PHIL 251
Introduction to Moral Philosophy

An introductory survey of ethical thought, covering such topics as: what are values?, what do we mean by the terms “good” and “bad”?; is morality objective? and why should we be moral? The class also asks philosophically: “What should we do with our lives, and how can we better ourselves?” Alas, this course will provide no answers to any of these questions, because instead of doing the required reading on Stoic values in The Aeneid, you’ll be watching episodes of Rome to capture the “flavor” of the time. So, you’re going to be way out of your depth here—like even more than you think. I promise. And even if you were somehow able to understand Nietzsche’s idea of “life-affirmation,” you’d still never assuage the crushing guilt you feel about all the lies and deceptions you’ve perpetrated over the years. Oh, and don’t bother with that sophomore who sits in the front row—I’m already tapping that. Yes, professorship comes with privileges, but don’t even think about it—you’re not graduate school material.

* * *

ENGL 323
Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales

In this course, we will undertake a detailed reading of Chaucer’s masterpiece. Unfortunately, you will fail to attain even the most rudimentary grasp of Middle English, which, contrary to what you might think, was actually spoken once, and not just a conceit used at Renaissance festivals and Society for Creative Anachronism mixers. I will refuse to give you my opinion on whether or not I think Chaucer enjoyed “large turkey legs” or if The Decameron involved the shot put and pole vault. Don’t bother with this course, you hopeless imbecile. And just because this class only features one “book,” it’s a pretty damn long one; like one you can’t read in the parking lot outside the Metallica concert in between toots of nitrous oxide. Maybe try something less cerebral, like archery.

* * *

Introduction to Archery

An extensive overview of the rules and techniques employed in modern archery. This course will utilize both Olympic (recurve) and compound bows, neither of which will make you feel like you are channeling Ted Nugent, even though you insist on wearing a loincloth and belting out “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” every time your arrows sail dangerously into the academic quadrangle. And believe it or not, I do have a Ph.D. While an advanced degree in “kinetics” (a far cry from “gym,” thank you very much) might be construed as a “joke” or even “colossally ridiculous” to some, I don’t find it remotely amusing when people ask if, for my doctoral thesis, I was charged with shooting an apple off the head of a coed. I teach volleyball too, you know. Dick.

* * *

BIOL 261
Human Functional Anatomy Laboratory

A study of the structure of the human body involving histology, gross dissection and prepared human materials. BIOL 261 has some prerequisite courses, so if you’re in here just to giggle at a dead man’s testicles or shake him a little bit, let me recommend the excellent traveling corpse show “Body Worlds,” where you can do all sorts of unmentionable things to the dead, under the watchful eye of stoned security guards. I recognize you may have “Pre-Med” listed as your major, but your current academic trajectory appears geared more toward “beer” than anything resembling an oath to Hippocrates. You’re not hearing any of this, are you…It’s the testicles, isn’t it? Get out of my sight before I call security.

* * *

SOCI 340
Sex and Sexualities

Explores different literary and/or theoretical approaches to questions of sex, gender, and sexuality. O.K., you know what? Let’s just make this a lot easier for everybody: See Aloha Modeling Studio & Tanning Salon:

1: Start out going NORTHEAST on MAIN ST toward SUNSET BLVD. 0.2 miles
2: Enter next roundabout and take 4th exit onto MONTROSE BLVD. 1.4 miles
3: Turn RIGHT onto WESTHEIMER RD. 0.4 miles
4: Turn LEFT onto HELENA ST. 0.3 miles
5: Turn RIGHT onto DENNIS ST. 0.1 miles
6: Turn RIGHT onto BAGBY ST. < 0.1 miles
7: End at 2709 Bagby St
Total Est. Time: 9 minutes Total Est. Distance: 2.69 miles

Requirements include: one long research paper (12–15 pages), one oral presentation, two or three quizzes, spirited class participation, excellent attendance and frequent, painful checkups at the Student Health Services center, located in the building across from the campanile.

Tyler Stoddard Smith's works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry have been featured or are upcoming in The Best American Fantasy Writing, Pindeldyboz, The Bullfight Review, Box Car Poetry Review, Identity Theory, Yankee Pot Roast, Word Riot, Twixt, Monkeybicycle and McSweeney's, among others. For more info, visit He also edits a political satire Web site,