Maybe I’m a nerd, but I LOVE the general education requirements. By exploring different categories of subjects, you explore a field of study different from your own; for a semester, you get to be a Greek philosopher or a gender sociologist or really whatever realm you want to dabble in.
So when I signed up for my Advanced Writing course this semester, I couldn’t wait to see what realms I would have the opportunity to explore. As we got our syllabus on the first day, I excitedly looked over the material we would be reading, the subjects we would be discussing, the papers we would be writing. But alas, what I found was not what I was expecting. The course title was Sex and Death and our first readings were “The Pornography of Death” and “Necrophilia, Pedophilia, or Both.” What had I gotten myself into?!
Yet, as I started reading “The Pornography of Death,” the subject was a lot less creepy than expected and, in fact, intriguing and fantastic. We began discussing how death has become unmentionable, only to be exploited in the media. Alternatively, sex – a topic that once was viewed as forbidden – is now splattered every direction in which you turn. Our conversations have morphed into discussions about societal issues, including the topics of healthcare, education, and even tattoos.
Even better, this class has allowed me to explore outside the classroom. Second week of class, we took a field trip to the Natural History Museum and got to look at dinosaur bones and North African mammals. Second month of class, we were exposed to the Dornsife Commons, a series of events designed to spark conversation without disciplinary boundaries. The program’s theme of Brilliant Mistakes emphasizes an exploration of topics that nobody ever talks explicitly about – and as I learned about in class, this perfectly describes death! My professor had put together two events: “Facing our Final Failure” and “Decoding the Dead Body,” two topics that probably would have freaked me out prior to taking this class. Yet, I sat on the edge of my seat, anxiously awaiting each of the speakers.
A class I had initially feared has turned into a class I can’t wait to attend. Want to talk about sex and death? Bring it on!