Cornell’s Best Classes

March 20, 2015 in Academics, Alive Campus

Any person...any study.

Any person…any study.

Cornell’s (condensed) main motto is “Any person…any study.” And it’s true. The school, literally, has a class on anything and everything. And if it doesn’t currently, it will. And if you’re impatient, you can design your own class…or your own major. With such a multitude of random courses, here’s my (condensed) list of must-take courses in the school of Arts and Sciences and Agriculture and Life Sciences—forgive me, but I’ve never taken a class outside of these two schools.

Introduction to Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies: As an FGSS major, I’m biased in my approach at writing this list—I acknowledge that, but I don’t care. Intro to FGSS is probably one of the best classes you can take in A&S. Why? Because you are immersed in debates, lectures, presentations, group activities, research papers, film, and literature related to the evolving world of feminism. The material that you learn can help you to reshape your current understanding of what constitutes oppression and privilege, inform you on the social issues of days past and present, and gives you the verbiage to tread the waters in a politically correct manner. Just be warned: Everyone is the class identifies as a feminist. Either you remain ignorant, or you inform yourself!

The Cornell Novel: Personally, I love knowing about the history of the things that I’m involved in. As a Cornellian who bleeds big red, and as an English major who one day dreams of publishing his own memoir on the trials and tribulations of a student with too many midterm papers, I absolutely adore this class! We read novels, poems, and everything in between written by Cornell alumni (faculty and students). Imagine taking a class where you can discuss Nabakov’s influence on Pynchon and how Morrison’s Beloved is somehow connected to Joanna Russ’s Sci-Fi, The Female Man. It may be a lot to read, but so worth it when you consider the fact that these same authors were sitting in the very same desks that you are about to fall asleep on.

Desire: Two things—Ellis Hanson and pornography.  Ellis Hanson is probably one of the most theatrical professors on campus. Like the performativity concepts that he teaches, his entire presence in the classroom is nothing more than a performance. From the wine and champagne that he brings to class, to the Princeton gown that he sometimes shows off, to the semi-rehearsed puns and asides that he remarks; he is a living, breathing, performance. The class traces the history of sexuality and human desire, and questions the notion of desire in its abstract form. A little bit of gay pornography and a group viewing of a woman deep throating also adds a bit of raunchy fun to the mix. Highly recommend.

Global Cinema II: Imagine a class where you get to watch two movies during each session! A film class that traces the early avant-garde cinema of the 1920s to the more recent Pixar animation of the 2010’s, Global Cinema II is an incredibly fast paced, thought-provoking, awe-inspiring course. During each class meeting, students get to sit in Schwartz’s Film Forum, where the lights get dimmed and two films of similar themes are played. Shortly before time runs out, students get time to discuss their thoughts on the material, which are later used for papers.

There are, of course, a number of other courses that I’ve taken and loved at Cornell, including Expository Writing: Violent Femmes, Writing and Sexual Politics: Chick Literature, Media Communication, Body As Text: Pleasure and Danger, and Feminist Theory.


October 17, 2014 in Colleges

Everyone needs to take electives in college. You’ll have extra room on your schedule . . . or you’ll take a class only to find that it doesn’t count for what you thought that it would! That’s why it’s so important to stay on top of things when it comes to your scheduling. You don’t want to find out that you can’t graduate because of one silly class requirement!

But if you’re like me and plan far in advance, you know when you’ll be able to take a class for yourself! Maybe it’s not part of your major and you still think that you’ll enjoy it. Or maybe you’re simply going to have a really hard semester and want to give yourself one class to look forward to. I’ve taken some electives in the past and still have room for more in the future!

First semester of my freshman year, every student needed to take a freshman seminar. It wouldn’t count for anything in particular but there were a variety of topics for students to choose from. That’s when I got to take my favorite class ever. Harry Potter class. I can’t remember the official name of it because that was what everyone in that class including me called it. And it was a truly magical time. We learned about the books, the story behind their being published, and J.K. Rowling as she’s writing now. We learned HP trivia and I know so many fun facts about the books now, I can win any HP fan contest. If you have the chance to choose a course like this, do it! You’ll never regret it. I still remember how fun this class was!

Another elective that I took was art appreciation. I simply needed more credits so that I could stay on track with my major and was trying to think of what would transfer but wouldn’t be too much work for me. Art appreciation is a lot of work–more than I thought it would be. But it also included taking a field trip to an art museum, which was awesome! I went to Grounds for Sculpture, a place that’s completely outdoors and has all of these hidden little pathways filled with sculptures and art. I could have spent ages there, wandering around enjoying myself. And it counted for class!

I’m already planning my schedule for future semesters. Two electives I’m hoping to take are Greek Mythology and Photography. I have a serious obsession with mythology and feel like I know enough of it that I won’t be completely lost in that class, while I’ll still be able to learn something new about the mythology! And while I’m not the greatest photographer, I’ve always had an appreciation for photography, the work that goes into it, and I’ve wanted to learn how to properly do it for myself. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to fit these things into my schedule!

If you don’t have a chance to take fun classes like these, don’t worry. Once you’re out of school you can explore whatever hobbies you want!

Take fun classes on things you love!

Take fun classes on things you love!