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School of Arts and Sciences offers 80 new courses

<p>Courtesy of Nick Romanenko | Barry Qualls, a professor in the Department of English, teaches a course titled “Once Upon A Time” to explain the difference genre makes in storytelling.</p>

Courtesy of Nick Romanenko | Barry Qualls, a professor in the Department of English, teaches a course titled “Once Upon A Time” to explain the difference genre makes in storytelling.

Students can study the Brothers Grimm in their German classes for the first time this semester, and they are not alone. More than 80 new courses are available for the fall and spring semesters in just the School of Arts and Sciences.

The list reaches across many fields of study, from American studies to geological sciences.

“Tales of Horror,” offered through the German Department, explores tales of horror through some of its most “spellbinding creatures and fantasies” in a time period ranging from the Brothers Grimm to Alfred Hitchcock, said Nicola Behrmann, assistant professor in the Department of Germanic, Russian and East European Languages and Literatures.

“Frankenstein and Dracula, vampires and zombies … continue to haunt cultural imagination throughout the centuries,” she said. “I realized that a number of my favorite short prose texts deal with horror or can be considered haunted texts, texts that are driven by something they themselves do not understand or master.”

Behrmann was interested in relating more established works of German, French and American literature to contemporary popular culture and the ways different media, such as literature and film, are invested in the horror genre.

“I am [also] hooked on ‘The Walking Dead’ and was trying to figure out the reasons for this strange attraction,” she said.

The course was first available in the Spring 2014 semester as a mini course. Behrmann is currently preparing the course for submission to the core curriculum.

If accepted, the course will fulfill several core requirements: arts and humanities, writing and communication, historical and social analysis and 21st century challenges, she said.

Similar to Behrmann, Barry Qualls, professor in the Department of English, was concerned with creating a fun course for students when he designed “Once Upon A Time: Why We Tell Stories.”

“Once Upon A Time,” a four-credit signature course, considers why story-telling is a nearly universal human phenomena. The course explores and explains the difference genre makes in storytelling and in the way people read, Qualls said.

School of Arts and Sciences signature courses are introductory courses covering engaging topics of wide-reaching academic importance, according to the Rutgers website.

“I love the idea of the signature courses,” Qualls said. “They offer large lectures. They engage students in a wide variety of issues, texts and discussions. They give students an opportunity to experience ideas and issues that don’t necessarily come up in the major.”

“Once Upon A Time” carries credit toward the major and minor in English and can be used to meet the School of Arts and goals in arts and humanities.

“We have a deep need to tell stories and discover meaning, even our own meaning, in stories,” he said. “At the same time, our deep skepticism worries that stories are something fanciful and not quite the way towards truth.”

“Once Upon A Time” focuses on the benefits of small group discussions, and no section has more than 20 students, Qualls said.

Kayla Brantley, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said smaller classes are more enjoyable than classes in large lecture halls.

“I think that I enjoy my smaller classes more than the lectures, but my teachers in the lecture halls still get through to me,” she said.

Brantley would like to see more art and music classes offered to students who do not attend Mason Gross School of the Arts.

“It would be cool if we were offered more than just art and music history or things similar to it,” she said. “I’d love to take a voice lessons class, but I think that’s only offered to Mason Gross students.”


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