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B2SB: TXST’s Top 16 Most Interesting Classes of Fall 2023

todayAugust 14, 2023 119

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By Lou Wharton

Blog Content Contributor 


Let’s face it – finding fun classes to take can be overwhelming. Texas State University offers a vast multitude of unique courses, but how do you find one that fits you? This article is here to help. Below, you’ll find information on some of TXST’s most unique classes, as well as quotes from the professors teaching them, all of which are being offered in the upcoming Fall semester. 


ARTF 1302: Basic Drawing for Non-Majors

Interested in learning how to draw? ARTF 1302 is a great option for non-art majors to get the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of drawing. 

When asked about the class, Professor Ryan S. Montgomery said, “I believe art is for everyone and that anyone can and should create. Basic Drawing for Non-Majors teaches artistic skills and fundamental techniques, while also providing an expressive outlet.” 


CJ 4325: Media and Crime

You’re probably familiar with crime-based media, such as Law and Order or Mindhunter. CJ 4325 aims to analyze how shows like these portray certain crimes, and why they choose to do so, as well as its impact on society as a whole. 

Professor H. Jaymi Elsass said: “The course focuses on media’s role in social control of society by exploring public understanding of the problems associated with crime and their solutions through a critical examination of the relationships between the media, the criminal justice system, and crime in the larger context of society. Through the course, I strive to help my students recognize the potential impact of the media on crime, the justice system, and society by examining the media’s critical role in shaping perceptions about the criminal justice system and crime more generally.”

Professor Gemini Creason-Parker said: “The course will focus on multiple aspects related to media and crime, including a) HOW the media portrays crimes of different genres (e.g., white-collar crime v. violent crime) and criminals of different characteristics (e.g., race, gender), b) WHY they portray certain crimes and criminals in certain ways, and c) public perceptions of crime and the science behind media influence. (…) I want students to develop/enhance their critical thinking skills and ask questions about what they see and what it means for them as individuals and society as a whole.”


CJ 4331: Serial Murder

As with many of the Criminal Justice courses, CJ 4331 takes a realistic approach to something often sensationalized or even romanticized in media – in this case, serial murder. 

Professor Kim Rossmo said: “Our class examines the phenomenon of serial murder, its victims and offenders, and the police investigative response.  We focus on the reality of the crime and explain how this often differs from Hollywood fiction.  Whenever possible, we reference cases the professor was operationally involved in to maximize authenticity.  The class is hard, informative, and interesting.”


ENG 3306: Writing for Film

For anyone interested in writing a screenplay or short film, look no further than ENG 3306. 

Professor Jon M. Smith said: “ENG 3306 is a class equally divided between practice and analysis/history/theory. We spend the first half of the semester studying the evolution of screenwriting in Hollywood history as well as contemporary screenplay form. During the second half, the course becomes a creative writing class; students work on their own ideas and stories by writing loglines, beat sheets, and the first act of a screenplay.”


ENG 3329: Studies in Mythology

ENG 3329 is a broad course, focusing on varying aspects of worldwide mythology, as well as how they affect and reflect the culture around them.

Professor James B. Reeves said: “My favorite thing about the class is that it allows me and my students to discuss big questions: What does it mean to be a good person or to live a fulfilling life? Where do we come from and why are we here? What is the divine—is there a God?—and how should we respond to it? Myths constantly ask and respond to such questions, and one of my main goals in the class is to therefore show students how mythology is still very much relevant in our lives today. Many students come in thinking that a myth is just a “fake story” or something untrue, but in this class, we define myth as any narrative that binds a community together and explains that community’s purpose to its members.”

Professor Graeme Wend-Walker said: “We often think of mythology as something that other people have – usually, people from the distant past. And we often think of myth as just a way of explaining things before we had science. But all cultures have myths, including our own, because mythic thinking is part of how we make our experience of the world meaningful. Looking at myths from other times and places offers a powerful way to think about our own feelings of value and meaning and how we make sense of our lives.”


HIST 3368Z: A Global History of Pandemics 

If you’re reading this, you remember the COVID-19 pandemic. HIST 3368Z takes a look at a wide variety of global pandemics – including COVID-19 – and covers how the affected societies handled it. By looking at the successes – and failures – of other societies, we can better prepare ourselves for whatever comes next. 

Professor Bryan S. Glass said: “I love seeing the reaction of students when they learn about groundbreaking pioneers and their battles against infectious diseases such as smallpox, measles, mumps and the chicken pox. (…) This class is also a favorite of mine to teach because students are able to compare how dangerous COVID-19 was in comparison to all other pandemics including the nefarious Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918-19 or the Black Death of 1347.  History comes alive whenever you are able to link the distant past to the present.  It makes history relatable to my students, many for the first time in their lives.”


HIST 3379: History of Rock and Roll

Music history is not only interesting, but important, and rock and roll is a perfect example of this. Students enrolled in HIST 3379 will get to learn about what musical styles influenced rock and roll, as well as what rock and roll, in turn, influences today. 

Professor Jason D. Mellard said: “The History of Rock and Roll is one of my favorite courses to teach because, in the spirit of the subject, it’s the class I’m mostly likely to tear down and rebuild from one semester to the next, following my own curiosity to build in narrative arcs related to Buddy Holly’s fascination with mythic West Texas or reggae’s lyrical histories of the African diaspora or the Riot Grrls seizing the mic for feminist community in the 1990s.”


HIST 4331: Piracy Through the Ages

It doesn’t get much more interesting than a class about pirates! Students will be given the chance to study real-life pirates and be able to compare that to the tropes we associate with pirates today.

Professor Bryan S. Glass said: “Piracy is a favorite of so many students because they grew up learning about romantic swashbucklers and this gives them the opportunity to discover the difference between fact and fiction.  When you add to that the groundbreaking innovations of pirates, such as workers compensation and equality for all on board their vessels in the 17th and 18th centuries, it lets students know that the fight for equal rights has a very long history stretching back hundreds of years.  And if pirates could live their lives based on the principle of equality more than 300 years ago, certainly we should be able to attain this in the 21st century.”


HIST 5345D: Oral History: Theory and Practice

In a general sense, oral history is the unique practice of studying video and audio recordings of historical significance. HIST 5345D also gives graduate History majors the opportunity to practice collecting interviews. 

Professor Justin Randolph said: “Generally speaking, “Oral History in Theory and Practice” is a graduate seminar in Texas State’s Public History Master’s Program. It prepares students to design and conduct oral history interviews with people who lived through the past. Students help to create a new historical record while working on teams and on their own. I love this course because students make the types of historical sources that future historians will consult to study the past. They do so through meeting with people from all walks of life and recording their conversations. Our Public History students take these skills to their jobs in museums, state parks, national parks, libraries, archives, historical preservation, etc.”


HON 2306B: Baseball and the American Experience

Baseball is known as America’s National Pastime. But how did it get this name, and what does that mean? That’s exactly what HON 2306B hopes to uncover. 

Professor Oren Renick said: “My goals for the students in the class are to mimic those of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. I want them to preserve history, honor excellence, and connect with other generations.”


MU 3308: History of Rock Music

MU 3308 is similar to HIST 3379 (“History of Rock and Roll), but interestingly, MU 3308 focuses more on the music theory aspects of rock music.

Professor Brian L. Trittin said: “First, of course, is the subject matter which is a part of most people’s lives one way or another. Going deeper into the musical genre however, students will learn listening skills and “hear” the music in many different ways. In the course, students learn how to listen to music. Historically and culturally, rock music has paralleled many of the significant events in the United States and has been an artistic manifestation of those events by the younger generations.” 


PHIL 3316: Existentialism and Phenomenology 

Prerequisite: PHIL 1305, PHIL 1320, PHIL 2311, PHIL 2312, or PHIL 2330 with a grade of ‘D’ or better or instructor approval. 

Don’t let those prerequisites intimidate you. If you’re interested in philosophy or consider yourself someone who enjoys asking difficult questions, PHIL 3316 is a class you’ll definitely want to consider. 

Professor Matthew E. Bower said: “It’s an old idea in philosophy that much if not all of our knowledge comes from experience.  That experience is usually taken to be that of the five (plus) senses.  For existentialists and phenomenologists, this undersells experience.  There are more kinds of experience and certain privileged life experiences that deserve reflection, like the experience of anxiety in the face of death or even something seemingly insignificant like boredom.  In the hands of these thinkers such experiences turn out to be sources of insight into the meaning of life, what the self is exactly, and the very nature of time.”


PHIL 3325: Philosophy of Sex and Love

For many people, sex and love is an important part of the human experience. PHIL 3325 asks students to look inwards as well as outwards, asking questions about their own opinions and feelings about sex, as well as how our society as a whole views various aspects of sexuality. 

Professor Ellen B. Stansell said: “In PHIL 3325 Philosophy of Sex and Love, students discuss open-ended questions like “What acts count as ‘sex’?” and “How do science and culture shape our views about sexuality?” What I enjoy the most about the class are the perspectives and insights students share. (…) I am grateful for the culture of respect we have here at Texas State. It is especially important for a class like this one.”


REL 3370: Mythology and Cosmology

REL 3370 is an interesting course purely because it changes depending on which professor is teaching it. Previously, professor Rebecca Raphael focused on creation narratives, whereas current professor Natasha Mikles focuses on the concept of hell and damnation. 

Professor Natasha Mikles said: “When I teach the course, I focus on comparative ideas of hell across different religious traditions. For this course, we look at literature, art, and religious rituals depicting hell in a variety of religious traditions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Zoroastrianism.  We even look at depictions of hell in modern movies and contemporary literature about alien abductees. The Religious Studies program at Texas State is especially interested in having exciting courses that attract students to our major and showcase how studying religion can educate students on diverse cultures and prepare them to enter our globalized society.”


SOCI 3333: The Sociology of Popular Music

SOCI 3333 strives to define what popular music is, and why it’s popular. After all, pop music relies on reaching an audience, and SOCI 3333 seeks to understand that.

Professor Joseph A. Kotarba said: “I have been teaching my sociology of popular music course for twelve years, as long as I have been at Texas State University.  This upper-division course has two purposes.  First, I want students to explore the socio-cultural dimensions of music as a primary and pervasive source of meaning for everyday life. (…) The focus in our reading and discussions in class, however, is on music audiences, how people across ages, ethnicities, genders, lifestyles and social statuses use, interpret, acquire, enjoy, and perform music relevant to their everyday needs and tastes.  Second, I use music to illustrate the four basic paradigms or styles of sociological thinking: consensus, conflict, interactionist and postmodern theory.  Music is a fine tool for exploring how society operates because it is of great interest to students, and is pervasive in all our lives.”


SOCI 3384: The Sociology of Death and Dying

Death can be difficult to talk about. SOCI 3384 hopes to increase students’ understanding of death, de-mystifying it by discussing it in depth, rather than ignoring it. 

Professor Tina Villareal said: “We study death in an attempt to better understand life. Our society is bombarded with images and portrayals of death and dying daily on the news, in social media, on TV and in movies (have you seen Barbie?) yet as a culture we rarely deeply discuss our own mortality. In Death & Dying we turn our death-denying culture on its head by discussing all facets of death. From learning about funeral and burial customs of various cultures, to writing your own obituary or doing field research in a cemetery, the D&D class does not shy away from the inevitable.”


Honorable Mention: HON 3399Q: Harry Styles and the Cult of Celebrity: Identity, the Internet, and European Pop Culture 

Unfortunately, HON 3399Q isn’t being offered in the Fall 2023 semester. However, it’s likely it was the first class to spring to your mind when thinking of unique subjects taught at Texas State University. This class was so highly anticipated, it was even featured in articles by NPR, Teen Vogue, and Texas Standard. While the class is focused on Harry Styles, it also covers broader aspects of celebrity culture and the digital age. 

In an interview with the Texas Standard, Professor Louie Dean Valencia said, “…one of the ideas for the class is really trying to delve into the idea of a celebrity and how do you use your platform to make a change in the world today.” 

While HON 3399Q won’t be offered for the Fall, it doesn’t mean it won’t ever be offered again. Keep your eyes peeled for when it (hopefully) returns! 


There is certainly no shortage of fun and unique classes being offered this semester at Texas State University. When looking for classes like these, Catsweb will be hugely important, and getting familiar with it will be incredibly beneficial to staying updated on the availability of these classes and others like them. Good luck, Bobcats, and let’s make it a great Fall semester!


Featured image from Dquai, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons. 

Written by: Preethi Mangadu

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