Unfortunately, the four years of lectures that make up an undergraduate experience can be a joyless journey. Buried deep in U of T’s course catalogue, however, are a number of unconventional academic gems. The following are real students’ tales of real classes that you can really take during your time at U of T.

CIN360: Doppelgangers and Doubles

“I realized just how ridiculous ‘Doppelgangers and Doubles’ was as our professor stood in front of a projector displaying a picture of Leonardo DiCaprio standing next to his Russian doppelganger. The course covered exactly what it said it would: doppelgangers in cinema. Surprisingly, there was a lot to talk about. At times we studied the CGI element of recreating a figure on-screen, and at times we discussed 20th century Horror-flick philosophy surrounding the ‘return of the repressed’. While surprisingly informative, I can say with absolute certainty that there’s virtually nothing I can do with the information I’ve absorbed from this course.”

— Jacob Lorinc

HIS440: Maps and History

“This class focuses on the theory behind the creation of maps, rather than any historic dates or other standard midterm fare. When pressed on what would possibly be on the midterm, Professor Retallack simply teased, ‘if you are present in class, you shouldn’t have a problem.’ So the day of the midterm arrived and I showed up with a solid combination of anxiety and curiosity, only to find that the midterm was a single-page wine advertisement that featured a map of where the drinker’s night would take them, and we were to analyze this map. To my surprise, I realized much of what was covered in class could be applied to the wine ad’s map. The midterm went well but I can honestly say that it was the strangest and most memorable test I have ever taken.”

— Christian Crawford 

MUS321: The Beatles

“Never did I think watching a YouTube clip of Ringo Starr sitting on his yacht recounting how many drugs he and the rest of the Fab Four consumed during the ’60s would get me closer to graduation. But sure enough, there I was in lecture furiously transcribing Ringo’s ramblings like a court reporter, hoping to catch some miscellaneous one-liner that might end up as a test’s bonus question. The Beatles class was a thrill for any pop/rock enthusiast, as we spent each week doing, well, exactly what you’d expect: working our way through the Beatles’ discography one week at a time, watching clips from their all-too-short touring stint, and debating over which Beatle was the best (read ‘dreamiest’). It was the most in-touch I’ve ever felt with those girls you hear screaming in the background of every Beatles live video, and I loved it.”

— Corey van den Hoogenband   

ENG235: The Graphic Novel

“I have been thinking about that ‘what even is this class’ moment, and for me it was really while writing the essay for the Graphic Novel course. I tend to send my essays to my brother to proof read, but in this case it was also specifically because I thought he would enjoy the subject matter. He sent it back to me after reading the first line and refused to read the rest, claiming that it was unfair that he was working on advanced mathematics for his engineering problem sheets while I was writing a paper about Batman’s existential crisis in The Dark Knight Returns. Even after I finished the course, he refused to read any of my essays out of bitterness.”

— Scheherazade Khan 

ENG239: Fantasy and Horror

“There’s a Fantasy and Horror class at UTM and we had to read I Am Legend. But Professor Koening-Woodyard is obviously the biggest nerd ever (he also taught the Science Fiction class), and there was a point where he just explained for twenty minutes how he calculated how many zombies the main character killed throughout the course of the plot, even though like 99% of it is implied and it had nothing to do with anything besides him wanting to nerd out for a while. Weird side note: all three horror novels we read for the class were about vampires. Even Twilight was originally going to be included, but the Professor decided to cut it before the class actually started.”

— Nicholas Schaus

CIN211: Science Fiction Film

“There I was having a mental breakdown. ‘This is it mom, I am going to flunk out,’ I, age 23, told my mother. All of this anguish and it was over what, my mother asked me. ‘…Are you serious? Barbarella?’ It was my final year of undergrad and it was looking like nude, zero gravity Jane Fonda, was defeating me. I did manage to finish the paper, though. A paper my Professor, who unbeknownst to me was a huge Barbarella fan, commented on as ‘taking the film too seriously.’ Upon reading his less than favorable comment I felt dismayed, declaring rudely to my wonderful T.A., ‘But this is Cinema Studies! Don’t you guys take all movies too seriously?'”

— India McAlister