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Black Sabbath is part of the curriculum in a CU Maymester course on the history of heavy metal.

For more information on Maymester courses and their availability, click here.

With summer on the horizon many University of Colorado students are looking forward to May as an opportunity to relax and kick back after a long academic year. The easily bored, the especially motivated and the credit-impaired, however, might want to consider “Maymester.”

CU has been offering May courses as part of its summer session program since 2000. Featuring the shortest academic term — it’s May 10-27 this year — Maymester gives students a chance to earn three credits in three weeks.

It’s a popular option for students and faculty, said Carol Drake, CU’s summer-session director.

“Students like the opportunity to focus on one class, the community that develops in a classroom from the intensive nature, the discussion that is possible from the longer class times,” she said. “Faculty see the same benefits.”

Students can still sign up for the courses, which include some unique options this year:

Music in the Rock Era: Heavy Metal

Offered for the first time, this course will examine heavy metal from a structural and cultural standpoint, said instructor and self-professed metal head Joel Burcham.

“This is the first (heavy metal) class I know of taught by a music professor,” he said.

Burcham, a performing operatic tenor as well as a voice instructor for CU’s school of music, said he plans to bring a guitar and amplifier stack to class every day. He is still seeking at least six more students to enroll in the class.

“I want students to just come away with an understanding of metal on their own terms,” Burcham said. “I want students who don’t like it at all and challenge its validity.”

Special Topics: The Chronicles of Narnia

Out of the engineering honors programs comes this chance to study one of the most beloved fantasy book series of all time.

“I have a great interest in the intersection of philosophy and literature,” said instructor Scot Douglass, who will be teaching the class for the third time. “I have used Maymester to explore this connection in respect to various series of fantasy literature: Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter.”

Douglass said his class will read all six volumes of the Narnia series and compare them with the philosophy of Plato. He likes Maymester because it allows the students to immerse themselves in the Narnia world without other distractions.

“So the wonderful challenge: Is how do you teach students to read better when they have already read well enough to know all the details?” Douglass said of Narnia’s popularity. “This is a professor’s dream.”

Topics in Humanities: Hitchcock/Freud

Professor Paul Gordon, a longtime Maymester veteran, will be teaching a class he designed specifically for the term.

“It gets at the underlying, ‘unconscious’ meaning of Hitchcock’s films,” Gordon said. “For example, his obsessions with sin, his contempt for ‘normal’ society, his ambivalence towards women, etc.”

Gordon said his main goal is that students gain a greater appreciation for the genius of both Hitchcock and Freud.

“Like our other interdisciplinary offering in Humanities, this one combines the study of psychoanalysis as a method of interpreting works of art with a study of the films of, arguably, the world’s greatest director,” Douglass said.

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