10 Memorable NYU Classes You Won’t Find Anywhere Else

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New York University undoubtedly offers one of the widest array of classes and course selections in the country, maybe even the world. As a universal university, its classes are not only found in America, but in Abu Dhabi and dozens of other study abroad sites. With its “make your own major” college, Gallatin, NYU tops the list when it comes to memorable courses. If ever granted the opportunity to take one of these NYU classes, don’t lose it.

Check out 10 NYU classes you’ll actually want to show up to.

1. The Science of Happiness

This course—whether they’ve taken it or not—is known by all NYU students, and for good reason. Students from all majors are able to participate in arguably one of NYU’s most popular classes, through the “Core Curriculum.” The point of this class? It’s literally in the title. You’ll learn about the true science behind happiness and similar emotions in our lives. “It’s so interesting. This class was not what I expected, but in a good way,” said NYU senior Nicholas Safier. What more could you ask for?

2. Enlightenment Literature & Philosophy

As an absolute favorite, this class gets recommended for both English majors and anyone else. Taught by Adjunct Professor Wendy Lee, this diamond-in-the-rough has so far only been taught once, but proves to be an incredible chance to learn how to read philosophical and literary texts through the eyes of the Enlightenment era. As Lee talks about in her syllabus, this course will investigate how each of the 18th century  philosophers demonstrate knowledge and how we use it. Heavy questions and discussions take up most of this course, but you’ll come out with a much deeper understanding of philosophy without having actually taken a philosophy class. “I was overwhelmed at first, but not once did I regret my decision. I learned so much from Professor Lee,” said NYU senior Erin Adams. Feeling smarter is always a plus.

3. Feminism & Theatre

In this Theatre Studies course, you will study plays by female playwrights, as well as feminist theatre. According to the description, “Considerations include strategies for asserting new images of women on stage, the dramatic devices employed by female playwrights, lesbian aesthetics, race, class and the rejection of realism.” As a course focused on feminist writings and writers—and not simply on the concept of feminism—this class showcases all the products of feminism in our world. Not only will you expand your feminist literature knowledge, but you’ll have the opportunity to write your own thoughts and perspective on feminism and its effects.

4. Love Actually

“[It’s] one of the best rom-coms and one of the best Psych classes,” said NYU junior Emily Ferrari. Yes, NYU does offer a course named after one of the best rom coms ever and yes, it really is about love. Surprisingly, this is not the only CAMS course offered that is also named after a heartwarming film, but it’s one of the best. Discussing the topic of “love” as an actually psychological aspect of life—instead of an emotionally abstract one—makes this class extremely interesting and fairly difficult. And just like love, it’s worth it.

5. Journalism and Society: Minorities in the Media

Journalism majors are used to taking required courses, but everyone should take advantage of this elective. This class covers discussions regarding all minorities including race, gender and sexuality. Active stereotypes discussed thoroughly throughout the course. The professor takes it a step further by discussing what we can do to actively fight against them and all other prejudices also get brought up. How relevant is that? Students will not only learn the political and social truth behind the discrimination in this country, but also how we can take the steps to fight against it.

6. Human Sexuality

“Sexuality is an essential aspect of everyone’s life.” That’s how the course description course begins. First impressions? It’ll be like nothing you’ve ever taken before. It’s not exactly how we all view sexuality—at least, not this in depth. This NYU class does a lot of things differently, and in a good way. Sexuality is discussed in a way that society has deemed “inappropriate,” and it also enlightens it in a new way. Along with this new perspective on teaching sexuality, the course also focuses on more than just the physical aspect of it. As the class description mentions, you’ll also talk about topics like, “Theories and methods of sex research, atypical sexualities, sexual dysfunctions, sexual coercion, and the qualities and benefits of good sex.”

7. Blaxploitation

This Cinema Studies course “explores the rise and fall of Hollywood’s ‘Blaxploitation’ period and genre.” Through the contexts of “black identity and liberation,” this course maps the evolution of black exploitation in the media—specifically, in film. And, the best part? There are even rumors that the professor analyzes Beyonce not only as a powerful black public figure, but one who is both exploited and exploiting. Queen B creates interest in any context.

8. Food Photography

This Food Studies course teaches “the demonstration of techniques for photographing foods for use in print and other media formats.” It will take you through all the basic steps of taking food photography to a professional level. Not only will you get to be around food, but you will get to capture it in all its glory. A 101 on how to take aesthetically pleasing food instas? Hell. Yes.

9. German Cinema: Man, Monster, Machine

Language classes don’t usually stand out, but NYU offers some interesting, special electives. In this class, you’ll learn about German cinema and film analysis. You’ll also learn to discuss films in a different way and gain and even greater understanding of German culture through its fascinating cinematic history and representation. Ready to feel cultured AF?

10. Shakespeare

Okay, every English Department has a Shakespeare class. But why is this one unique? It’s not the class, but the person who teaches it. John Archer is an NYU Professor with a knowledge about Shakespeare that extends far beyond his works. Why is Shakespeare still a vital cultural force 400 years after his death? How was he able to speak both to us and to audiences of his own day? This course will answer all these questions and more. “John Archer is literally the Shakespeare guru. His knowledge of Shakespeare surpasses any knowledge I have of anything,” said NYU senior Deon Sanders.

Keep reading for 11 More NYU Classes to Keep in Mind Come Drop/add week.

Written by Faith Gates.

11. Religious Studies: How Will You Die?

Not everyone finds death the most intriguing topic to study, but a class about dying catches everyone’s attention. The curriculum analyzes popular shows like The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad. In all, the class studies how American culture understands and perceives death. According to the class description, students discuss “questions surrounding the role of doctors, religion, economics and politics in end of life care, as well as the ethical issues pertaining to policy making for the dying.”

12. Creative Writing: Intro Fiction and Poetry

English and non-English majors alike enjoy this class, because most students spend their time reading and writing anyway, without it being their homework. Not only do students get to read some of the best fiction and poetry writing out there, they also get to try their hand at it in a round-table setting with their fellow students offering feedback. Plus, this is an intro class. Students don’t need to have a writing background to try it out. “The writing we get to do in class is lit and it’s not as uppity as the intermediate classes,” said NYU sophomore Ashley Yu.

13. Sound Mix Workshop

NYU has a lot to offer with state of the art facilities and experienced professors. Anyone interested in the film industry from directors to writers and students will enjoy actually getting to learn in a mix studio. “It taught me so much about the professionalism of post-sound work in the film industry. The professor (James Redding) was extremely credible and has IMDb credit in shows like The Americans and movies like The Matrix. He taught the class as if he was just a knowledgeable friend and has given me more opportunities than any other professor at Tisch,” said NYU senior Kyle Schmidt.

14. Drugs and Kids

Two of everybody’s favorite things combined. Just kidding. But seriously, this class takes an interesting look at psychoactive substances, abuse prevention and child and adolescent drug use. Don’t expect a typical college course, but one that will make you think about things you already knew in a different way. “Drugs and Kids remains one of my favorite classes since my first year at NYU, because the professor was so amazing and also incredibly thorough. We covered so many topics and even went over current events: the minutiae of different drugs, factors of abuse/addiction, drug policies and even school programs,” NYU junior Diamond Naga Sui said.

15. The Performance of Everyday Life

Every student in Tisch knows the ins and outs of acting classes dealing with TV or movies, but this class instead dives into the acting of everyday life (mind game, right?). Performance of Everyday Life takes a typical acting class, but mixes in anthropology, psychology and sociology as well. As the course description says, “The course invites students to view seemingly non-theatrical social interaction as performance and to consider the significance of the seeming ‘normal’ and inconsequential nature of such performances.” NYU senior Jeremy Swanton said, “As opposed to drama or other artistic practices, performance studies is more of a theoretical approach, so I’m not just practicing my art, I’m figuring out why I’m doing my art.”

16. Sports History and Film

It really doesn’t get better than watching a movie in class every week. Don’t get me wrong, this class is a lot of work with weekly readings and essays. The class goes beyond sports and analyzes race and culture throughout the past century by means of sports and athletes. “This course will investigate how a visual medium, film, subject to the conventions of drama and fiction and a popular activity/institution, sport, often associated with frivolity, violence, and puerility, might be used as serious vehicles for conceptualizing and analyzing the past,” said Sports Film Professor Jeffrey Sammons.

17. Expressive Culture: Frank Sinatra

NYU has a flair for the off-beat classes, and this class does not disappoint. This option for a core curriculum class takes one man’s life and career to look at the culture and politics of post-World War II America. “I study sciences and only take STEM classes so it was a great break from my usual grind. Every week we got to analyze a different Sinatra movie, so I learned things I didn’t even know about film making, acting styles and the immigrant lifestyle in America,” said NYU junior Lourania Oliver.

18. Black Lives Matter: Race, Media, and Popular Protest

Students excel when the class involves current, relevant and interesting material. This class combines all of three. According to the course description, the class will “debate and engage with a variety of topics, including the moral ethics of ‘looting’ and riotous forms of protest; violent vs. nonviolent civil disobedience; the media myth of ‘black on black’ crime; coalitional politics and the black feminist and LGBTQ underpinnings of the #blacklivesmatter movement; and comparisons between the blacklivesmatter movement and the U.S. civil rights movement.”

19. Twentysomething

Being 20 encompasses all of life’s weirdest tendencies into one decade, so thus we should study it. NYU’s Child and Adolescent Studies department always puts together the best classes. This one doesn’t differ. The class evaluates the idea of the “emerging adulthood” theory and “explore[s] the factors that contribute to diverging developmental pathways, review the typical life of the American 20-something, and uncover the truth behind the stereotypes.” Unfortunately, Taylor Swift doesn’t teach the class, or she might just sum it up by saying “you’re happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time” when you’re in your 20s.

20. Instrument Lessons

Every NYU student pays for 18 units, but because most classes use four units, students only end taking four classes, using 16 of the 18 they paid for. A two-unit class is the only way to get this money’s worth. NYU Steinhardt offers brass and strings instrument lessons for people who have never even picked up an instrument before. Rock on, students.

21. The Nature of Success

Everyone wants to be successful after college, right? This class answers the questions, “What makes a person successful?” and “What contributes to failure?” and “What do these terms really mean anyway?” The class examines the concepts of “success and failure in a wide variety of systems including biological systems, ecologies, families, peer groups, business organizations and societies.”

*Quoted descriptions come from the NYU Registrar or Course Syllabi.

**Updated on January 11, 2018 to include list items 11–21 by Faith Gates.

A junior at NYU studying English and American Literature & Journalism. I'm a huge literature nerd who hopes to go to Law School and change the freakin' world for the better.

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