What's college for, if not to occasionally indulge your interest in odd, arcane or completely unmarketable subjects? Here are a few intriguing courses being taught at Virginia's higher-education institutions.
Bioarchaeology, Virginia Commonwealth University anthropology department
If you're a fan of the television show Bones, this course might be for you. "It started as a class where we learned about bones, burial practices and the blend of archaeology with remains identification," says VCU graduate Kelly Stacy. When their professor was asked to help ID remains found at a construction site, the class got to help.
American Gangster Films, University of Virginia media studies department
For many students, this is a course they can't refuse. It covers The Godfather and Bonnie and Clyde, as you'd expect, but also digs into the background of the entire gangster genre, a film staple since the silent era.
Ritual Witchcraft and Divination, University of Richmond sociology and anthropology department
You won't learn how to make a love potion in class, but professor Jennifer Nourse exposes her students to lecturers with diverse spiritual beliefs. This class also looks at different cultures and rituals, divination, and witchcraft — and how those beliefs have sometimes been disparaged as "mumbo-jumbo."
Cinderella/Harry Potter, University of Mary Washington freshman seminar
This course covers old and modern fairy tales, including the book and film versions of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. There's a fair amount of reading, but professor Maya Mathur reels off a list of cool kids' books that are covered, "from Lewis Carroll's Throughthe Looking Glass and J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan to Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass."