Quick. What was the last picture show in “The Last Picture Show”? What’s the best wood for barbeque, is high school football a religion or a cult, and why this sudden interest in things Texas? Answers: “Red River,” whatever wood they use at Dozier’s in Fulshear or Bill’s Barbeque in Ingram, and cult. As for the sudden interest in things Texan, it isn’t sudden, only now you can get college credit for studying our front porches and “Giant.”
According to the Houston Chronicle, the “idea of Texas” — in literature, culture, politics and even food — is the focus of courses in college campuses around the state. Texas A&M offers 10 Texas-flavored courses covering everything from anthropology to art history. One seminar is devoted to the intricacies of Texas barbecue. (Don’t laugh. Barbeque is a major industry in Elgin.)
UT-Austin offers courses in “Writing Texas,” which dissect the “premise that Texas is both a place lived in reality and a cultural phenomenon,” and “Texas State of Mind,” an interdisciplinary examination of geography, journalism, music, high school football and death row. Sam Houston State, Rice and others are getting in on the movement. McMurry University may have the most far-reaching study program: the “Texas Semester,” a chance to “study abroad — in Texas.” Students study the state’s vastness and diversity, culminating with a three-week waltz across Texas.
This being academia, we have to have those pointy-headed liberal profs with their cynical view of anything good and decent, like smoked ribs, cheerleaders and death row (where there are no more smoked ribs for a last meal, Mister Put-Down Prof.). So a number of de-bunking seminars are offered, too. But there are still a few more courses our young Texans need to take:
Baylor University has a new studies program: Texas Culture from Waylon to Willie. The Lyndon B. Johnson School at UT-Austin has a new seminar on “Elections LBJ Style,” where attendance will be taken – several times. Windmill Tilting 101 — Taught by Dr. Ron Paul, includes the medicinal benefits of marijuana, an expose of the Federal Reserve, plus field trips to Monaco and Macau to check on U.S. foreign aid (tuition must be paid in gold). SMU’s Tom DeLay School of Political Ethics offers Beginning Gerrymandering, although there may be a three-to-five year delay, so to speak, depending on the appeal.
Ooops 391 – A former Aggie yell leader teaches how to embarrass his state before the entire nation. The class meets a dozen times, with a final exam on the 10th and last session. This same professor explains how to be guarded by DPS troopers in Paris while an arsonist burns your mansion in Austin because there aren’t enough DPS troopers to guard it, with its ever-popular spin-off lecture series, Charge It to the Taxpayers.
Sul Ross University’s Home Economics Dept. now has Accounting 101. Future CPAs learn how to cook the books, turn portfolios into toast and butter up the SEC. This same department offers gourmets a special foodie’s study: Road Kill Under Tire and Glass. Includes on-the-job training lab near US 90 outside of Alpine. Texas Woman’s University is considering a remedial class: It’s WOMAN’s University! Singular possessive! A Texas A&M professor of lenguesticks teaches Speeleng Fur Beginurs in which Aggies learn how to spell SEC.
Myths of Texas — Unicorns, Big Foot and the Abominable Snowman lecture on the last sighting of a Texas Democrat. The University of Phoenix depends on several offices in Texas not to mention 12-million home computers which serve students with such fields as Hot-Wiring Made Easy, Earn Big Bucks as a Bus Boy, Your Future as a Valet Parker and All You Need to Know About Resume Writing From A to B.
UTEP’s Bernie Madoff College of Business offers a seminar on how to run your own company into bankruptcy: Enron for Dummies. It’s an on-line course you can take right in your own cellblock. UTSA’s College of Liberal Arts proudly presents Math for Meth — a combination calculator and lab class. Also: A River Runs Through It – A new look at Texas’ immigration policies. In-state tuition approved for illegal aliens (English sub-titles).
The Texas State Board of Education unveils several new required courses for college-bound students. The Wheel – Is It Really Necessary? Evolution – Fiction or Fiction? Did God Mean for Man to Fly? A Fresh Look at Hieroglyphics, and for those future co-eds: Fashion Trends in Burkahs. All courses on animal husbandry were banned as “they sounded kind of kinky.”
The Texas Legislature has authorized Abstinence Makes the Crowd Grow Larger 102 – Students explore any link between abolishing family planning clinics and birth control programs with Texas having the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation. Extra credit for linking mandatory sonograms with the vast increase in Medicaid and Food Stamps.
Rice University launches Student-Athletes 303: Do we really need athletes as students? The University of Houston launches its Student-Athletes 303: Do we really need students as athletes? Sam Houston State University’s Dept. of English has a new offering: Bushisms 303, in which students learn actually true and memorable quotes from our 43rd president including: “We ought to make the pie higher.” “Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?” and, “It’s clearly a budget, it’s got a lot of numbers in it.”
We spoke earlier of those liberal profs who are teaching how overblown, right-wing and backwards we are. They have classes entitled Mess With Texas, Rednecks and Gun Racks — No Place But Texas and Santa Anna Was Right (the proposed parallel course, A Fresh Look at Occupy the Alamo, has been postponed due to lack of police protection).
As we can see, there are still ample opportunities for our college students to be totally immersed in the state’s culture. Just remember, a Texas intellectual is someone who can listen to “The William Tell Overture” and not think of the Lone Ranger.
Ashby teaches Texas at email@example.com