Anthropology course to teach everything ‘Star Trek’
March 10, 2006
“Study long and prosper” might be one mantra used in Daryl Frazetti’s anthropology of “Star Trek” class for the upcoming spring quarter at Lake Tahoe Community College.
Frazetti is more than able to teach the anthropological aspects of one of the most-followed television and movie series in pop culture history.
Frazetti, 33, has watched the series since he began puberty. He has attended at least 100 “Star Trek” conventions since he went to his first in 1989. Two documentaries detailing the uniqueness of the series’ following, “Trekkies” and “Trekkies 2,” have featured Frazetti.
To top it off, Frazetti was interviewed by William Shatner, who played James T. Kirk in the original series and movies, in Shatner’s book “Get a Life!” regarding the following of the program and its many offshoots.
A teacher on past subjects such as environmental science and physical anthropology (which he will also teach at LTCC during the spring quarter), Frazetti has never taught a course solely on “Star Trek.” He has used examples of it in his teachings, he said.
“It’s going to be quite the course,” Frazetti said.
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Depending on funding, two guest speakers are penciled to drop in on the one-day-a-week class: Richard Arnold, an assistant to the creator of “Star Trek,” and Roger Nygard, director and editor of both documentaries.
In a course description, Frazetti stated one doesn’t need to be a fan of the series to “appreciate the break this course offers from your daily routine.”
Reading more of what’s in store for students of the class, the “break” doesn’t seem like a vacation.
“Using select television episodes and feature films, this course will examine the significance of the cultural, historical, social and evolutionary nature of the human condition within the context of a futuristic setting, along with the underlying perspectives on politics, philosophy, ethics science and (the) future of humanity,” the description finishes.
For example, case studies will be done on different races in the “Star Trek” world. Vulcan rituals will be discussed. Ferengi, the “capitalists” of the Trek galaxy, are scheduled to be addressed May 11. That day will also feature a case study on the slave-trading Orions.
A May 25 class will feature an episode from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” deemed the “gay episode” by Frazetti, since it focuses on a race without gender.
“Using ‘Star Trek’ examples breaks down a lot of barriers,” Frazetti said.
College anthropology chair Scott Lukas envisions similar classes on pop culture. He cited courses on reality television, eBay and video games as examples.
“I think it’s an important opportunity to offer a course like this,” Lukas said.
A listing of course topics
— Culture, Culture and the individual. Concepts mirrored in Trek
— Language and communication: World view, language and culture
— Making a living: Economics and exchange
— Political systems
— Family, marriage, gender, social roles, rituals
— Religion and ethics
— The arts and Trek fandom
— The future of “Star Trek” and humans
Fan sites for more information on “Star Trek”
Registration for the spring quarter at Lake Tahoe Community College begins this week. Online registration starts Tuesday.